Trash-Free Tips

 

This page has been organized by category to show you how we are eliminating trash from our everyday lives.  If you have any tips or tricks of your own, please feel free to leave them in the comments section of this page, below.

GENERAL TIPS

Contact your local recycling company with questions about what can/can’t go into curbside bins.  Some things to consider:

  • Try to locate a recycling facility beyond your curbside recycling.  We’ve contacted Far West Fibers in Portland, and this recycling depot recycles practically anything that can be recycled.  We’ll be sorting our recycling into two bins: curbside and Far West Fibers.
  • Many communities won’t curbside recycle frozen food boxes as they’ve been treated with a chemical to help them hold up in the freezer.
  • Plastic lids on everything from soda to ketchup is usually not curbside recyclable.
  • Generally, don’t recycle plastic bags in curbside bins.  Walk these into a supermarket, and be sure to ask what else can be recycled in the plastic bag recycling containers.  Often, clean cling wrap, bread bags, and zipping baggies are taken.
  •  A Far West Fibers representative told me that a general rule is to stretch plastic between your hands.  If it stretches, and you can stretch a finger into the plastic without it breaking, it’s recyclable somewhere.

See if there is a bulk foods store in your area and utilize it.  Spices, nuts, flours, candy, soup mix, granola, dried fruit, and a lot more can be purchased without any of the usual packaging.

FOOD

Sour cream, yogurt, and cream cheese: We have found a recycling depot that will recycle the plastic sour cream and yogurt tubs, usually numbered plastic 4 or 5.  As long as we locate products with true aluminum or foil tops and clean these (Tillamook brand is local for us), they can also be recycled at the depot.  Eventually, I’d like to try my hand at making these products, which would eliminate any need for recycling in the first place.

For a site about making your own cheese, try www.cheesemaking.com

Milk and juice cartons: Recyclable in our curbside bin.  Try to find ones made from one material instead of the composite-style cartons made from cardboard with plastic pour spouts.

Margarine/butter: Can be recycled at depot if in tubs.  If in stick form, the cardboard can be recycled curbside and the waxed paper can be cleaned and burned.  Or, trying making your own!  All you need is heavy whipping cream – pour into a glass jar, add a marble, and shake until butter forms.

Condiments: Plastic containers are usually recyclable curbside, but the foil or plastic seal isn’t.  Look for condiments in glass jars instead.  The metal lids are recyclable at our depot.  I’ve found that by going to restaurant supply chains like Cash and Carry, I can sometimes find things like ketchup and mustard in glass jars.

Breads, tortillas: Try making your own, or check to see if recyclable with grocery bags in supermarket.

Chips, crackers, packaged cookies: In general, these produce waste and there’s no way around it.  Cracker mixes and cookies can be bought in bulk, or try making your own.

Fruits and veggies: These are easy because they’re compostable.  Buy from farmer’s markets and avoid the plastic produce bags at supermarkets.  Compost the produce stickers or save for the sticker man.

Cheese: We’re lucky enough to have a local dairy supply many cheeses from mozzarella to Havarti.  For hard cheeses, we have the cheese weighed on paper at the deli, and then placed in a container we brought with us.  I’ve also found that some stores like Whole Foods cut and package specialty cheeses – usually, these are wrapped in plastic cling wrap or waxed paper.  The clean cling wrap can be recycled at some grocery stores with the plastic bags.

Meats: Use the same approach in the supermarket – bring your container and have the meat wrapped in paper.  Or, support a local butcher.  Select meat items come in recyclable, albiet plastic, packaging – our deli sells rotisserie chickens in # 5 plastic containers.

Frozen foods: Pretty much nonexistent in a Green Garbage diet.  Make your own or check to see if a recycling depot will take the treated cardboard and inside plastic packaging.

Eggs: If bought in cardboard (not Styrofoam), the cartons and eggshells can be composted.

Cereal: Inside packaging is generally not recyclable.  Instead, buy bulk or make granola.

Oatmeal, hot chocolate, or spice packets: These are made from composites of plastic, foil, and paper and are not recyclable.

Pasta: Buy bulk or check to see if plastic window is recyclable.

Flour, sugar, baking soda/powder, confectioner’s sugar, brown sugar: All recyclable or can be bought in bulk.

Shortening: Haven’t yet found a substitute.  Some come with peel-back metal-looking tops.  I need to contact companies to see what these are made from.

