Composter at our community garden

If I told you that there was ONE change that could lead to a 40% reduction in household trash, would you believe me?? Well, my friends it is true! All you gotta do is COMPOST!  As soon as we started composting, we saw dramatic reductions in our landfill waste.

Not only is composting an essential step in your journey to reduce your personal waste, it is also way better for the environment. Food waste does NOT belong in the landfill. When trapped in a plastic bag and tightly compacted into a landfill, compostable waste slowly decomposes and releases methane. Methane is a highly flammable, volatile greenhouse gas. When released into the atmosphere, it traps 84 times more heat than CO2. Not good!

IMG_0948On the flip side, when food waste is composted, it transforms into a nutrient rich hummus, which we can use to enrich the soil. This creates a healthy and fertile land for plants to grow. Much better!

Why does this happen when composted but not in landfills?? Simply put, when you compost, organic matter has the necessary environment for aerobic bacteria to thrive: oxygen, warmth and moisture. Under these conditions, aerobic bacteria consume the organic matter and excrete chemicals that plants need, like nitrogen and magnesium. This environment is also great home for other helpful creatures like worms, who will happily chop down on our food waste and help break it down into plant food. In the landfill, there is no oxygen, sunlight etc… so the aerobic bacteria and insects can’t live and the anaerobic bacteria take over. They do not process organic waste as efficiently and they emit chemicals that are toxic to plants.


A bucket to collect kitchen scraps!

We were very lucky. The year we started our zero waste journey was also the year that our municipality started their curb-side compost pick up, hooray!! We have a bucket under the sink for compost waste. To keep things mess free, we fold up newspaper into a bin liner. Check out my tutorial on how to do this here . Once our bucket is full, we wrap up the waste and put in in our brown bin, which is kept outside. Every week we put out our brown bin for collection. After collection, we wash out our bin. For any meat scraps, we wrap in newspaper and keep in the freezer until collection day. This really helps with the ick factor of municipal composting hehe!

Compost posterSince those first days, we have also started a back yard compost and I was put in charge of the compost collection at our community garden. I guess you can say I am a pretty big fan of composting! There is a lot of composting info out there and it can seem pretty overwhelming, but I have found that it is pretty simple. I put together some guidelines for our community garden and it worked out really well!

We apply the same rules for our backyard composter, which is actually just our old garbage pail with holes drilled in it! We aim for a 50/50 ratio of greens and browns and rotate (stir it around) regularly. If the compost looks dry, we add some water. If it looks too wet or mouldy, we add more browns and stir it around. If things are going well, the compost bin should smell good, earthy, like a forest after a spring rain! It truly does!

At the end of summer, we had some nice compost that we can use for next season 🙂

Zero Waste Holidays, here we go!



Montreal, Canada, November 21st, 2018

It has been snowing pretty much non-stop in Montreal this week, so even though we are only November, I am dreaming of the holidays! My LED lights are up and I am researching where we will get our christmas tree this year! Next on my agenda is how we will go about celebrating in a waste free way.


Shane (little blond guy) had a very different sort of christmas than me!

Last year we had it easy because we were in Australia with my in-laws for x-mas. My husband Shane grew up on a farm in rural Australia. He doesn’t remember ever getting christmas gifts. One year at Christmas, they built a pool. Another year, they got a trampoline for the whole family. But gifts wrapped under a tree? That wasn’t a thing in his house.

So as you can imagine, it was relatively easy to have a low waste holiday in Australia. My in-laws gifted us kid free day and a beautiful excursion to a nearby island. We gifted the kids little hand made items. We built christmas trees out of recycled materials and driftwood. We baked sugar cookies for the neighbours. It was pretty awesome!!

My Christmas memories could not be more opposite of Shane’s! Christmas in my family was allllll about the mountain of gifts under the tree. A little bit about the delicious feast my mom would cook, but mostly about the presents.


Jess’s Christmas 1987, with baby sister Mandy

This year, we are celebrating with the family that loves ’em a good ol’ pile of presents. I tried to send out an early message to encourage my family to give the gift of their time instead of something wrapped, but most had already bought gifts!!!

So now I am just keeping my fingers crossed that they haven’t gone overboard. The gift between my sisters and I will be an experience gift, so I am excited about that! As for me, the only thing I want for christmas is a nice family dinner and softly falling snow 🙂


Packing tips for a low-waste Journey!



Snack for the plane 🙂


Last year at this time we were going to Australia!! And guess what? I stumbled upon my half finished blog post about it haha! I really have to get better at keeping my blog up to date. But better late than never right?? So here is it! Packing tips for when you are going on a 30+hours of plane rides with 2 young children…and trying to do it zero waste!

* * * *

We are going to Australia!! That’s right, we are taking our 3 year old and 19 month old half across the world. The longest plane ride will be 16 hours, lord help me! We leave Montreal, have couple days layover in Vancouver, then continue to Sydney. Once in Australia, we planned 3 week road trip. Then we will spend month at my inlaw’s beach house. And we will attempt to continuing living as Zero wasters during this adventure down under. Scared yet?! I am!

The first thing to do was figure out what we needed to bring with us. The plan was to bring just ONE checked bag and ONE carry on for the four of us. Challenge accepted!


All our luggage for our family of four!!!

In the end I had one big backpack, one smaller backpack, a mini toddler bag, a reusable grocery bag and the double stroller. Not too bad for a family of 4 traveling for 2 months!

