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I'm curious... What's the best change you made that reduced your garbage?

 
Posts: 279
Location: New England
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Patrick, if you look up the thread about 4 posts, you'll see my description of the Hopi way to wash dishes.

J
 
Posts: 65
Location: Currently located in central OK. Farmstead location is in northern VT.
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Yup. Totally missed it. That's interesting. Basically the same method we used at this permaculture farm I stayed at in Costa Rica a million years ago.
 
Posts: 75
Location: rural West Virginia
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Well, let's see.
Coffee grounds go in my compost from August to February, but starting in late winter/early spring, I toss a lot of them (still in the handy paper filter) into my blueberry bed, because they are high in nitrogen and low in pH. It really seems to help the blueberries. Eventually I gave a smaller amount to other fruit trees and berry bushes.
When I bought milk in half-gallon containers, I stuffed other non-recyclable stuff, mostly plastic, into these, two to a plastic grocery bag. This reduced the BULK of trash. Now I'm part of a herdshare and get milk in gallon glass jars, washed and reused.
It happens that my local recycling center has a contract with an outfit that turns plastic--ANY kind of plastic (not styrofoam) into highway fencepost caps. That makes a big difference but few have that option. I still trash some plastic, if it's wedded to another material or unwashably disgusting.
I have ten compost piles: four in the woods composed of half-rotted branches, two of shredded leaves, one each at my two extra fields and a pair of bins above my main  garden. Then there is the pair of "poo bins" where I dump buckets of humanure, switching from one side to the other after cleaning out a bin, which I use in my orchard and flowerbed, each spring. I empty the pee bucket on the compost piles--most of the nitrogen and phosphorus you pass is in pee so it should not be wasted--I use it to speed up my compost piles.
Plastic feed bags accumulate; I use them to haul leaves from our lane all winter, some of which get chopped and go in those bins. But these bags eventually deteriorate and are one thing I trash, along with the cord from hay bales (that stuff is treated to fend off rot, so shouldn't be used in the garden).
We dump a garbage bag in the box by the mailbox every two or three months.
Really I think virtually ANY landfilled garbage is too much. But I do dump unusable rags as well as diseased vegetation into a large pit on my own land.
 
Posts: 18
Location: Olney, Maryland
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I try where ever possible to reuse, reduce, recycle. It surely helps in a lot of ways around the home.

I use egg shells in the garden by cleaning them, heating them for a minute in the microwave and saving them up. I then crush them and them especially to tomatoes to help reduce the risk of blossom end rot.

Each spring I use a lot of news paper as underlayment for mulch it tends to block grass and other plants and serves as another organic food for the microscopic organisms and of course worms. Its a good layer in my layering process in the garden beds. I use cardboard for this as well.

I also reuse many cardboard delivery boxes when I ship off things to the thrift shop. I also use cardboard in the garage on the floor around working on my motorcycles for a bit of cushion and warn insulation then I recycle it. I recently glued a number of layers of cardboard together to form a double thick and pretty strong bottom for a delivery bag that we use for picnic outings to the park. I covered it with contact paper and taped the edges with gorilla tape. Its been in use with minimal wear now for 6 months. Some of the bags out there don't have good support in the bottom.

In the insulated bags from frozen food delivery are recycled cloth shredded up and pressed together. The birds are interested in this material I assume for nests.

We use stainless steel thermos for water on outings and use a charcoal filter to improve our drinking water.

All the plant based kitchen scraps go in the compost.

All leaves from many mature trees in my yard are vacuumed up effectively shredding them and go in as compost. I invite neighbors to share their leaves as well. It leaves me with plenty of compost and mulch.

I use found stones from the yard to build some shelter in and around the garden beds for predators to shelter. I can't say I have ever seen them but they are welcome, all toads, beetles and small snakes that like unwanted garden pests. It helps if they have some water to drink as well.

After the green fence posts get bent and rusty (the posts with the bend over tabs that hook the fence to the post and you pound them into the ground) I have used these as good strong bases for a couple of purposes. I have some nesting boxes using old steel electric conduit. I bolt the conduit to the a 3 foot piece of fence post and drive the post into the ground for a good sturdy post for nest boxes and feeders. Always good to keep some old fence posts and steel mesh fencing around if you need some barriers to keep deer from shrubs and plants that they like to eat and you want to keep. I also use old fence by attaching to frames for plant supports like peas, cucumbers and even tomatoes.

I had a tree crash through my shed during a thunderstorm. I replaced the shed but saved all good lumber from the shed and with some I made tool supports to hang tools in the new shed. I am always finding ways to reuse older lumber.

Sticks and timber that I get in a yard of mature trees go back in the beds in late winter early spring. I use an alternate Hugelkulture/layering process in the beds with the timber, sticks and wood as the lowest level in in the layers. Tis has really improved my gardening as I understand it retains water and gives a good source of food to decomposers. It's pretty impressive. All the materials come from my yard.

So many things you can do to take advantage of stuff that would otherwise be waste.