Cooking oil: Watch out for the little metal/plastic seal that is sometimes inside the lid.  Otherwise, recyclable.

HOUSEHOLD

Waxed paper: Not recyclable but can be burned if clean and untreated.  This can also be composted.

Foil and plastic baggies: Sometimes recyclable if clean, but check with local facilities first.  If you have to buy plastic baggies, buy the kind without the Ziploc.  Ziplocs have to be cut off before the stretchy plastic can be recycled, and the zipper part becomes garbage.  Twist-ties can be reused over and over.  Better yet, buyreusable baggies.

Sponges: We’re using dish clothes that can be washed in a washing machine and reused.  After their life in the kitchen, they will be moved to the cleaning bucket and used as household rags.

Cleaning supplies: We found this article from Real Simple magazine helpful; it contains recipes for making homemade cleaning supplies using everyday non-chemical agents like lemon, vinegar, and baking soda.  We’ll be trying these out over the course of the year and will let you know how they work.

Paper towels/napkins: Use cloth instead, which saves both the paper and the plastic the towels/napkins come in.  If you do buy paper products, the plastic packaging can be recycled at the grocery store with the plastic bags.

Toilet paper: We buy Seventh Generation toilet paper, which is made from 100 percent recycled paper and comes in plastic wrap that can be recycled at Far West Fibers.

Batteries: Buy rechargeable, and when they run out of juice, recycle them.  We also use the Eneloop battery system.

Light bulbs: Compact fluorescent bulbs work better than traditional light bulbs, use less energy, and last longer.  Why not use them?

Vaccum cleaner dust: Our vaccum cleaner does not use bags, so the dust can simply be emptied outside.

Dryer lint: Can be burned (if the lint comes from organic fabrics, as opposed to man-made) or composted.

BATHROOM

The bathroom is by far the hardest area in the house to make “trash-free.”  Here’s what we’re doing so far.

Deodorant: Amy is using a deodorant crystal and so far has had excellent results.  Adam is using a deodorant stick in recyclable packaging found at Whole Foods, but so far he’s skeptical. We have to deal with sensitive underarms, so aerosol deodorant isn’t an option for us, but if you can find a facility that recycles aerosol cans, this is an option, too.

Toothbrushes: We’re still using battery-powered toothbrushes with replaceable heads that are, unfortunately, garbage.  We have also used Preserve toothbrushes – the handles are made from recycled plastic yogurt tubs and once used, the toothbrushes can be shipped back to the company to be made into plastic lumber.

Toothpaste: We useTom’s of Maine toothpaste, which works really well and comes in a recyclable metal tube.

Shampoo/conditioner: Readily available in recyclable containers – just watch out for the lids, which are often not made from the same materials as the bottles and may not be curbside recyclable.  Another option is shampoo soap.

Shaving cream: Later, I plan to try my hand at making shaving soap, but in the meantime, I (Amy) use regular shaving cream in an aerosol can that, once empty, is recyclable.

Razor: Uh-oh, this is a problem area for Amy, who is quite devoted to her razor with replaceable heads.  Waxing is an option, and so is an old-fashioned safety razor with replaceable metal blades (which can be recycled).  Adam uses an electric razor with a rechargeable battery.  A product called Moom has been suggested and looks intriguing.

Feminine hygiene: Giving the Diva Cup a try … and liking it as a realistic alternative to tampons.

Mouthwash: We can’t find anything in stores that comes without that pesky plastic seal, so maybe I’ll try my hand at making my own – the recipes I’ve found are easy and involve water, vodka, essential oils, and glycerin.

Floss: Currently trying to obtain a rubber gum exerciser to replace floss.

Sunscreen: Far West Fibers tells me that, as long as the tube is made from recyclable plastic, we can cut it open and rinse out residue, then recycle the tube.

OFFICE

Paper: Recyclable, of course!  Use both sides, if possible.

Pens: Best to use pens with replacement ink cartridges.  Or, use fountain pens, or even colored pencils.

Pencils: Regular old wooden pencils are the best, because the pencil shavings can be burned.  However, my trusty Bic mechanical pencils also last me years if I replace the lead and erasers.

White-out: No known solution – these are pretty much trash.

Tape: Paper tape is an option, but it’s a little fussy to use.  Otherwise, tape is a major problem area.  Small amounts are okay on paper put in recycle bin, but tape is still not technically recyclable.