I brought a few cloth produce and bulk bags and 2 fold up reusable bags.  In the carry on bag I packed our stainless steel water bottles, mason jar mugs, cutlery set and a mini wet bag with some cloth wipes, a big wet bag for soiled clothes/dishes, tiffins (filled with snacks for the plane), toothbrushes and extra set of clothes for each of us. The mini backpack had all the toys for the kids. The reusable grocery bag held the baby beach tent, which could also be used as a bed for Max. The big backpack had all our clothes, our hammock, floaties for the kids and items that couldn’t be carried on like bug spray and sunscreen. I used a technique called the army roll for our clothes and secured them with rubber produce bands. It saved SO much space!!!

While on the plane, we do eat the provided meals. There was no option to opt out of meals and with such a long plane ride, I wouldn’t be able to pack enough food for the four of us anyways. According to my flight attendant friend, the airline will prepare a certain amount of meals based on the amount of passengers regardless. Whatever is not consumed is thrown out. To me, an uneaten tray in the bin is worse than an empty tray in the bin, right?!? We keep recyclables with us and dispose of them properly once on the ground. We fill our water bottles after we get through security and we use our mugs for drinks on the plane. We refuse the packaged cutlery and use our own. For flights with meals for purchase, we bring our own food in the tiffins. We bring crayons and books for the kids to avoid the packaged kids activity packs that many airlines provide.

So now we are set and ready to go! Wish me luck!


Let the adventure begin!!!!

Zero Waste tips: Fridge

The next cheat sheet in the Simple zero waste swap series focusing on the fridge! The very first baby step you can take is in the grocery store. Simply choose unpackaged produce over plastic wrapped items. Even if the cost is a little higher, the money saved from not buying disposable items and by skipping the middle aisles of the grocery store (where most of the packaged ready made items are) means that your grocery bill will be about the same or a bit less than pre-zero waste. It’s actually quite eye opening when you realize how much you have been spending on throw away items and harmful/unnecessary cleaning products! If you take it a step further and reduce your meat and dairy intake (food items with some of the largest carbon footprints), this will mean even more savings to put towards other things, or even allow some wiggle room in the budget to buy higher quality or organic food!

Simple 2 Fridge

Zero Waste Tips For the Kitchen

We have been living a  “zero waste” for over a year now! It’s amazing how by starting with just a few simple baby steps, we have dramatically reduced our household trash! The best part though is sharing our journey with others. There is nothing more encouraging than having others say you’ve inspired them to take steps to reduce their own footprint! Whether it’s having someone tell me about their first bulk bin haul or a friend saying they have ordered reusable straws, every small step that others take brings me so much joy! It makes the journey even more rewarding.

With so many asking me how they too can get started on this journey,  I put together some zerowaste cheat sheets! They list simple swaps for each area of the house. I hope it is helpful to anyone looking to take some baby steps to zero waste! Here is the first in the series, focusing on the kitchen.

This was the easiest place for us to transition. Once we ran out of a disposable items, we made do without or found reusable alternatives. When a plastic item broke, it was replaced with wood, stainless steel, cast iron or silicone. These types of materials are made to last and don’t pose the health risks of plastics.  In the case of wood, they are compostable at the end of their lifespan!
Simple-1 Kitchen

Zero waste: Feeding Baby


The first days can be tricky, if you need help, the earlier you reach out, the better!

Feeding your baby in a zero waste friendly way is super easy if you are able to exclusively breastfeed. Breast milk and breastfeeding has huge benefits for both the mother and baby. It is package free, easy to transport and always fresh 🙂 Babies can thrive on breast milk alone for the first few months of their life. But it’s not always easy and if you really want to breastfeed but are having trouble, I strongly suggest seeking out help from a good lactation consultant ASAP, within the first days postpartum. The longer you wait, the more problems will pile up. Problems that are an easy fix in the beginning, turn into big, difficult to change problems later on. Dr. Jack Newman is also an incredible resource. He is a pediatrician who specializes in breastfeeding. He has a clinic in Toronto but also responds to emails. For more info and great information check out his facebook page

If you cannot breastfeed, see if you can get donated breast milk from a trusted mother. This is not a well known option, but it is a good option for those who need to supplement or cannot breastfeed. I regularly donated my milk on a Facebook page called Human Milk for Human Babies. Find your local chapter! So many generous mothers are willing to give away their extra milk! Breast milk is of course a bodily fluid, and carries a risk that is it not properly handled or contaminated. Most people don’t realize this, but formula preparations also carry these risks. Most mothers have been tested for diseases during their pregnancy and are very upfront about their diet, lifestyle and medication uses. The milk sharing page is mother to mother, so you go to their house, you see their baby, you can get a good feel about whether you trust this milk source or not. Where as in a store, it is just packaged on a shelf. You never see the facility it is prepared in or what goes in it,  you are just trusting that they adhere to safety standards. You can arrange for the donor mother to store her milk in provided glass jars, which you can sterilize and bring back to her to refill. Or just get the milk bags, yes they are waste, but most can be recycled if washed out and are creating a lot less waste than any formula you buy. If you are not comfortable taking from a stranger, if you have a friend that is breastfeeding, see if they would be willingly to share milk with you.

If your baby is in the NICU, you can also get access to donated breast milk from a milk bank. I have also regularly donated to Hema quebec’s milk bank. Mother’s who donate this way undergo regular blood tests and the milk is treated and screened. This milk is vital to the survival of premature babies, who have extremely delicate intestinal systems and immature immune systems.

