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Zero Waste Living

Confessions of a Zero Waste Mama – A Short Story


I hear my name being called as I’m doing dishes in the kitchen. 

My 2.5-year-old is sitting on the potty, and needs my help doing, well, 2.5-year-old potty things. 

I go in and do my mama thing, help him wash his hands, then say:

“Go into your room and get a new pull-up”. 

I take the old pull-up and throw it in the trash.

Yes, you read that right. 

The trash.

Yes, you are reading a zero waste blog.

Yes, I consider myself a ‘zero-waster’.

Before I get any judgy comments or emails, let me explain.

When my family and I first started our zero waste journey, my son was a couple months shy of turning two. We had tried using cloth diapers when he was a newborn. For three months, every single diaper style we tried leaked and he was going through 5-8 outfits a day. After three months, I threw in the towel (pun intended), and we switched to disposables. As a new mom (and dad) with a newborn, it was just one extra thing we felt we didn’t have any extra time and energy to allocate to trying to figure out cloth diapers. AND, it was one area we could easily reduce stress. 

Once we started adopting more zero waste ways, the thought of making the switch to reusable diapers when we (hopefully) would be starting the potty-training process in the very near future seemed more trouble than it’s worth. Do I feel guilty? Yes, a little bit. But I’ll admit, it feels good to confess and get it off my chest. 

Related post: Super Easy Zero Waste Swaps That are Saving us Over $1200 A Year (that’s over $100 a Month!)

While I’m at it, here are other things we DON’T do as ‘zero wasters’:

  • We don’t buy groceries in bulk. For budgetary reasons, we shop at Aldi almost exclusively. For those who are unfamiliar with Aldi, they do not offer any type of bulk section, and most of their produce comes in some type of packaging. 

  • We have pets. Pet waste contributes to a lot of our trash. Does that mean we’re going to give up our pets? No. And while there are certain somewhat sustainable pet waste supplies, they are super expensive and not in our budget right now.

  • We sometimes buy take-out, it is a rare occurrence, but we do. Have you ever noticed just how much trash is produced with takeout? Sure, there are restaurants in our area that serve items in compostable items, but we don’t always choose them. 

So why has this post turned into a zero waste confessional? 

While my family and I have made MANY changes to our daily lives to incorporate ways to reduce waste (since we started our zero waste journey we have reduced our trash by 35-40 lbs a week), there are still certain areas that we are working on. And, there are areas that we won’t be working on. At least not right now. The zero waste movement (as it is named) is not always appropriate for people in their current season of life. And that’s OK. I am such a firm believer in doing what you can, with the resources you have in this season of life right now. We are making changes, however slowly, however little, as we can. And the areas that we can’t reduce waste? We try not to worry about it, and instead focus on areas that we can. And that is leaps ahead of those who aren’t doing anything! 

Related posts:

9 (free) Community-Based Actions You Can Do To Combat Eco Anxiety, Eco Guilt, and Eco Grief

Eco Anxiety and Guilt: The What and The How (to Manage)

So while I may not look like a “zero-waster” (what does that even look like?), I will throw my son’s disposable pull-up in the trash knowing that my family and I are doing what we can working towards reducing as much waste as we possibly can. With the resources we have right now.

Want to learn how to adopt a reduction based lifestyle (through mindfulness, minimalism, anxiety management, and zero waste living but not sure where to start?

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5 years ago

I read your article and I totally agree! Cloth diapers weren’t in the cards for us either and I also have a potty training 2.5-year-old and I don’t think we could handle cloth right now. We haven’t started a zero waste journey yet, but it is something I have been looking at, just never knew where to start and then got completely overwhelmed thinking about it! Thanks for sharing! This definitely helps me know that even using a reusable straw instead of plastic is a step in the right direction.


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Amanda @ Healthy House on the Block

I read your article and have to say thank you for being so transparent about your zero waste living. I think we all have to be a little more realistic about our expectations about living an eco-friendly or healthier lifestyle. We’re humans and we’re far from perfect, so whatever we choose to do will be imperfect as well. But that’s okay! Any step in the right direction is an absolute positive. Thanks so much for sharing this, Laura! Such great insight.