Printer ink cartridges: We take these back to Staples for recycling and they give us cash back on a rewards card.  It’s win-win!

PETS

Kitty treats: Our cats are really not on board with the project, so to avoid a cat revolt, we buy Goodlife kitty treats in sparing amounts.  The resulting plastic is sent to Lou’s UpCycles or used by Amy in fusible crafting projects.

Dog treats: Dog bones come in cardboard, and we found dog chews in bulk bins.

Dry pet food: We transferred our current dry food to containers and are currently using this up.  In the meantime, we are searching for a dry food bag that is lined with wax paper, not plastic.  Suggestions?

Wet dog food: I buy meat from the meat counter at a grocery store or from a butcher shop, and the meat can be wrapped in waxed paper, which can be cleaned and burned.  Also, canned dog food is completely recyclable, but the newer plastic containers are not always.

Litter: We’re trying different, earth-friendly litters, which our cat is systematically rejecting.  Regardless, in our challenge, litter goes in the trash to avoid transferring bacteria to the water supply (see Ground Rules on homepage).

AHEM … ORGANIC WASTE

Meat: One of two types of trash we expect to generate over the course of the year, meat scraps and bones will go in the trash.  However, since Amy is a vegetarian and Adam eats very little meat, this should be quite minimal.

Cat poop: Cat poop is going straight into the trash because, after much research, this seems to be the safest route.  From an article on the subject from Grist.com, “Cats can carry the disease toxoplasmosis and pass it on to us via oocysts (a dormant stage of the disease) in their feces. This disease can be fatal to infants and immune-system-deficient adults, and make the rest of us sick. Do not handle cat poop if you are pregnant, and don’t let small children do it either. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling cat poop, no matter who you are.”  It is recommended that cat feces are not flushed, buried, or composted due to the danger of toxoplasmosis.  We want to be safe, so used kitty litter gets trashed.

Dog poop: Buried.

Nail clippings and hair: Buried

HOBBIES

I’m an avid sewer, scrapbooker, and general crafter so these will be challenges I have to overcome during the year.   I’ll update this section as needed, but suggestions are welcome.  So far, I’ve avoided things wrapped in plastic, which is surprisingly easy at craft stores.

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  87 Responses to “Trash-Free Tips”

  1. Amy, you may have already figured out the whole menstrual cup thing, but just in case, http://community.livejournal.com/menstrual_cups has great info. The Diva is a little long, so if you’ve tried it and it isn’t working for you, there are options.

    Since you are so close to Salem, have you checked out Agri-Plas (http://www.agriplasinc.com/) in Brooks for a recycling option. They take almost all hard plastics regardless of code as well as film. I don’t know if they allow individuals to drop off, but I’m sure the owner would be interested in your project and would show you around the place.

    A couple of thoughts for others:
    Cat waste: Flushing Swheat Scoop – check with your local water treatment plant before flushing this. Here in Corvallis, OR, they have to treat the system heavily because of people flushing cat waste.
    In Oregon our landfills are very clay poor, and clay/rock is needed to make the system work, so using clay cat litter isn’t the worst option (although I haven’t looked into the supply side of using clay) – I do get it in bulk at our local pet store.

    If you live in an area that doesn’t allow outdoor composting, you may want to look into a worm bin. These can be housed right under your kitchen sink!

  2. A couple things I learned from being garbage-free:

    Bread- you can go to the bakery with your own bag and have them toss baguettes right in there.

    Shampoo- Lush cosmetics makes awesome solid shampoo and conditioner. Zero waste! And actually much cheaper than whatever liquid stuff you are using now. And preservative-free. Check it out at lush.com

