Going fully Zero-Waste – Replacing Packaged Foods with Homemade Zero-Waste Versions

Baking has been a lot of fun. I’ve made zero-waste gluten- and dairy-free pizza at home, and pancakes, and bread. The other day I made yoghurt. It was SO easy. Often it’s easier to make something out bulk flour than to run to the store to get that item.

However, there are some items in my life, that I need to actively find replacements for, in order to go fully zero waste. At the moment I’m not buying any of this stuff, but I’d like to.

Here’s a pretty long list of foods that I’ll attempt to find or make without creating waste:

Mozzarella cheese
Hard cheese/cheese snack sticks (as snacks for kids)
“Clif” bars (for my boyfriend, preferably gluten free) Read more

How to Make DIY Zero Waste Plant Milks

DIY-ing Coconut Milk

Let me confess. Before starting out on this Zero Waste journey, some things used to seem like a complete mystery to me.

How to make plant milks was one of those great mysteries and initially I was shocked at how *easy* and simple this process is. I don’t digest lactose well, so I have bought A LOT of plant milks in my life. We’re talking years and years of 5$ coconut milk (the kind you put on cereal, not the heavy cooking milk), almond milk, rice milk, quinoa milk, tigernut milk… I wish I could rewind time and just make it all from scratch. It’s ridiculously cheap, waste-free and quick. Most plant milks take at most a few minutes to make and DIY-ing them is SO MUCH better for my health and the environment.

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Zero Waste at Home – What to Snack on?

Zero waste snacks 1 – thank god they sell pretzels in bulk!

Technically eating zero waste isn’t that hard. I *just* have to buy everything in bulk or in my own containers. Easy peasy.

But.. snacks? What the heck am I, or my partner, or guests, supposed to snack on? I used to just offer people potato chips, dips and veggies, ready-made ice cream…  I’ve really had to retrain myself in this area of my life. The things I used to offer as snacks simply don’t come readymade without the packaging.

Here are some of the things I offer as snacks now.

Savory:

– Olives (from the olive bar at Whole Foods)

– Homemade Gluten-free bread with olive oil

– salted nuts and pistachios

– bulk pretzels

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Zero Waste Travel, It Gets Easier

I’ve been traveling around with a focus on zero waste for a few weeks now. As you can see in my last post, I didn’t do too well at first. By now I’m managing to stay *mostly* waste free. I have been buying foods in bulk at a Whole Foods location in NYC and been eating out in restaurants, refusing single use items.

Buying in bulk is also cheaper…

After NYC, I took the train to Philadelphia and stopped by at a startup event at a co-working space, which was run by friends of mine.  Read more

Zero Waste Travel, it’s Hard

I am in the middle of a 10 day multi-city trip. We’re traveling to NYC, Washington DC, NY again, Philadelphia and Vegas – and, I admit it, so far I’ve blatantly failed at avoiding to create trash during a significant part of this trip.

 

I set out on this with great intentions, but a little too much optimism. I packed some sporks, bulk bags, a food container, a mason jar… and I thought I’d be FINE.

Damn was I wrong.

I started this “zero waste living thing” while in California, and I just didn’t realise how eco-conscious California is, compared to the rest of the US. In San Francisco they generally don’t put a straw in your drink without asking first (!) and most cafes I go to have ZERO issues filling up my mason jar with drinks or food. So far, two servers around here have refused to fill up my jar with coffee, or green juice – and then I went to go to DC for two days and left the jar at my friend’s house.

This is the result of just two days of not paying much attention to zero waste:

My trash during this trip, most of it 🙁

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What this Site is About – My Personal Bottom Line Project

I have begun something that could probably best be defined as my personal “Environmental Bottom Line Project.” Basically, I’m in the middle of a lifestyle overhaul, with the goal of figuring out how little (negative) environmental impact I can make, while living a productive and exciting life, which also involves frequent travel.

In short, I want to find my personal bottom line when it comes to harming the planet. I’m designing this project for myself, setting the rules as I go.

First – What am I doing?

A – Aim to harm the earth as little as possible. Reducing my carbon footprint and overall environmental footprint as much as I, personally, can by changing my shopping, eating, travel, and overall lifestyle habits.

B – Make a positive impact on the environment by volunteering for nonprofits, supporting companies in the sustainability space, or developing new solutions to advance sustainability goals.

I am tackling my living habits in lots of little increments, one or two at a time, and going forward from here, I’ll write about some of the changes I’m making. I’ve made a list of topics to work on:

A. Food shopping

Dining out

Bathroom products/Toiletries

Household/Cleaning

Fashion – Clothes

Shoes

Transportation (every day)

Long-distance travel

Energy usage (electricity consumption)

Gadgets

Reading

Parties

Furniture

Office

B. Volunteering

Environmental Conservation

Counteracting the effects of climate change

Innovating for Sustainability

Some of these are topics that affect my everyday life – transportation, food, fashion, anything consumer related – and I’m already working on implementing sustainable changes in these areas. I’m buying packaging free as much as possible, taking public transport, using solar chargers, etc.

As I’m currently on an extended sabbatical from work in Germany, and bouncing around the US, I don’t need to worry about things like furniture and my footprint at the office at the moment. For the coming months, I’ll focus on my own footprint, but upon my return to my home base in late Winter, I’m looking to make a positive impact on the environment through my work as well.

Why am I doing this?

After my last startup, speechangel.com, I decided to take some time off to process what I learned and get inspired to do something bigger to help combat climate change. To be really blunt… Before I embark on the next thing, I want to actually put my money where my mouth is in all aspects of my life. I believe that it’s hard to advocate for solutions to global warming, when I am contributing to the problem to a much larger extent than necessary. 

For the past few years, my lifestyle has probably been a bit of a cliche version of the average digital nomad’s life. I’ve been taking planes often, have been eating out of take-out containers a couple of times per month and shopped for mainstream branded clothes in giant malls around the globe. I have always cared about the planet, somewhere deep down, but I haven’t been living in alignment with my values. When I look at my lifestyle, I could be doing, or NOT doing, so much more to make a difference.

I’ve been doing a lot of yoga over the years – I even spent half a year in India for yoga. Many of my teachers have said to me, that the only thing that’s harder than doing yoga, is not doing yoga. Changing my lifestyle feels similar to me. The only thing that feels even harder than changing my footprint, is not changing my footprint. I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to live what I believe in.

Why a new blog?

I found that my focus in this project is very introspective, so I decided to start a new blog for the Bottom Line Project and related writing that focuses on sustainability and individual actions.

When? 

I started implementing changes in July/August 2017, and I hope I’ll reach some sort of sustainability baseline by my birthday on February 19th in 2018.

Alicia