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

 
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What did you do that changed how much you discarded? What was the most effective change?

For us, most noticably, it was really working at using up our leftovers. Having a sealed compost heap helped a lot too, as we then started composting all vegetables year round, instead of just coffee grounds from Columbus Day - Memorial Day.
 
Posts: 158
Location: NEPA
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Probably for us, it is our compost, too. Not only do we add kitchen scraps, garden and yard waste, we also put in our paper and carboard which we seem to get so much of these days. We bought a heavy duty cross-cut paper shredder that will handle over 20 sheets at a time. It also goes through corrugated cardboard like butter, helping it to break down faster in the compost pile.
 
master steward
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We recycle all cardboard.  Where our daughter lives the town has started a place to recycle cardboard.

I flatten all the boxes and found a convenient place to store them is in front of my washing machine. These are flat on the floor so I put something heavy on the side so I don't trip on them.

When our daughter comes to visit, I place them in the back of her car and she drops them off as she goes by there.

It is too dry here to compost so I give all food scraps except things with meat or oil to the wildlife.  I have a spot out of sight though convenient to the house.  We have been here since 2013 and there is never any food to be found when I go back the next time.

I used to have a spot further away where I put the meat type scraps though I have decided it is now too far to walk. My new strategy is to dehydrate or freeze-dry the scrap and when I drive to the mailbox, I have a new spot on our property where I place these dehydrated scrapes and bones.  The next time I pass by there the wildlife has enjoyed them as these are not longer there.
 
master gardener
Posts: 3435
Location: southern Illinois.
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Great question.  I had to think about this because we made changes over time.

We reduced purchasing canned good. We tend to use our own vegetables.
We eliminated buying frozen food.
No cardboard or paper goes in the trash.
We converted our high tunnel to our winter salad garden.  So far, it is working.
Of course we have compost bins.
One composter is near the house during the winter.

When we are focused we have one bag of trash a month.
 
Posts: 102
Location: North Island, New Zealand
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Generating less rubbish was my first (and only) New Year resolution, back in 2015. I have to say, the first 80% was relatively easy--it's the last 20% that is quite challenging and an ongoing process.

At the outset, over 50% of my rubbish was food packaging. My partner and I probably produced one small 120L (26 gal) bin every month or so. I switched to buying things in bulk (either in a shop with bins or the largest possible packet of whatever it was--e.g. a 20kg sack of flour) and eliminated things that could not be purchased in non-plastic packaging. This meant quitting buying milk, and only buying cheese once a quarter (I guess it's my 'cheat' item), and not buying meat except if I got it direct from the butcher in my own box/bucket, from hunting/fishing friends, or killed it myself. I buy no prepared foods other than chocolate. Other than a few tins of coconut cream per annum, I purchase no tinned goods, and everything I get in a glass jar is with a mind for re-using that jar for food storage or preserving. Having been flatting this whole time rather than owning property has meant more reliance on grocery stores than some posters here. I have, however, made a lot of sacrifices to ensure that I am renting places with gardens, or where I can garden. This addressed probably 90% of food packaging waste.

After addressing food packaging, food scraps was an issue, but most of these are from garden products, and if you have a garden, you can generally have a compost bin (though I have found some landlords to be anti-compost bin, as they have had bad experiences with poorly managed bins that attract rats).

After these, menstrual products comprised maybe 10-20% of the remaining household waste. I sewed reusable cloth pads in 2015 and never looked back! I don't know what they put in the commercial ones, but not only are they expensive (NZ$4-6 for a pack of 10), they chafe! I was pleasantly surprised to find how much more comfortable natural materials are. Alternates to pads and tampons are quite popular here, partially for economic reasons (everything's imported and thus expensive, so the value of re-usables is greater), and partially to the outdoor culture where reusable cups and pads are quite handy when on multi-day tramps through mountains.

After that, I'm left with the detritus of living in modern society, which is harder to be rid of--plastic shells for tool packaging, windows in paper envelopes, elastic parts of worn-out clothes (the worn-out cloth itself is shredded for use in draught excluders and cushions), broken pens I acquired pre-2014 (the last time I purchased pens!), worn-out bicycle tyres, plastic thread spools, thermopaper receipts (not recommended for recycling, burning, or compost due to BPA/BPS/pthalates) and so on. Between the two of us, we now produce one (pre-ban) plastic grocery bag of rubbish every 2-4 months. Probably somewhat less than one 120L bin per year (though it gets filled every 2-3 weeks by our two flatmates, so our estimate can't be precise).

