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#1 of 23 Old 01-02-2010, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What are your tips and tricks for shrinking down your garbage load? I compost food, and I recycle, but I'd like to cut down on packaging so I can have less to recycle/toss.

Especially food shopping...any tips?
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#2 of 23 Old 01-03-2010, 03:29 PM
 
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Buy in bulk using your own containers, or muslin bags.

Use muslin produce bags for fruits and veggies.

Avoid anything that is individually packaged.

When all else fails opt for things that are packaged in containers/bags you can reuse in the kitchen, garden, garage, etc.

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#3 of 23 Old 01-09-2010, 02:45 PM
 
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This is a tricky one since we are dependent on the stores way of wrapping and packaging things. I am too going through this struggle.

One of the things I'm trying is learning how to bake my own bread. Also, I bought a yogurt maker so that will cut down on the yogurt tubs. When you make soup, try to make a lot of it so you wont be tempted to by can soups. You can always freeze soup.

Take a look at your trash and see what you can make rather than buying packages of. Get rid of paper products in your house. No napkins or towels. My daughter and I recently switched to cloth napkins for wiping our pee. We also got rid of our dishwasher so no more dishwasher soap containers around here.
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#4 of 23 Old 01-09-2010, 08:22 PM
 
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I really need help with this. I try, but wow I feel pretty bad about our amount of garbage. We have two bins a week, and that doesn't include the recycling bin.
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#5 of 23 Old 01-11-2010, 01:50 AM
 
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Don't get too down on yourself. Like I said, it's hard when your town only recycles so much and your stores give you optional packaging. I can't even find ketchup anymore in glass. Things like that drive me crazy.

Take one thing and try to change it like buying it in bulk next time where you can bring your own container. At my health food shop you can bring in your honey, peanut butter, olive oil and other containers to refill. I often wonder if the health food shop ends up throwing their big containers away or if they refill it themselves. I hate to think my efforts are going to waste.

Anyway, just tweak your life little by little and you will find you will be wasting less and less each year.
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#6 of 23 Old 01-12-2010, 03:20 PM
 
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I find food packaging is a problem too. I've switched to buying meat wrapped in butcher's paper rather than on styrofoam trays. I buy very little in cans or boxes - so that means buying mostly fresh vegetables and no frozen dinners or pizzas etc. - we prepare from scratch.

I would take a close look at the bulk of your garbage and figure out what you can avoid. If it isn't food packaging garbage, what else are you buying that is getting tossed every week?
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#7 of 23 Old 01-13-2010, 03:10 PM
 
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I'm working on doing this as well, and realized that I can drastically reduce the amount of garbage I produce by a) composting, and b) switching to cloth napkins. So we're in the process of doing that. It's pretty basic, but a major first step.

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#8 of 23 Old 01-19-2010, 11:23 PM
 
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In summer, we buy produce from the farmer's market and bring our own cloth bags. In winter, I lay a cloth bag in the bottom of the grocery cart and place the fruit and veggies on it, they check out and they go into cloth bags, wash well when we get home.
We stopped using paper towels and napkins.
Use cloth diapers instead of disposables.
Buy things in large containers and then save the containers and re-use for other things. For example, we buy large jars of applesauce, then save the jars for homemade spag. sauce and soups. Although we would recycle those and not throw out the jars, the lids are not recyclable.
Re-use paper for scrap paper, have kids color on both sides of paper instead of getting a new sheet.
Freecycle anything usable instead of throwing away. Our recycling doesn't take yogurt containers but I wash and save them, then freecycle. Teachers have claimed them for art/craft projects, others for planting seeds.
Would love more ideas as dh and I feel like we take out a huge bag of garbage every day or two, despite all the efforts mentioned above.
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#9 of 23 Old 01-21-2010, 05:20 PM
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for the last 5 or more years (i can't remember farther back than that) we have only filled a 13 gal bag per week, and most weeks it's only 1/2 full. we do much of what the PPs mentioned. most of what is in our trash is that which we can't recycle or compost.

i love the book Your Money or Your Life where people pick up simple ideas to reduce their trash as much as humanly possible. I think one family used the book and now have 1/2 bag of trash each year.
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#10 of 23 Old 01-24-2010, 06:54 PM
 
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I have that little problem too of reducing the garbage in my household. I am a big recycle fan. I think some of the ideas you guys stated may come in handy for me.

