Author Topic: Live with your trash for the month of August!  (Read 4031 times)

annamal instinct

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Live with your trash for the month of August!
« on: August 01, 2017, 01:39:39 PM »
Hi all! My husband and I are going to live with our garbage for the next month, instead of throwing it all out. We're doing this to raise our awareness of how much shit we put in the garbage. Part of this will be to work on getting better at NOT putting so much shit in the garbage.

Full disclosure: We have 2 kids in diapers, and we'll throw those out to avoid disease risk. I already know we do 215 diapers a month. With all trash combined, our baseline is filling a half trash can a WEEK! Embarrassing.

(1) Anyone want to do this with us?!

(2) Post your garbage-reduction ideas here! I'm reading Bea Johnson's blog for ideas. If anyone has ideas on reducing food packaging in particular, I'd love to hear them. We're good at not buying new, except when it comes to food, obviously...and food packaging is so hard for us to avoid at our otherwise mustachian grocery stops, Aldi and Costco.

After we get good at this, we'll reduce how much we send off in our recycling bin...

SAfAmBrit

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2017, 02:49:23 PM »
I am 30 days into trying to lead a 0 waste lifestyle. The way I started was to try use up everything we had in the house - eat out the pantry, freezer etc - that was already bought packaging and all so I could not reverse that. I then started looking at my options when I needed to replace something. I have a winco locally that sells in bulk. I also looked at my trash and listed what I was throwing away. I built a worm cage in my garden so that has helped with the food scraps. I noticed the number of teabags I went through - the bags have plastic in it, the box they are in wrapped in plastic - so found a loose tea company and bought a metal teabag - enjoying this - in my mind I am sure but it seems fresher. And you take your tin back and get more tea! No waste.

Winco does not like you to use your own containers so I have learnt to go through self checkout.

What I will say is your eating habits become excellent! Fresh or bulk - my husband is struggling a bit but getting there. I found a local small farm that sells their own honey and eggs - I was tripping over the hens running around when I went to pick up a down fresh eggs nestled in shredded paper in a brown bag. That of course went to my compost.

I decided to make it easier is go plastic free first - recycle all scraps and see what is left so it was not so overwhelming. It is quite a treasure hunt to find food without plastic.

The one I am stuck on is any type of juice my SO will drink! He likes the fake stuff in the plastic containers including Mountain Dew - yuk!

Last week saw 21 items in total between the two trash cans - we did not bother to take it out!

The obvious big advice is cloth diapers!

skip207

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2017, 02:54:16 PM »
Hello from the UK.. we get our bin emptied every 3 weeks... you quickly get used to the smell... :(

To make matters worse in August we only get one collection, plus its warm... you get the idea!

Christmas can also screw up the collection dates plus the bin lorries have started coming at 630am to catch people out who then have to carry a full 6 weeks of rubbish.  You get a fine if you leave your bin out too soon... the country really is going to the dogs.

Recycle (cardboard and glass) is every 2 weeks, no doubt will become every 3 weeks at some point.



nick663

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2017, 08:08:23 AM »
What size bin are you using?  Our garbage bins are not provided by the garbage company and we have gone down to a 32 gallon thanks to cutting down on our trash (less space taken up in the garage and easier to manuver).  Reducing garbage bin size could be the next challenge. :)

One thing I've done to reduce waste is to be borderline militant about reducing junkmail.  Letter from State Farm?  Email and ask to be removed from mailing list.  Bill?  Switch to electronic billing.  Etc.  I'd guess our mail has been reduced by 50% compared to when we moved in 2 months ago just by cutting out bs that was destined for the recycling bin anyways.

PoutineLover

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2017, 08:30:25 AM »
I can't do this, if I don't take out the trash I'll get tons of fruit flies. Most of my garbage is just food scraps, but my neighborhood doesn't have compost pick up, and I don't have a backyard. The packaging I do get is mostly recycled, so my trash amounts to a grocery bag every week or so.

Sibley

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2017, 08:42:44 AM »
My trash this summer consists mainly of yard waste. A lot of yard waste. I have, more than once, filled 3 large garbage bins with yard waste. On a side note, I hate old, broken down woodchips. And weeds. Plus 1 bag of my trash and however many (small) bags of litterbox scoopings.

There's also been the large piles of scrap wood (much of it taken by pickers), the water heater (that disappeared within 2 days), nasty carpet remnants, old insulation, and broken decorative pavers (they're shaped like feet).