Very keen to hear what folks here are doing, as a lot of people posting about waste reduction are in urban areas, and have few materially-intensive hobbies!
 
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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!
 
gardener
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I sometimes wonder how so many people can produce so much trash?  I live alone most of the time and produce one 30 gallon can of trash every 2 to 4 months.  Thank goodness there is still one trash company that does individual bag tags instead of a flat monthly rate!  When I look at my garbage I can see that the bulk of it is food packaging, mostly plastics that aren't recyclable or end up being too gooped up with stuff.  Styrofoam clam shell containers from a Chinese take out place I go to too often can be a problem too.

I do recycle a lot of cans, bottles, paper, cardboard, and plastics that can be.  Paper that isn't too shiny, and thus heavy with clays and stuff that would produce a lot of ash, get saved throughout the year for use in starting my RMH during the cold season.  When I get those envelopes with plastic windows I rip out the window part for the trash and save the rest of the paper for burning.  Toilet paper tubes get ripped up and tossed in with rest of the sawdust composting toilet material.  Of course food scraps I don't even consider waste.  That will just be composted or tossed into the brush for critters.

As part of my art business I do ship packages frequently enough.  For this I try to save packing materials I get to use when I ship.  For example, all those bubble mailer envelopes can be good cushioning along the sides, bottom, and top of a box.

When my girlfriend, who live far away in another state, is here it doesn't seem like we produce that much more garbage.  Probably the worst is cartons for soy milk and coconut creamer used for her daily turmeric tea (which I enjoy also when she's here and making it.  I just don't make it on my own.)  However, this is off set by the fact that when we are together I tend to be better about not eating as much junk that comes with packaging.  We are usually preparing most meals using fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden or farmers market first, and then the grocery store if needed.  That way of eating is not only WAY healthier, it produces far less garbage.  Hence, I need to be doing that even more when on my own.
 
pollinator
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[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.
POLLUTION_-_trash_beach_Niihau-_Hawai-i_by_Polihale_WikiMedia.org.jpg
Trashy beach in Hawai`i
Trashy beach in Hawai`i
COMPOST_PAILS_for_kitchen_by_BackyardRegeneration.com.JPG
compost pails in kitchen by BackyardRegeneration.com
compost pails in kitchen by BackyardRegeneration.com
 
master steward
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Hmmm, biggest change recently has been finding a bread recipe that was easy to make and I could eat. Since we're grain/sugar/etc free due to auto-immune stuff, it's been hard finding a good. easu source of breakfast calories...so everyone in the family was eating 2 lara bars every morning. So. Many. Wrappers. It's a disgrace. But, it's one of the few "convenience foods" we can eat with our health issues.

Well, I found a chestnut/almond flour recipe that actually tastes good and is pretty quick to mix up (if you discount the time washing duck eggs). It actually toasts up like bread! So, I make a double batch of it, and I have breakfast for me and snacks for the family for almost a week. It's cut our lara bar consumption in half.

Aside from that, the other biggest things have been:

  • ordering food in bulk from nuts.com. One giant bag of raisins uses a lot less plastic than a bunch of smaller ones.  
  • composting things--of course. We've been doing this so long that I don't really think about it any more
  • Using towels/rags/napkins instead of paper versions for most everything other than soaking up grease....and the grease soaked paper towels go in the woodstove as fire starters
  • getting poultry feed in paper sacks. We've always done this, but I can only imagine just how many plastic sacks we'd have accrued by now. The paper ones our Scratch and Peck feed comes in are wonderful for sheetmulching new gardens
  • Bringing our own grocery bags and asking for paper--or going without a bag--when we forget our bags
  • Making our own yogurt helped a ton. Yogurt containers take up a lot of trash space! But, I haven't had the time to make any in a while.
  • eating from our property. This saves us from needing packaged foods. But, it requires more work, and this year has been nuts and time has been lacking. And I just have to give myself some grace. Hopefully next year will be better!


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    pollinator
    Posts: 312
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    Chickens + composting as everyone stated.