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#11 of 23 Old 02-12-2010, 12:23 AM
 
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You can recycle #5 plastic (yogurt containers) at alot of the Whole Food stores. There is a company that makes disposable razors and stuff out of them.
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#12 of 23 Old 02-17-2010, 06:36 PM
 
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Hey ladies I am trying to reduce our waste as well and would like to make our cleaning supplies and use our used containers. Any one have any good recipes for basic cleaners, detergent, spot cleaners for cloths and carpet??

Thanks,
Janine

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#13 of 23 Old 02-19-2010, 11:09 PM
 
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Switching to cloth hankerchiefs made a big difference for us. We use cloth napkins in the kitchen, dish rags, and cloth rags. So no packaging for sponges, papertowels etc. and no paper or old sponges end up in the trash.

I reuse the packaging from cereal boxes. The plastic bag gets used for food storage, and the box itself gets cut open and turned inside out. Then I use it instead of paper towels for blotting food that may be oily. I don't fry or cook with oil much so extra boxes are also used for crafts by DD.

We do use toilet paper, but I shred the inner cardboard roll to line our pet mice cage. Which in turn cuts down on the wrapping for bedding from the pet store. I also buy the large bag of unwrapped rolls of TP so each roll isn't individually wrapped. Then I reuse the large plastic bag (opened carefully) for trash.

We stopped drinking soda and seltzer and have cut back on juice to reduce the waste of all those containers. We don't buy anything individually wrapped.

I'm going to pay closer attention this week and see what the biggest culprits are now.
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#14 of 23 Old 02-20-2010, 10:45 PM
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i have been thinking about this a lot the past few weeks. I am doing the One Small Change challenge and find a lot of people trying to cut down on their garbage and it has me thinking.

Here are a few things we do:

~Cloth everything (instead of paper towels, kleenex, napkins, bags)
~Started looking at what i can make instead of buying...just started making our own granola, granola bars, bagels...and am thinking of more
~Reuse as much as possible
~As for cleaners, i use vinegar for just about everything


We have our trash down to 1 bag a week which is pretty good, but would love to reduce even more!

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#15 of 23 Old 02-27-2010, 09:05 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by messymom View Post
You can recycle #5 plastic (yogurt containers) at alot of the Whole Food stores. There is a company that makes disposable razors and stuff out of them.
This is kind of ironic, isn't it? It sure beats using new plastic for dispobable razors but still... (Whoever posted this: my remark isn't meant to be offensive towards you! It just struck me as sort of funny that we recycle to make a throw-away thing...)

I've cut back a lot on paper towels, paper tissues, and toilet paper. We never used a lot of napkins anyway but I do have cloth napkins.
I haven't tried the cloth bags for produce yet - at the supermarkets here they weigh and close the bag with a metal clamp. So I don't know whether that'll work.

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#16 of 23 Old 03-12-2010, 09:17 PM
 
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Cancel your trash service!

We were doing great before we discontinued our service but wanted to do better so we bit the bullet and ended the service Jan 25th. Since then, I've made one run to the dump and will take another load by the 25th. That will be a total of $14 spent for the two months because our dump charges $7 per car up to a certain weight - maybe 400 pounds. I hope to start going to the dump once every 2-3 months. The dump is about 5 miles from my parents house so it is not out of the way.

We recycle everything we can and we freeze the food scraps that we can't put down the disposable. We will start our new compost bin soon. We are having our yard redone and will build once the work is done. The limited freezer space is what is controlling how often we go to the dump.

We keep what I call paper trash (though rarely paper) outside in a bin. This is stuff that we can't recycle but will not attract bugs. Unknown plastics, broken objects, and light bulbs are a few of the things that can go out there.

I will say that we are almost 100% cloth diapers, 100% cloth wipes, and I use mama cloth so that eliminates that type of trash. If we get behind on our laundry, and I use a disposable insert for the cloth diaper, and if she dirties it up, I will dump what I can in the toilet and take the insert with me the next time I leave the house and deposit wherever I am going - parent's house, gas station, wherever. I just add that in for honesty sake

As we work to reduce more and more I will post any new ideas I have.

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#17 of 23 Old 03-13-2010, 10:08 AM
 
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You have gotten a lot great information so far. My husband loves not having to take the trash to the curb every week because we have reduced the amount of trash we generate. The thing that helped the most by far was me cooking all our meals from scratch. I buy bulk and fresh mostly. Even my meat is wrapped in butcher paper not plastic. We also reuse things as much as possible.
The other things like using cloth diapers, pads and un-paper towels, do help but we have noticed that buying and eating processed "convenience" foods are what will bulk up our trash bins the quickest.

