Our Low Waste Goals

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My Low Waste goals for 2020 where we are beginning and where we hope to be


Image by: Mae Stier

We all are doing our best aren’t we? We all want to take care of our planet and there is no doubt that seeing the way the world is looking these days leaves us feeling we need to take more drastic measures. Though we have done a lot already ie. composting, gardening and growing our own food, eating local, eating only meat from small local farms in sustainable models, taking our own bags to the store, buying in bulk sections and bringing our own bags or reusing the ones we get at the store, and the list goes on….BUT there is more to do and as the planet warms and the plastic rises, we have to think about every purchase, how we live, and more. So this year I am jumping up and saying…we have a long way to go too because after all it isn’t about perfection, but about a lot of small things adding up into big things. If you want to do more for the planet, you may work with organizations like The Solutions Project and learn more about the strategies they advocate to help fight climate change.

The truth is I am learning right along with you on this journey. I won’t be perfect and neither will you, but we can choose various things each month or even year that we can do no matter how busy we are. So I am kicking off this idea by sharing the main things we plan to do this year. I am explaining where we are beginning and then I will be sharing about it throughout the year on Instagram and here about how it is going and what I am learning and trying. LOTS to learn with these things, so I am going to get real about where we are beginning. So let’s get going we have a lot of ground to cover.

My Low Waste goals for 2020 where we are beginning and where we hope to be


ONE: Cleaning Supplies including Laundry and Dishwasher soap first more than anything

TWO: Buy 2nd hand or natural/sustainable fiber clothing only – do the research before buying new

THREE: Eliminate all single use plastic waste in our home

FOUR: Eliminate unnecessary mail coming into the house

FIVE: Focus on Item Lifecycle with anything new we do purchase

Now some of these may surprise you to hear from me. But I am going to go through this list and explain where we currently are and where I want to be with each of these. Like I said, we aren’t perfect, but I want to do a few things REALLY well in our house and then begin to add in more the next year to switch up our life a little more. These shifts take time because it is all about relearning how to live. We all have grown up a certain way and society still generally works in the same old ways so we are having to restructure and break old routines to start new ones. This can be overwhelming with the demands on us to make ends meet, raise kids, be with our family, etc. But I do believe when we are intentional over the course of a year’s time we can shake old ways and make new ones. The old day can learn new tricks. I also like calling a junk hauling near me whenever there are items or furniture I want to dispose.

So here we go, let me be real about where we are with each of these goals and where I want to be.

My Low Waste goals for 2020 where we are beginning and where we hope to be

Cleaning Supplies including Laundry and Dishwasher soap first more than anything
Where we are right now:
Currently in terms of cleaning we have gotten down to using solely Castille Soap (Bronner’s in particular) for nearly everything from hand soap to dish soap. We use white vinegar and water to clean glass and stainless in our home. When we have hard stains we use Sal Suds from Bronner’s in either concentrated form or diluted for a spray. I plan to talk more about what we do and do a big break down in April so look for that, but this all works really well! We don’t buy any marketed cleaning supplies for anywhere in our home other than we do buy one bottle of disinfecting spray for the moment the stomach flu or a cold shows up in our house. I know people swear by Essential Oils, but I 100% know that things from like more bio based brands work in those instances so I stick to that 1 bottle we buy a year. For our Castille and Sal Suds, I buy in bulk so the bottle waste is very limited. Plus we dillute it. I do the same with white vinegar. You can buy a huge jug at places like Costco and we might use one every year. This doesn’t eliminate but it takes things down in a big way! I haven’t found anywhere to purchase white vinegar into a refillable container. But 1 container instead of 5-8 does a lot! We also use old cloths for all of our cleaning. It is simple and easy to do and all clothes are 100% cotton so they can be broken down in compost later when we have overused them. Old sheets make great cleaning rags! But we have a long way to go still with our laundry detergent and our dishwasher soap. 

Currently with dishwasher soap I use  Seventh Generation in a bulk container. So we eliminate containers but the formula isn’t the best AND it is probably more expensive than we need to be spending. I want to find an answer that is completely biodegradable and not harmful to the earth especially since we are on a well and septic system. I also don’t want any plastic waste. If you also have a septic system in your property, make sure to schedule a residential septic tank cleaning every three years or so. Septic pumping experts know what to do for maintenance of septic system.

With laundry soap I love The Laundress but the small containers even with 64 loads isn’t ideal. It is fairly eco but not as clean as I believe we should have. So I want to try a local brand we have and also consider making my own. We also buy the ECOS brand in bulk from Costco, but don’t let the ECO word fool you, it still isn’t the best either. I want to do better here but I know it is going to take some trial and error especially with stains and such with kids. 

Where I want to be by the end of the year:

My goal is to have our cleaning supplies and routine down to 100% sustainable, eco, and no waste. A small bit of cardboard is fine especially if we can start composting it with either our worm farm or in our bigger compost pile, but I want it all to have no impact ultimately and for sure no plastic. I am sad to ditch my beloved Laundress soaps but I also know the plastic waste is no good. I think we can do way better here and find a great solution to these challenges for our life.

