REDUCE WHAT YOU SEND TO LANDFILLS AND RECYCLING CENTERS
Why? 1) Trucking trash and recycling creates greenhouse gases. 2) Landfills release methane. 3) It takes energy to recycle and even more power to extract virgin materials under our current fossil fuel energy system. 4) Plastic gyres the size ofTexas are being found in the oceans. 5) Marine life eats plastic. 6) We eat marine life. 7) Plastics are made with oil. 8) Reducing trash could be a fun family project/Boy Scouts project. 9) Kids feel good about themselves when they try to make the world better. 10) Children, teens, and young adults know about the plastic crisis. People who have studied this believe it impacts our kids’ mental health if they know this is happening and the adults in their lives are not helping.
See Trashed on Amazon Video or No Impact Man
How/Adoption curve? Reducing trash is just a habit. 1) Write down three things you do well every night as it relates to the environment. 2) You can also journal a paragraph or two a day on this to help you problem solve and stay motivated. If you forget your reusable water bottle, you remembered you forgot. It takes 21 days to form a habit. 3) Also, you will probably want to start in small batches of homemade recipes below to see if you like the product. Then you will have to make a bigger batch but once you go into a bigger batch phase, it gets faster. 4) Also, save up any container you can find. Then later start saving glass bottles which are better and easier to clean. You then store your bulk purchases like flour in these.
Where? Bin shopping: Central Market, Town and Country, Sprouts, Whole Foods. For places around the US, go to https://www.litterless.com/wheretoshop/ Produce- grocery stores, farmer’s market, CSAs
Is this just all too much to do? No. After a few months, you won’t even think about reducing trash. It will be automatic. You do have to use some mental energy to change a pattern upfront. I would suggest just adopting a few strategies at a time. Get those into your routine. Then it will be fun to keep going. It’s like lowering your golf score. Also, write down what works for you and what doesn’t.
Cost/Improvement of quality of life? These are guesses. Plus it depends on frequency of use and opinion.
If an upfront capital cost, I put payback and then estimate the number of months before you start saving.
If immediate savings, I put IS.
Improvement in quality of life- yes, no, or neutral
All of these suggestions improve your quality of life because you aren’t ingesting plastic.
A)Order these from AMAZON and ask for paper packaging then compost the paper or recycle.
1) SoyaJoy G4 Soy Milk Maker– makes almond, soy, and rice milk- no more milk cartons UFC- 10 months. Improvement in quality: yes, the milk tastes better. No: you spend time making. Yes: you spend less time driving to store to buy fresh as you can buy lots of dry soy, rice, coconut, almonds in bulk to last a long time.
2) Reusable Swiffer cloths to clean your floors. If you use two disposable clothes a week, the payback is 6 months. Improvement of quality of life: No: You have to wash them. Yes: you don’t have to go to the store and get them.
3) Bidet attachment for $32 to reduce toilet paper 90%. We cut down 27,000 trees a day for toilet paper. Payback- 6 months if one person using. Improvement in quality of life: Yes. Read Amazon reviews. You spend less time driving to the store to get more.
Order these from one of the following stores https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/3-zero-waste-shops-for-all-your-plastic-free-needs or Wild Minimalist
1) bamboo toothbrush to compost later. Immediate savings. These are $1.20 apiece. Improvement in quality of life: neutral
2) Merkur long-handled safety razors– razors CVS. Some prefer Gillette. Prices are all over the place. You can get a $30 razor. Improvement of quality of life: No. I miss the Venus plastic razors. Maybe there is a razor that has a rotating head that I don’t know about. Back in 1990, the EPA estimated Americans tossed two billion disposable razors away a year. And our population has grown by about 75 million people since then.
3) Tampons– Diva/Luna works better. Payback: 9 months. Pads- Thinx underwear. Improvement in quality of life: yes.
4) 2 sets muslin produce bags (I don’t like mesh) for buying produce, bakery goods, and bin items- eliminates packaging/bags for oranges (blend to make juice), other produce, popcorn, salt, flour, beans, rice, chocolate, coffee, protein powder, hummus, plantain chips (as a sub for potato chips), chicken broth, sugar, nuts, oatmeal and bread, muffins, cookies (bakery section)
OR You can use the cloth bags from buying soap nuts for laundry detergent.