I divert as much as possible into recycling. If they would start accepting plastic bags and similar, that would cut down on the trash even more.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2017, 09:09:15 AM »
I already do this, so will unjoin (delete) later, but wanted to share tips with people who don't yet, re: smells, fruit flies, etc.

Anything smelly/food related: Goes in freezer. I have a compost bucket in there, and everything food goes in there.

Smelly non-f00d garbage, e.g., liner from meat pack, goes in a bag in the freezer.

Recycling - Washed and into recycling bin

Garbage - Ends up being very little. Just the few light non-smelling things left. On collection day, add freezer garbage (not compost) to it and put it out.

This way, my garbage can build for weeks and smell like air, with no pests. This system also saves us from outdoor pests (racoons, etc) as well as saves the bears! :)
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PoutineLover

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2017, 10:22:12 AM »
I already do this, so will unjoin (delete) later, but wanted to share tips with people who don't yet, re: smells, fruit flies, etc.

Anything smelly/food related: Goes in freezer. I have a compost bucket in there, and everything food goes in there.

Smelly non-f00d garbage, e.g., liner from meat pack, goes in a bag in the freezer.

Recycling - Washed and into recycling bin

Garbage - Ends up being very little. Just the few light non-smelling things left. On collection day, add freezer garbage (not compost) to it and put it out.

This way, my garbage can build for weeks and smell like air, with no pests. This system also saves us from outdoor pests (racoons, etc) as well as saves the bears! :)

How big is your freezer? The idea of putting my garbage in there with my food kinda grosses me out, even if it does freeze away the smells.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2017, 10:26:30 AM »
Very small :)

I'm a neat freak, crazy about hygiene, and very sensitive to smells.
And this works great!
The key (for me) is that the items are compartmentalized. The compostables are in their own clean bucket. The (extremely little) meat packaging is in its own bag. Nothing is in contact with anything else.
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iowajes

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2017, 10:59:51 AM »
I have one in diapers, but since we have her in daycare now, we only put out a trashcan once a month.  I put the diapers into the outside trashcan; it just doesn't go to the curb.

So I guess we do keep our trash for the month.

Recycling goes out weekly though.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2017, 02:41:30 PM »
Hoorah on forward motion and on returning to cloth!!!! :)))
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SAfAmBrit

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2017, 11:19:23 PM »
Echo congrats on the cloth diapers. So this week has been good - today I did grocery shopping and ended up with 2 bands that were around the leeks, 7 bulk food tags and a paper wrap because they refused to put the deli in my container - at least it was not the plastic bag which I told them I would refuse. I also have a brown bag with shredded paper which housed my eggs. My trash can was less than 1/10th full for 2 weeks  (cant control the rest of my family although they are definitely trying)- so I did some gardening to make it worth my while and put it out today! I unfortunately do not have an option to cut down on my trash can size!

It is strange how good this has made me feel - I make 1 pot Mexican quinoa which calls for tinned tomato, black beans and corn. I showed my family how to used dry beans, chopped up tomato and cooked an ear of corn. 0 waste meal! And I feel like a bad ass!

I got my hands on milk crates so I planted some seed - will let you know how it goes. Tomatoes are done for the season. How can I get rid of my almond milk container?

mustachepungoeshere

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2017, 11:39:21 PM »
I found a local small farm that sells their own honey and eggs - I was tripping over the hens running around when I went to pick up a down fresh eggs nestled in shredded paper in a brown bag. That of course went to my compost.

I've posted here before, but you can re-use cardboard egg cartons.

My grandfather gives me eggs, I just take a carton when I visit him.

Also, my fridge has removable plastic egg cartons that sit in the door. They would work, too.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2017, 11:45:39 PM »
Quote
How can I get rid of my almond milk container?

Where I am, recycling won't pick them up nor will stores receive them, but a recycling drop-off depot will accept them.
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SAfAmBrit

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2017, 12:04:05 AM »
INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned or roasted
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
DIRECTIONS:

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro.
Serve immediately.

I tend to add onion, peas and green bell pepper

SAfAmBrit

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2017, 04:57:37 PM »
So I just finished reading Garbology, OUR DIRTY LOVE AFFAIR WITH TRASH by Edward Humes and it was a very interesting read. The bit I pulled out for hear is the average american throws away 7.1 lb of garbage a day in 2010. EPA is saying 4.6 lb per person - how is that possible - so much trash!? 

So from this i am getting that my family is throwing away 198.8lb of trash a week?

So we have had a successful week with Trash - I bought my groceries and the only plastic is 2 yogurt containers and my SO's "juice" this week. I will be weighing my trash out of curiosity tomorrow - I will let you know.

