Working Toward Zero Waste

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I had a nice exchange on Facebook the other day with a friend of a friend about how to reduce the amount of trash we generate. It was in response to an NPR story in which we heard that the average American generates seven pounds of trash PER DAY. That’s such a shocking number, it almost doesn’t seem possible.

I commented on the FB post about my recent efforts to get a little bit closer to Zero Waste at home, and thought I’d share our current strategies here as well, for anyone who’s interested.

1) Buy secondhand. (No packaging!) Clothes, bags, linens… I buy all of these secondhand. (Well, except for undies, bras, socks and swimsuits.)

2) Don’t use disposables. No plastic or paper plates, cups, straws, take-out containers, etc. I bring the following with me when I leave the house (yeah, I carry a big bag):

–cotton napkins and/or bandana

–stainless steel water bottle *or*

–stainless steel coffee mug

–stainless steel fork and spoon

If I’m going out to eat and I think I’ll have leftovers, I try to remember to bring a stainless steel tiffin or an older piece of Tupperware (I don’t buy new plastic, but still use some older plastic storage containers). If I forget to bring a container for leftovers, sometimes I’ll ask for my leftovers to be wrapped in aluminum foil or a paper container, as these can be recycled or composted. I no longer take any plastic disposables at all.

3) Don’t bring home plastic bags with your groceries. Not only do I bring my canvas bags for carrying my groceries, but I use small canvas draw-string and mesh bags for all of my produce, bulk grains/beans, nuts, dried fruit, etc. I have even started buying the following in bulk: sugar, flour, salt, nutritional yeast, oil, maple syrup, peanut butter, and dish soap. I’ve tried to eliminate as much plastic from my grocery shopping as possible — but it hasn’t been easy. There are a lot of things I haven’t been able to find in bulk yet — like pasta, olive oil, and pretzels.

It’s an ongoing journey, but it’s fun and I feel good about the changes I’ve been able to implement with just a little foresight and planning.

Resources:

Zero Waste Home

My Plastic Free Life

5GYRES (founded by our friend Anna and her husband Marcus)

Zero Waste Alliance

No Impact Project

Photo Credit: X

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2 thoughts on “Working Toward Zero Waste

  1. I usually try to be good about this but I’ve been really really bad lately. My doctor has asked me to eat very specific things and (vegetables and whole grains, some plant protein) but I don’t always have time to cook so I’ve really been relying on packaged (but whole foods) items so I have to get back out of that habit now.

    • It is certainly not easy, I struggle with it on a weekly basis when I shop for groceries. When I get really busy at work (like I have the last few weeks), I end up relying on some packaged foods as well. But when I have time to dedicate to it, I’m trying to build a lasting habit of reducing waste.

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