Beginning to Reduce my Waste
Back when I told you guys about my first attempt at a capsule wardrobe, I mentioned that Bea Johnson inspired me to do more than just clean out my closet (if you've listened to this podcast interview with her, you know what I mean).
The last few weeks I have been thinking about and taking tiny steps towards reducing my waste. Portland (where I live) only picks up trash every two weeks in efforts to force residents to reduce waste. It also has a compost collection (which is great). So my city is doing what it can to help facilitate my waste reduction. My husband and I currently share a house with another couple, so for the last 2 weeks we added another trash can under the sink to see how much waste each couple is contributing to our overflowing garbage bin. We also miniaturized the bathroom trash can to a lined mason jar, and removed the garbage bin in the craft/office room.
The results were that it took us 2 weeks to fill (stuff) our trash bags. combined that makes 1 trash bag a week. The separate trash can challenge caused us to recycle more (not throw any recyclables away because it was "easier") and it caused me to think about what it was I was throwing away. We did reduce the volume of our trash, whether by recycling or stuffing I'm not sure.
Most of our garbage is thrown away in the kitchen, and is often related to food. Which is convenient since the other project Bea inspired me to begin is to change the way I buy food. I want to buy as little food packaging as possible. I am not ready to completely remove all packaging, but I think we can greatly reduce the things we buy in packages. Especially non-recyclable plastic packaging.
Bea's approach to shopping is to buy bulk (the bins you scoop from and label bags with PLU twist ties) and from farmers markets. Currently it is our habit to shop at Fred Meyer, the moderately priced Kroger chain near us. We may not give up shopping there entirely, however we also have a WinCo within reasonable distance. WinCo has a greater bulk selection, and is even more cost effective (win win win!), we have "intended" to start shopping there for quite a while just to save money, but without extra motivation, we stayed with our Fred Meyer habit.
I already buy a handful of things from the bulk bins, and therefore have a nice pile of food stored in those thin plastic bags. To reduce my waste I needed to replace those plastic nuisances with a reusable solution. I also needed to find new storage containers for my purchases.
Last week I searched Fred Meyer, Target and Bed Bath and Beyond for reusable mesh produce bags with no luck. I was close to placing an order on Amazon, when I thought to look at Natural Grocers. Of course, amidst the grow your own sprouts items I found the bags I was looking for (and I got 6 instead of 5 for same price as Amazon). Pro Tip: check the natural stores first for items like these.
While searching the afore mentioned stores for bags I also looked at their storage jars. Target and Fred Meyer had a few options I might consider in the future, but over all new canisters cost more than I want to spend right now. So I raided my ever helpful saved jars shelf. I soaked the various jars over night with water and vinegar to deodorize them, scrubbed the labels off and filled them with my current bulk selection. [this justifies the months I've been saving jars "just in case" ;) ]
I also cleaned out our pantry shelves in this process, threw away everything stale, and reorganized, total bonus.
Because I used jars I already owned this change has currently cost me $12 for 6 reusable bags. This shift does take effort, and I am establishing different habits, however I think it is very doable. I encourage you to try it if it interests you. I'll keep you updated on how this impacts our trash can.
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I'm Sara. I live in Portland, Oregon. I have chickens. I love coffee AND tea, I make stained glass pendants in my basement, and I love adventures and new ways to live. I have an Etsy store as well.
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