NOTE: This post is a guest post by Helen Wurthmann, author, poet, and zero waste blogger living in Seattle, Washington. Today she’s answering a burning question on all of our minds this Earth Month:
Can you really eliminate all waste?
It may sound crazy, but you have the ability to live virtually waste-free. While everyone knows about “reduce, reuse, recycle,” you can significantly decrease waste in your life by embracing the other two “Rs of Zero Waste.’ When in doubt, remember:
Refuse: Rather than saying yes to a flyer, free t-shirt, or fro-yo sample on the street, make the not-so-easy choice to say no. By refusing items, you automatically remove that trash from your life!
Rot: Much of our waste comes from throwing compostable items into landfills where they can’t properly biodegrade. Allowing natural products like food, paper, and wood to compost decreases waste (and CO2 and methane emissions) on a massive scale.
What’s with the jar?
You may have seen that many zero wasters put any trash they can’t refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, or rot into a jar. Having a physical reminder that tracks how much trash you’re creating is a great incentive to cut back or keep up the good work. Tracking your waste in a jar over an extended period of time also encourages you to not throw away food (that’d be one stinky jar!). Rather, the jar encourages you to use every available part of their food and then compost the rest.
Basic, everyday choices that reduce waste:
Cook your own meals instead of eating out: Fast food and even sit-down restaurants create a huge amount of waste per customer. When you cook your own meals, you’re in control of what you’re purchasing and what you do with the scraps.
Buy your produce without individual packaging: When you buy items at the supermarket, do you put them in individual plastic bags? This habit creates a lot of unnecessary waste. Buy buying your food in bulk or using your own bags, you can cut down on this root cause.
Find new ways to use excess produce and aim to use every part of the your fruits and veggies!
Is Zero Waste Right for You?
Living zero waste can be intimidating, but the important thing to remember is that there’s no single approach to reducing your trash. Everyone is different, so if you want to reduce your waste, start by making small changes to your routine that work for you. It’s never too late to get started!
Want to learn more?
Check out my blog, The Zero Waste Bystander! It’s all about helping you make more sustainable lifestyle choices while acknowledging the struggles and adventures that come with such an ambitious goal. Learn more about wasting less at www.zerowastebystander.blogspot.com.
Robert KleinApril 23, 2018 at 12:41 am
Zero waste is nice. But…what about these big cardboard boxes one receives every (other) week? I’ve seen the FAQ entry that you cannot reuse them due to food safety regulations, but…there must be a better solution than throwing away perfectly good boxes on a regular basis, no? Nobody needs this many cat forts or space ships 🙂
Reilly BrockApril 23, 2018 at 6:06 pm
Hey Robert! Thanks for this thoughtful question. Due to food safety regulations, we are unable to reuse our delivery boxes and ask that folks recycle them at home if they have an adequate amount of cat forts and spaceships already constructed.
Robert KleinApril 24, 2018 at 9:51 pm
Yes, I know – that’s exactly the entry from the FAQ. So, why repeat it here? No response at all or something like "Yes, unfortunately there’s no solution to that" would have been a more adequate response?
Speaking of solutions: what about user-supplied boxes, that get filled by the delivery people? What about pickup centers instead of shipping? imperfectproduce presence at Farmers markets?
Reilly BrockApril 24, 2018 at 10:06 pm
Our apologies if our answer was repetitive. We only meant to reiterate that our hands are somewhat tied by food safety laws, meaning that we can’t offer different ideas other than recycling or reusing your box, for now. You hit the nail on the head, Robert. The question of 100% sustainable delivery boxes is unresolved and ongoing. Our current approach is a necessary compromise but it is far from perfect. You bring up some interesting ideas that we’ll be sure to pass along to our innovation team. Thanks for leaving these thoughtful comments on our blog!
Stevi JonesMay 22, 2018 at 11:58 pm
I agree with Robert about the box sentiment. Currently we use it as our main recycling receptacle. And I also agree that it would be awesome if there was a way to pick up. I live in a gated apartment complex, and not to lie, to no fault of your own delivery people, it is a pain in the bottom to get things delivered. I would love to pick up my box on an assigned day, and to forgo the delivery fee. The delivery fee is also why I switched to 1 big box every other week instead of a medium box every week. Just tossing a few cents into the conversation. Also, neat article, I liked some of the ideas.