Mike Love
Olney, MD
 
pollinator
Posts: 193
Location: South Georgia, 8b
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The largest trash reduction we made was canning. We always put up stuff by canning, freezing and dehydrating. Then we noticed most of our garbage was still containers from spaghetti sauce, pickle jars, ketchup, mayo, green beans etc....
We got serious about canning nearly all our food for a year at a time. it was not nearly as hard as we thought. We can all our marinara, soup base, spaghetti type sauce, snap beans with new potatoes, squash we also do a lot of ferments and a lot of pickles. Pickled okra, beets, carrots....  we still have a couple large freezers but I worry about a power outage of freezer break down. The wife makes all our greek yogurt, sour cream and butter. Chickens for the eggs etc. Dehydrate all the herbs and hot peppers. Ginger, tumeric,sweet potatoes, seminole pumpkins keep in the shade for close to 8 months...Most of our garbage is now the occasional olive oil jar, amazon packaging.
 
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Mike Kenzie wrote:[WARNING, THIS POST CONTAINS A GRAPHICALLY DISTURBING STORY]
For me it was documentary films. In particular, there were several that I watched that had to do with the global plastic pollution issue. [GRAPHIC CONTENT]One scene in particular sticks out: watching a baleen whale slowly dying as it choked on a tarp that had ended up in the ocean.[/GRAPHIC CONTENT]
The main result of these films was a radical change in my behavior. Now, whenever I am at the store and I am looking at a product on the shelf and I notice that it is mostly made of plastic and likely planned for short-term obsolescence, meaning it's likely destined for the landfill or the ocean - then I will not buy it. One great thing that I have noticed about this practice is that the satisfaction that I get not buying said object is generally much greater than the short-term satisfaction of having said item; and obviously no buyer's remorse ever. Additionally, (I keep spreadsheets on my finances) I have noticed that my financial savings have increased! So that's the consumption end...
On the production end, we attempt to grow as much as my food, fuel, fiber & medicine on our homestead as possible. As a family of 4, while we are not growing all of our own food, we grow enough for roughly 56 meals per week. So yeah, we're doing our best to cut down on food packaging.
We also anally manage 5 composting systems on the homestead.



Am I the only one who is looking at that pic of the trashy beach in Hawaii and thinking. man, what I could do with most of everything I see here!
 
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I used to generate a lot of trash in the form of take-out containers. Especially when I was single-parenting for a decade, I ordered a lot of take-out. Pizza boxes can't be recycled, because they're greasy (and I lived in town, couldn't burn). Lots of other containers are coated or lined in some way that makes them not recyclable. So I guess this is just another benefit of living in the sticks! (And getting marries, having a partner to share work with, having more time to cook, etc.) Less takeout, less garbage.
 
Marisa Lee
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Abraham Palma wrote:

Once thing that recently has reduced the yogourt cups was discovering the kefir. It's so easy to make (unlike yogurt that requires some machinery), that it has replaced a couple of our dairies a week, with no effort.



It sounds like you already have a good thing going with the kefir, but if you do want to make your own yogurt, I would encourage you to try again. I make my own with no special equipment, just the same heavy pot and lid I use for baking bread. I strain it through cloth. It's really good, and I can also strain it longer to make a sort of cheese. It's been made low tech for thousands of years.
 
Posts: 85
Location: Franklinton, NC
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Hands down it was stopping drinking so much. I burn all my paper trash, or use it to start fires in winter. Very little plastic trash. It was all those durn glass bottles that had me going to the dump at least once a month with a major and slightly embarrassing haul.
 
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Posts: 163
Location: Michigan - Zone 6a
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So far my best change has been changing my purchasing decisions based off compostability and reusability.

Compostability - once I experimented with composting meat / baked goods / etc and realized that it wasn't nearly as scary/smelly as I thought it would be, I've been composting all of my meat scraps and burnt bits of bread. Same for paper/bills, uncoated cardboard, etc.

Reusability - when I want to purchase something, and the same thing is available from one brand in a glass bottle and another in a plastic bottle (or worse, a plastic bag with zero reusability) then I'll go for the glass bottle. I do still pick up things in plastic containers, such as things that come in a more durable box-like container with a lid, since I find them very useful for storing odds & ends as well as non-food items.

Even plastic bottles find a second use as a container for anaerobic composting or a potted plant before I recycle or return them.
 
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Our chicken feed bags are a durable plastic material, almost like Tyvek to wrap houses with. I save the bags and then sew them together to make a huge tarp to cover our stacked firewood.
 
Kim Huse
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I reuse dog food bags for various thins; I am interested; how do you sew the feed bags together?  Do you hand sew them? Use a  sewing machine? If you use a sewing machine, which thread weight and needle do you use? if hand sewing, what weight in thread? TIA!
 
Posts: 15
Location: Oregon (Portland Metro) Zone 8B
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 I reuse dog food bags for various thins; I am interested; how do you sew the feed bags together?  Do you hand sew them? Use a  sewing machine? If you use a sewing machine, which thread weight and needle do you use? if hand sewing, what weight in thread? TIA!



not the op but i think you can do this with a sewing machine using leather needle (110) and either overlocking thread(if your machine has overlocking function) or heavy duty thread. This would be a NIGHTMARE to hand sew.
 