  3. Great to see all your effort and welcoming comments as well – a good forum to learn from and share tips! I saw the Garbage Revolution documentary earlier this year and loved it as well – proof positive that parents can affect change and not let initial whining keep them from enforcing good habits. My own comments to your tips and others’ comments in here:
    * Love the tip on Waste Management ‘on call’ pickup. I currently get garbage once a month and it’s usually always only half full.
    * Also a big fan of Far West Fibers. NOTE: They aren’t the only option though! For a majority, yes, but if you go onto Metro’s page for ‘find a recycler’, you can put in your address and what you want to recycle and it will give you a list of names. One BIG example was the place on Marine Drive that recycles foam packaging – a really big deal since FWF no longer accepts it.
    * Toothbrush: Whole Foods and New Seasons both sell toothbrushes made from recycled plastic that have replaceable heads – so you are only replacing a very small portion.
    * Plastic baggies can be recycled with all of your other ‘stretchy’ plastic (plastic shopping bags, shrinkwrap, ziplocs, bubble wrap, and plastic packaging similar to what your TP comes wrapped in) at Far West Fibers. But I recommend reusing – turn inside out, rinse, air dry.
    * Great tip on composting dryer lint!!! Also, I learned this year that dog hair from the pet brushes, etc. can be put in the compost pile.
    * The anti-CFL comment has a lot of inaccuracies. First of all, Home Depot recycles CFLs. Second, there is less mercury in a CFL than in your old mercury fillings or in your watch battery, and you do NOT need to get a ‘hazmat team’ if one breaks, you just need to clean it up and air out the room. CFLs are a VAST energy efficiency improvement and are going to become code, so instead of fighting this how about going to the next level and choosing LED?
    * When people say they ‘can’t recycle’ in their neighborhood, I shake my head. Just because you don’t have curbside doesn’t mean you cannot recycle. It just takes more effort. A friend of mine in Dayton, Ohio, started a recycling project in her apartment complex and they each take turns hauling everyone’s combined recycling to the recycling depot in their community until they can convince their city to begin curbside recycling.
    * I’ve found that buying in the bulk aisles is a killer way to not only reduce waste but to save money. People say that organic is too expensive? Buy in the bulk aisle of Whole Foods or New Seasons or your local co-op – it’s WAY cheaper than Walmart or Kroger, and you are supporting organizations that, unlike Walmart, are socially and environmentally responsible. I get everything from pasta and rice and flour and sugar to spices and laundry detergent and olive oil in the bulk aisles.
    * I agree on finding dog food in large supply without the awful packaging. I did see a guy repurposing them into cargo bags, etc., but would rather be able to buy dog food in bulk and just refill my storage bin rather than buy a bag. New Seasons sells it in bulk but not in 30 lb quantities like I need for my Rottie!

  4. I continue to be impressed in how much knowledge you must be gaining on the specifics of waste reduction in general. Over halfway done with the year–will be looking forward to hearing how it ends, how much, or how little, trash is generated. Maybe you can re-visit Beth Casper of the Statesman for a final recap.

    In the news article, it was mentioned that you had some bubblewrap in your trash box–I am betting you have already looked into this, but there is a company in Beaverton, Postal Annex, that will take clean, reusable wrap. Mail Depot, here in South Salem, will occasionally take it, if it comes in a box with packing peanuts included. I know we in Marion County have a few more local resources for our recyclables than you do in Dallas, which makes even more impressive your efforts.

    I think you had mentioned something about an aerosol can? If hadn’t heard, our county haulers are now taking those curbside, along with cooking oil and most metals–new within the last 5 months.

    Keep up the good work, looking forward to hearing of your final success in July!

    Brian

  5. Thanks so much for blogging about your experiences. I’m trying to be much more careful about what I buy and use, and your suggestions are great.

    I thought I’d pass on this link I got from a friend. Glass drinking straws!

    http://www.glassdharma.com/

  6. love Love LOVE what you guys are doing! You are an inspiration and I will be taking many of your thoughtful ideas into my own practice. I only wish I lived in a city that was more “with it” and had more recycling resources and forward thinking.

  7. Hi,

    I noticed you have found difficulty with finding a deodorant that both works well and is eco-friendly. I recently discovered De Odor Works, its a stainless steel bar used in the shower just like a bar of soap. The stainless steel paired with tap water eliminates body odor and it never needs to be replaced!

    Here is the link to their website: http://deodorworks.com/

    Let me know if you would like me to send you samples in the mail.

    Rebecca

  8. Vacuum cleaner garbage? I toss mine in a wooded area near my house; the birds love to pick through it, using hair, string and lint for their nests. Same with dryer lint; if you don’t use it in cardboard egg cartons with candle wax for campfire starter, give it to the birds!