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#18 of 23 Old 03-21-2010, 06:35 PM
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yup. i started to get our cheese and meat wrapped in butcher paper, and we just signed on for a cow share where the milk will come in glass (and we return the bottle each week). that paper can be composted!

we are just starting the buying-in-bulk process using muslin bags for flours, grains, beans, etc, and reusing our cleanser and our oil and vinegar bottles. we prefer loose leaf tea as well, but the bags can be composted either way.

in our city, you pay $1.50 per trash bag, and that supports the trash pick up. that's a lot per bag, and so it behooves you to reduce.

we strive not to buy any plastics, as much as possible.
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#19 of 23 Old 03-24-2010, 05:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ambersrose View Post
You have gotten a lot great information so far. My husband loves not having to take the trash to the curb every week because we have reduced the amount of trash we generate. The thing that helped the most by far was me cooking all our meals from scratch. I buy bulk and fresh mostly. Even my meat is wrapped in butcher paper not plastic. We also reuse things as much as possible.
The other things like using cloth diapers, pads and un-paper towels, do help but we have noticed that buying and eating processed "convenience" foods are what will bulk up our trash bins the quickest.
This. This. This.

That's my entire trash bin - Food packaging. If you have any menu planning resources for small families, I'd love to get my hands on them. It's the sitting down and planning out what the week is going to look like and optimizing bulk that's intimidating to me, so I've been gnashing for some sample menus/weekly food plans.

Mom to DD Nov 2009,
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#20 of 23 Old 04-05-2010, 11:30 AM
 
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Sounds like you have lots of great suggestions already. I think the main thing is just being more mindful when you buy things. Really think about the packaging, and whether its recycleable(sp?), or reuseable. If it isn't, do you really need it? YKWIM?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jess5377 View Post
If you have any menu planning resources for small families, I'd love to get my hands on them. It's the sitting down and planning out what the week is going to look like and optimizing bulk that's intimidating to me.
me too !

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#21 of 23 Old 04-07-2010, 09:56 AM
 
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For menu planning I use this company and LOVE them:

http://www.relishrelish.com/

They also have www.Gfreecuisine.com which is gluten free. I have turned many people onto them and everyone has loved them. I have cousins that use them and my BFF is using the Gfree site. FYI, they used to advertise with me, but they don't anymore, so I am not a spokesperson for them, I truly use this company and am more than pleased with them!

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#22 of 23 Old 04-07-2010, 11:11 PM
 
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Things that you do need to buy that have a lot of packaging can be unpackaged at the store. Just leave the garbage for them to deal with. It frees up your home from garbage and makes the store have to start considering the garbage that they stock on their shelves.

Our city only picks up garbage every 2 weeks. And recycling every two weeks. We get whatever sized recycling bin we want for free. We also recycle a lot of products, including styrofoam food containers! The garbage bins cost a yearly fee depending on the size.
The city also picks up compost every week. You can put almost anything biodegradable in the compost "green bin". This is separate from yard waste compost program. The city composts it, then the finished compost goes to the landfill as soil and some of it gets mixed with the yard waste compost and is used in the public parks and gardens and given to residents for their gardens for free.

We also have "environment days" in our city where we can drop off any reusable stuff, e-waste, old paint cans, etc. We can also drop off any hazardous waste or e-waste at numerous depots around the city throughout the year.

We are a family of 3 and create a grocery sized bag of garbage every 10-14 days.

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#23 of 23 Old 04-13-2010, 04:33 PM
 
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There are some great ideas here I never heard or thought of, like using cereal boxes to spread oil. Jewels' idea of using a cloth to lay produce in is great!

Right now we just recycle. Down to foil, it gets recycled. If it's plastic, recycle-symbol or not, it gets recycled. We'll use cereal boxes also to help start fires in our fireplace. We don't use central heating in this house at all, only fire, and all our wood comes from (safe) scraps and trees that were being cut down for other purposes than as firewood. It would be cheaper to throw more in the trash can, to be honest, and sometimes we're tempted. We get one can for trash, one recycling, and one yard clippings. The yard and recycle bins are collected on alternate weeks, and if we have more than fits, we are charged $5. We fill up the trash can every six weeks or so, and don't even bother putting it out most weeks just for half a 13ga bag, which we'd prefer to keep in the can inside until full. Driving to the dump is 20 miles in one direction, and the public recycle facility is 25 in the opposite and charges for drop-off.

We're down to about half a 13ga can a week in non-recyclables, usually from meat wrappings and things of that nature that can't be recycled. If only trash service had the option of every-other-week, or once time per month.

We do cloth-diaper and wipe, and the next step is cloth pads.
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