Our 2018 Jar of Trash

Here it is, our 2018 Jar of Trash! I realize I may not have posted my 2017 jar, so find that picture below. The jars are pretty similar.

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2018 Jar

So, what’s in the jar? The main things we have had trouble recycling, and avoiding, are (drum roll)…………. foil lids! Those little plastic/paper/foil combos that seal vitamins, medicine, orange juice are the final item we’re having the most trouble recycling. There are also a few razor heads in each of these jars, but fear not! We have now switched to safety razors, which contain no plastic. We haven’t had to recycle any of those blades yet, but they are all metal and I understand are easily recyclable inside of a can. We will cross that bridge when we get to it.

We have a Terracycle plastic packaging recycle box, where all our plastics go that can’t be recycled locally. We are still working diligently towards reducing our recycling, with the ultimate goal being not needing the Terracycle bin at all, and not needing to take our recycling so often. I’ve been carefully watching the developments of China turning away the world’s plastic refuse, and while I am concerned in the short term for the fate of these plastics, I am hopeful that the silver lining will be a reduction in single use plastics, and a surge in package-free and compostable packaging. Changes are already underway in the EU and Canada. Come on US, get on board!

I will write more soon, I promise! I have some ZW wins to share, and some thoughts on some regressive behaviors we’ve seen in stores lately. Stay tuned!

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2017 Jar 

 

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Guest Post – Go Green,Get Clean! By contributor Beth Browne

A talented writer and friend, Beth Browne, has contributed the following post to our blog. She mentions yours truly in it, which I appreciate, in her review of the newest addition to her bathroom. After reading her review, I decided to give the product a try myself, and am happy with the results! And so, I am proud to share her review with all of you.

GO GREEN, GET CLEAN!
by Beth Browne
I thought I was green. For decades, I’ve been a devoted recycler, composter and solar clothes dryer (ie: clothesline) aficionado. But all that went out the window when I saw Josie’s Facebook post shortly after the New Year. Her annual trash collection was the amount I produced twice a week. It was humbling, to say the least.
As I began to attack some of the various items around the house, (No more fast food cups! No compostable paper in the trash! Ix-nay to produce bags!) my gaze fell upon the ever-present pack of baby wipes on the back on the toilet. My eyes narrowed. Not compostable. Synthetic. No more!
At that instant, happily, the path to getting our collective butts clean came to me. Some years before, we had visited my sweetie’s father and his wife in Florida. She is from Brazil and was accustomed to having a bidet in the bathroom. Since they bought a house already built and there was no room to add another fixture, they found an alternative.
https://www.biobidet.com” BioBidet, in addition to making actual bidets you can install in your bathroom if you have the space, makes a dandy unit that attaches to your existing toilet in a jiffy. They even have a somewhat hilarious “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDl0weQYwwg&feature=youtu.be” video. (Go ahead, watch it. I dare you not to laugh.) I found “https://www.walmart.com/ip/BIO-BIDET-Simplet-Bidet-Attachment/46275974” one at Walmart.com that was on sale for just twenty bucks.
My sweetie hooked it up in about fifteen minutes. We added a set of hooks so everyone could have a dedicated butt towel and voila! No more baby wipes! My teenagers were skeptical at first (gross understatement, pun intended) but they’re coming around. They don’t know I’m planning to phase out toilet paper altogether. -insert evil laugh-
I love it. Not even a baby wipe gets my butt this clean and it pleases me not to need toilet paper. I’m nowhere near my waste-reduction goal, but I feel good about taking this step. I wrote the BioBidet folks a well-deserved review and got a $5 Amazon gift card as a thank-you. (taking the price of our BioBidet down to fifteen bucks, the cost of just one case of baby wipes at Costco) Thank you, Josie, for getting me started on this vitally important path. Now, about those yogurt containers…

Terracycle’s April Deal

In honor of Earth Day, Terracycle is offering 20% off two of their most popular boxes, Plastic packaging and Break room box. Just enter code APRILBOX20 at check out. Here is the plastic packaging box I have:  

I want to again mention that Terracycle doesn’t pay me to advertise,  but I’m so happy to recycle with them items that are perfectly recyclable, as many things are, that are not being recycled in our local waste management program. Anything to divert waste from the landfills! They have some other programs and specials going on for Earth Day, like partnering with Target to recycle expired carseats, Garnier to recycle beauty and personal care products containers and more! So do check out their site for more information, terracycle.com

Food Packaging Waste

We might as well tackle the biggest category of trash, food packaging. Some figures estimate that nearly 90% of our waste in the US is food packaging! Small changes in your personal shopping and recycling habits can make a huge difference in your trash output.