If you are a breastfeeding mother with an abundant supply, consider donating to these causes. Breast milk is so, so beneficial to babies. And the Saddest thing is when you have a freezer full of milk, only to discover that your baby doesn’t drink from a bottle, or your baby has a bovine intolerance and you need to change your diet. That milk stash does not need to go to waste! Please pass on that liquid gold 🙂


Breastfeeding: Portable, package free and always fresh!

But please remember that health always comes before Zero Waste! Obviously do what you need to do to make sure your baby is healthy and fed! If you cannot breastfeed and do not have access to trusted donor milk, the next best milk for infants is commercial formula. Get the largest tin you can purchase and find ways to reuse them, there are tons of ideas on pinterest 

Eventually your baby will need to have something in addition to breast milk. One of the easiest, zero waste friendly ways to introduce your baby to solids is Baby Led Weaning (BLW). I was so excited when we were given the go ahead to start solid food with Skyla. I had never heard about BLW, so I spent all day cooking, steaming and roasting to make all sorts of beautiful purees. Package free, healthy homemade baby food, zero waste win right?! But she refused them all. She wanted what was on OUR plates. After getting splattered yet again with my latest puree attempt, I gave in and handed her a steamed broccoli floret. She devoured it. And thus our adventures in Baby Led Weaning had begun!


What is Baby Led Weaning?

Baby Led Weaning (BLW) is basically skipping the pureed foods and going straight to real food. It is about letting your child lead when it comes to food introduction. This method allows them learn how to chew and swallow food, as opposed to drinking their food as they do with purees. It allows the baby to decide what and how much they want to eat. I always breastfed my babies on demand, trusting that they knew how much and when they needed to eat, so I found this method of food introduction a lovely continuum that kept to those same principles.

BLW fits in beautifully with the zero waste lifestyle because you don’t have to buy any packaged baby food, hooray! It’s also great time saver because you don’t have to do any special preparations for your baby’s meals. They simply eat what you are eating.

The recommendations on when and how to introduce foods to babies are constantly changing. We let our baby guide us. Our son would wail during meals times and frantically tried to grab food off our plates at 4.5 month old. So that’s when he started eating food. My daughter was a bit later, around 6 months old. We have no risk factors for allergies, so aside from honey, our babies ate everything right from the start with no special introductory order. Max started eating while we were traveling in Greece, so one of his first foods was calamari!

*Disclaimer: Of course you should always do what is best for you family and children. This is just what worked for us. It is also a good idea to be familiar and comfortable with emergency response techniques like the Heimlich maneuver in case of choking.

For anyone curious about how to do Baby Led Weaning, there are many books and websites to guide you, but here are our Top BLW tips:

  1. Start with large pieces that the baby is able to hold in their first and gnaw on.

The pincer grasp only develops between 8 and 12 months so we found at the beginning it was easier for the baby to eat food they could pick up and hold in their fist. Max’s favourite was a whole chicken drumstick. He would hold it by the bone and gnaw on it for ages. Toast cut into strips with peanut butter, orange or apples cut into quarters with the peel on, banana cut into long halves, large lightly steamed broccoli or carrots, whole asparagus sprigs, sweet potato cut into long quarters with the peel on, healthy homemade muffins and bars are some examples of foods we started with

2.   Know the difference between gagging and choking. 

Max loved to stuff his mouth full of food and then to spit it all out. This is how he explored food, got used to new tastes and textures and leaned how to move food around in his mouth. To reduce food waste, we would give him just one piece of food at a time. He would sometimes stuff his mouth so full that he would gag. This is normal, though it did cause some mini heart attacks! The gag reflex helps protect against choking. In babies between 4 and 6 months the gag reflex is closer to the opening of the mouth, so they will almost always be able to push out food before it comes close to the back of their throat, thus reducing their risk of choking. But of course, it is a good idea to be familiar with signs of choking and what to do if that occurs. And actually our daughter would gag a lot more when we tried to feed her purees, she did much better with solid pieces of food.

3.  Have fun with different spices or flavours. 

Our babies really enjoyed all sorts of flavours, Skyla still loves to chew on lemons! I really think introducing lots of flavours, textures and tastes early help reduce pickiness later on. I always remind myself that somewhere in the world, this food is a staple and regular occurrence. So have fun 🙂 I just made sure not to make things high in salt or sugar….and maybe go easy on the chill flakes, hehe!

4. Trust your baby when it comes to portion size.

With BLW it is the baby in charge of deciding how much they eat. It is ok if they don’t seem to eat much, their tummies are small. If they are hungry they will eat. I believe letting your baby have control over how much they eat sets up good eating habits later in life. They learn right from the start to listen to their body and respect their hunger cues. Someone told me, as the parent you are in charge of what they eat and the baby is in charge of how much they eat. So long I was providing nutritious, healthy options, I was doing my job well. This was a huge weight off my shoulders. They also said to focus on their weekly intake as opposed to daily intake. Some days all my kids wanted to eat was carbs. Other days only yogurt. I did my best to hide in fruits and veggies where ever I could, but if over the course of the week their diet was pretty balanced, I knew not to worry.

5. Be flexible 

Just because you chose to do BLW, doesn’t mean you can never offer purees. With Skyla, she pretty much skipped purees completely, but she liked yogurt, so we took that opportunity to mix in purees and baby cereal to incorporate some extra fruit, vegetables and iron into her diet. With Max we did a mix of both. He Loved real food, but at the beginning wasn’t able to eat much and would still be hungry. I tried to breastfeed more, but he refused, he wanted food. So we gave him some purees to top him up and then he was happy. Sometimes when they were teething or sick, they would only eat pureed food.  It’s ok, with BLW it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you don’t have time to make your own purees, stick to the glass jars of baby food. The pouches are really convenient, but they are horrible for the environment.

6. Experiment with different sizes and textures

As our baby grew older and his pincer grasp developed, he no longer wanted big chunks of food, he preferred little pieces that he could pick up with his fingers. By this time he was a very confident eater, so we felt at ease giving him smaller pieces. We cut up his food or gave him little finger foods like peas, raisins, cereal etc… If he refused things, I tried to offer it in a different way. For example, cheese can be offered in slices, cubes, grated or melted over a cracker.

7. Last bits

Babies love to explore foods. Be wary of labelling your child a picky eater or projecting food preferences on to them. It can take 10 introductions of a food before a baby will eat it! Just because they don’t like it at one meal, doesn’t mean the next day they won’t like it. Offer small portions to reduce food waste. Many of us were trained to clean our plate, but food habits like that can lead to over eating. Trust your child to know when they are full. If they haven’t eaten much, keep their food in the fridge and offer it again later when they are hungry. Let them eat naked, or with an old t-shirt on and keep a rag handy, BLW can be messy! Offer spoons or forks as your baby gets older. Max loves to eat with utensils and could use them around 10 months old. Skyla is 4 and still prefers eating with her hands. Growing a garden is also a fun way to teach kids about healthy foods and encourage young ones to eat their veggies….and is an excellent source of fresh, package free food 🙂 Cherry tomatoes and bean straight from the vine are a favourite around here and can be grown on a pot on your balcony, which is great for city dwellers like us!

DSC09939My last bit of advice is to have fun with food and not stress about it. My kids are both very slim, tiny and boob-a-holics. My daughter never wanted to eat and it was a huge source of stress for us. Max Loves food and eats like crazy, but he is still small! I come to realize that my children are just small people and that is ok! I no longer stress about food. I offer them what we are eating. If they dont want it, they can have plain yogurt loaded with fruit/veggie, oats, chia etc… or we try again with their meal later. It makes meal times much more peaceful and easy 🙂


From Resolution to Lifestyle

We are now 8 months into our Zero Waste journey and what a journey it’s been! We have made so many changes, it’s time for an update! I feel like a whole new world has been opened up to me. What started as a new years resolution is slowly becoming a lifestyle. I finally feel like I am living in harmony with my values.  The sense of peace I get with every success keeps me on track and motivates me to do even better. It is the very first new years resolution that I can see becoming a permanent fixture in my life!

As a Zero Waster, you end up getting a lot of attention. You are doing things differently. Making “special” requests. Asking questions that are difficult to answer. The most common response I get when I explain what I am doing is “wow! That must be SO hard! I could never do that.” But I believe that when something is right, it actually is not hard. Yes, it might take a lot of work. I may face challenges that are difficult to overcome. But it is never Hard. The reason for this is because I have the Motivation to keep going. I have the Confidence to stick to it. I do it because the alternative feels SO wrong, it actually makes me feel sick sometimes. And once your eyes have been opened, you can never go back to your previous ignorance. As with any change, you find your groove and it becomes your new normal.

The things that I DO find hard are:

  • Accepting that changes on a bigger scale take time
  • Knowing that my efforts are but a small drop in a big ocean
  • Accepting that some zero waste options don’t make sense for us or don’t exist yet
  • The feeling of powerlessness to get though to people or to make changes happen.
  • Coping with the mental burden and despair I feel when I think about the world’s problems.
  • Keeping faith in the good of humanity when there is so much hatred in the news
  • Overcoming my own shyness and social fears

On the flip side, this newly acquired attention is a great opportunity to gently introduce changes to other people. Every time I go to the grocery store with my cotton mesh reusable produce bags, someone asks where I got them. When I go to Bulk Barn with my jars, customers stop to admire them and ask about how the “bring your own container” program works. When I bring containers to my favourite take out restaurant, people look. When I pull out my mason jar mug and steel straw at a resort, people look. When I walk down the street picking up trash with my baby and toddler, people look. When my baby runs around the park wearing underwear instead of diapers and signs to use the potty, they look (ok, their eyes nearly bulge out of their heads! haha!) And not only do they look, they come up to me and ask questions. They get inspired. They applaud. They learn. They gain confidence. Most people do things a certain way simply because they don’t know that other options exist. I know because 9 months ago I was one of those people! This is a major motivator for me to get out and do what I am doing. I strongly believe in leading by example. Most people are afraid and resistant to change. But if they see someone else doing it, it suddenly is not so scary.

So my friends, have confidence in what you are doing for our Earth. Be the change it needs. More and more I see small changes happening. From bulk stores popping up, to green city initiatives, to restaurants no longer offering straws and vegan options popping up on menus. It’s coming, there is still hope ❤






Zero waste: Yogurt Solution


Mmmm love me a dressed up yogurt!

My kids Love yogurt. They like the plainest, sugarless yogurt I could find, which I got in a big plastic tub. So luckily I was not forced to buy those horrid sugar filled mini yogurt cups that they market for children. Have you seen the sugar content of those little yogurt cups? Crazy!! But now we have gone plastic free, so I needed to find an alternative.