    And hugelculture. All wood, branches, too much green matter, almost everthing organic goes to the pile.
     
    gardener
    Posts: 603
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    My main roads to trash reduction:

    * Make almost all meals from scratch- flour, sugar etc. comes in paper bags, I try to buy dairy in recycable containers or make my own like yoghurt, fresh cheese, sour cream, kefir, buttermilk; I do buy cans because they are easier to recycle than tetra paks (and they have to be separated here in Germany anyway)
    * Growing a lot of our own veggies and fruits (all our jams are homemade, we get our own honey)
    * Making my own bread; we only buy the occasional Bavarian pretzels
    * Changing from paper napkins and kitchen towels to cloth, and using cloth pads for face cleansing instead of cotton dabs, not buying bin liners but using newspaper (that goes to the compost after use)
    * We eat leftovers until they are icky, then they go to the chickens
    * Buying things in bulk as far as possible (we don't have bulk stores here like in the US ), e.g. pulses, oats
    * In normal - non corona - times I also take my containers to buy cheese; now I can only do that for fresh produce
    I have to add that we have three bins (at least) here, one for trash that has no recycable contents (here we have very little), one for packaging (plastic and metal), one for paper and cardboard (some people also have a bin for organic waste if they don't compost; cheaper to compost and less space needed for the bins!); bottles have to be taken to the recycling center.
    Interesting piece of news: Because people do so much online shopping now there is a huge increase in cardboard production which is usually made from old paper. Although we have a high percentage of paper recycling in Germany, we still need to import old paper to satisfy the need for the packaging industry and we do import from the US, among others.

    My "20 percent" I have to battle:
    * Treats like chocolate, chips etc. - I could drastically reduce that if it weren't for the kids (and husband)
    * Organic meat/sausages always comes packaged in plastic, so I have to choose between pest and cholera as we say here. There are organic butchers but is a drive by car in a direction I don't usually take
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 3033
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    Our two big changes in the past 12 months:

    1) We got chickens. Chickens get all our kitchen scraps every day. With two adults and two slightly fussy kids that ends up being a reasonable proportion of their feed. All the garden compost goes in their run as well.

    2) The kids are old enough now that it is easier to have a fire going most days, instead of using the central heating. It has the added advantage of letting us burn some of our bulky waste - cardboard boxes, paper etc...

    Pretty much everything else is recycled, so we are down to basically one normal bin bag per week.

    Edit: smallest is now out of nappies. That alone makes a HUGE difference.
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 2002
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    We produce around 14L of rubbish per week, by rubbish I mean things that go into the bin at the end of the drive and will end up incinerated. That includes one bag of cat litter and one bag of ash each week as well. Almost all of our rubbish consists of food packaging, meat/mushroom trays tetrapacks for milk/cream and then the thin plastic you get on most produce/staples. We recycle all card, paper, hard and soft plastics (clean) glass and metal.  Again not being in the US and not being in an urban area there are no bulk shops so everything comes in maximum 4lb bags sometimes paper mostly plastic. We compost all our vegetable scraps but meat or carbohydrate scraps go in the bin, however there's less than a cup full per week of that, very little gets thrown out of the fridge. We do not have any way to burn anything so old oil and small wood scraps go to the tip.

    Last year we had a lodger and the amount of rubbish we had went up over 2x because she bought food as she needed it, so two chicken thighs in a plastic package, pre done potatoes in a plastic pouch, cheese strings (?!neither cheese nor string) It's absolutely amazing how much rubbish a "modern" diet produces, and it's not as if she was buying ready-meals every night either.

    So my take away is the easiest way to reduce the amount of rubbish you send to the incinerator is to cook. And then the next thing is to find where you can recycle everything else.
     
    gardener
    Posts: 1372
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    Nicole, or anyone, if you want (and have time) to make your own Lara bars:
    20201225_064743.jpg
    lara bar recipe
    lara bar recipe
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 188
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    Having taxed bin bags. You pay 20 Dollars per roll so every time you fill one up, there goes another dollar...
     
    gardener
    Posts: 497
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    I am super interested in this topic, since reducing our family's food waste to zero is my 2021 goal. For my family, we've done the following:

    *compost, compost, compost!
    *make most of our food from scratch. This decreases store-bought packaging.
    *If I do have to buy the ingredients from food (eg. flour, sugar) I reuse the packaging if I can. I buy my flour in big 10-lb plastic bags, so the bags get reused to store the finished bread loaves.
    *reuse anything else kitchen-wise to include parchment paper, aluminum foil, even coffee filters. I have had good success with rinsing out paper filters, setting them over a large cup to reshape them while they're drying. I've been reusing the same three coffee filters for several uses with no bad effects. We've tried the steel reusable filters, but we don't like them. Something about the paper absorbs more tannins.
    *Along those lines, I reuse sour cream and cottage cheese containers for seed starting. I save metal food cans for draining meat. When the fat is solidified, I do throw away the can. (I figure a wasted can is still better than draining the fat down the sink and paying for a plumber!) I need to figure out a better method.
    *Make reusable items. I don't often use saran wrap, but instead use homemade beeswax-coated cloth.
    *Use washable containers for hubbie's lunches at work.
    *I even reuse canning lids. The packaging says they're a one-use item, but I've never had one not re-seal well. (Knock on wood...) If ever one does not reseal, I mark a slash across the top with a sharpie and remember to only use it for dry goods that don't need a vacuum seal.
    *I'm processing ground up eggshells to be given back to my chickens as a calcium supplement. I also soak the eggshell powder in vinegar to make a calcium fertilizer for my nightshades.
    *Use animal bones for bone broth. After they're pressure cooked, they get very soft and I feel safe smashing them up for my dog (after being SUPER careful that they are mushy like mashed potatoes) or drying and grinding them for garden bone meal.
    *Coffee grounds get scattered in the garden or given to the worm bin.
    *Using cloth instead of paper whenever practical. I sewed a reusable swiffer duster cloth. We do use regular paper TP, sorry folks---I just can't stomach the thought of the reusable "family cloth", and paper towels are a seldom-used item. We mostly use them for squishing bugs.
    *Reusing clothing for scraps, quilts, rags, etc. Remove the buttons and keep a button jar.
    *Don't use paper fabric softener sheets. We line-dry our clothes anyway. We don't own a dryer.
    *Don't buy products with unnecessary packaging. For instance, we don't buy individually wrapped chicken breasts that are then wrapped again in a larger plastic package, or small lunch-sized containers of peanut butter.
    *Buy concentrated versions of products. For instance I buy a concentrated antiseptic mouthwash. I dilute it 5 to 1 in a glass container. Laundry soap, dish soap, etc. all get diluted more than what the packaging states. I buy powdered milk instead of liquid.
    *List good stuff on Craigslist. We have a lot of scrap metal collectors in our area. If we put "Curb Alert" in the free stuff section of our Craigslist site, we almost always have someone come by to get it for us. We got rid of an old cast iron sink, tire rims, metal wiring, etc. We make sure to remove the listing when we see it gone. Sometimes we take our metals to the scrap yard, other times we just give it to the scrap collectors. Whatever keeps it out of the landfill.

    edited to add:

    *save old toothbrushes for cleaning tight spots. Like that little goopy spot between the back of the sink and the faucet...ugh.
    *Drink water. We don't drink sodas. We filter rainwater through our Berkey.

    *This isn't actually reducing my own garbage so much as it is reducing others'--we have found BEAUTIFUL furniture set at the curb on trash day near apartment complexes. People must have moved or been evicted, but perfectly good furniture has been left behind for the trash man. We picked up a gorgeous Ethan Allen nightstand and a Broyhill buffet from the curb. We've also collected tempered glass table tops to be repurposed for garden cold frames, and steel bed frames to be used as angle iron. We picked up a perfectly good dog kennel that we reshaped into a gate for our chicken run. I picked up an almost-new 6 quart stockpot. My hubbies workplace got new doors and gave away 10 of them to us. Solid wood doors! They've been of good use as table tops, counter extenders, etc. We also found a big PVC pipe that was being thrown out. We reused that as a laundry drain to water our fruit trees. We've picked up old wooden pallets for building our own projects. I even found an old 10" cast iron skillet. It was rusty, but it reseasoned well.

    That's all I can think of for now. I'm interested in reading others' ideas too!
     