I am very proud of my families attempt to do 0 waste - we are at week 6 and I have to remind myself Rome was not built in a day. I was given a free composter - we are picking it up tomorrow and I am pretty excited! And I have found a second hand bread maker for $15.

mies

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2017, 03:11:25 AM »
So I just finished reading Garbology, OUR DIRTY LOVE AFFAIR WITH TRASH by Edward Humes and it was a very interesting read. The bit I pulled out for hear is the average american throws away 7.1 lb of garbage a day in 2010. EPA is saying 4.6 lb per person - how is that possible - so much trash!? 

So from this i am getting that my family is throwing away 198.8lb of trash a week?

So we have had a successful week with Trash - I bought my groceries and the only plastic is 2 yogurt containers and my SO's "juice" this week. I will be weighing my trash out of curiosity tomorrow - I will let you know.

I am very proud of my families attempt to do 0 waste - we are at week 6 and I have to remind myself Rome was not built in a day. I was given a free composter - we are picking it up tomorrow and I am pretty excited! And I have found a second hand bread maker for $15.

I wonder if they are including stuff you don't throw away at home, like paper towels in a public restroom or disposable coffee cups? I don't throw much stuff away at home because of our city recycling program, but I know there is trash I generate at work and at restaurants.
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Roland of Gilead

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2017, 09:53:04 AM »
Having no kids I cannot weigh in on the positives and negatives of cloth diapers or disposable diapers from a parenting standpoint but are you totally considering the environmental impact of cleaning the cloth diapers?

I assume they go into the laundry machine?  Which uses water, soap and electricity.   The electricity might be produced from solar or wind, or it might come from burning oil, coal or even burning wood pellets (which would sort of be funny, since oil and wood is probably where the disposable diapers come from).   The discharge from the laundry machine is definitely black water and would need to be treated by the local sewer facility (if you are not on a septic system, but even that needs to be pumped occasionally).  This uses up electricity, and probably some chemicals for treatment.   The clean water used in the washing process also required electricity and perhaps some chemicals from the city water department.

And then you have to dry the diapers, which uses up more electricity.

It would be a very interesting study to see if it was actually a close call between disposable diapers and washing/drying cloth diapers as far as environmental impact.  I am sure the cloth wins, but maybe not by as much as we think when we calculate in all the costs of cleaning the cloth diapers?

Runrooster

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2017, 10:54:08 AM »
So I just finished reading Garbology, OUR DIRTY LOVE AFFAIR WITH TRASH by Edward Humes and it was a very interesting read. The bit I pulled out for hear is the average american throws away 7.1 lb of garbage a day in 2010. EPA is saying 4.6 lb per person

Looking at the EPA website, it looks like they are averaging 4.4pounds per person including business trash, including schools and hospitals. We all know businesses generate a lot of trash, from restaurants that use styrofoam to hospitals that throw out medical waste.  Also it includes recycling and compost and yard fill that gets picked up, at the rate of 1.51 pounds.  Not sure how they are measuring compost unless there are municipalities that compost for you.  If we think half of the trash is generated at home - 1.5 pounds per person is only 42 pounds per week for a family of four. 

SAfAmBrit

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2017, 07:19:38 PM »
Well the numbers for the family are in for the week

The total is 8.36 lb for the week - Nearly 2.1 lb per person per week. It is broken down as follows:

Compost - 2.8 lb straight to my composter
Paper -    1.13 lb junk mail
              0 .71 lb other
Plastic -   1.22 lb of which 0.7 was recyclable. (included 6 bread type wrappers, cheese container, event tag milk lids etc)
General - 2.50 (red nose, a sharpie, Siberian husky fur, etc)

Thank-you for everyone comments below. I will keep reading and looking - still aiming for the 0 trash week.

Made my first loaf of bread - very dense but edible!

On the point of cloth diapers - the cost of them never decomposing is a cost that we cannot count. I was fortunate - I could dry my clothes outside and still can. The up front cost my be even but I think the ecological cost of the diapers will be the more costly option.

jooniFLORisploo

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2017, 08:42:13 AM »
Does your region have a system for blocking junk/bulk mail? At our post office boxes, if we put a red sticker on the delivery end, no more junk mail. At home, we put a note on the mailslot/box.

Great going on the reductions!!!!
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redbird

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2017, 02:56:02 PM »
I lived in Japan for 3 years. Japan REALLY makes you aware of how much trash you generate and of what types because there's mandatory recycling. They recycle as much as possible and then everything else is burned. The burn stuff would typically be compostable-type food scraps (many people in Japan don't have space for or access to compost) or dirty hygiene-type things, like diapers and feminine products. It would take my family of 2 literally over a month to fill up a very tiny burnable bag, and usually it would get stinky way before then. What we generated the most of was plastics, because many things in Japan are wrapped in tons of plastic. But all of the plastic was recyclable. They would even accept plastic trays (closest thing - think TV/frozen dinner style plastic trays), styrofoam, and even the thin plastic wrapping that's on products - things that many recycling places in the US don't always take. You just had to clean every single thing before putting it out for recycling!

Japan even had a non-burnables/non-recycleables that they would take. For example, they would take old clothes, old pots/pans, broken coffee machines, etc. Basically anything that was small enough to fit in a trash bag-sized bag (the special marked one for those items though) they would take right outside your house. (Anything larger than that you would have to pay for them to take away to recycle.) I don't know what they did with these things, but it was amazing.

I really miss that now that I'm back in the US. In my area, the only recyclable plastic is bottles and plastic grocery-style bags. Any other type of plastic is not taken. Glass is taken, but not at curbside - you have to take it to the recycling center. Metals that aren't cans? They don't take it. For example, the metal lids from glass jars or the cut-off lid top after you use a can opener on a can or even the metal bottle caps from glass bottled drinks. Those things I could recycle in Japan during the metal recycling day (accepted curbside, like all other trash and recycle). Those things you generally have to throw into the trash in the US.
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Christof

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2017, 03:26:46 PM »
One of the problems I have with threads like this and the zero waste movement is that it's totally not clear what everyone is considering to be waste... In Germany domestic waste never goes to a landfill ever, which seems to be an important issue for zero-wasters in the US.

I personally call waste the trash that is not going to recycling. We have a 40l bin (a little over ten gallons) that is emptied every two weeks and we fill about a third (two adults, one kid, single family home). 40l is the minimum size we can get on a bi-weekly schedule.

We also have pick up for any sort of plastic, any metal, paper (including packaging) and compost, which makes up the majority of stuff we get rid off. There is an on demand pick up for any larger items or appliances once a year per household. There are containers all over the city for glass, clothes, shoes, batteries, small electronics. Some shops take cork and ink cartridges. The city has a recycling center for other things as well. And there's a good-will store run by the city (no tax deductions, though). Plus there's ebay Kleinanzeigen (the German version of craigslist). Most of the beverages we use are re-usable bottles (they get cleaned and reused, rather than melted), as is some of our yoghurt. All shops accept any extra packing of everything they sell.

Despite all this recycling I don't see how we can possibly be zero waste. For instance, dust and dirt from the household (either collected by vacuuming or manually) is a mixture of all materials, including plastic. It's not compostable, hence it is trash. Craft like sewing produces small amounts of threads, not compostable either. Home repairs result in some trash. Medical treatments or donating blood results in trash. Some of our trash would be avoidable, but we aren't ready yet...

coldestcat

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #23 on: August 14, 2017, 05:23:47 PM »
You can still buy "juice" like mountain dew if you buy it in the aluminum can style, which can be recycled.
I have been going to winco as well for bulk but didnt ever think to try out the self checkout, we just try to reuse the plastic bags. When you buy bulk at winco how do you do it through the self checkout?
bulk is typically so much cheaper that you end up saving on your grocery bill, that was my experience. :)

SAfAmBrit

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #24 on: August 14, 2017, 09:04:13 PM »
One of the problems I have with threads like this and the zero waste movement is that it's totally not clear what everyone is considering to be waste... In Germany domestic waste never goes to a landfill ever, which seems to be an important issue for zero-wasters in the US.

I personally call waste the trash that is not going to recycling. We have a 40l bin (a little over ten gallons) that is emptied every two weeks and we fill about a third (two adults, one kid, single family home). 40l is the minimum size we can get on a bi-weekly schedule.

We also have pick up for any sort of plastic, any metal, paper (including packaging) and compost, which makes up the majority of stuff we get rid off. There is an on demand pick up for any larger items or appliances once a year per household. There are containers all over the city for glass, clothes, shoes, batteries, small electronics. Some shops take cork and ink cartridges. The city has a recycling center for other things as well. And there's a good-will store run by the city (no tax deductions, though). Plus there's ebay Kleinanzeigen (the German version of craigslist). Most of the beverages we use are re-usable bottles (they get cleaned and reused, rather than melted), as is some of our yoghurt. All shops accept any extra packing of everything they sell.