OR You can sew your own.
Immediate savings: bulk is cheaper. Plus you are buying the amount you actually need—improvement in quality of life: neutral. Initially, you have to gather jars to put products in.
5) If you have to use a straw, https://www.strawlessocean.org/alternatives
6) No plastic in packaging or on floss dental floss. (Sold at Wild Minimalist .)
7) Reusable Coffee Filters. (Sold at Wild Minimalist)
Order from Bite
1)Bite tooth tablets to eliminate toothpaste. Payback: there is none. More expensive. Improvement in quality of life: not ingesting plastic. I like them! I also make my own- bentonite clay, coconut oil, xylitol and baking soda toothpaste. I can get these in bulk in Bainbridge area. Payback: not sure. But eventual savings over a long time.
B) ALWAYS CARRY these things: cloth bags, reusable water/coffee container, take out container in a bag with napkin and spork (spoon or fork). Put a sticky note on your back door with a list of these items so you can remember.
The Container Store sells stainless steel/tin lunch boxes. These are lighter than glass, and you won’t be ingesting plastic. Put all of your items in some lunch box/container you might have. Put a luggage tag on it for identification. LABEL ALL YOUR CONTAINERS. The trash from take out takes up a ton of trash space. We take in our containers for take out.
If you forget any of these items, you remembered you forgot. Progress! Write down three things you do well every night. Take out containers can also be used to stock up on peanut or almond butter in the bulk section
C) PAPER/JUNK MAIL– How much of your life is spent putting junk mail into the recycling bin and then taking the bin to the curb? The average American receives 848 pieces of junk mail a year. The estimate is that we spend 70 hours a year messing with junk mail. 100 million trees are used for junk mail. 5.6 million pieces of junk mail are sent to landfills annually. The GHG used for junk mail is equal to the emissions of 3.7 million cars. What to do? 1) Get off general lists http://www.ecocycle.org/junkmail and submit every variation of your name. 2) Get the Paper Karma app. All you do when using this app is take a photo of the junk mail cover, press send, and you are unsubscribed. When I did the earlier version of this app, we got rid of 40% of our mail. We use the upgraded one now and I feel like we hardly get any junk mail. 3) Read neighborhood publications online. Call to stop their delivery. 4) Stockpile the remaining mail. Then start with the thickest/more frequent mailings or the weekly coupons and contact them to remove you from physical mail. Email them to remove yourself as it is faster but call if you can’t find an email address. Reducing junk mail is the hardest task of reducing your trash – 5 hours of time overall- but worth it as the average person spends eight months of their life messing with junk mail. 5) Switch bills to on-line. 6) Take your remaining black and white mail and put it through a shredder and then put it into your compost pile. 7) Recycle the colored mail.
PHASE 2: After mastering the first phase, quickly move to this phase as going 80% less trash/recycling is more satisfying than going 60% less. The results are more visible.
To motivate yourself, remember to write down three things you do well each day. Journal through things that need to be ironed out or journal through your internal complaints.
1) Buy dog treats without packaging at most dog stores. Reuse your dog food bag for your kitchen trash liner. Wild Minimalist and other places sell dog bar shampoo.
2) Go to farmer’s market/CSAs and bring saved up egg cartons and berry containers.
3) Eliminate shampoo bottles. Bring your own container to Town & Country and fill up with liquid shampoo. The best is to buy a zero waste/palm oil free shampoo bar at Lush’s or at the many online zero waste stores!!!! Conditioner- Lush’s has a zero waste hair mask that works really well. I don’t like their bar conditioners. Town and Country has a liquid hair conditioner.
4) Buy a 64 ounce reusable beer jug/growler to refill.
5) Drink coke/pepsi in your reusable water bottle by filling up at a soda fountain at a convenience store.
6) Buy ice cream by taking your own containers to the ice cream store. Some places won’t let you do this. It feels like store chains are less likely to let you do that.
7) Take containers to pizza take out for them to put the pizza in.
8) Bring refillable jars to some stores for olive oil.
9) Return hangers to dry cleaners.