Jennie Little
Posts: 279
Location: New England
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We were doing that "paying attention to what you do" thing. Realized that the single item which got us to go grocery shopping more than any other was milk. Hm. We used about 1 quart a day.

Enter oat milk and almond milk. We decided to try it. We have. And, yes we like it our coffee etc. So the next step is we will try to make our own. We use dried milk, but not for drinking. I tried canned, but it doesn't work for us either.

Big plus with the almond/oat milks is that the "left over" is still usable. We figure we'll put the oats in bread and dry the almonds and use the almond meal in something.

It's an ongoing experiment, but we got past the first, big hurdle: whether we could use the oat and almond milks instead. We can.

Forward!
 
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Not buying it in the first place does a lot (also for your check book and ease of cleaning the house).

I make my own handsoap now after having skin dry and bleeding from the standard stuff. Aleppo olive-oil soap worked fine, but expensive and the shape makes lathering up frustrating. However for washing clothes, i use detergent (cannot be made at home) due to this difference between soap and detergent : http://butterbeliever.com/homemade-laundry-detergent-soap-diy/
i.e. soap is fine for smooth surfaces like skin (and pots, pans, cutlery, etc.), but on cloth it will "stick" along with the dirt. It is why washing clothes before the use of detergents was such hard work and also hard on the clothes.

I don't can at the moment, partly due to not enough time, skill (and teacher), or bulk load of food, but also because while factory and extra transport has it's own problems, it is a form of sharing machines and energy so the use of materials & energy per person/unit is less. I do have a simple food dryer that is very usefull for storing certain veg for stews, etc. so they don't take up room in the freezer that is much more usefull for other foods (meat, home baked goods like bread and cookies). Cost wise this makes sense for me, because buying dried (although that tends to be freeze dried) is pretty expensive.

Energy reliability is a good point, but not a multi day worry here for now. My freezer can handle a few hours (up to 36?) of no power just fine (part of why i picked that one). And the fridge is just a cooler box with ice from the freezer (fridge got to full and then the contents got "feet"). Doing without and replacing it with a little box that shows what is there at a glance works better for me. Also means working more with either dry goods, fresh or frozen/canned. Makes for less food that needs energy to keep safe to eat.
 
Jennie Little
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Location: New England
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Okay, nut mlik bags. I don't have one. i'm willing to buy one ONLY if I need it. I made oat milk just fine in the blender. Anyone have an alternative filter idea I can use for a trial for almond milk? I'm okay with multiple sieves, and thought maybe a pillow liner (dust mite proof, should keep out a lot of almond meal, right?) or a pillow case would work for the wringing out part. Do I have to wring it out? Is a nut milk bag really necessary for a trial run?

Any help will be appreciated.

THANKS!
J
 
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Location: South of Capricorn
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Hey Jennie!!
I have some juice sieves that I use when I make almond milk, but I also have made bags for soymilk and similar. I have used simple muslin, but an old pillowcase would work too. In fact, for making soymilk I usually use just a piece of muslin or, in a pinch, a clean handkerchief. Depending on how fine your pulp is ground that may be too much of a PITA (just squeeze! without getting burned, of course. By no means is it required, especially if you`re just testing. Worse case scenario, you have some pieces in it.

As a PS, I have always made my own nut milk/sprouting bags out of fabric remnants, I have a few made from tulle and from other more open-weave fabric, and then there is the kitchen muslin.
 
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Jennie Little wrote:Okay, nut mlik bags. I don't have one. i'm willing to buy one ONLY if I need it. I made oat milk just fine in the blender. Anyone have an alternative filter idea I can use for a trial for almond milk? I'm okay with multiple sieves, and thought maybe a pillow liner (dust mite proof, should keep out a lot of almond meal, right?) or a pillow case would work for the wringing out part. Do I have to wring it out? Is a nut milk bag really necessary for a trial run?

Any help will be appreciated.

THANKS!
J


Nope. Not necessary. I use a (dedicated) men's cotton handkerchief in a sieve. To squeeze(yes, I do, because I want all the goodness, and much of the richest liquid is what's trapped in the solids until it's squeezed out), I pull up the corners, then the sides, where they've folded out, then start spinning the bulk in the center. This forces the solids into the center, and makes it easier to get the liquids out, with less hand strength. Once it's small enough, I tuck the whole thing into a potato ricer, and squeeze the bejeezuz out of it. What's left is only a bit damp, and easy to spread out, to dry and use for something else, including flours.
 
Jennie Little
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Location: New England
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Thank you both~

J
 
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Location: Azusa Ca.
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The only things I do that are not on this list are cutting strips from the shopping bags and crocheting a pallet to help keep the homeless off the ground out of the wet. And I reuse my fabric softener sheets for embroidery re enforcement and piece quilting ..made a few crazy quilts.. none to show the kids took off with them.
 
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good starting point!
 
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Location: United States
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I  keep a plastic bag in my freezer, and put all scraps in it.  Then when I get a chance I dump it in my compost area.  Then the bag is be rinsed out, dried, and reused until it starts to leak, or fall apart.   Then it's rinsed one last time, allowed to dry and, lined with some brown paper that comes with deliveries I get, and gets its final use as a trash bag.   I didn't have to use a trash pickup until my husband had a stroke five years ago.  We use some things that cannot be burned and recycling won't take.  I usually take almost a month to fill the my small barrel half way.  Full, it's too heavy to get to the end of our driveway without killing myself.   The last time I bought plastic bags was, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, and they were used to store the yarn that I was spinning, and are still being used.  I have been doing recycling forever.  My Mom continued to save and squash her cans, and wrap her newspapers and cardboard for recycling long after it became "unfashionable" in the late 40's and early 50's.  I was with the first group that worked to restart recycling again in Massachusetts in the late 60's.  I live in Southern Indiana now and still recycle what I can't reuse.  Trash is just for non recyclables, that I can't find another use for.
 
Posts: 38
Location: North FL, in the high sandhills
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Wow! Thanks everyone! Some excellent ideas here.

Here's a few more.

One way I recycle some plastic containers is to use them to give away the large amount of surplus garden produce and ask to have them back. I have a stack of what were old strawberry/blueberry containers that are probably on their third time around this way.

Now if people would just return the nursery pots I ask them to when I give them plants....

Then there's the redneck bidet instead of toilet paper...
Hang my backside over the tub and proceed to wash away my cares with a hand held shower attachment.

I have the kitchen sink dumping the grey water on garden beds.

The toilet, bathroom sink and shower remain hooked to the septic due to possible fecal contamination there.
Humanure is in the near future. I have all the supplies already in case something like a hurricane forces my hand on that.

Extending the life of the septic is a carbon footprint/recycle plus. Local laws forced a huge 2500 gallon tank and system for just me when it was installed, but that's OK. Probably won't have to bother with repairing it in my lifetime. Particularly with all the kitchen water going to a garden bed. Turns out that was a LOT of water because I cook a lot.

I grow some veggies in containers. I also haul what leftover trash to the landfill once every 3-4 months. I always find nursery pots, molasses tubs, and other containers I would have to pay for otherwise. We're country so the landfill guys are pretty cool about salvage, even though it's technically a no-no.

I get a lot of stuff shipped in via Amazon/Ebay etc, and those padded mailers can be cut open and fastened together with staples or tape  to make thermal shades for the windows, tubular freeze blankets for young fruit trees or veggies and similar insulating chores.

Our landfill was one of the first on board with recycling, early 80s or late 70s If I remember correctly.  
They've had to quit taking some things due to no market to sell them into.

Glass is an example.
Glass has been a problem and a bit of a fraud since the get-go.

When I worked in recycling in Seattle they were secretly landfilling a lot of it but claiming "virtue points" and I suspect some federal cash incentives for supposedly recycling it.
Idealistic young me was quite surprised at the level of bad/corrupt  behavior involved with some of the recycling entities.

At least Seattle recycled more than most because there was a big Ball jar factory there that would take a lot of the clear.

Glassblowing friends, myself included,  through the 80s and 90s did a lot of work to try to channel bottle glass into art glass but it hardly scratched the surface.

The future here may be something like a landfill in, I think, the Carolinas that set up glass and pottery studios using the methane gas generated from the old landfill pits that was just being burnt off to no good use.

Glass and pottery art require much heat, so burn carbon like a sailor on shore leave.

Using glass in ground up in pavement has been a good use too.

The real answer is probably to do like Oregon, and when I was a kid, and have returnable bottles. They'll go around 7 times before requiring recycling that way.

I remember up by the US/Canada in Oregon border, seeing retired US and Canadian folks with their RVs full of roadside salvaged bottles feeding them into the bottle receiving machines that paid out cash like a vending machine in reverse.
Jackpot!  
Big win for everyone there.

I think you're best off if you can think in terms of  "cut out the middle man" who may or may not be trustworthy and try to figure out in house or maybe "one step beyond you"  recycles.




 
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I think I would have liked the menstrual cups I have seen online. I had no knowledge of them back when I needed them.
 
Posts: 36
Location: Pacific Northwest, West of the Cascades. United States
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Jennie Little wrote:What did you do that changed how much you discarded? What was the most effective change?



Well, I feel like a phony, which will be evident by the end of this, but here goes!
When we were ready to "up our game," so to speak, my husband and I decided to weigh our garbage (destined for the landfill) for the entire year of 2018. We already had a lower than average amout of waste, which I expect is the case for most frequenting this site, so our goal at the end of the year was to have generated 12lbs or less of waste, 1 pound of each month.

Each time I took the trash out, I would weigh the bin and also keep track of the year to date running total. Just the thought of adding up this total curbed so many potentially bad purchasing decisions! I would also dump it all out on the floor and do a trash audit. You think you know what your trash looks like, but when it's all out in front of you, you are able to see things you wouldn't have before (at least that was my experience).

