Before you read: You are entitled to your own opinion, but please do not throw in harsh judgments or rude remarks about my journey through trying to reduce my waste & plastic use. Know that this post, above anything else, is a personal assessment of my learning process and it is cultivating and evolving. I am my own person and I don’t learn by criticism -peace.
A few years ago, I worked at a local co-op / health food store. I worked in the kitchen and, of course, we had TONS of waste. One thing I really admired about working there was the emphasis the whole store had on composting and recycling. Prior to this, I had never worked in a food business that cared about the environment so much that they took waste / eco precautions (other than separating cardboard boxes from other trash).
In the kitchen, we had 3 waste bins – compost, recycle, and other waste. Behind the store, there was a massive container (the size of a truck bed), a big dumpster, and a small dumpster. The large container was for compost, the big dumpster for recycling, and the small for all other waste.
This really took me by surprise – is it really possible that we can potentially send that little waste out to landfills?
Why are dumpsters and trash bins filled to the brim in so many households by the end of the week?
It’s so easy to not let this happen.
It made me reevaluate my waste at home. I was always consciously thinking about what waste would go in which container – and how easy it would be if I just composted myself.
Flash-forward to February this year – I wanted to do something different. I wanted to finally see how much I could do to reduce my waste. You can read about my intentions for this month here.
First thing I did? I assessed where I was. I looked at what I was wasting – what I had and didn’t use – and what I had that could be reused before I tossed it.
Here’s a rundown of the things I did differently this month:
- I got a compost bin!
- As you probably know already, I cook – so much. And it’s mostly raw vegetables and fruits, too. I started putting all of my scraps in my compost bin instead of tossing them in the trash bin. My friend helped dig a hole in my garden to throw the scraps in for now (because it’s still frozen outside and I can’t make a pile outdoors).
- I started reusing bags from food products.
- A surprising amount of the food we get comes in plastic bags WITH A ZIPPER. That means I can reuse it. My goal was to get at least one extra use out of it before tossing it. I used it for saving leftovers, packing lunches, etc.
- I donated a lot of unused items / clothes.
- Although the primary reason for doing this was because I am moving, it was a great way to avoid tossing household items and clothes and having them up-cycled and given to a new home.
- I reduced food waste by…
- Looking at my fridge and product and figuring out what was going to go bad first. I tried cooking those things and preserving the fresher foods so that I avoided letting anything go bad before it was used.
- I timed a lot of my showers
- I didn’t always do this, but when I remembered to, I made sure I put on a few songs and limited the number of songs I heard while in the shower to just a few – less than 5-8 minutes in.
- I stopped washing my clothes…
- After wearing them only once. I used to be really bad at this with pants, shirts, and sweaters
Here are some things I wish I had done differently & I aim to do in the future:
- Spend even less time in the shower
- Buy more food products that did not come in plastic
- Compost more waste – research what I can / cannot compost
- Drive less / bike + walk more
- Donate more clothes & unwanted items
- Spent more time outdoors
- Reused plastic that I obtained more often
As a wrap up, I’m glad I challenged myself this month, but I know there is still (always) more that I can do.
Let Me Know:
Have you tried anything lately to reduce your waste? Let me know! I need some more ideas and I want to try more things out!