Despite all this recycling I don't see how we can possibly be zero waste. For instance, dust and dirt from the household (either collected by vacuuming or manually) is a mixture of all materials, including plastic. It's not compostable, hence it is trash. Craft like sewing produces small amounts of threads, not compostable either. Home repairs result in some trash. Medical treatments or donating blood results in trash. Some of our trash would be avoidable, but we aren't ready yet...

I don't get your premise. This thread is about living with my family's waste for a month to become more aware of what we're throwing away and figure out a different way in the future. While I'm using ideas from a person who claims a zero-waste lifestyle, I'm in no way making such claims myself. Not sure what problem you could have with the goal of reducing our previously asinine level of waste.

I am also a little confused too! This is not a 0 waste thread. Personal challenge I set myself a while ago, I am trying to reduce everything so I can achieve a 0 waste week - but the ultimate goal for me is to generate no plastic trash at least. To get rid of plastic though I am having to be creative. I compost (therefore I generate trash) but it is not going to landfill. I chose to join this thread to make me more aware of what we as a family were sending to landfill. I have been reducing but had never looked closely - hence my weighing and I have diary of exactly what is in that trash - now I can try to improve!

So on the Winco question. I have made cloth bags (from old pillow cases) with tie strings and I fill them up and attach the winco tag with the bin # which I reuse. I also have plastic containers (which I have had to years) and I ask them to put the fish and deli in them and I attach the sticker. It makes for a great conversation.

Christof

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2017, 01:46:53 PM »
I don't get your premise. This thread is about living with my family's waste for a month to become more aware of what we're throwing away and figure out a different way in the future. While I'm using ideas from a person who claims a zero-waste lifestyle, I'm in no way making such claims myself. Not sure what problem you could have with the goal of reducing our previously asinine level of waste.

I obviously failed to express correctly what I tried to say... Let me try a different approach. What do you consider to be your family's waste that you want to live with? I thought I understood, but then the reference to zero-waste threw me off, as I found that most zero-waste blogs are rather imprecise in that regard. Do you keep anything you would donate for a month, as that is waste, too (waste = you don't need it), or is it not waste (waste = nobody needs it).

For me I consider anything that can't be recycled, reused or repurposed to be waste. I also attempt to reduce the usage of plastic, which is a separate issue.

Good luck with your attempt to reduce waste! One thing that had a significant impact on non-recyclable waste for us was replacing paper towels with washable cloth. Turned out that it was cheaper, too, even when buying the cheapest store brand of paper towels... 

Christof

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #26 on: August 15, 2017, 01:56:32 PM »
I compost (therefore I generate trash) but it is not going to landfill. I chose to join this thread to make me more aware of what we as a family were sending to landfill. I have been reducing but had never looked closely - hence my weighing and I have diary of exactly what is in that trash - now I can try to improve!

See, that is where I have a problem in understanding... Absolutely nothing that enters my house goes to landfill. That doesn't mean we produce no waste, not even close. But I have no idea what everyone here considers to be the waste they want to be aware of.

Zero-Waste blogs seem to focus on packaging and some products only (at least the ones I read so far). From my own experience I know there is trash you must have in your own at some point (socks beyond repair), yet whenever I see a jar of their familiy's year of trash, none of that is in their, and it's never mentioned. That makes be believe those bloggers have a different understanding of what is trash or omit those details. That potential lack of credibility is where I actually have a problem (not with this thread).
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 02:01:03 PM by Christof »

SAfAmBrit

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Re: Live with your trash for the month of August!
« Reply #27 on: August 22, 2017, 10:47:57 PM »
Well the numbers for the family are in for the week

The total is 8.36 lb for the week - Nearly 2.1 lb per person per week. It is broken down as follows:

Compost - 2.8 lb straight to my composter
Paper -    1.13 lb junk mail
              0 .71 lb other
Plastic -   1.22 lb of which 0.7 was recyclable. (included 6 bread type wrappers, cheese container, event tag milk lids etc)
General - 2.50 (red nose, a sharpie, Siberian husky fur, etc

Thank-you for everyone comments below. I will keep reading and looking - still aiming for the 0 trash week.

Made my first loaf of bread - very dense but edible!

On the point of cloth diapers - the cost of them never decomposing is a cost that we cannot count. I was fortunate - I could dry my clothes outside and still can. The up front cost my be even but I think the ecological cost of the diapers will be the more costly option.
So a better week - it has been interesting my family has been trying to get with the program - that or they discovered they will starve or have to buy their own food!

Plastic - 0.9 lb
Paper 2.2 lb
Tin 0.3 lb Total 3.4 lb

I did not calculate compost this time - just added as we went.