It wasn't long after Tommy and I were in our first apartment that I realized the incredible amount of trash we were creating. Maybe it was because I was physically hauling a 10 lb garbage bag down three flights of stairs to the dumpster every other day.
Actually I guarantee that's it. It was disgusting. And I felt like for every 5 lbs of food we ate they was another 5 lbs of packaging getting thrown away after opening it.
I then read that the average American produces over 1,600 lbs of waste each year. SIXTEEN HUNDRED POUNDS! That's over 4 lbs of trash each day for each person in your house.
No wonder the dumpster I parked my car next to was always overflowing only 3 days after it was emptied...
I decided I wanted to make an effort to reduce the amount of waste we were producing. So, this week I am going to spend four days talking about main (and somewhat creative) ways we've dramatically reduced the waste in our home: Conscious shopping, Recycling/Repurposing, Donating, & Composting.
Part 1: Conscious Shopping
It actually wasn't until I started recycling obsessively that I became a conscious shopper. Had someone been teaching me, I could have been even more efficient in reducing our trash output even earlier. But hopefully I'll make up for those extra pounds of garbage by sharing my experience here!
My goal when I am grocery shopping is to buy as few packaged foods as possible - but if you do have to buy something in a package, here are some thing to consider:
1) Is the package reusable?
Glass jars and bottles are easy to wash out a reuse for storing leftovers, dry goods, craft supplies, change, pencils, etc. (more on this tomorrow). Reusable = Not going into a landfill = Good. An added bonus is that they are also less likely to contain harmful chemicals founds in plastics.
2) Is it recyclable?
If you can't reuse something, the next best option is to recycle it. For example, buy your eggs in a cardboard carton versus styrofoam one (styrofoam is not recyclable). Cardboard is easier to recycle than plastics are, but I'll talk more about recycling tomorrow.
3) Is this the largest size offered?
When possible, buy the biggest package possible for shampoos, cereals, peanut butter, etc. Bigger containers actually use less packaging overall and are typically a better deal price-wise.
Bringing Your Groceries Home
The best option is to convert to reusable grocery bags. They are inexpensive and actually much studier than plastic or paper bags. You can even make Reusable Produce Bags! I know some store actually give a discount if you use your own bags.
If I do forget my reusable bags, I try to use paper instead of plastic. Paper bags can be re-used (perhaps for wrapping paper), recycled, or torn up to decompose in your compost pile - which we'll talk about on day four :)
If you MUST use plastic bags, consider using them as mini-trash bags in your bathroom or returning them to the plastic bag return bin at your grocery store instead of throwing them away.
Do you use reusable grocery bags? What other ways do you reduce your waste by shopping consciously?
Be sure to check back for Tips for Reducing Your Waste Part II: Recycling/Repurposing!
Thank you following along on our journey to simplicity. Please be sure to learn about our family, like our page on Facebook, and visit the right column to subscribe to our posts :)
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."