Unfortunately there is no yogurt at our bulk store, so I decided to make my own. I don’t have a yogurt maker, but I do have a crockpot. So I looked for a recipe and stumbled upon this one:

As usual, I am highly skeptical of anything that looks too easy. I had been buying yogurt for YEARS thinking it was something difficult to make. What do you mean IT IS JUST HEATING MILK AND THEN COOLING IT?!? Ya, because that’s basically as complicated as the recipe gets!

Step 1:

Get a starter. I used 1/2cup of store bought plain yogurt (10%m.f). Once you make your yogurt, you can use it as your starter, just set aside 1/2cup to be used for your next batch.

Step 2:

Buy 2 litres of whole milk or the highest milk fat you can find. I get organic milk in glass bottles from a local farm, it is 3.8% m.f.


Step 3:

Pour 2 litres into your crockpot, cover and set on HIGH. Leave for about 2 hours. Set a timer. Mine takes 2hr20 minutes.

Step 4:

Once your milk has reached 180F (check with a food thermometer) turn off crockpot and let your milk cool down to 115F. This also takes about 2hrs. At the same time, take your starter out of the fridge and leave it on the counter so it gradually gets to room temperature.


Step 5:

When your milk has reached 110-115F, ladle out a small bit and gently mix into your starter. Then pour it into your crockpot and gently mix.

Step 6:

Wrap your crockpot in towels and leave it somewhere undisturbed for 12hrs. I usually put it in my oven.

Step 7:

The next day your milk will have magically transformed into yogurt!!!! Amazing!!! All you have left to do is strain it! Line a mesh sieve with some cheesecloth, plop your yogurt in and let the whey drain. The longer you strain it, the thicker it will be. You can always add some whey back in to adjust the consistency. You can even drain it for the whole day and then it makes a cream cheese like cheese!


Straining with a cheesecloth

The yogurt will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Keep in mind that this is homemade plain yogurt, so it will taste different from store bought yogurt, which typically has a lot of sugar added into it. Mine is quite tangy but the kids like it. When you are ready to serve, you can mix it with fruit, purees, chia, oats, chocolate chips, flax…whatever floats your boat!


Mmmm Chia, flax, cocoa, oats, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, banana and a drizzle of maple syrup. How is this even breakfast!?


Yogurt and Whey

Ps. Don’t discard the whey! It is loaded with protein. You can add it to smoothies, soup stock, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, it can also be frozen! I usually use it to make pancakes or waffles.

Update: Since learning to make yogurt, I have been able to find yogurt in glass containers! So when I don’t have time to sit around babysitting a crockpot, this is my go to option. And when I am looking for an extra special treat, I found these tiny little “petit pot” yogurts from Riviera*! They are seriously delicious and I use the glass jars as cups for the kids!

Note: My Father in law always makes his own yogurt, even when they go camping!! I have not tried it but this is his method

  • use an insulated container (like a thermos)
  • Put in 2 cups of full cream powdered milk + warm water + a tablespoon of the current yogurt batch.
  • Leave for 12 hours.
  • Have yogurt!
  • They found it was best to start off with the commercial starter  (packet of EasiYo Greek starter)

Which seems crazy simple. If you try this out, please let me know if it actually worked!

*Not affiliated or sponsored by this company, just like their yogurt 🙂

Zero Waste Travel

DSC00156Well, it was that time of year again. The point where if I had to shovel one more scoop of snow or wrestle my kids into their snow suits one more time, I truly think I would have gone mad. So we booked a week escape to hot and sunny Cuba! Woo Hoo!

We have always been eco conscious, but it would be the first time traveling since we started on our Zero Waste journey. Though we are nowhere near Bea Johnson level, I think we did pretty well! This is what we did to keep our environmental impact minimal:


When we travel, our goal is to bring just ONE bag for the four of us. To create more packing space, I usually roll all our clothing, stuff it into big ziplock freezer bags and squeeze all the air out. This time I used the military roll technique to pack, skipping the ziplock bags. This is a super efficient way to roll, it saved so much space!! I rolled everything and kept it packed tightly together with elastics. I was pretty pleased to finally find a use for all my produce elastics!!


My traditional way of rolling vs. military rolling

I packed my steel straw and straw cleaner. I rarely use straws, but I knew at the resort I’d want to sip my daiquiri through a straw and I was not about to use a plastic one. I still have nightmares of the turtle who got a straw stuck in his nose. Youtube it and I guarantee you won’t want to use a straw again either!! I love the steel straws, but they look a little deadly, so I was sure to keep that in the checked bag!

I brought a few wet bags. They were great for the plane ride home when we had wet towels and suits! I did end up with 3 ziplock baggies. One contained emergency baby food and milk. There is no way around this as the airport requires liquids to be in a plastic bag. The other contained sunscreen and bug spray. Perhaps I could have packed those in wet bags, but I’ve had my sunscreen explode one too many times and I was not about to risk ruining all our clothes. The last small ziplock contained our medications. I know it is not zero waste friendly, but acetaminophen and ibuprofen are pretty essential when traveling with young children. Especially when one is teething.

We brought a small beach tent for the baby. We usually wrap this in cling wrap to protect it, but instead I put it into one of my re-usable grocery bags and tied the straps tight. It worked just as well!

