Lessening waste in today's world isn't easy. Nearly everything bought in a store is wrapped in plastic or made out of it. Attempting to buy items in bulk, plan meals in advance, and reduce your single use plastics takes forethought and effort - much more so than a quick, convenient run to the super market to pick up dinner to go.
For the past month, I've been attempting to participate in Plastic Free July and, if nothing else, it's opened my eyes even more to the sheer amount of plastic and waste that's readily available at our finger tips on a daily basis.
Some days I succeeded and others I failed miserably (our roadtrip to Omaha was particularly bad), but if there's one thing I learned during the challenge it's that small, pre-planned actions really can add up. Reducing waste may not be the easiest option, but with some habit re-wiring, and a bit of effort, it's totally possible and incredibly rewarding.
One of the hardest parts of living a low waste lifestyle for me is the addition of my kiddos to the mix. It's difficult enough to reduce waste as a single person or someone living with a partner, but with a family, especially one with young kids, it can seem impossible. Gifts come wrapped in (or made of) plastic, most food that is marketed towards kids is covered in single-use plastic, and frankly, it's much more of a hassle to buy in bulk, plastic free, and plan ahead with two grumpy toddlers in tow at the grocery store. Straws, plastic plates, styrofoam...the works...it's all the norm for most families regardless of how old their kids are.
So when Acacia Creations, an artisan marketplace I've admired for a few years, asked to partner on a blog post centered around a zero-waste summer picnic, I was skeptical. I was sure that, true to our normal tendencies, we'd cave and buy prepackaged food for the picnic, or that I'd forget silverware and drift towards the plastic-ware aisle. But I knew it was worth a shot. Acacia was sweet enough to send over a few pieces that not only made my zero-waste picnic much more aesthetically pleasing, but inspired me to follow through with my plans to have a truly zero-waste meal with my family.
A bit about the brand before we dive into the pieces, because as many beautiful ethical marketplaces as there are, Acacia has one of the sweetest and most impacting missions of any that I've found yet. Acacia Creations is based in Nairobi, but works in 7 different countries across Africa and Asia. More than a fair trade company, Acacia creates jobs, provides training and health care, and gives back to each community they're involved in. Their pieces are extremely well designed (I've had their olive wood servers for a year or so as well and love how durable yet beautiful they are) and are handmade by craftsman carving out a better livelihood for themselves and their families.
With their gorgeous handwoven cotton table runner as a centerpiece, and their clear Zanzibar canister (made from upcycled bottles found on beaches with a handcarved wooden lid) as a beautiful multi-use piece, I hauled the whole group outside earlier this week to test just how zero-waste we could be.
Although preparing for the picnic wasn't nearly as quick and easy as running to pick up a carton of prepackaged fruit and a sandwich to share, preparing our food ahead of time felt much more intentional and, of course, healthy. I made a quick salad, cut up some watermelon (my girls' favorite), and sauteed some brussel spouts and corn for something a bit more filling and comforting.
I put it all in reusable, glass containers, grabbed a few forks from the kitchen and glasses to fill with water when we got there, and tossed it all in my Mother Erth tote and we were off. It was a windy, rainy afternoon, but the sun cleared just long enough for us to eat and take a few photos before the thunder started rolling in.
We didn't have plates and, if we had more than just us joining in, I would have spent more time crafting a more well-rounded meal, but on the whole, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to prep, pack, picnic, and put away. Our reliance on convenience can brainwash us into believing that it's not possible to do things the "old fashioned way" - however, I, like so many others out there, am working on rewiring my go-to habits and making them as ethical, sustainable and kind as possible.
With Plastic Free July nearly over, I'm curious, how many of you try to live a low waste lifestyle? What has been your biggest struggle and/or how have you rewired your own habits to be more sustainable?
*This post was sponsored by Acacia Creations. All photos and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible*