REDUCE WHAT YOU SEND TO LANDFILLS AND RECYCLING CENTERS
Why? Trucking trash and recycling creates greenhouse gases. Methane is released from landfills. It takes energy to recycle and even more energy to extract virgin materials under our current fossil fuel energy system. Plastic gyres the size ofTexas are being found in the oceans. Marine life eats the plastic. We eat marine life. Oil is used to make plastics.
It could be a fun family project/Boy Scouts project. Kids feel good about themselves when they try to make world better. 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. Write down 3 things you do well every night as it relates to the environment. You can also journal a paragraph or 2 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. 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 bigger batch phase it gets faster. Also, save up any container you can find. Then 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. Now we don’t even think about it. We are not spending more time than others doing drastic trash and recycling reduction. You do have to use some mental energy to change a pattern upfront. Just adopt a few strategies at a time. Get that into your routine. Then it is fun to keep going. It’s like lowering your golf score. Write down what works for you and what doesn’t.
Cost/Improvement of quality of life? These are guesses. Plus depends on frequency of use and opinion.
If an upfront capital cost, I put payback and then estimate of months before you start saving.
If immediate savings, I put IS.
Improvement in quality of life- yes, no, or neutral
All of these improve 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 milks- no more milk cartons UFC- 10 months. Improvement in quality of : yes tastes better. Yes and no: you spend time making. But you spend less time driving to store to stock up as you can buy lots of soy, rice, coconut, almonds in bulk to last a long time.
2) Reusable Swiffer cloths to clean your floors. If use 2 disposable clothes a week, payback- 6 months. Improvement of quality of life: No: You have to wash them. Yes: you don’t have to go to 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. Spend less time driving to 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 a piece. Improvement in quality of life: neutral
2) Merkur long handled safety razors– razors CVS. Some prefer Gillette. Prices all over the place. You can get $30 razor. Improvement of quality of life: No. I miss the Venus plastic razors. Maybe there is one that has a rotating head I don’t know about. Back in 1990, the EPA estimated Americans tossed two billion disposable razors. 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: absolutely.
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, humus, plaintain 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 and such 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. (Wild minimalist sells.)
7) Reusable Coffee Filters. 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 definitely eventual savings over a long time.
B) ALWAYS CARRY these things: cloth bags, reusable water/coffee container, take out container in bag with napkin and spork (spoon or fork). Put a sticky note on your back door to 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. Trash from take out takes up a ton of trash space. We take in our own containers for take out.
If you forget any of these items, you remembered you forgot. Progress! Write down 3 things you do well every night. Take out containers can also be used to stock up on peanut or almond butter in bulk section
C) PAPER/JUNK MAIL– how much of your life is putting this into recycling, then putting in bin, then taking to curb? Average American receives 848 pieces of junk mail a year. Estimate is 70 hours a year messing with junk mail. 100 million trees are used for land fills. 5.6 million of junk mail are sent to landfills. GHG created-equal to 3.7 million cars. 1)Get off general lists http://www.ecocycle.org/junkmail use every variation of your name and children over 21 names. 2) Get the Paper Karma app- TAKE A PHOTO of JUNK MAIL COVER, PRESS SEND, YOU ARE UNSUBSCRIBED to maybe 40% of your mail. 3) Read neighborhood publications on line. Call to stop their delivery. 4) Stock pile 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 as it is faster or call if can’t find email. This is the hardest – 5 hours of time overall- but worth it!! Average person spends 8 months of 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 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 60% less. Results more visible.
To motivate yourself, remember write down 3 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 a trash liner. Wild Minimalist and other places sell dog bar shampoo.
2) Go to farmer’s market/CSAs and bring saved up egg cartons, return berry containers.
3) Eliminate shampoo bottles –get shampoo bar at Central Market- JR Liggett’s lathers a lot. Or 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!!!! Conditioner- Lush’s has a zero waste hair mask that works really well. I don’t like their bar conditioners.
4)Buy a 64 ounce reusable beer jug/growler at Whole Foods.
5) Drink coke/pepsi in your reusable water bottle by filling up at convenience store.
6) Buy ice cream by taking own containers to ice cream store. Some places won’t let you do this. Feels like chains are less likely to let you do that.
7) Take containers to pizza take out for them to put pizza in.
8) Bring refillable jars to some stores for olive oil.
9) Return hangers to dry cleaners.
10) Do your own pedicures or take nail polish you have sitting around in drawers and your own 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 buy paper towels again.
b)use cloth instead of paper napkins
13) Soap nuts laundry detergent. They come in a plastic bag inside of a cloth bag. So I figure I can take the plastic film to HEB. Even Whole Foods laundry detergent has plastic inside. You put 4 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 bottle through the dishwasher every 2 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 cold ice water on it half way through. Google recipes.
C) Deodorant Shea butter1 TB Arrowroot 2TB (Whole Foods for smaller package) 1 TB Baking soda, 1 TB coconut oil (whole foods for smaller package)
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 make up– 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 bad chemicals. I would like to try cake mascara with an existing wand but it would have to be shipped. It is sold on Etsy’s.
J) Toothpaste– coconut oil, xylitol, baking soda, bentonite clay and essential oils . Mouthwash: https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/zero-waste-mouthwash. Bite has 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 own jelly. Freeze them for smoothies. What we stored in freezer worked for 2 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.Crazy easy. 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 set 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 years 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 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 tons of 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 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 clothes 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. 7 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 literally 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. Like 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 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 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