  9. Thank you. Your tips are simple and practical for me as I try to live a more green and earth friendly lifestyle.

  10. We found “VeganFloss” a dental floss with essential oils at the local Health Food Store. It most wonderfully comes in a folded paper container instead of plastic. I really like the way it works. Distributed by: Eco-DenT http://www.ecodent.com

    Cheers,
    Romola

  11. Thanks for these helpful tips! I buy Canidae dog food in bulk and the bag it comes in is 100% recyclable!

  12. not sure if you saw this post on mother earth for recycling meat waste into pet treats & believe it or not…soap! Will someone let me know if they have personally tried it and how they like it (the soap that is)
    thanks!

  13. oh – one more suggestion about the dryer lint – makes colorful homemade paper. Good for scrapbooking, letters and making small storage or gift boxes. If you really want to go the extra mile – add seeds (tiny ones like from berries work best) to the paper mixture so that the sheet/box can be burried in a garden. A girlfriend of mine has a shop and makes gift tags like it. Heres online instructions: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Paper-Out-Of-Lint/

  14. Just a quick tip on CFL bulbs, many people will scream about the mercury content. (its an irrational fear, theres more mercury in 2 tuna fish, I’ve lived with these bulbs for almost 12 years; I’m not dead and I’ve broken plenty)
    The mercury content is also less than the equivelent released into the atmosphere powering an old incandescent with a coal fired plant.
    CFL’s can also be recycled at home depot for FREE.

  15. You both are doing a wonderful job which is a source of encouragement to others. However, with all the moderns developement we are doing more harm to our envoirement than good. It reminds me of my childhood days in India where very little or no Thrash was produced in our house. People would go to the market with their own bag and even the containers to get items like oil butter etc. or else venders would visit the houses and purchases where made.Things would be wrapped in paper there was no use of plastic.The old clothes would be used for cleaning purpose and the good ones would be donated, the glass bottles and any other containers, news papers would be sold to the vendors for recycling and the waste of vegetables, fish, meat would be used as manure for trees/plants or food for animals or birds. The neighbours having cows or goats would receive it if its in bulk quantity as a feed for their animals but with the modernisation India has also become the part of this world and people needs to follow in your footsteps.I do by best to recycle and minimise the waste with what I learnt from my childwood. I have never used a perfume or a deodarant ever. Drink plenty of water keep yourself clean and eat only healthy food. Also for toothbrush we can use a stick called miswak which does not need tooth paste even. My father a regular user is 78 years old and has never visited a dentist in his lifetime.

  16. Some years ago, I checked with my dental hygienist, and she confirmed that the invention of tooth paste is ONLY to get people to brush. If you use NOTHING on your brush, you’ll be fine. Also, check the label of your hydrogen peroxide for other uses. I also use for cleaning my toothbrush head.

  17. For Anne who posted August 5, 2009 about reusing your homemade flour sacks: You pay more buying in bulk b/c of the extra weight… The stores/farmers should be willing to let you weigh the bags EMPTY to get the tare weight, and then weigh them FULL to get the weight of “bag plus purchased food” and only charge you for the food. Especially considering most stores and market farmers provide complimentary disposable bags.

  18. I’m sure it’s not news to you. But, going vegetarian/vegan is the best way, http://www.ibiblio.org/bwb/veg/environment.shtml

    I do what love what you’ve done here though. And, I’ll be working up a very similar system.

    Thanks for inspiring me.

  19. THe best and most comfortable thing I have ever tried! I reuse them after a year or so in watercolor art projects. Sea Pearls are completely natural reusable sea sponge tampons containing no Dioxin or synthetic fibers. Sustainably harvested and reusable. Sea Pearls are easy to use, economical, and earth friendly. ENjoy!

    http://www.jadeandpearl.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=18

  20. I’m just getting started on this but I use and reuse cereal inserts from store cereals as a substitute for plastic ‘ziploc’ bags. So far, so good. I rinse them out and use them all around the house for storing other foods, craft stuff and more. Wish they could be recycled but at least their being reused. I remind myself of my grandmother who survived the Depression and continued her frugal ways until her death at 98! I’m convinced her lack of noticeable garbage helped! :-)

  21. I am so impressed with your story and also very impressed with your readers’ tips. I am taking notes like crazy. I love your blog and will be keeping tabs on any new ideas you and your followers come up with. Living green is the only way to a happy, healthy life! Thanks so much for your inspiration!