Our 2018 year end total was just over 13 pounds. We didn't make our lofty goal, but we did really well compared to undocumented years prior. We were really starting to get into the groove with this, so we decided we were ready to increase the challenge. The goal for 2019 was to half our 2018 total, so about 6.5lbs.

I dug around Instagram to try to find some photo evidence of our journey.

<b>June 27, 2018 - picture of over flowing garbage bins -</b>
Garbage pick up is in the morning. Four apartments and nine people share these bins. Trash and recycling are picked up every week, compost every other. It's a good thing my partner and I don't have anything to contribute this week because there is no room!

Garbage is hauled away out of sight but it is not out of mind for me. There is no "away." All the plastic ever created is still with us. It wasn't until 1934 that the Supreme Court banned municipal waste from being dumped in the ocean, which was the preferred method at the time. The amount of packaging produced and disposed of increased 67% after WWll and there has been no looking back since.

We try to live "towards zero waste" and reduce, reuse, go without, compost and recycle but felt we could be doing better, so on my partners suggestion I began weighing our garbage.
Our year to date that has gone to the landfill is 6lbs 7.5oz. I know we can do better and already the thought of adding to that number has changed our buying patterns and curbed some impulses, but we're doing pretty well compared to the average American. That is a pretty low bar to compare ones self to though... I'm just glad to be on this journey - besides, there is no room in the bin even if we did have garbage to contribute!

<b> April 5, 2019 picture of an espresso drink in an upcycled container</b>
I have this personal thing that I can't get a coffee while out unless I have the time to sit and drink it out of mug or I bring a travel mug. My idea to pack an 8oz jelly jar (on a recent trip) was foiled when no one would severe me coffee in glass "because it will explode!" Enter my local co-op. I found a 4oz supplement container in the bin and the Batista was happy to make me a cappuccino! It's good to be home.  

<b>May 10, 2019 picture of my trash can</b>
Year to date: 15.5 ounces of garbage to the landfill. On our way to our goal of halving 2018s total of just over 13 pounds.

<b>July 19, 2019 Trash Audit</b>
Trash audit! I took out the trash for the third time this year, so I guess I can't complain much about that chore. Last year around this time we had 7lbs 8.4oz for a year to date. Our goal was to half our end of year total. Right now our year to date is 1lb 6.8 oz so we are right on track to meet our goal - allowing for some heavy misc like water filters and one offs like Christmas.
What did I learn? We got LAZY! Lots of failed dinners. Annie's Mac and cheese? Ice cream sandwiches?Really? I also am super bummed about a few teas that ended up having foil lining. Please print that on that outside, gah! I also dislike all the produce twist-ties 🤦🏽‍♀️
Then there are the decisions I tried so hard on and still failed, like the tortilla bag I thought was paper but was lined with plastic : (

[side note: a take away I noticed from looking at these picture again - after doing this trash audit I noticed those several mylar bags that had crackers in them. I learned how to make sourdough crackers soon after, and am still making them today!]

By the end of 2019 I had taken out the trash a mere five times and our year-to-date weight was just 2lb 11.7oz (our goal had been 6.5lbs)! Feeling like it would be difficult to improve much upon that, we decided to try anyway but no longer document it, instead we would weigh our recycling and get that better under control. One thing we noticed was film plastic bags of english muffins, so my husband figured out how to make them. How am I a phony? Well... the pandemic happened. Walking to the food co-op with reusable and refillable containers stopped, asking and giving the most random used items within my Buy Nothing Project community stopped, and online ordering started. We bought a house with acreage (yay permies dream!) AND combined households. I know we are still doing better than the average American (but isn't that too low of a bar to compare yourself to?), by choice we do not have garbage or recycling pick up at our new place. However, there have been trips to the dump with over 500lbs of nasty carpet and 50+ year old carpet padding and linoleum we found under some of said nasty carpet. There are new tools to be purchased and so.much. unnecessary styrofoam!  Then we got a dog, and Amazon Prime, the waste just keeps increasing. Meanwhile I'm making twine from sewing scraps like it's making a difference [Wahhh! Booo! Sob..]

[ending on a positive note] At least we have a decent foundation, and something to strive to get back to. AND we have our own soil to improve with our own compost, rather than having to tote much of it away. Hooray!
Screenshot-(384).png
June 27, 2018 picture of over flowing garbage bins
June 27, 2018 picture of over flowing garbage bins
Screenshot-(383).png
April 5, 2019 picture of an espresso drink in an upcycled container
April 5, 2019 picture of an espresso drink in an upcycled container
Screenshot-(382).png
May 10, 2019 picture of my trash can
May 10, 2019 picture of my trash can
Screenshot-(381).png
July 19, 2019 Trash audit
July 19, 2019 Trash audit
IMG_20210817_133144816.jpg
Sewing scrap twine
Sewing scrap twine
 
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Are you sure those "plastic" envelope windows are plastic? Where I am, they've always been cellophane. Cellophane is a form of paper and just as recyclable. Plain tortilla chips come in cellophane, so you can just feel a bag to get an idea of its texture.
 
gardener
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Cooking meals from scratch that don't have a lot of waste and composting what waste there is helps a lot. Also focusing on interests and hobbies that don't involve buying a lot of stuff. Instead I've been downsizing in advance of moving up to Wheaton Labs next year, so I've been finding people who can use things I don't need, and donating the rest.