    Jennie Little
    Posts: 279
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    Okay, here's a few of mine that I'd forgotten about, inspired by others' answers: use a thick cream rinse and comb it thru damp hair after you get out of the shower. I use one container of the stuff about every TWO YEARS, instead of about every 6 weeks. (I have hair down to nearly my waist.)

    Use demiglace (better than bullion, soup base) instead of bullion cubes or store bought stock in cans.

    If you use dryer sheets, put liquid fabric softener on a washcloth and throw it in the dryer with the wet clothes instead. I don't do this any more because I can't stand the scents...

    Buy, at a beauty supply shop, concentrated shampoo by the gallon. I can't do this any more for the same reason I can't use dryer sheets, the added scent. This is how beauty shops buy their shampoo.

    Refuse to buy sets. I've bought the last 2 sheets I've bought a la carte because that was all I needed. I've stopped buying pillow cases; we're using woven pillow liners instead. They're white, have piped edges, keep dust mites away, can be thrown in the wash, etc.

    Our "shower curtain" is actually two shower curtain liners.



     
    Posts: 38
    Location: Kitsap County, Washington, USA
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    I've done so many of the reduce-reuse-recycle-refuse things others here have mentioned, so I won't repeat them. And I got to the point where I was producing only one small bag of household trash every week--like a plastic grocery bag, with plenty of space left to tie the handles together.

    But the one major trash issue that remained was cat litter. I'm a cat lady, and I also foster, so even though my 33-gallon garbage can was only half- to two-thirds full every week, most of that was litter.

    I had already shifted over to pine pellet litter, and had, through trial and error, figured out the minimum amount I could put in each box. There is no need to put 2" of litter in a box; a regular-sized box in my household gets one repurposed Starbucks Venti cup of litter, and the extra-large boxes made from huge storage bins get 1-1/2. Pine pellet litter expands as soon as it gets wet, and before long the cats have plenty of fluffy sawdust to absorb pee and cover their poop. I scoop poop every day, remove any saturated sawdust, and add a handful or two of new pellets to "top off" the box.

    So while I had done my best to reduce the amount of outgoing litter, there was still a lot of it, and I was still putting it out with the trash. But this year, I decided to start composting the sawdust (I'm still throwing away the poop) for use on the ornamental plantings out front--and now I have practically no trash. It would now take me over a month to fill my 33-gallon can, and about half of that is cat poop.

    With my current setup, I can't get a compost pile hot enough, and I don't have space to let humanure-type bins sit for a couple of years, so I can't safely compost the poop. But in my next place I'll have more space, and come up with something better. And with no stinky cat waste in my garbage, I'll be able to forego curbside collection altogether, instead holding my mostly-clean garbage in cans and making semiannual trips to the dump (where I can also offload recycling).
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 302
    Location: West Virginny and Kentuck
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    Single person household here and my waste stream is pretty small.  I’m managing to keep plastic containers to mostly PETE #1.  No!  I just looked and milk jugs are now HDPE #2.  Hmmm.  I was buying milk in glass returnable ; gotta find another source.  It tastes better in glass.
    But my focus is on flexible plastics.  I refuse plastic bags, but as I understand it, anything that crumples like a bag is a candidate for Trex lumber and can be dropped off at Lowe’s and other sites.  Meiers grocery accepts them too.  And I do buy the occasional Trex board for framing windows and doors.  
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 710
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    Food packaging is the killer, here; meat trays/wrap, and food packaging in general.

    A few years back I got reusable mesh produce bags - every time we go to the store shoppers and cashiers comment on them. Reusable, insulated grocery bags (from Costco, love the sturdiness, size and design for shoulder carrying, and frozen stuff doesn't thaw on the way home). I also leave packaging in the grocery cart, making it their problem, and hope that if enough folks do this they will demand change from suppliers.

    Although we are just a two human household EVERYTHING is bought in bulk, family size or giant quantities. Our local "Soap Exchange" is where laundry, dishwasher and cleaning supplies come from; heavily concentrated and in plastic containers that have a deposit and they refill.

    Zip lock bags were a big issue - these were recently replaced, as were all cooked food storage containers, with a single version of Rubbermaid easy store (yes, plastic, but reusable indefinitely, and much more weight and budget friendly) containers.

