One of the things that has changed my life recently is consuming less. My thinking shifted when I came across the question on Bea Johnson’s blog, “how will you get rid of it?” In other worse, before I buy something or bring anything into my home – how am I going to get rid of it when I’m done using it?
This question has completely altered my consumption patterns. If something is difficult to get rid of, then I really don’t want it. Like mixed plastic and foam toys, or really plastic things in general. I’m not sure yet what to do with silicone, and styrofoam requires a trip to Ecopark. I’ve found that when I’m looking to do retail therapy, this question completely curbs my appetite. It shifts my thinking to viewing stuff as a burden rather than a blessing.
The real key to Zero Waste living is in buying less stuff, using less stuff, and honestly recycling less. The goal is to consume less and reuse whenever possible. Having said that, while I’m figuring out how to do that, I still have to cope with my waste that are not landfill-centric.
I also have a few more blog posts to write on waste streams, and they are in the works, but I wanted to go ahead and post a summary for you if you’re eager to dramatically reduce your waste.
It’s not hard! I’ve been floored at how much we were able to reduce our waste following these six steps.
2. Compost everything that you possibly can. There are a lot of things that are compostable that you might not think to compost, like latex baloons, rubber bands, hair, nails, etc. To learn more about simple composting, click here.
3. Get the most out of your curbside recycling program (links to flyers for popular waste disposal companies in Rochester, NY are in this post). By visiting their website and printing out their recycling guide, you may find that you recycle more because you know for sure what they accept (and what they don’t). I was surprised to learn that our curbside recycling company accepts aerosol cans, for example. On the other hand, no curbside recycling programs take plastic bags (they jam up the equipment), so never put plastic bags in your curbside recycling bin!
4. Take advantage of your local grocery store’s plastic bag recycling program. Below is a printable flyer for a program that is used by grocery stores all over the country. To search your area, click here.
5. Take hard to recycle items to your local municipal recycling facility. In Rochester we have a facility called EcoPark that takes a lot of difficult to recycle items, such as any plastic bag that isn’t foil lined or a salad bag, styrofoam, and bulky plastics (such as car seats). Below is a printable flyer for the locals. If you live elsewhere, be sure to check into municipal recycling programs that may take more items than your curbside people. Click here to print the Ecopark Brochure.
6. Terracycle for all else. They have a number of free programs where you can send in your trash free of charge and it will be recycled or upcycled into something else entirely.
While we’re still working on achieving zero waste, Our garbage is pretty minimal and we’re considering going to low volume trash disposal for that reason. I haven’t emptied our garbage in several weeks because our kitchen trash can still isn’t full. If our crazy family of 9 can do it, anyone can!