Most of my trash is recycling, I put that bin out once a month or so and it's maybe half full, and the regular trash bin only goes out when there are a bunch of palm branches (which don't compost well). Otherwise I think I've put out two of the 13 gallons trash bags this year, I have the same roll of trash bags I bought about 6 years ago, about half way through it The recycling I do toss is usually from food when I'm lazy and don't cook.

A decent amount of my groceries are in the bulk bins like beans, oats, lentils and nuts. The super flimsy plastic bags at the store are put back in my main cloth shopping bag to reuse on fruit and veggies until they wear out. The cloth bag I got from a donation to some nature group in the late 1980s, and 30+ years later it's still going strong. I stopped buying fruit at Costco when they started using the big plastic packs, and this year cancelled my membership as there was so little I was getting there.

I think my best attempt at minimal trash was around 6 months before putting out one recycling bin, and still didn't have a 13 gallon bag of regular trash yet.
 
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Bill Haynes wrote:Well....

Divorce.

I went from 2, 33 gallon bags of trash a day to one 33 gallon bag a week.
Enroute I went from a monthly electrical bill of $165.00 to a monthly electrical bill of $35.00
My gasoline bill went from $700.00 monthly to $240.00 (In my defense its a loong way to WalMart!)
I also went from every credit card maxed out, to a positive balance within a year

She told me she'd be back when I regained my senses, and thank heaven, I'm as loony as ever!



I don't want sound mean in any way!!! BUT!!! Your post just cracked me up :-)
LOL. LOL. LOL
P.S. I almost always feel sad (with the exception of any abuse) when love just ....evaporates.
 
Posts: 23
Location: Zone 6, High Desert
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My family has been consistently throwing away one 50 gallon trash can per person per year since the 1990’s. When weekly trash pick up came to the neighborhood, we never bothered to sign up. It wasn’t a struggle, and we didn’t think about it much or give things up in order to reduce our trash production. We only noticed that it was kind of a big deal after a decade of watching the neighbors put their bins out every week and wondering what the heck they put in there?!  

Here’s how it works:

1. Build your soil - mulch, compost, tera preta, whatever, if it rots and it’s not a piece of an animal, make it back into dirt using a method that works for you and your environment. (tera preta and bokashi may make meat/bones ok, do your homework.) When I moved away from my parents’ property (zone 8, 35” rain/year) to my place (Zone 6, 10” rain/year) I had to change methods, and my trash production spiked while I figured it out.

2. Burn your burnables - be careful here, know what you’re burning so you don’t mess up your chimney or make ash with toxic gick in it. Outdoor fire pits/covered cauldrons/rocket mass pizza ovens can work if you have a yard but not a fireplace/woodstove/rmh in your house. Bonus points if you heat your house with your RMH this way. Use the ash on property (in the garden, soap, etc.) Alternately, shred and compost your burnables, but again, do your homework and listen to Paul’s discussions of toxins in paper products and cardboard.

3. Repurpose/Recycle - see the better world book on this, and do your homework. Not all recyclables actually get recycled. Give away stuff that is still serviceable rather than throwing it away, but be real about what’s still “serviceable”, or whether you’re actually going to make that rag rug with all those worn out shirts.  

4. Pre-cycle: Buy in bulk (less packaging) infrequently (less purchasing), buy good quality stuff, take care of it, and repair it when it breaks. This works for us because we have the option to have dedicated pantry rooms and large attics in our houses.  

That’s it. In hindsight, we could probably cut our trash in half if we made Sepp Holzer’s bone sauce with the meat and bone scraps. The only thing left would be random bits of plastic wrap and blister packaging.
 
Ela La Salle
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Well... I DO think it depends on many factors where one lives , recycling trucks and items available at grocery stores.
IF there is a sale (rarely) on lets say ground beef (we have a dog and she's carnivore and has special needs) we take turns to buy the limit of 5 packages per person. We don't have a choice if we don't want to go bankrupt (getting rid of our 4 legged Love is out of the question).  So when things go on sale, we have lots of recycling packaging.
Can't change that.
However, as for the changes... I'm not sure we had made any  or...many,  being raised somewhat "frugal" since childhood to begin with. We are following what was though since then:
the food WE eat, we grow what our climate allows, or if bought buy on sale, I can, dehydrate ,  vacuum seal lots,  in glass jars bought from thrift stores (minus the lids. Have to buy those), vacuum seal & freeze.
Buy recyclable garbage bags to put in garbage containers (we live in bear country and containers are required by law). That's " new"
Buy in bulk once a year (we live far away from such stores).
I have been able sower so I upcycle clothing (from thrift shops), buy bed sheeting fabrics/ or any other fabrics/sewing needles/thread/notions,  I can incorporate (on sale, usually in Fabric Land),  once a year, while  driving 6 hors one way, for a special eye appointment for our son.
To tell the truth....I KNOW I can't save the whole planet. I/we, buy what we can with leaving as much of a little foot print as we can financially afford or do.