    Three appliances are crucial for us, deep freezers the InstantPot Duo with Air fry lid and SodaStream.

    The freezers allow for bulk buying, cooking and storage. The InstantPot now has me bulk /batch cooking and storing the cooked food in small meal sized portions, in the freezer rather than uncooked that has to be thawed and prepared. It has also eliminated pre packaged "instant" or fried foods that generated a ton of garbage. The SodaStream eliminates the Soda bottles and is mixed with fruit juice concentrates or syrups, rather than artificial flavors and other nasty stuff. Note: refill CO cartridges at local airgun cartridge filler (Sporting Goods Shops etc.) WAY cheaper!

    Fortunately, I live in a zero waste initiative community - the local landfill was maxing out 20 years ago - so recycling and green bins have been with us for over a decade. As a community our "diversion rate" is now around 80%, and the previous 20yr lifespan for the land fill is, 20 years later, still operating with no urgent issues of maxing out.

    My only issue, I used to use old plastic grocery bags for our single bag of trash each week - now I have to PAY for plastic trash bags, how wrong is that?!?!
     
    Posts: 1
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    Biggest change happened when we began composting.

    I wish, wish there was a national mandate in the States to get everyone on board with composting, it really isn't that hard. Far too much food waste fills the landfills. Food waste is practically free dirt (with management).
    We too went from filling (1) 13-gal bag a day down to 1 bag a month. We are also ardent recyclers and for now recycling pickup is still free (paid by taxes) in central VA.

    Happy Holidays y'all!

    Tyler
     
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    Tyler Burke wrote:Biggest change happened when we began composting.

    I wish, wish there was a national mandate in the States to get everyone on board with composting, it really isn't that hard. Far too much food waste fills the landfills. Food waste is practically free dirt (with management).
    We too went from filling (1) 13-gal bag a day down to 1 bag a month. We are also ardent recyclers and for now recycling pickup is still free (paid by taxes) in central VA.

    Happy Holidays y'all!

    Tyler


    I have a somewhat different view of mandated anything. A huge proportion of the people have no idea how or what to compost, and even more couldn't care less, and many others would screw it up, intentionally. But, to take your idea in a somewhat different direction, I think it would be fantabulous, if it were taught in the home, from such a young age that it became second nature to compost.

    Our biggest change came when we moved to the country. Now, we have critters who take most of the food waste (scraps, really) as part of their normal nourishment. Then, it felt weird throwing onion skins, banana peels, and such in the trash, so they started going into the compost heap, or being shredded, and put directly into the gardens.
     
    Lorinne Anderson
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    Our community instituted mandatory recycling and green bins - there was a learning curve and "garbage police" initially (unsorted trash was left behind with a "naughty" label) but compliance was really quite good and includes schools and busineses.

    We just switched to automated trucks and you had to choose what size trash bin you wanted (three different prices) so there is now a financial reward for minimal waste. Everyone also got a massive bin for recyclables, and a triple sized bin for green waste. On top of that, trash is only picked up every second week, alternated with the recycle bin,; green waste is picked up weekly and includes everything from meat to soiled paper, along with traditional veg or grains (but not yard waste).

    As previously mentioned this came about as the local landfill was nearing capacity - we were given the choice of "radical" recycling/sorting or massive increases and the distasteful prospect of trucking trash over 1,000 km's away. Fortunately we made the right choice, en mass, and I like to think we are a role model for similar communities. We are now well in excess of 80% diversion, and the new goal is 90%, a badge of honor, in my opinion.

    Edit: the "community" encompasses about 175,000 persons whose trash goes to this particular landfill.
     
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    The biggest change for me was getting milk delivered in glass instead of buying it in plastic. That easily halved what I was throwing away regularly.

    The next challenge is plastic animal feed sacks that the pigs and chickens use. I'm moving over to more fodder crops, planted clover and alfalfa for this coming spring, planning to add comfrey and other perennials if they'll take on my soil. like birdsfoot trefoil, sainfoin. I've got broad beans in for later in the season. Planning Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) Perennial kale and sunflowers. I don't know if I can eliminate buying in feed butit's worth a try, and will vastly reduce the feed bills too.

    The pandemichas been a big help. I'm now working from home and saving sooo much on fuel by limiting my travelling. In no rush to go back to the old normal!
     
