OK friends, now that the EcoChallenge is over, it’s time to talk some trash. Talk about our trash, that is.
Because the waste audit videos I produced at the beginning of the challenge were so well received (they received a total of 58 views, woohoo!) I decided to create another one to show what garbage we produced during our two week challenge.
Spoiler alert, we didn’t meet our challenge to become zero waste. But we certainly got close! After two weeks here is what our garbage consisted of:
- To-go cup
- To-go container
- Tortilla chip bag
- Fruit stickers
- A handful of tissues
- A handful of dental floss
- Adhesive stickers
- 1 tea bag wrapper
- 1 piece of plastic from glass bottle
I have to admit that the first two are embarrassing. We NEVER eat fast food, but these two items were the result of some last-minute fast food trips we took without thinking about the trash they’d produce. But when you take those away, our trash consisted of small, “extras” that I think any household, no matter how dedicated to zero wastes, would produce.
So what did we learn from our EcoChallenge?
- The first step to reducing your household waste is to understand what’s in your trash can. If you want to reduce your waste too, start by looking at what you throw away. We had quite a bit of plastic in our trash when we completed our waste audit, which made us hyper-sensitive to purchasing things with plastic, especially types that are not recyclable in our curbside bin.
- With thoughtful purchasing and consumption, you can reduce your waste significantly. When you’re paying attention in the store, you start to notice unnecessary packaging and you start to think about ways to avoid it. For example, we started buying goat cheese in bulk at the farmers market because it comes in large glass jars without any plastic. It’s a win-win-win situation because the cheese maker sells more cheese, we get a $1 refund when we return an empty jar and we don’t produce any trash.
- Waste reduction is a series of extra efforts. It’s really not a big commitment to start reducing your waste. You don’t have to stop buying everything that has packaging at once. Start with one type of trash you’d like to eliminate or reduce and work on it until you’re satisfied. Then move onto something else.
- A lot of the waste we produce is related to food packaging and preparation. If you look at what trash we did produce, 98% of it was food related. So when we start to become aware of how our food is produced and shop at places where we can avoid packaging, it significantly reduces waste.
- Sometimes trash is unavoidable. And that’s OK. We’re human. Sometimes we don’t think through every purchase and end up having to throw something away. But here’s the thing: we shouldn’t give up just because we had a small setback. If we had done that after we accidentally brought home a to-go container, then we wouldn’t have been as passionate about making up for it in other ways.
So where do we go from here? We’ll continue on our quest to be zero waste and I’ll post updates on this blog as needed. I hope you’ll follow along with us and that this has inspired you to reduce the waste you produce.
One final note: I’m SO happy the challenge ended before Halloween and before we accumulated approximately 100 candy wrappers.