5 Tips for a Zero-Waste Breakup


1. If you crave chocolate

In your distress, resist the urge to reach for a Snickers or Hershey Bar. These are packaged in plastic, filled with nasty ingredients and you know you deserve better. Don’t settle. Go to a candy store or hit the bulk aisles where you can buy some quality zero-waste chocolate, or treat yourself to a chocolate ice-cream cone at an ice cream parlor. In the wake of your breakup, if you need to expend lots of nervous energy, try baking this flourless chocolate coconut and black bean cake.

chocolate cake
Flourless chocolate coconut black bean cake

2. If you crave something stronger

Chances are you will see your breakup coming so this gives you a little time to plan. I have never measured the alcohol content of my homemade mead, but judging from its effects, I would guess the percentage hovers around the low double digits. However, it will take up to two weeks to ferment. If your breakup takes you by surprise, go to a pub with friends and get a glass of something on tap for zero-waste alcohol consumption.

3. If you need a good cry

First of all, think of this as a new beginning rather than an ending. You’re free! Although the future may terrify you, imagine the possibilities. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a good cry. Use cloth handkerchiefs to dry your tears and blow your nose. At the very least, you can feel good about conserving trees and reducing landfill. He should have appreciated someone so conscientious!

These thin cloth homemade napkins double as handkerchiefs

4. Declutter but don’t throw out

You may feel temped to tear up photos, burn old cards (really old cards because he probably hasn’t given you one in I don’t know, let’s say a year…) and throw out any object that reminds you of your former partner/spouse/lover. Fight that temptation. Don’t contribute to landfill in your distress. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purge. Divide things into a few piles:

  • A paper pile for recycling. Take this out today.
  • A pile of his junk that has accumulated at your place over time. Drop this off at his door when you feel up to it. Don’t leave a note as this wastes paper.
  • A pile of useful things for Goodwill. If he gave you good quality, nice stuff, like a le Creuset Dutch oven or a copper chef’s pan, don’t be silly. Keep it! If you do accumulate enough stuff to donate, while you’re at the second-hand shop, look for something nice for yourself.

5. Find an outlet

If you’re very angry, go for a bike ride or a run. I cancelled my gym membership last year and started biking more. I decided I would try to weave my exercise into my daily life and chores as people have always done throughout the ages. If the ride or run doesn’t alleviate your rage, make some sauerkraut. Crushing shredded vegetables with your bare hands helps relieve stress. Personally, I find writing very cathartic and will shamelessly milk anything for a blog post. (I’m in good company. James Joyce drew upon his entire life for writing inspiration and actually asked his wife Nora Barnacle to seek out an affair so he would have more material.) If you do write a blog and worry you will write something to offend the other half of your freshly severed relationship, don’t fret. He never reads your posts anyway.

2014-03-23 14.00.26 kraut squeeze

42 Replies to “5 Tips for a Zero-Waste Breakup”

  1. Check out biomechanist Katy Bowman’s books on moving naturally throughout the day…I think you’d love it! In particular Move Your DNA.

    1. Thank you, I will check her out. I really want to incorporate exercise throughout the day and weave it more into my life more, not make it a separate activity for which I need a membership and special lycra clothing.

      1. Do garden? Or wish you could but no space for anything other than containers? I was a landscaper for 20 yrs and when I did a career search and realised that because my job was no longer physical but I despised the idea of paying to go to a gym, and I did not have a large space to garden in… At least not for the workout I required, I hunted out people that had no desire to garden, but had available space. I then bartered the use of the space for a share of veggies. I know this is not a new idea but at that time never imagined how well it would actually work. I got a workout, free food, a small income and got a lot of people into gardening after they saw me do it.

      2. Thank you, that’s a great suggestion! How wonderful that you inspired other people to start gardening too. We have a CSA where I live, run by volunteers and I haven’t worked in the garden for ages. I should do that. I’d get fresh air and exercise.

  2. -squeeze- sending you very strong hugs and thanks for sharing your insight

  3. In prepping for my in-laws impending visit, I cleaned out our sunroom yesterday – it is a lovely room off the back of our house that is three walls of windows. Some of which don’t close and none of them are energy efficient, so the room can only be used March through November (if we’re lucky). Things get stashed in there all winter, all year really.
    I filled the trunk of my car with items to be donated, the amount of recycling was rather staggering, but actual trash in the room? Didn’t even fill a small trash basket.

    1. That’s awesome. I just love decluttering. I got rid of so much stuff after my daughter first left for college. Every day I would try to find at least one thing to donate/give away/recycle. She’ll be home in a few weeks, so I need to make room for her. Enjoy your visit with your in-laws 🙂

  4. Michelle Snarr says: Reply

    You mean to say that Nora Barnacle was a real name ?!?!

