I have just spent the morning in a seminar learning about the new organic compost program in Minneapolis. With an obsession for reducing trash I work on this daily, but just can’t see how to get to zero waste. We purchase in bulk using compostable paper bags, and refill every bottle with items that are available.
One woman, Bea Johnson, has been able to accomplish zero waste. What is the most amazing of all, she and her husband have two sons!
Here are Bea Johnson’s 10 easy steps to zero waste living:
- Fight junk mail. It’s not just a waste of resources, but also of time. Register to receive less at org,optoutprescreen.org and catalogchoice.org.
- Turn down freebies from conferences, fairs and parties. Every time you take one, you create a demand to make more. Do you really need another “free” pen?
- Declutter your home, and donate to your local thrift shop. You’ll lighten your load and make precious resources available to those looking to buy secondhand.
- Reduce your shopping trips and keep a shopping list. The less you bring home, the less waste you’ll have to deal with.
- Swap disposables for reusables (start using handkerchiefs, refillable bottles, shopping totes, cloth napkins, rags, etc.). You might find that you don’t miss your paper towels, but rather enjoy the savings
- Avoid grocery shopping waste: Bring reusable totes, cloth bags (for bulk aisles), and jars (for wet items like cheese and deli foods) to the store and farmers market.
- Know your city’s recycling policies and locations—but think of recycling as a last resort. Have you refused, reduced or reused first? Question the need and life-cycle of your purchases. Shopping is voting.
- Buy primarily in bulk or secondhand, but if you must buy new, choose glass, metal or cardboard.Avoid plastic: Much of it gets shipped across the world for recycling and often ends up in the landfill (or worse yet, the ocean).
- Find a compost system that works for your home and get to know what it will digest (dryer lint, hair, and nails are all compostable).
- Turn your home kitchen trash can into one large compost receptacle. The bigger the compost receptacle, the more likely you’ll be to use it freely.
What do you do to reduce your waste?