Seeing what we send to the landfill is eye-opening if you have to collect it in a glass jar. This week, we collected 1 quart and 1 pint mason jar of trash, plus one random pile of plastic neither of us (my husband or I) know where it came from. It could have come from our carpet install that happened this last week. In any case, I can’t find a reuse for it so it will end up in the trash.
Below is an analysis of what we threw away this week:
- 1 used end to a shaver. Since my husband now grows a beard, this rarely ends in the trash.
- 6 capsules from my cats medicine.
- 4 contact metal foil wrappers.
- A small pile of band-aid wrappers. My husband suffers from bloody nipples and we are both training for a half marathon. This is the only thing that prevents that. He wears them a few days before tossing them.
- 2 Lens Wipes.
- A pile of used floss.
- Foam from our carpet install.
- About 8 stickers from produce.
- 3 drink seals and 1 plastic cap.
- 1 small piece of butter wrapper.
- Plastic tape from a package we received.
- 2 small lumps of dryer lint.
- About 7 receipts that are non recyclable.
- 2 Q-tips.
- Plastic wrap from TP.
- Wrap from brats my husband had for lunch yesterday.
- Wire ties from a head of lettuce
- A small piece of hard plastic. I don’t even know where it came from.
- 2 pieces of plastic wrap from produce.
- 1 metal lid from a jar of olives.
- 3 chip bags.
- 3 individual drink packets.
- 1 plastic ziplock bag. It had holes so I couldn’t reuse it, 1 carrot bag and 1 bag from sliced almonds.
- A small pile of random plastic (top of a tofu container, part of the packaging from hotdogs, cheese wrap, a piece of cottage cheese seal, the cut top from a pet food bag and a package of sliced cheese.
- 1 Tetra package from Tofu.
- 3 plastic windows from envelopes.
Items not pictured:
- 2 small pet food bags filed with cat waste. I reuse any bags that would otherwise end up in the garbage empty to use of disposed of cat litter.
- 4 small pieces of old wood trim still with nails in it.
After reviewing the above list of items in our waste jars, I can conclude the following:
- Our pets produce more waste than we do. This is because I can’t flush the clay litter and they refuse to use the biodegradable (healthier) litter that’s very expensive. Our cats are stubborn.
- 95% of the waste my husband and I create are from food packaging. The rest is medical/bathroom waste.
- 99% of the waste my husband and I generate is non-recyclable plastic waste. We recycle everything else that we can.
A few limitations we have from producing less waste:
- We are in winter 6 months of the year so our access to local produce is non existent during this time. We rely on the produce from the grocery store which is wrapped in plastic, binded with wire and/or has produce stickers.
- Our grocery store bulk bins are limited. Our main grocery store has bulk bins but last time I shopped there, I saw an employee opening lentil and pasta bags (that you can buy off the shelf) and emptying them in the bulk bins. Defeats the purpose of buying in bulk, if you ask me.
A few take-aways to try to eliminate future waste based on the above trash collection:
- Start hanging clothes outside. It’s starting to warm up now so we won’t have need to use the dryer any longer.
- Eat more home-cooked meals. The more processed the food the more food packaging.
- Pick produce with less stickers.
- Find Toilet Paper without plastic. I have contemplated ordering plastic free from a hotel supply company. I will have to do some research on this.
- Make my own butter. I have done this before, but in reality, I am trying to come off dairy all together. This idea will be continued.
- Ask for no receipt. Most of the time they print anyways so it will still end up in the trash, whether I take it or not.
- Call up a local Mexican Restaurant to see if they sell chips in bulk.
- Most of the mail we get comes with a plastic window in the envelope. I have on my mind to start calling businesses to take us off the mailing list.
I would love to hear how you are progressing in producing less waste or if you have any tips for me!