Like with all categories, I like to run it through the 5 Rs (we’ve discussed these in a previous post, and others may give a different set of Rs, but these are the ones I use).

Refuse and reduce:

A lot of packaging is not refuseable. I’m thinking of those items that come in a sealed bag, in a sealed box, sealed with more plastic. Why? When possible, seek out the product with less packaging. If one tea comes in a nice reuseable tin, maybe choose it over the one in individual foil bags inside a cardboard box with shrink wrap on it. Or better yet, buy the tea in bulk and use a reusable tea ball or bag! For fruit, this means choosing loose fruit, not pre-bagged or shrink wrapped on top of a Styrofoam pad. Choose fruits and veggies from a farmers market to avoid stickers and packaging, or seek out the stickerless pieces in a store. Remember to bring your own produce bags to avoid those single use plastic ones. Tare them at the register first so you are charged correctly.

Buying in bulk is the biggie here. Find what’s available close to you, and BYOC (bring your own containers). My favorites are peanut butter (I bring a mason jar), coffee, tea, all my dry goods, granola and dried fruits, agave (glass bottle) and loose produce. Choose package free whenever you can. Shop around and become familiar with what is available near you.

Reuse:

I mentioned the tea tin in the previous section. Some other packaging can be reused creatively – my favorite example is the glass jars my preferred brand of applesauce comes in. We use it to store beans, homemade yogurt and salsa, vinegar for cleaning and all manner of things. I use toilet paper rolls to collect lint for fire starters  (if you choose not to go TP free – an article for another day) Other people are more creative than I and come up with some cool reuses for the packaging they can’t avoid. If there’s something you regularly buy that comes with a package, consider researching (ie. Googling) reuses for that item before you toss it.

Recycle:

I’m fond of saying more things are recycleable than you think. I constantly hear “I didn’t know that was recycleable!”. So educate yourself on what is recycleable in your local community. And if there’s something they don’t accept, research who does. For instance, some municipalities don’t take plastic #5 (think yogurt and butter tubs) so Whole Foods has a “gimme 5” program to accept those plastics. You may be surprised how many items you are throwing away that your local facility accepts for recycling.

Rot:

Food obviously falls in this category, but a lot of packaging does too. Shredded cardboard is great for the compost, and it’s my preferred disposal of any items that might have food residue on it, as the recycling facilities prefer to receive clean items so as not to contaminate the batch.

This is a category of great mass, and so there is great opportunity to reduce your impact here. What hurdles are you finding in the food packaging category of waste, or what big wins? Share in the comments below!

Zero Waste- personal care

Some of my favorite changes that we’ve made are in the bathroom with our personal care products. These bamboo toothbrushes are compostable, and the bristles are largely plant-based, and can be recycled inside of a plastic bottle. There are entirely natural toothbrushes on the market too, made with boar bristles, but obviously not vegan. We have been very happy with these toothbrushes, and the company is impressively eco-minded. Pictured here is an adult toothbrush and a child one (mine and eldest’s), along with my homemade toothpaste! Brushwithbamboo.com

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I’ve been making my own toothpaste for over a year now. I’ve gotten kudos from my dentist for it, and we love the texture and the taste, and the clean feel after brushing!

My shower routine is simple and easy, and I love the minimalist aspect of it as well- my shower is empty and clean! I’ve been using a shampoo bar for 5 years and love how my hair feels. A bar for body and that’s it. I buy these locally sans packaging.

I do shave as well, though seldom as I’ve discovered how much slower my hair grows when I stretch out the time between shaving. I still use my plastic razor with changeable heads, and have found that with appropriate drying the head can last a year or more (I haven’t changed mine in at least 18 months and it’s still quite sharp). If I ever have to replace it I will probably elect for a metal safety razor, but as the one I have is still in good working order, continuing to use it is the least wasteful thing to do. For lather I use a shave bar, bought locally from a vegan company in a cardboard package.

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What About….?

So many questions I receive start with these words, and the next word differs from person to person, each time. Which items have been on your mind? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to address them! This week I’ll blog about some of my favorite replacements, do-it-yourself items, and tricks to reduce waste. I’ll include pictures of my items, and when possible links to the ones I bought, or keywords to search when applicable.

None of these companies pay me to recommend their products (they don’t even know I exist!), I just like to support the products and companies I like. Stay tuned!