Waste-Less Homesteading.

I've really been considering my consumption habits lately. I generate so much waste, which is somewhat interesting since I'm more eco-conscious than most folks.

Since moving to our homestead just about a year ago, we elected not to get a trash pick up service. All of our trash goes into a 'normal' sized trash can that you'd set on the curb, except I drive it to the local landfill about once every 60 days. That's pretty good waste reduction in comparison to the average American household, but we can do better by our earth.

Making intentional choices while shopping has helped me eliminate trash from even arriving on the homestead. John and I spent last Sunday in town doing a little zero waste grocery shopping, and also picked up supplies from Theisen's Home Farm Auto because it's #SpringatTheisens ! We almost exclusively shop at Theisen's for our homestead items. (They have fresh popcorn to snack on while you shop, so...)

Now, while this post is sponsored by Theisen's, all opinions are my own. In fact, I've been shopping at Theisen's for the better part of 20 years and John's mother was a clerk at Theisen's for probably 15 years. The non-profit where I work full-time is also the recipient of Theisen's generous More For Your Community Grant Program, which allows my team to purchase materials for our environmental education programs. Personally, they simply fit with our zero waste lifestyle, and whether you want to try beekeeping or have operated a full-scale farm for years, Theisen’s has everything for our farming needs. I am so pleased that we can get everything we need for our homestead there, with much of it being zero waste.

For example, we purchase dog treats for the pups, and Theisen's has both pig ears and a wide variety of chewy and crunchy treats in bulk. The same premise for purchasing applies with dog treats as it does with food:

1. Bring your own container (do NOT use the plastic bags provided, which are trash) and have it weighed at the register. The clerk at our Theisen's was a little confused as to why I had several ice cream buckets I wanted weighed, but once I explained what I was doing and why she happily agreed and wrote the tare in permanent marker on the lid. Perfect! 

2. Scoop the items into your container. If possible, write the code or PLU on the container to help your cashier during check out. If your container is transparent, this might not be necessary but is a courtesy.

3. When you're home, you might want to transfer them into a smaller, more presentable portion, like we do here.

While we were at Theisen's I also needed bird seed. Of course, I had my ice cream buckets (which were repurposed from a work project) and simply filled them up with the amount of seed that I wanted. One pound of bird seed in bulk ranged from $.39 per pound to $1.50 per pound. This is significantly cheaper than buying a plastic wrapped bag of bird seed. 

A bird feeder caught my eye, made from recycled plastic. It appeared much more durable than other feeders of similar design, and it was fairly affordable so I grabbed it. I am hoping it will last for many, many years.  

Last on my list for our Theisen's shopping trip was a few supplies for the Hoover's Hatchery chicken eggs that I am incubating on our kitchen counter right now. (Did you know all of the chicks at Theisen's are from Hoover's?!) I needed a feeder and waterer for the chicks when they hatch, so I selected an attachment that can be affixed to mason jars that I already have at home.

If I am more intentional about caring for this equipment than I was previously, these things will last for years.

I also needed chick feed, since chicks cannot eat the same feed that adult hens eat. The bag for chick feed is not recyclable, but it can be repurposed. My friends Ev and Tim showed me a tote bag they made from their feed bags, and I love the idea. This is how I'll repurpose my feed bags.

As we continue to evolve on our homestead, we'll find new ways to live a circular mindset, which is learning to not even generate trash in the first place through conscious lifestyle choices. One of these choices begins with purchasing, and by preventing waste from even entering the stream thanks to intentional shopping at our favorite stores we're living that circular mindset. We can find every farm necessity at Theisen’s, and most are zero waste.


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