Plane Ride

To avoid purchasing packaged meals on the plane, I packed a meal and snacks into our tupperware containers. I use glass to store food at home, but I still have some perfectly good plastic containers. They are lightweight and I felt they were a better option for the plane. I worried that our nuts and fruit might not make it through security, but it was no problem, especially if you say it’s for the kids! We ate on the plane, so we didn’t have to worry about security once we arrived.


When flying with children, coffee is a must!

I was sure to have our mason jar mugs in my carry on, as well as a spoon and a small container of sugar because I knew a coffee would be in order. To avoid using the little milk/creamer containers, I asked the flight attendant to put some milk in one of my mason jars. They were happy to comply! The toddler drank most of it and I saved a little for my coffee.

We also brought reusable water bottles, which we filled up in the airport once we were through security. I had cloth napkins as well as some small washcloths that I could use to clean up the kids. I wet them with water and stashed them in a mini wet bag.

Beware! Often airlines will have small gift bags for children. In situations like these, I usually prep my daughter beforehand explaining why we need to refuse such things. But it totally slipped my mind! To avoid an epic meltdown while boarding the plane, I let her accept the gift, even though I had packed a little activity kit for her myself. We ended up gifting the airline kit to staff at the resort, so it wasn’t a total fail.

Resort Life


Cheers!! Happy mama at the beach!

DSC09908We used our mason jar mugs every time we went to the bar. The bartender liked them so much, I ended up giving them to her at the end of our trip! I was pretty pleased to see many people heading to the bars with their reusable mugs!! It seems this is catching on! Perhaps it isn’t so far of a stretch to think one day people will be skipping the plastic straws too! 🙂


Cloth napkins can also be used as a bib!

At the restaurants they only had cloth napkins, woo hoo! In fact, I did not see a single paper napkin the whole trip! Awesome! It meant I didn’t have to use and wash the ones I brought!! I should have brought more of my own sugar, they only had the little paper sachets and I ran out of sugar a few days in. The only disposable plates I saw were at the beach grill, so we stuck to eating at the buffet restaurant. They set out plastic cups at the ice cream bar, but we just used our water glass or got a soup bowl to fill instead.

I always brought a container with me to meals so I could save the kid’s leftovers to be eaten as snacks later. We also insisted on reusing our same plate when going back to the buffet for seconds and were mindful of portions to keep food waste to a minimum.

In Cuba the tap water is not recommended for tourists to drink and with young children I was definitely not going to risk it. We drank the bottled water, which was provided in 1.5L bottles. At mealtimes, we always used the leftover water in our glasses to fill our water bottles. Because of this, we didn’t waste any water and always had plenty to drink. And I saw maintenance workers using water bottles as paint jars, so at least some get repurposed!

Everyday my toddler and I would take a walk along the beach. She would collect discarded straws and I collected the cigarette butts. I actually could not go more than 5 steps without encountering a cigarette butt, it was pretty sad. On the upside, nothing makes statement quite like adorable toddler holding a huge fistful of straws. We got a lot of high fives and other people said that they were inspired to help keep the beach clean too! The resort staff did an incredible job keeping the beach clean, but it’s amazing how, what appears to just be a few lonesome straws here and there, really adds up when you start collecting them.

On the way home, I filled our containers with food from the buffet to take on the plane. I worried again it wouldn’t be let through, but it was not a problem. We even forgot to to empty out our water bottles, but because we had kids, airport security let us keep it!


Our room had a bidet!!! I had never used one before but I liked it! Felt so clean! And meant we didn’t use hardly any toilet paper while we were there!! Which is great because you can’t flush the paper down, any used tissue goes in the waste bin beside the toilet, yuck!

We brought our own shampoo and soap, so we didn’t have to use the hotels amenities. I made sure to carefully refold our bath towels so that our maid wouldn’t change them everyday.


We brought our hammock, but I forgot rope to hang it! No worries, everything we need already exists, I knew we would find something. I started making a rope from discarded straws, but on the second day I found an old fishing net. By the 3rd day we had unravelled enough to hang our hammock woo hoo!

In Cuba, things can be hard to get. So before we left, I packed a bag full of things to donate. Baby bottles, clothes, jars of baby food, formula, cloth diapers, toys, nail polish, makeup, bras, toothbrushes, purses etc… the staff were very happy to take it off my hands and assured me that they would all be put to good use.

We didn’t bring any sand toys with us, I knew that spoons and cups are easily found. But on the first day we arrived, we met a family who was leaving and they passed on all their sand toys to us! At the end of our trip, we payed it forward to another arriving family.

My husband makes sand sculptures and needed a pail to carry water. Well, an hour later a water jug washed up ashore. Cut off the top and voila! A perfect pail. Honestly, anything we ever need has a way of finding it’s way to us 🙂

My daughter wanted to be fancy for dinner. For her this means wearing a headband. Bad mom, I didn’t bring any! So I braided some palm leaves, stuck in a flower, and there you go, a fancy schmancy headband! She loved it so much, I had to make bands for the entire family, including her stuffed cat and my husband! I really loved making do with what was around us. No need to pack all that stuff!

For our first attempt at zero waste travel, I think we did pretty well! We had a fantastic trip! And my mental health was recharged 🙂




Green Wedding on a Dime


Once upon a time I got married to a crazy Australian and we had a beautiful wedding. This was before I ever heard of Zero Waste, but looking back, I realize that our wedding was pretty enviro friendly!  Our budget was less than 10,000$ and we managed to get just under that. I thought it might be worth writing out some tips on how to have a green wedding on a tight budget.

