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Our Journey Towards Less Waste

Date
Jun, 12, 2019

For as long as we have been on this green journey, our goal has been to reduce our waste…. significantly. zero trashWhen we first started, we began recycling more and did reduce our trash. Instead of minimizing our waste, we ended up with lots of recycling. I know, from a green perspective, it’s very good — but we really wanted to take it to a new level and reduce everything. With that goal in mind, we now have succeeded in reducing our trash to one small bag a week during the past year.

2016, my husband and I watched a video clip of how Bea Johnson and her family had accomplished zero waste. Yes, no trash at all!!! Boy, did we get inspired. Then, once we watched a Ted Talk by Lauren Singer, founder and author of Trash Is for Tossers, about how she also is managing zero waste, we knew we needed to give it a try. You can see her talk in this clip:

Ok, I hate to admit that it was a little bit of a challenge and took some adjusting, but I’m glad to announce that after  working hard at reducing our waste to nothing, we have succeeded and in the process saved lots of money and live a richer life buy with less — So how did we do this?

Removed trash cans — My husband was super smart and decided to simply remove our trash can. This way, we really had no excuses and we had no choice but to look at everything we needed to discard, to see if it could be composted, reused or recycled somehow.

Reduced what we bring in — We now really have to think about how we can avoid buying or accepting anything that will result in waste. For example we try very hard not to buy anything in a packaging. Our philosophy is that if we can reuse it or recycle it or rot it we simply won’t buy it. 

Bulk buying — We also try to buy in bulk when possible, try to avoid fruits and veggies with stickers, and avoid processed food altogether. We switched from plastic toothbrushes to compostable, degradable bamboo ones. We make our own dishwasher soap, cleaning supplies and beauty products (not as hard as it seems).

Recycled — We learned everything there is about recycling and what can be recycled and where to take recycling that does not go into a regular recycling bin. Our local recycling center is almost our home away from home these days. As we got more into recycling, we also learned about what recycles really well — like paper, glass and tin cans vs. things like plastic that gets downcycled into something less and after that will end up in a landfill anyway. Needless to say, these days we avoid plastic as though it were toxic waste…which it is, actually.

Invested in compost — Compost is great because anything that can rot and is vegetarian can go in there. So for us, all food scraps, paper clippings, even our toothbrushes go into the compost. There are many different compost systems out there for both outdoors and for apartments; there are many posts about this on green-mom.com just search for compost. We use a couple of different compost: bokashi, garden compost, worm compost and our chickens also eat most of our food compost. Composting is great because your waste turns into pure nutrients for the planet. Plus, my kids think the little wigglies are very entertaining and consider them pets☺

I thought that going to zero waste would be more work. I guess in some ways it is, but my husband and I agree that a little extra work is worth it. I guess we save time on taking out the trash! The best part is that our kids are completely engaged and act as though we never had a trash can. Instead, they make it a sport to see what they can build with materials they find in our recycling bin and happily announce they are totally rocking the 3Rs — reduce, reuse and recycle. Here is a short video explaining how we deal with trash.

Fredrika Syren

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Hello there! My name is Fredrika and I’m a Sweden native living in San Diego, California with my husband James and our three children. I’m an environmental writer and have been sharing my family’s journey of living zero-waste since we shifted our lifestyle back in 2016.

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