    Skandi Rogers
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    Cath Chirgwin wrote: The biggest change for me was getting milk delivered in glass instead of buying it in plastic. That easily halved what I was throwing away regularly.

    The next challenge is plastic animal feed sacks that the pigs and chickens use. I'm moving over to more fodder crops, planted clover and alfalfa for this coming spring, planning to add comfrey and other perennials if they'll take on my soil. like birdsfoot trefoil, sainfoin. I've got broad beans in for later in the season. Planning Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) Perennial kale and sunflowers. I don't know if I can eliminate buying in feed butit's worth a try, and will vastly reduce the feed bills too.

    The pandemichas been a big help. I'm now working from home and saving sooo much on fuel by limiting my travelling. In no rush to go back to the old normal!



    We use plastic feed/pellet bags as bin bags, it helps reduce things a bit.
     
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    Ask relatives to kindly refrain from buying our family presents or (year round) other stuff for which we don’t have a need.

    That’s the biggie and a work in progress.

    Also, compostable inserts in cloth diapers!
     
    David Huang
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    Amaya Engleking wrote:Ask relatives to kindly refrain from buying our family presents or (year round) other stuff for which we don’t have a need.

    That’s the biggie and a work in progress.



    It took me years to get my family/friends to stop getting me Christmas presents just for the sake of giving me something.  It was very hard to get across the point that what I really wanted was nothing.  Thankfully that is the accepted norm now at least regarding me and has thus greatly reduced my "stuff" accumulation and cut down on garbage just a bit more.
     
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    You all are inspiring me. We recycle, we compost and have chickens but still generate a disgustingly large amount of refuse.  We set out a 32 gal can each week and it’s probably 2/3 full on average. I’m resolved to cut that number substantially, hopefully by half this calendar year.   I’ll have to pay close attention to what is filling up that can. I know we buy way too much packaged food. It’d be great to buy more in bulk and/or go to a refill store but we live in a small town and to my knowledge don’t have such a store. We also have two big dogs so a few plastic grocery bags of poop are in the bin each week.  I will try to do better!
     
    Susan Wakeman
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    Look through your bin bag and ask yourself, which items can I easily eliminate? Give yourself a pat on the back if said item is not in the next bin bag. Repeat until you no longer need bin bags 😁
     
    gardener
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    packaged food was definitely the game changer for us. We have a very strong recycling program and anything that can be repurposed, composted, or eaten by the bunnies is diverted from the waste stream. We produce very, very little trash.

    (I also lived in a place where we had to pay for trash tags. You get really good at separating/redirecting when you have to pay $$$ to throw out a bag of trash!!)
     
    pollinator
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    -Switched from clay cat litter to pine pellets.
    -Created a caged refuse bin (for things like the cat litter and spoiled food) that returns things to the earth but will not be used for compost.
    -Feeding all the good food scraps to chickens.
    -Recycle everything possible at the community recycling center.
    -Down to 1 small trash bag per week, mostly unrecyclable plastic packaging.
     
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    The first and most obvious way is recycling. However, you need to get the right containers for every type of waste that you will be recycling: plastic, paper, glass, metal, batteries and light bulbs, electronics, compost, etc. Around 75% of all the waste is recyclable, however, the uptake is very low.
     
    pollinator
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    A big one for us has been making our own cleaning products. And I make my own body products. While they do produce some garbage, it is significantly less than wholly store bought products.

    Our biggest struggle is cat litter, but we are moving most of the cats outside anyway, so that will take care of itself. Other than that, it's mostly other people not thinking about the plastic beverage containers that they bring over.
     