I watch (can't help it) other people's recycling boxes and can't believe the "stuff" I see. Mostly blown away with wind or the recycling people not willing to pick up when fallen out from the recycling box.
I have given up on "preaching" our friends on water bottles. They won't listen (my "ugly half" NO. NOT really LOL! Is an expert when it comes to water quality as he worked in this field for over 20+ years)
The list can go on, and on but as I said, I can't "save the world". It is sooooo frustrating talking to (what seems like logically thinking people) who just can't, or won't to come "on board". NOT that I, or my tiny family is "oh, sooo smart, sooo intelligent", we are not. We have been, are, what we are.
Perhaps born in different times, when things were rough... I don't know.

I remember laughing to myself when plastic bags were becoming so "un-cool" and the reusable shopping bags became the "in-thing" . Really!? We used our onw bags "for ever"!
P.S. Sorry to ramble on but thank you, to anyone who cared to read my "crap"
Have an awesome day! (I do! Every day is THAT  day because I am able to see, walk, feel, smell and touch)






























 
Posts: 90
Location: Cranbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
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Composting,  everything.  To the extent that my neighbour,  a mowing contractor,  supplies me with vast quantities of clippings and leaves that my chickens turn into the perfect soil amendment.
 
Posts: 74
Location: Melbourne's SE Australia
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=====When our city council, upgraded or changed our city collection bins, for whatever reason,  (which apparently got recycled into other items), I opted not to have a green bin, e.g. a bin that carted away my green waste.

IF i do have any green waste I include it with my regular RED lidded bin (RED means STOP putting so much in the land fill. While Yellow lids are amber, that recycle the glass, cardboard, plastics bottles etc)  If I am incline to dispose of green waste it is usually Rose thorny branches, or if there is disease in a plant e.g. lemon branches with wasps nodes. Things I don't want spread.

==== Closed bin /worm composting food scraps or forgotten foods in the CRISPER (that does to keep their forever crisp!!).

====I try and recycle items, or by secondhand, or repurpose, what I already have onsite.

==== Open composting of plant remnants etc.

==== if terra cotta pots or plates are broken I use them for "weights' around the tops of pot plants, to keep mulch insitu ready for Summer, so the birds dont steal it for nesting in Spring or scratch it out for foraging critters etc.

==== I am tempted to keep collecting plastic bottles or tubs (if I happen upon them e.g milk used to be the only thing but I dont buy it that way any more).  And use them for seed raising.

====I have collected more timber than I can use at the present. So I am junked up with timbers and need to cull if I dont use them, to make way for more project space. Any one else have that problem with any of their REPURPOSING IDEAS? just so things dont go to waste?

==== Ideally I would like to be MORE organised, literally. Not just in my little bubble but, through the lens of outsiders!! LOL.  This might help me too be able to optimise the odds and ends in my garage / workshop so there is zero waste there too. Any tips on ESSENTIALS TO SET UP YOUR WORKSHOP? MIN area and essentials for work working?

 
Dave Bross
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Location: North FL, in the high sandhills
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" ====I have collected more timber than I can use at the present. So I am junked up with timbers and need to cull if I dont use them, to make way for more project space. Any one else have that problem with any of their REPURPOSING IDEAS? just so things dont go to waste? '




Aaaaah, memories....

On my first go around owning a junkyard I saved EVERYTHING...mumbling to myself that "I might need one of these one day."  

The fatal phrase.

Fast forward to the county terminating my junkyard illegally.  

A crooked county commissioner wanted to set up his nephew in the junk biz by running everyone else out.

He paid for that eventually.  
He's making license plates upstate after an FBI bribery sting sent him away for a good long time.  Seems he got a little over ambitious there on his many bribery schemes.

So there I am,  looking at 5 acres of "precious" junk piled high.

It took two months, 12 hours a day to clean it all up and get rid of it so I could sell the property.

If you're going to be dumb, you've got to be tough!  

No doubt in my mind that I qualified on both counts as I waded through that.

Anyway, the point of all this.....

A "country" old timer friend would come to visit now and again.
He liked watching and helping a bit with the cleanup show.

He told me his dad put a date on anything he stored for later.  If, when he looked at it later, the date on it was past 5 years, it automatically got tossed.

The more I thought about that, the more it sounded like true wisdom.

Pack rat disease is real...and remember your early warning phrase..."I just might need this some day."

----------------------------------------------

I'll toss in a slightly off topic auxiliary tip that was really hammered home in the great cleanup.

NEVER store anything for anybody.  

It's like lending friends money, they will rationalize why they don't really need to come back and get it when they said they would, or, if they were paying you storage fees, those would quickly stop showing up and  their stuff would sit for years after.  

A few that owed me money, supposedly friends, went sneaking in there and stole their stuff back....and still never paid me.
We're talking about stuff like cutting the lock on my gate and towing cars out of there stealth when I wasn't around.