Here are my top 10 tips:

  1. Keep it small
  2. Become the queen (or king) of DIY
  3. Enlist friends and family to give you HELP instead of GIFTS
  4. Buy secondhand
  5. Borrow what you can
  6. Use/repurpose what you already have
  7. Sell what you don’t need afterwards
  8. Repurpose items into your post wedding life
  9. Think outside the box. It’s OK to do things a little differently!
  10. Stay true to yourself and what You want. It’s your day.

If you want to know more about what made our big day green and easy on the wallet, read on!

Keep it small

wedding guests.jpgThis was easy for us! Since my husband was fresh off the boat, everyone he knew lived on the other side of the planet and couldn’t come to the wedding haha! We had 35 people, including us! The beauty of a small wedding was that we were surrounded by those who were closest to us. It was really intimate. It also gave us a huge variety of venues to chose from, instead of just reception halls. The small guest list ensured our waste was minimal, it saved us a lot of money and allowed us to do many things ourselves. It is a lot easier to make 5 centre pieces than 30! 

Choose a great venue

wedding ceremonyWe rented a beautiful log chalet that was located on a private lake. Cheshire Lodge was spectacular and really made our green theme come to life! It also allowed our guests to spend the night, so we didn’t have to worry about anyone driving home that night. This was the biggest chunk of our budget. Cost: 1650$/night + 200$ cleaning fee, with 2 night minimum. Total: 3500$


Our invitations were very simple and were printed on card paper that could easily be recycled. We used, it was very affordable, customizable and we were very happy with the quality. Because we only invited close friends and family, we were able to hand deliver most of them, saving on costs and avoiding any extra transmissions and fuel consumption from the postal service. Our friend used their invitation to make us a beautiful shadow box, which we have hanging on our wall! We asked our friends to rsvp by phone or email. If you want to avoid paper all together, send out an e-invite. Or make your own pulp paper from scrap paper, you can even embed some seeds into it and encourage your guests to plant it!  Our Cost: 37$


wedding dresses

I kinda cringe when I see the hangers in this picture, but I just used whatever hangers I had in the closet! 

I found my dress on super clearance at an outlet store, but you can easily find a dress secondhand or even rent one! Maybe you are super lucky and a family member has one to pass on! You could have altered into a fabulous dress that suits your style and give it a new life. Honestly, isn’t it a bit crazy to buy a brand new dress that is thousands of dollars, and only wear it for one day?? I borrowed the bird cage veil from my sister, my ring has a blue diamond and my shoes were new (wedding shower gift from my friends!). I bought my bridesmaids their dresses from a local boutique, Boutique 1861. Their dresses are so pretty and very reasonably priced. 1861  Cost: 45$ for my dress and 25$ for the alterations. The bridesmaids dresses were 60$ each and my daughter’s dress and headband was a christmas gift.

wedding baby flower girl


We did very simple bouquets that we put together ourselves. Ordered the flowers in bulk from Costco, they were delivered in a cardboard box.  I ignored all those gorgeous exotic flowers and went with carnations, a very inexpensive, hardy flower. I wrapped ribbon around the stems to make myself and my bridesmaids each a small bouquet. I put whatever extra flowers I had in mason jars to add a pop of colour here and there. You could also forgo flowers all together. Some great ideas are bouquets made from vintage broaches or even paper flowers! My little flower girl waved a wand, which is now part of her dress up box. Cost: 100$


Wedding cookies

Since it was such a small wedding, we were able to have it catered buffet style and could save any leftovers. People could take what they wanted and what they liked, which translates into less food waste. I made sure to bring plenty of containers to save the leftovers for the next day and told my guests to do the same! I’ve been to so many weddings that had so many courses. I would be so stuffed after the cocktail hour that I could barely could finish any of the main meals! Such a terrible waste. Cost: 28$/person for the meal, 65$ for grill rental +25$ insurance, a cook and a server who were paid 30$ each per hour. Plus tax. It made for a total cost of about 1700$ 

My mom and I actually made all the food for the cocktail hour. We kept it pretty low key so that people would still have room for dinner. We had a tasty Mexican bean salad, all bulk friendly, package free ingredients, quinoa salad, fruit skewers on bamboo sticks,  cheese platter, water melon, dips and crackers etc… One regret is that I had disposable cutlery, plates, napkins and cups *cringe* at the cocktail hour. I rented tables, plates, glasses, silverware and tablecloths for the dinner. If I could have a do-over I would rent more so we could avoid anything disposable. We bought all our own alcohol and had a self serve bar. For all the rental items it came to about 300$, alcohol was 600$ and food for the cocktail/dessert was about 200$

For dessert, my sister made our wedding cake and I made a paper cake topper. We also had homemade cupcakes and a “cookies and milk” bar. My sisters were big drinkers of those bottled starbucks frappachino drinks. They saved the glass bottles for me, I removed the labels (Oh that was a pain!) and then I filled them with chocolate milk, yum! As a wedding gift, I asked my friends to bake cookies, so we had an awesome cookie selection! 