10) Do your pedicures or take nail polish you have sitting around in drawers, and your flip flops to pedicure place, so you don’t have plastic flip flops to throw away.
11) For liquid dish soap, some places sell on tap. I am trying just a lathered bar soap. I see on line they have bar soaps for this now (No tox life Vegan Dish Washing Block), but i haven’t tried it as we can get liquid on tap.
12) At home, work, or at a restaurant:
a) Use cloths instead of paper towels for spills. Immediate savings. Never repurchase paper towels again.
b)use cloth instead of paper napkins
13) Soap nuts laundry detergent. They come in a plastic bag inside a cloth bag. So I figure I can take the plastic film to HEB. Even Whole Foods laundry detergent has plastic inside. You put four soap nuts in the cloth bags they provide and put in the washing machine. You reuse 3 or 4 times. Then I can always reuse or give the cloth bags to others or compost them. Google where to buy. Immediate savings: 60% cost of the kind people are used to buying. Or you can order Dropps. I just tried it, and it works great!
PHASE 3 Make your own/DIY or alternative. Buy in bulk at Bulk Apothecary if not carried at Central Market. Then compost cardboard boxes or paper
A) spray starch– cornstarch (Central Market bulk) and water-refill every 2 or 3 days. I leave cornstarch, funnel, and spray bottle on ironing board. Run the bottle through the dishwasher every two weeks. Actually, I don’t iron that much. Immediate savings.
B) We use this only half the time: butter– soy milk and oil or this works well for solid butter http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/fats/vegan-butters/vegan-butter
If you live in a community that sells whipping cream in returnable glass bottles, you just whip up the cream in your blender and throw ice water on it halfway through. Google recipes.
C) Deodorant Shea butter1 TB Arrowroot 2TB, 1 TB Baking soda, 1 TB coconut oil
D) cook pumpkin– can for year
E) Roach spray– boric acid or put a jar out with vaseline on the inside and a bit of food
F) make own salad dressing
G) Hummus– google recipe
H) eye makeup– wetted cocoa powder. Kjaer Weis brands are fully recyclable, and other products are sold at Credo
I) mascara didn’t work. I use Beauty Counter because at least it doesn’t have harmful chemicals. I would like to try cake mascara with an existing wand, but it would have to be shipped. Etsy’s sells it.
J) Toothpaste– coconut oil, xylitol, baking soda, bentonite clay, and essential oils. Mouthwash:https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/zero-waste-mouthwash. Bite sells tooth tablets.
K) google homemade tofu- it is better than store-bought. Don’t buy a tofu maker. You do have to buy one ingredient, but it lasts forever.
L) Pick berries and make your jelly. Freeze them for smoothies. What we stored in the freezer worked for two months of smoothies only past the season.
M) Shaving Cream- I like this one! https://zerowastenerd.com/moisturizing-zero-waste-shaving-cream/ You can buy aloe leaves at Central Market.
N) Playing with hand lotion recipes- Maybe just oil?
O) Crackers Try different recipes. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/22394/lavosh/?internalSource=staff%20pick&referringId=16212&referringContentType=recipe%20hub&clickId=cardslot%203
P) Household Cleaning: Vinegar- google recipes. You put some apple cores and peels in water with some sugar and starter if you want and let it sit for a month. https://wellnessmama.com/124169/apple-cider-vinegar/ Baking Soda- for scrubbing Liquid soap- for cleaning. I can get on tap at town and country. Otherwise, by Bronner’s at Whole Foods. Homemade mold remover did not work, so I buy that. Toilet bowl cleaner– vinegar and borax put into a squeeze bottle. Squeeze on and let it sit for 8 hours. Recycle the borax box. Laundry Detergent: soap nuts. Google local areas. There is a place in north Houston that sells. When I went to San Francisco, I bought a year’s supply.
Immediate savings. Improvement in quality of life- running to the store less.
Q) Yogurt– I bought a used Euro Cuisine maker. Consistency of store-bought yogurt if you use whole milk, which I can get in the returnable glass. Improvement of quality of life: yes. Tastes great!
