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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Waste Not

Several months ago I was flipping through a PEOPLE magazine while getting my hair cut when I ran across the article about a Zero-Waste Family. I found the article intriguing, as I too have been trying to cut down waste. I was impressed by the family, who recycled most everything and by the end of the year just had a small jar of what was actual trash, which is incredible considering that the average American produces around 4 lbs. of garbage a day. I did find the article a bit misleading, as it stated that when they make a large purchase such as a computer they leave the packaging at the store to be disposed of (that means that they are producing more then the small jar sized amount of trash that they claim). All in all, it was a real eye opener.

We live in a town which has curbside recycling each week. We are lucky in the fact that all we need to do is throw our paper and metal into one bin and set it out to be picked up. Recently, they stopped accepting glass. I feel bad throwing glass away so have been trying to re-purpose as many jars as possible. I'm using a lot of jars for storing bulk items in my baking cupboard. Popcorn, rice, barley, etc. It's free storage, looks nice on the shelf, and is saving trash from the landfill.

We have a compost bin outside which we throw all our food scraps into. This saves a lot of space and waste in our garbage...think of how much waste a watermelon can make. Our food scraps, in turn, are making rich compost for our garden. I'm also beginning to learn to use food scraps for other purposes - more about that later!

I'm still bad about remembering to take my reusable bags to the store with me. I have plenty of them but almost always forget to grab them before venturing out, or forget to take them into the store with me. While I intend to do better about that, I do still re-purpose the plastic bags. We use them while walking the dog to pick up waste, and save the rest to bring to my aunt's consignment shop where they re-purpose the bags for their customers.

I hate throwing things away. And yet, we still are almost always at the maximum of three garbage bags a week. Occasionally I am able to get it down to two bags. My goal is to get it down to two bags weekly this year. I would love to someday get it down to one bag! The first goal is to make sure everything that can be recycled is. We are pretty good about this but occasionally a recyclable item will be thrown in the trash. Next, our purchases should be chosen more carefully. More bulk purchases, reusable produce bags, such as these (I have never bought these but am considering them!), choosing items with the least amount of packaging or the one with the most recyclable one, etc. We no longer use disposable products such as paper plates or paper towels. It's still a work in progress but at least we are aware of our waste and trying to do something about it!

What are some of your tips for reducing waste?


  1. Thanks for the notice of them leaving their trash at the store. That really bothered me also. For the bags, I leave mine in the car so they are always available. My car has an area I can put them in so that they are out of the way. I am always surprised at how much trash we have!

  2. Always glad to hear that more people are trying to reduce waste! We have a wood stove and use some of the paper for starting fires. I'm not sure how much paper is actually recycled, so this keeps it out of the landfill and we don't buy the fire started.

    I also take candle stubs and melt them down to make fire starters with pine cones.

    I buy in bulk from a coop, garden, can, dehydrate and freeze, use old socks, etc for my cleaning rags, recycle as much as I can, feed scraps to the chickens and try to really decide if I need that thing that I want before I buy it.

    Thanks for the post!

  3. I always take my cooler to the grocery. I don't bag most of my items, but just put them into the cooler as much as possible. This saves on the amount of bags besides keeping the cold things cold in the summer and keeping items from freezing in the winter.
    Have you made watermelon rind pickles? My grandmother made pickles from all the watermelon rinds. They were really good.
    I also try to reduce my waste. I am now going to make some candles from the glass baby food jars and scraps of items to decorate the jars. I am melting down some leftover candle wax for this.

  4. I wish we had chickens or pigs - that would be an excellent way to use food scraps!

    I have heard of watermelon rind pickles...I'm scared to try them! What do they actually taste like?!

  5. the ones my grandmother made were a sweet pickle. I actually had some once at a salad bar in a restaurant in South Carolina.The person next to me had never had them before and thanked me later for telling him to try them. I really liked them, but I don't make many pickles, so usually don't save the watermelon rinds. However, during the depression, many items were used because they couldn't afford to waste a single item.

  6. No need to buy reusable produce bags! You can make them from old t-shirts. I have a pattern in a book but I did a quick search and found a tutorial on this blog---http://www.curbly.com/users/craftmel/posts/10929-t-cycle-t-shirt-to-produce-tote

  7. I think I may give them a try this summer then if they actually taste similar to pickles. Sometimes we go through two watermelons a week so I should have plenty of rinds to work with!

    Dogeared...I forgot all about those t-shirt bags. Not only for reuseable grocery bags, but cute little totes as well. These are now on my to-do list! Thanks!



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