Wedding favours

wedding favoursWe gave away little boxes of sunflower seeds. I loved getting pictures afterwards of their little sunflowers growing! It was super inexpensive and I think our guest were pretty happy with them, some even asked if we had any extras to bring home for their kids! The seed boxes were from Target, only 1$ each! I add personalized sticker on them (ordered from Cost:50$ Other great favour ideas: Donation to your favourite charity, little buri palm fans, potted herbs or succulents, maple syrup, honey or jam in glass jars, mason jar mugs with hot chocolate mix in it, or dry ingredients from your fav cookie recipe… so many possibilities! 


wedding tables

I knew all those hoarded wine bottles would come in handy!

Our venue was a gorgeous log chalet, so it didn’t need much decor. I brought my christmas lights and strung them on the balconies, it looked so pretty at night. I used panels of sheer curtains to hang behind the dessert and drink table. I put them up with thumbtacks. Later they went right back up on my curtain rod at home, the thumbtacks back in our office drawer. Cost: ZERO!

I made tissue paper pom poms and had paper lanterns, strung on twine and hung from the ceiling. It looked very pretty and, best of all, no plastic and all recyclable materials. And yes, in case you are wondering, I am that person meticulously refolding all the tissue paper at every birthday and christmas, it can be reused people! Cost: ZERO + 20$ for the lanterns, but I sold them afterwards. Check out this tutorial to make tissue paper pom poms.

wedding banner

Who would ever know this was made from a cereal box??

All our banners were made from cardboard from old cereal boxes, ribbon and clothes pegs. Cost: ZERO

Our wedding signs were made with scrap wood scavenged from the curb on garbage day. I aged it with tea and steel wool in vinegar, they turned out amazing! I already had paint in our wedding colours in my art box. I was even able to sell the signs afterwards. Made for free and then made a profit, double win! Cost: ZERO

For the centre pieces, I collected (ok hoarded for years) wine and liquor bottles, took off the labels (ughhhhh more labels to remove, so annoying!) spray painted them gold and stuck candles in them. They were super pretty and after the wedding I sold them for 80$! I had hoped to display them on a slab of wood, but that turned out to be harder than I thought. Cutting wooden slabs straight and level was impossible with the tools that we had and there was no way I was paying 20$/slab of wood from the craft store. So instead I found found pretty pastel metal doily-like “plates” at Ikea and put them on that. I used a bunch on our food table as well. They were actually meant to put under potted plants, but no one needed to know that. I sold most of them afterwards but kept some, I use them to display food when I host parties! Cost: 40$ for the plates and spray paint

wedding cocktail food

Disposable spoons *cringe*

I made tiki lamps out of wine bottles to light the grounds outside, and filled them with citronella oil to keep the mosquitos. Cost: 10$ for the wicks. I found a big bottle of citronella at my parents house, so that was free.

wedding tiki lamps

Thanks Pinterest!

The start of the aisle was marked with two milk jugs filled with sticks. I already had these in my house as decor, why buy something new when we have houses filled with stuff already?! The aisle was lined with wood stumps that I found at the venue. I placed a mason jars with leftover flowers on each stump (and of course I still use the mason jars!). Cost: ZERO

Wedding ailse

We got married under a mosquito net that we pimped up using strands of pearls and flowers from my sisters wedding. That mosquito net now hangs in my family room and is used for my children’s reading nook. Cost: 20$

Our guest book was actually a Jenga game that I painted to match our colour scheme. Each guest wrote out their well wishes on a block. Now when we play the game, we get to read all their lovely advice and comments. So much better than a book that nobody ever looks at! Cost: 20$wedding jenga

One of the most important Rs is RE-USE, so I LOVE that most these items still have a useful purpose in our day to day lives or could be sold after our big day was over. 

reading nook

The wedding alter is now a reading nook, and there is our wedding tree in the window, thriving!


wedding tree

Sticking with our green theme, my husband and I planted a little tree at the ceremony to represent our union and commitment to each other (well technically we nurtured a potted plant by adding water and dirt to it haha). We still have the plant today and I am happy to report that it is alive and well! We have even had to re-pot it a few times! Cost: 15$


wedding card box

We did not have a gift registry, the last thing we needed was a bunch of useless china or more towels, so we asked for NO gifts. For people who insisted, we asked that they help with the wedding. We were doing everything ourselves, so we had people to help with the setup, the post wedding cleanup, one friend took charge of making of the music playlists, some baked for our cookies and milk bar, one filmed the ceremony, others brought food for breakfast the next day (we had the chalet for the weekend, so everyone was invited to spend the night)…Most people preferred to give us money and a card. We had a little glass greenhouse (Ikea) and our guests put their cards in there. Cost: 20$

Dance floor and Extra activities

wedding fire

Our venue had a lovely huge veranda and a huge green space, so we used that as the dance floors. As it grew dark, we got a bonfire going and roasted marshmallows and hot dogs as a midnight snack. We also had fireworks, which my husband and his friends had a great time setting up and setting off. Seriously, I think this was his favourite part of the wedding, nothing says “I love you” like playing with explosives right?! It wasn’t totally zero waste, but it gave a special touch to our very relaxed, low key wedding. It was the first time my daughter saw fireworks (she was 8 months old) and I will never forget the look of pure amazement on her face. Cost of fireworks: 150$

Extra costs:

Photographers, wedding bands, my husband’s outfit, jars to put the cookies in, wedding license, legal fees…all those costs add up alarmingly fast. At the end of the day we came in at just under 10,000$. It sounds like a lot, but I don’t know how we could have cut anymore costs and still have the day we wanted. Our memories will last a lifetime!

So there you have it, how to have a green wedding on a tight budget! Did you have a green wedding?

wedding 1

Happily Ever After