    pollinator
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    I'm not sure which was the biggest, but there have been quite a few over the years.
    - Using cloth diapers for my children. Most of the diapers I got used and when my children outgrew them, they were passed on to others.
    - We also stopped using paper towels or paper napkins a couple of decades ago.
    - As much as we can, we get food from the bulk section of the grocery store, bringing our own bags. And, of course, bringing our own cloth bags for most any shopping.
    - We have two composting bins -one with red wigglers and one without. A lot goes in those, including papers and cardboard.
    - We use only our own stainless steel water bottles when we go on hikes, etc.
    - When taking our dogs for a walk and picking up after them, I use bags that I fished out of the supermarket's "recycling" container where people bring their used plastic supermarket bags (which I am pretty sure cannot be recycled - so I like to give them one more use before they go in the landfill).
    - And the latest change we made was stopping the use of toilet paper. We use toilet wipes now which I made by cutting up two towels into 5" squares as well as cutting some of those into 2.5" squares, and sewing the edges to stop fraying. The small squares are for females using the toilet. No need to use the big pieces when only needing to wipe some pee drips. The larger wipes are really only for drying since with our new system we also got a hand held sprayer that gets hung on the toilet tank. Awesome system! Next to the toilet we have a small swing-top garbage container where all the used wipes go into. Even the family that stayed for a week over Christmas used the new system (although they didn't have to - I put the toilet paper back out for them so they'd have a choice), and were very impressed. The wipes get kept on top of the toilet tank in a basket the size of which is almost perfect for it all. Here is a picture of our newest change showing everything, including the sprayer hanging on the tank on the left side of the toilet tank.
    - And, oh yes, another very small change we made is to no longer use ear swabs. We use some sort of thin cotton something we have around, instead, to simply dry the ears after showering.
    no-more-toilet-paper-.png
    [Thumbnail for no-more-toilet-paper-.png]
     
    pollinator
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    Replacing paper towels almost completely with a variety of cotton towels. We got the inspiration studying restaurant kitchens and the realization that cooks always have a pile of clean towels nearby that are used and disposed of for laundering then reuse. Huck, dish, bar, shop towels of all sorts, while always adjacent and present to projects took a back seat to disposable paper towels, I guess to preserve them, until the realization that the towels needed to be used, laundered and sorted into a hierarchy with use as a napkin/cooking towel at the top and greasy dirty, rag life ending projects at the bottom. Having a big pile of generic dish towels were much more inviting for use then the fancy collection of fancy dish towels that preceded them. Incorporating this sort of rag hierarchy cleared up any mystery of what service rag pickers provided for households in “olden days”.
     
    pollinator
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    Stop buying stuff.
     
    John F Dean
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    Hi Mark,

    I have made the same discovery. Any purchase has become a major decision. My wife and I discuss each purchase in advance. Then we wait a week and discuss the list again.  We have successfully reduced our shopping to once a month. And, we buy less on those trips.  If we buy canned food items, we do so by the case.....a years supply at the time.  Our grocery purchases have dropped, over the past year , to about 1/2 from all sources . Our grocery store purchases are about 1/4.   By the same token, our gasoline purchases have collapsed as well. I fill, up the pick up truck maybe every other month or less ( it is a 2012 with 30 000 miles).   Our suv is used a bit more. Total, gasoline purchases are less than 50 a month due to reduced shopping. Though, now shopping trips are an 80 mile drive to the big city where we combine doctor visits, food, feed, hardware etc.  If I drive to the nearest store i get around 6 mpg. If I drive to the big city, I average 35 mpg. So, in spite of the miles, the cost is more like $ 6 for a local trip vs about double that for a trip to the city.  We quickly make up the difference in savings. In the end, all waste is substantially reduced
     
    pollinator
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    Quit buying junk.  

    Our trash spiked at the beginning of covid as we bought more Amazon Prime because "non essential" essentials couldn't be bought locally and canned/packaged food because fresh was in short supply.  Enlightening.  We are back down to buying fresh veg and tp from the grocery store and clothes from the second hand stores.  Any plastic shopping bags get reused as trash bags.  
     
    pollinator
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    Planning.
    Purchase supplies in bulk.
    Grow whatever we feasibly can.
    Manage leftovers and "waste" from meal prep.
    Composting/vermicomposting.
    Forage a bit.
    Thrift/Flea/Craigslist a lot.
    Scrounge.
    Don't have champagne tastes.
    We were going to start canning last year but it got popular and you couldn't find supplies. If you did, they were expensive. I'll wait until people stop doing it and I can reduce my supply costs.
    I'm hoping to build a solar food dryer this year.
    Repurposing almost everything we can.

    Basically, a lot of it is reducing how much garbage comes in, or planning for reuse & recycling. That said, we have a multitude of projects and irons in the fire that require a bit more outlay and acquisition than we previously had. As we progress, we need less.


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