  22. [...] Their trash-free tips page, for example, is chock full of great info about choosing products that are more recycle friendly.  I learned that our Toms of Maine toothpaste, which comes in a metal tube, is recyclable.  Although I knew the the tube was made of metal, I never considered putting it in the metal recycles—too stuck on the idea that toothpaste tubes go in the trash when they are done! [...]

  23. I read about you in WW a couple months ago and my husband and I have started the journey. We aren’t burning as that spreads the pollution over a much larger area than a landfill (even if one considers it getting into the water system), so we are still creating some trash.
    One note about Preserve products. We bought their toothbrushes but they no longer encourage them to be sent back for recycling!!! They keep being advertised that way all over the place, so beware that in fact they don’t want your plastic back (but they will take it if you send it). I found a replaceable head toothbrush through Azure Standard instead, they’ve worked great so far.
    Thanks for the inspirartion, we wouldn’t have started without it!

  24. Jen, I was curious about your comments regarding the Preserve toothbrushes. I checked out the site, http://www.preserveproducts.com/, and the company itself is actively advertising for its recycling programs. Additionally, the company just started packaging its toothbrushes in mail-in envelopes to make the process that much easier. I called a Preserve rep, and she reiterated that the company still strongly encourages recycling. Where is it you found information about Preserve no longer encouraging this process?

  25. Just found this site after reading a comment in Country Living magazine this month! I love all your tips and resources. I searched your site, but couldn’t find info about cd and case recycling and prescription bottle recycling, which was something that concerned me as these items kept piling up in my house/parent’s house. Don’t know if you have these resources, but here’s what I use:

    http://cdrecyclingcenter.com/

    Prescription Bottles:

    http://waste-not-want-not.tripod.com/id14.html

  26. I’m committed to doing less laundry, and am succeeding somewhat. Until I can do away with it(!)and due to some sensitive skin issues, unscented dryer sheets are a necessary evil for our family. I’ve finally found a use for them – making stuffing for pillow cases or other fabric remnants. It takes months to save enough, but the pillows can be used as pet beds, as pads on outdoor furniture, or where ever you need a throw pillow. If you do a really good job they can be used as green gifts. Machine or hand “quilt” the pillow in straight or decorative lines to keep stuffing from slipping. Can be machine washed and dried on delicate. If you can use scented it will smell nice – at least until they’re washed. Used dryer sheets can also be used as packing material.

  27. Clothes that are too worn out or stained can still be donated to Goodwill, they sell it to fabric companies who recycle it. This has helped me alot w/ three children I have LOTS of stained and ripped clothing-and a person can only have so many cleaning cloths!

  28. [...] How did they do it? Gardening, eating less meat, and composting food scraps played a big role, as did recycling. The Korsts went beyond curbside recycling, collecting items and taking them to recycling facilities. (We do this, too.) But the biggest lifestyle change that comes with cutting down on garbage starts at the cash register. The Korsts simply didn’t buy anything that would eventually wind up in the trashcan. This is a lesson I will take to heart in 2011: I’ll examine my purchases more critically, seeking out durable products that come in recyclable packaging. Check out the Korsts’ blog for more trash-free tips. [...]

  29. I am trying to find out if I can put the waste from my rabbit’s cage into my composter. The only onfo I find is about outside cages(raising worms under them). I am concerned with the urine in the shavings.

  30. I love this site but heads up, compact fluorescent bulbs really only work well in the right places. For lights that you turn on and off frequently, they burn out quickly and end up costing you and the environment more.

  31. A great way to eliminate dryer lint is to use a clothes line instead – saves on energy costs!

  32. Such a wonderful article and comments here. I may add a few things I use and share some ideas as well. Baking soda for toothpaste comes in a paper box and than I place it in a glass jar on the counter it will also not damage the tooth brush and it can last forever, I buy soap in a paper box and place a small piece in water to make dish soap and reuse a glass bottle with a pump, like forever again, and as a cleaning solution if not happy with soda and vinegar smells, cloth bags for everything made out of older clothes, air dry clothes, use glass jars such as salsa or pickle jars as food storage containers the lids work well even for on the go containers, flower pots as well, chalk boards for messages and lists, instead of petroleum based lotions that harm you and come in hard containers I use coconut oil in a glass bottle and it is fantastic, baking soda and apple cider vinegar for hair cleanser and conditioner, and last but not least use shredded paper, fabrics and other dry materials like Styrofoam to insulate a garage or a shed or the attic, summer bond fires or wood grills can be a good way to use wood material that have no paint on them, papers cardboard and others to add warmth and energy, soak dished for a few hours in soapy water to make washing easy and use rags that can be washed possibly made from old clothes or towels,thrift stores and garage sales are great for toys and gifts such as paintings or decorations not to mention a money saver as well.reduce,reuse,recycle, bottom line do not buy plastic for your health and the environment, I buy wood or glass or metal instead and I made my life simple, allowing more free time for living. I hope I have shared useful tips as I have added information to my trash free lifestyle from all of you here, thank you.