Buy 2nd hand or natural/sustainable fiber clothing only – do the research before buying new

Where we are currently at:
We currently have slowed down our clothing consumption in a big way even with kids. I made a commitment with having a 2nd we wouldn’t buy anything new with her at least in the first year. We did receive gifts from people that were, but I wanted to make this baby a low impact as much as I could. We received hand me downs and so on. Though there are a few things I did buy new for her I bought them from small brands and/or made sure they were made of organic and sustainable and natural materials. No plastic! HARD to do to be honest, but so far so good. But what about ourselves. First of all we set a very clear clothing budget the last few years. This helps us know we need to buy less and invest better. Every clothing decision is a thought about thing in our house because of financial impact. But we still buy from time to time things on a spur of the moment situation. A walk through target and a quick shirt for Hayes is bought or I see something really I love on Zara and in the cart it goes. Not perfect by any means. But I want to change it. 

Where I want to be by the end of the year:
I want all of our kids clothes to be 2nd hand unless we cannot find certain things. Then we will purchase from brands that are quality and doing it right. This way we can hand down to friends or family because the item is so quality, but also the life cycle is more clear about how it is will be let go. Mike and I have learned to be very curated and minimal but I want to make sure that what we purchase are things we will use long term even if bought 2nd hand. We aren’t significantly changing in shape and so the more classic and quality items made of natural fibers the better! 

Eliminate all single use plastic waste in our home

Where we are currently at:
Currently we use more single use plastic in our kitchen than I would like to! It is less about the individual wrappers because we are have more or less eliminated those besides the clutch move when you are starving and need something quick. We do our best to keep individually wrapped snacks out of the house so they aren’t common place, but we still get many foods that come in the house in plastic that is not reusable. Though we do a ton of get items in cloth bags in the bulk section at our Co Op we still get things at places like Costco in single use plastic that though are in bulk, still have no use after. These things include frozen fruit and so on. We do really well not getting plastic wrapped or bagged fresh items but I would like to reserve our plastic waste for things that actually it is impossible to get otherwise such as meat from local farms. Even then it still comes in plastic. 

Where I want to be by the end of the year:
I want to be at a place where we solely getting single use plastic for items that we don’t have the option for but I also want to be looking and say, what sort of things can we get from our dried bulk area to create items we may be getting in single use as well. There are lots of options so I want to make sure we are making it a purposeful choice instead of a thoughtless one more than anything. Ultimately I would like a very VERY low if not Zero Waste kitchen for ourselves. 

Eliminate unnecessary mail coming into the house
Where we are currently at:
Currently, we have not worked at this at all. Like literally not a single bit so we are the normal human that gets a load of catalogs every week and so on. It’s really bad and the 2nd most wasteful thing about our home for sure!

Where I want to be by the end of the year:
I want to only be receiving the necessary bills and so on that come for things here and there and anything we have solely requested. Everything else I want to find a way to eliminate coming into our home by the end of the year.

Focus on Item Lifecycle with anything new we do purchase
Where we are currently at:
Up until the last 6 months we had been doing. Though we were thinking through what we were buying and the intentions and purposes of it, but we weren’t thinking what will happen with this item after we have had it for 10 or 20 years. How will this move through life and what will be left behind? But also where and how did this item get to us? What was the process to bring this into our lives? I had taken this approach to our food, but what about the items in our home as well?

Where I want to be by the end of the year:
My goal is that every purchase in our home is thought about in the same way we think about our food. I want to make sure that we buy with deeper intention about the impact of how an item was made to the impact it will have when we are done with it. We are beginning this year thinking about a new rug and this has been a huge focus with this item. It means we buy less things but it means that we will leave a better world on the other side. 

My Low Waste goals for 2020 where we are beginning and where we hope to be

Image by: Mae Stier

I have other small goals in my process of become more and more sustained by our land such as learning to can properly and doing more preservation this year so we can supply more of our food. I am trying to always learn how to cook and be more focused on local a little more every time we shop, but I know it is a life long process to learn as we have been slowly working on it for over 5 years now.

The above goals are all really big goals for us, but I feel really like we are on the right step towards making them all happen. Some are going to be bigger challenges than others, but I want to share about this through the year, so I hope you will talk about your’s with me as well. Tell me, what are 5 of your top goals for a more eco friendly life this year. Do you have things you want to make happen?! I would love to hear. I think it is best to talk about goals so we can all hold each other accountable through the process, don’t you?

So share your goals for the year or if you have any recommendations for me on any of these I would LOVE to hear! I have learned so much from all of you…I mean you all taught me about white vinegar for cleaning glass which works better than anything!! So I know you all know some wonderful hacks! Share away with me.

Hello! I’m Megan Gilger,

A strong believer that nature and the seasons are our greatest teachers. We live on a hill in Leelanau County, Michigan just a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan. This land we are responsible for is where we are focused on building a life around the seasons and intention. We spend our days here building a regenerative model of living and focusing our garden on native plants and intensive polyculture planting styles. My focus is less on self-sufficiency and more on community-sufficiency through how we grow and connect through the seasons.
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