PHASE 4 Make a compost pile. Get a bin so it’s enclosed for food scraps. (On average, Americans toss out a staggering 400 pounds of food per person every year. Most of it ends up in a landfill, where it releases methane, a potent contributor to climate change. We also have to consider all the greenhouse gases released by growing the food we ultimately chuck. All told, our wasted food produces more greenhouse gas emissions each year than 37 million cars. Also, 34.5 million tonsof yard trimmings—grass, brush, and leaves—to the waste stream. Do your part to reduce that amount by composting those trimmings, leaving grass clippings on the ground where they can decompose into a natural fertilizer, or joining) i prefer the rectangular prism composter with the lid where you just add on top and about year later good compost comes out of the bottom. The kind that you can spin such as enviro composter is great too. Then when it is time to apply the compost, you just roll it to where you want the compost to go. SUPER EASY. Spin it every couple of days. In 6 weeks, you have compost. Or you can have an open compost pile with citrus and coffee grinds but without other food scraps. (veggie scraps go in the freezer for vegetable broth). Don’t put weeds in it. Divide in 2 for resting compost and compost you are adding to. I don’t ever turn it, but eventually, it makes compost. For more nitrogen in the open compost pile, I put coffee grinds I get for free from Starbucks and for carbon/nitrogen, Wabash bags, and leaves out chicken manure mixed with hay in bags behind their store. If you have a lawn, you can put grass clippings into the pile for nitrogen.
Compost means waste won’t decompose into methane in the landfill. It will also rebuild your soil (as long as you don’t use chemical fertilizers that will kill the microbe ecosystem in your soil.) It will also retain more water during floods. It will also make your flowers and vegetables more attractive.
AVOID Try and think if you really need what you are about to buy. Does your child need one more toy?
CLOTHES: Do you know that we have produced so many garments that folks in third world countries can’t absorb them? Watch True Cost on Amazon Video. Buy second hand or high-quality cotton, wool, or silk clothes and wear them for a long time. You can eventually use them as rags or, if cotton, wool or silk, put them in a compost pile. We are in a different era than the 70s. Seven going on 10 billion people with increasing standards of living. For underwear, I bought from Boodie. Super comfortable.
Plant native plants so you don’t have to buy CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS.
Drive electric cars, so you don’t need OIL AND AIR FILTERS, etc.
FOOD WASTE We waste like 40% of our food. Use up all your food. All Recipes has a link where you can put in what you have in your frig, and it will generate a recipe for you.
If you think this is all too much, you haven’t watch Trashed on Amazon Video.
Repair your toasters, blenders, weedeaters etc. at a Repair Cafe for free. https://repaircafe.org/en/visit/
Go to Craigslist, Freecycle, and for free stuff, go to and post at Buy Nothing Bainbridge Facebook sites.
OFFICE FURNITURE. Companies often just sell their office furniture when they relocate.
Go to Rotary Club yard sale each summer and get anything you want.
RECYCLE SHOES- Rothy’s makes their shoes out of plastic water bottles, and Allbirds makes most of their shoes from trees or wool and laces from recycled bottles. Both Rothy’s and Allbirds are super comfortable. All but the souls of Allbirds are compostable.
For the remaining stuff, try to recycle. Westpark recycling has a list of what they can take. Like blowdryers and styrofoam blocks. At the bottom of their website, there is a link to hazardous waste for recycling yard and car liquids.
For styrofoam peanuts, see if your shipping place will accept.
If they don’t take it then Google the object you want to recycle, and the word recycle, and you might find that it can be recycled. For example, you can recycle tennis balls if you have 200 balls. They will pay for shipping. You can recycle trophies. Google it. But you have to pay for shipping, and it is expensive.
Used CD and cassette tapes and electronic cords from the camera, phones, plus more, go to http://www.greendisk.com/gdsite/services.aspx
For trash under 25 lbs, click on TechnoTrash for $11.95 then pay for shipping. Go to checkout. They will email you the mailing label. Hospitals and folks who need it certified they recycled use this place. They employ all disabled folks to do the work. Disabled people have a 70% unemployment rate.
Please sign here.
Other helpful sites:
Zero Waste No Impact Man
Going Zero Waste Story of Stuff
Trash is for Tossers
SUPER EASY- NO IMPACT ON QUALITY OF LIFE- JUST SWITCHING FROM ONE SET OF HABITS TO ANOTHER