  33. [...] blog continue today, with tips and tricks on how to throw away [...]

  34. I realize I’m very late to this page, but a few thoughts:

    Regarding the shortening: I have recently stopped using vegetable shortening and use coconut oil in recipes that call for it instead. In the one or two times I’ve tried it, it worked quite well, as they have a similar consistency (unless it’s hot enough that the coconut oil has liquefied). And coconut oil is healthier for you, anyway (which is why I made the change in the first place).

    Regarding the meat scraps: there is an indoor, plug-in (it is supposed to use only a tiny amount of electricity) composter that I have been lusting after for years available in the Gaiam catalog that can handle normally not-compostable things like meat scraps. You may want to give it a look!

    Kitty treats: if they like them (two out of three kitties in my household love them like kitty crack; the third stares at them like, “what am I supposed to do with these?”), dried bonito flakes are available in tubs similar to margarine tubs, and other dried treats like dried liver (one out of three likes) and shrimp (also one out of three) as well. Try Drs. Foster and Smith website/catalog if you don’t have a mom and pop pet store near you that offers them! :)

    Thanks for this page!

  35. You’re not late! But welcome to the conversation! Thank you so much for looking around the page and offering your own helpful suggestions.
    - Regarding the shortening, coconut oil as a substitute sounds like a great idea! I have some around the house for cosmetic use, but I will have to make it do double duty and see how it turns out. Great idea!
    - Unfortunately, my little kitties think the bonito is beneath them, and I had similarly bad luck with the dried shrimp. However, liver is a possibility!
    - While I compost, I still think of myself as a beginning or casual composter – not an expert by any means! The more research I do, the more I learn. It certainly seems possible to compost meat at appropriate temperatures, so I’ll take a look at the composter you mentioned!

    Welcome, and thanks!

  36. Great blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything.

    Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?
    There are so many choices out there that I’m totally overwhelmed ..
    Any suggestions? Cheers!

  37. Impressive goal, and excellent tips. I read an article on takepart that said between the two of you, you managed just 4 pounds of trash in a year. My first reaction was, that doesn’t seem possible. I build, and I go to rather extreme lengths to reuse ‘waste’ (including recycleables, so we don’t have to waste energy transporting them).

    I save stiff plastics and rubber to cut up or run through a chipper and use in asphalt & concrete driveways I pour (I often build on steep hillsides that require paved surfaces for access). I save glass for breaking into bits and embedding in epoxies for (really gorgeous) countertops. I haven’t thrown out a single piece of paper in over a decade, saving it for shredding, chemically treating for fire retardance, and re-using as insulation. Same with cardboard, polystyrene and fabrics (old clothes). I save plastic bags for earthbag construction (garden walls etc that are then stuccoed over). I’ve used compacted non-organic trash blocks as infill in stucco walls between structural columns where insulation isn’t an issue (sheds etc). I compost.

    I do all this, and I don’t come close to only producing 4 pounds of trash in a year. I don’t weigh, but I’m probably close to 4 pounds every 2 weeks. One big ‘filler’ for me is paper/cardboard that has had organic matter in contact with it (ie all kinds of food packaging). I don’t want to take even the slightest chance attracting bugs to insulation or between walls, and I haven’t yet thought of a construction reuse for it (perhaps as mulch when broken down in water & mixed with organic mulch). So I just don’t know how the heck you could have done 4 pounds in a year between two people, but I’m all ears! Perhaps just not buying many of the things I buy regularly (I spend several thousand a week on building supplies, fixtures and hardware, much of which has packaging that must be dealt with). And perhaps I’m overestimating the weight of what I’m discarding (it’s mostly bulk I guess, not weight…but of course that’s the ‘biggest’ problem with landfills, apart from toxic leaching). Anyway, any additional insight would be appreciated, and thanks for the great information here :)

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