That was certainly an "OK, Wow! I see who you REALLY are now." kind of moment.

In the end, I had to dispose of all of it myself, even after telling the owners to come and get it or else it was gone.


 
Posts: 182
Location: Temperate coniferous forest (Washington) - zone 9a, 22" rain/yr
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trees tiny house solar
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We like Lara bars, try not to buy them except for camping trips and back-up food in the car. Thank you for the recipe! Another reduction in waste made possible!
 
Jerry McIntire
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Location: Temperate coniferous forest (Washington) - zone 9a, 22" rain/yr
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Composting and recycling are the most obvious changes we made, years ago. Chipping tree waste was next. The biggest challenge that remains is packaging waste, especially plastic.
We shop at thrift stores for nearly all our clothing, so no waste there, but most things come in plastic of some sort and the recycling of plastic is being curtailed.
I have noticed that the smaller the business and the more progressive its owners, the less waste comes with a new product. I look forward to buying running shoes (which I do at least once a year) made with foam that is produced from algae. A friend works with the company that makes it and it is a net carbon sink, not to mention the algae harvesting cleans water and makes it healthier for aquatic animals.
We tried buying no food in plastic for a month. Very difficult, but it moved us another notch toward less waste. Cheese is very difficult to find without plastic packaging. I don't mind buying milk in plastic jugs because that is the most valuable and easily recycled plastic, HDPE. But our next step is to find a local source and buy on farm in glass bottles again, as we did a few years ago in Wisconsin.
The hidden waste is the transportation of products to me, so I try to only buy things made in this country, or state, or town.
 
Posts: 288
Location: Málaga, Spain
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I'd say cheese is actually easy to buy without plastic. Purchase a big wheel of Manchego Cheese. It weighs 1.5 to 3 kg, though.
Once you open it, cut it in big chunks that you can fit in glass tars, then cover them with oil to keep them fresh for longer. Serve the cheese with some oil to be consumed together.
 
Jerry McIntire
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Thank you Abraham. My local stores do not have whole wheels of cheese, only smaller pieces wrapped in plastic. I will ask if I can order an entire wheel at our food co-op.
 
pollinator
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Location: Meppel (Drenthe, the Netherlands)
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After reading here about cheese without plastic I am sure I'll ride my bicycle to the organic farm (with their own small store) tomorrow. They make a very good cheese, without any non-natural material (so even the outside is edible). They sell fresh vegetables, if needed there are paper bags to put them in. I reuse my own bags. Also reuse egg cartons for the eggs. Only the meat is frozen and sealed in plastic.
 
Ela La Salle
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Dave Bross wrote:
" Pack rat disease is real...and remember your early warning phrase..."I just might need this some day."

----------------------------------------------

I'll toss in a slightly off topic auxiliary tip that was really hammered home in the great cleanup.

NEVER store anything for anybody.  

It's like lending friends money, they will rationalize why they don't really need to come back and get it when they said they would, or, if they were paying you storage fees, those would quickly stop showing up and  their stuff would sit for years after.  

A few that owed me money, supposedly friends, went sneaking in there and stole their stuff back....and still never paid me.
We're talking about stuff like cutting the lock on my gate and towing cars out of there stealth when I wasn't around.

That was certainly an "OK, Wow! I see who you REALLY are now." kind of moment.

In the end, I had to dispose of all of it myself, even after telling the owners to come and get it or else it was gone.



I can surely relate to both ( LOL to...LOL?  Not!)

Well.... I went by the so-called wisdom : " if you have not used, or taken out an item in one year, you don't need it". And (now) I say "REALLY!?". I got rid of stuff that I wish I didn't!
Lumber included.
NOW I wish I had many of the things I purchased,  but have given away or donated for free.
I think there is a huge difference between "hoarding" stuff one will never, ever use, and holding on to things that one may actually use, but don't know it. I mean especially when one moves/ downsize/upsize/ etc.
Some of the items (lumber included among other things) would come really, really hand right now as I noticed the rise in prices for really just a press board or fake trim.
This would apply to those who have woodworking tools or, some small kitchen appliances that work better, are sturdy and overall, made to last, then what one can buy today.

Simple and silly example perhaps... I bought used waffle maker (book and recipe included) from 1957. It works absolutely awesome! But... before I stumbled don this gem, I bought 3 brand new ones and returned each and everyone because they didn't work (burned batter, undercooked butter, stuck on batter and so on). All promising to deliver "the best waffles ever"
Ha!

An old iron for ironing cloth/clothing....Was  lucky to find one, someone threw away because it had chipped button. I have super-fabulous irons (4 in total) and expensive, that do  not hold a candle to that OLD-thrown  away "junk".
Good old lumber (I used to build bird houses)  or make boxes for growing plants. I left those behind and regret it.
Well, the list can go on but I'' stop at that.
There is a difference between true, useless junk, and quality junk. However, if the storage is an issue...that's another ballgame to a point. One can always cut some up to smaller pieces and make project that were put on the "someday list"  :-)

 
Do the next thing next. That's a pretty good rule. Read the tiny ad, that's a pretty good rule, too.
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