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Friday, February 11, 2011

Zero-waste home

I was reading this really interesting article in Sunset yesterday (it was a little old, but bear with me) about this family who has committed to having zero trash come out of their house. Now it's not really ZERO waste, but definitely less than the average person. While I think the idea of having no trash whatsoever is a bit difficult for most people, I was inspired by this family. They suggest doing some small steps, one at a time, that will gradually add up; instead of trying to do everything at once. The focus is on buying things without packaging, keeping only what you need and use, and avoiding plastic (since even if it is recycled, it is stil turned into something that will end up in a landfill). Some things I think I will try:
1.) Make some re-usable bags for produce and bulk items at the grocery store- if they're lightweight cotton, they won't really affect the cost of the items, and it's one less plastic bag to throw away.
2.) Compost- I already have a small canister, we just don't use it. We can either start a compost pile in the backyard, or just add it to our yard waste container. Also going to start putting the bunny's droppings in the yard waste/compost, rather than the trash.
3.) Reduce buying things with excess packaging
4.) Bring reusable containers for deli items- like cheese (although I'm not sure if they have Tillamook at the deli; this is the main cheese that I get because it is sooo tasty, it is semi-local, and it does not contain animal rennet- which many cheeses do.)
5.) Possibly buy more reusable "paper towels"; I have a couple of them, but not really enough to make a difference.
Some things I will not be doing:
1.) I cannot give up kleenex. Sorry, but if I had to wash enough handkerchiefs to make up for nose blowing and such... just doesn't seem very cost/time effective to me.
2.) Bulk shampoo/soaps: The ones I use do not come in bulk, and this also is not very cost/time effective to me.
For more ideas, you can visit The Zero Waste Home and read the family's blog!


  1. I love this post, Dana! We've been working at reducing our household waste for the last couple of years now and it's really amazing how wasteful we used to be. One of the biggest things we've done is to switch to cloth napkins. One of our sons was going through about 200 paper napkins each week (not even kidding) so this switch has really added up for us. A friend of ours gave us a bunch of cloth napkins, but we've also found them on clearance and at thrift stores.

    When we moved into a house last year, we started recycling everything, using our food waste bin (which you can get for free from Waste Management or I even have a brand new one I could send with Tom to give to John if you want it), and just generally paying a lot more attention to the trash we create.

    On a personal female note, I switched to a reusable silicone menstrual cup about 4 years ago and along with saving me loads of money, it eliminates all the waste associated with that. I also have switched to cloth liners which are not only comfy, but also really cute and no, it's not messy like one would think. (can I say this on a food blog?)

    One suggestion for your produce bags...there are lots of sellers on Etsy that sell mesh produce bags for very reasonable prices. We've had good luck as far as longevity of the bags, with saving mesh bags from produce like onions to reuse, but we aren't as good at remembering to throw them back in the car like we do with the reusable shopping bags. I tend to forget them in the fridge.

    Sorry for the novel! I just love this topic!

  2. Thanks Krista! I know it's going to be a bit of a challenge, but I think it's time to do a bit more. I usually reuse those mesh bags by using them as ties in my garden; but really I have quite a few, and that's a good idea!! We always seem to have a lot more recycling than actual trash (boxes, milk cartons, etc...) so that's good, but maybe I can find some more things that use less packaging- like bulk cereal or treats. The family in the article did a lot of things like that. I just found it to be so interesting!

  3. We were at Fred Meyer this morning and I thought of you when I saw some reusable bags in the produce section. They were on a display that abutted the tomatoes in the conventionally grown area. A package of 3 was going for $1.99. I'll have Tom email John a picture since I don't have your email. I can't remember what they were called, but they looked nifty. =)