    1. Yeah, that was her name. His family (and likely many other people) made fun of it, saying she stuck to him like barnacles. But he was determined to have her. They ran off to Paris and “lived in sin” for years, had I think it was three kids (I have to look it up). Their relationship eventually went down the tubes too, but not until later in life when he adopted the opinion that sex is disgusting. Oh and she never read anything he wrote either. She wasn’t educated but she was his muse. The very end of Ulysses is a soliloquy of Molly Bloom (i.e., Nora) having an orgasm. It’s pretty awesome: “…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

  5. Crushing veggies into sauerkraut – that perhaps is my favorite de-stresser. Another zero-waste drink is a home brewed kombucha wine spritzer. I buy red wine from our local co-op that has a bottle deposit. The wine bottle is returned to the manufacturer and refilled. I add 1 part red wine to 2 or 3 parts kombucha. Yum.

    1. Crushing sauerkraut really works for relieving stress and you get delicious food in the end. By the time it’s ready, time will have passed and you’ll feel better. Wow, I’ve never seen wine sold that way around here. That’s awesome. I sometimes ferment my kombucha a bit too long and it turns fairly alcoholic 😉 Your concoction sounds really good.

  6. This post put a huge smile on my face ! thank you

    1. Thank you! Hearing that makes me smile too 😀

  7. Great article. We love your sauerkraut idea 🙂 Genius!

    1. Thank you so much, Erin 🙂

  8. Smiling all the way through this read, wishing you all the best from Aotearoa. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much. I’m glad you smiled. That helps make my day better 😀

  9. Oh this is so funny and educational! Happy dancing…

  10. Wow, you are hilarious and creative and fun! All I can think, if you have really had a recent breakup, is that it was his loss completely! That part about him not reading your posts – golden!!!

    1. Thanks so much! All characters appearing in this work may or may not be fictitious 🙂

  11. ha! more time to write exceptional blog posts too!
    sorry about the break-up, but as always – your zero waste tips are spot on!
    couldnt love those hankies any more if i tried!

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 Glad you like the hankies. They come in handy.

  12. Ha, fantastic article. Hope it wasn’t inspired by real life, but if so, lots of hugs–very zero waste. 😉

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  13. This made me laugh. Love the channelling of emotional energy into positive actions 🙂 And the comments on kombucha above remind me that I’ve got a batch that’s been fermenting for um, well, a bit… I might go and see how it’s doing! But maybe I shouldn’t drink too much before I’ve finished my errands for the day? Love’n’hugs from Aus. FFx

    1. Thanks! Oh I let my last batch of kombucha go too long and honestly, I can’t drive after I’ve had some. It’s pretty potent. That only happens sometimes. I think it’s a bit of a bonus but I can’t give it to small children or anyone on the wagon.

  14. Great post! You make me laugh!

  15. Well done! I’m glad you can still find your sense of humour.

    1. Thank you. I can almost always still find my sense of humor 🙂 Helps keep me sane.

  16. excellent tips – the posssiblities of a zero waste breakup – well done
    our tall girl has returned from her travels bringing husband and baby to be – immediately she reactivated the kombucha and is starting up a sour dough culture to make bread –
    while over easter her dad unpacked cucumbers he had gherkling in a sauerkraut pot and the family has called them delicious
    so fermentation heaven is alive and well

    1. Thank you Sandra. Sounds like you had a good Easter weekend and soon you’ll have homemade sourdough to go with those pickles and kombucha. My daughter returns in a couple of weeks from school and we’ll have even more fermentation happening in my kitchen than usual. I’ve asked her to please unload her kombucha scoby at school rather than bring it home. I have so many scobys now!

  17. Ha ha, this is cool and actually it appears at this very time in my life. Thanks 🙂

    1. Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that. I’m glad you liked the post and thanks for checking it out 🙂

  18. I just found your blog when looking for sour dough cracker recipes because I am trying to get a starter going and hate to throw the extra out. I also have a stash of jars to store food and dry goods in. I make my own yogurt and I’m waiting for my kefir grains to arrive. I plan to attend your webinars. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Great, Carol. I’m glad you found it too. I can’t throw my starter out either. I would love to make kefir but I can’t commit to another culture right now. I have four and I’m maxed out. Those are on top of fermented vegetables and other experiments that don’t require constant feeding. That would be great if you joined a webinar. Thanks for checking out my blog 🙂

  19. Very cute. I love the clever zero waste tips you tossed in like ” Use cloth handkerchiefs to dry your tears and blow your nose. At the very least, you can feel good about conserving trees and reducing landfill. He should have appreciated someone so conscientious!”

    1. Thank you very much, Marilyn. I’m glad you liked the post 😀

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