Zero Waste

tortoise

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Zero Waste is a topic that marries my interests in frugal living, sustainability, environment, and minimalism.

The idea is to produce as little landfill trash as possible. Some families get so good at it, they produce a quart jar or less of trash ... per year. 😲

Since metals and glass can be recycled, wood products can be recycled or composted, food waste can be fed to animals or composted.... it really comes down to discontinuing using single-use plastics, and replacing durable plastic items with plastic-free alternates at the end of their life cycle.
 

tortoise

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I started separating paper and cardboard trash for burning, since it is not recyclable here. (I may start saving it for a compost-in-place garden bed.) This has cut down trash volume by half.

Almost all of my trash is non-recyclable plastic! 😲 I'm so very thankful it goes to a waste-to-energy incinerator. But I would feel better to produce less, to reduce consumer demand for plastic [packaging].

Pre-COVID, I used and re-used paper grocery bags. Since COVID, I started using grocery pickup from Walmart, which includes an alarming number of plastic bags.

Food packaging is a huge source of single-use, non-recyclable plastic. My family can go without buying meat from the grocery store, and Ive started getting produce boxes delivered which doesnt have nearly as much plastic packaging. I've had a few bad years for gardening. A good garden/harvest/canning season would go a long way towards reducing food packaging.

My next change is to switch dental products. I'm going to get toothpaste tablets, bamboo toothbrushes that dont have nylon bristles, and silk dental floss that comes in a glass jar. I'm almost out of toothpaste and ready to order! 🙌
 

Daisy

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I was shocked watching some reality tv shows from the US a few years ago with people using plastic plates and cutlery for every meal, - it is just unheard of here. If we do eat on disposable stuff for BBQ's they are paper that can be chucked in the fire at the end of the night! We also do not eat out or get as much takeaway as the USA - although this is changing very quickly in the cities. The culture in some places needs to change, but there has to be a limit to the zero waste "movement", its gotten worse than veganism.

The zero waste trend was big here a few years back. I used to follow a blog of a girl who was trying out all the bathroom products, not sure I have seen an update for her in a while. It can be very expensive but the shampoo bars look like a super cute idea.

I produce very little waste, some weeks I don't put the bins out to be collected at all cos there is literally no rubbish to put in there. I compost, recycle, red cycle, they have just brought in a 10c refund on cans and bottles (although I am ineligible to receive it so it goes to charity), I use what I can for the fireplace, but quite a lot of cardboard gets used in the garden. Its just how life is.


I think everyone should make an effort to be aware of waste but I do wonder where the no plastic push is coming from... I know they have found microplastics in placentas and new born babies now and the need to reduce the use is authentic, but I find some of the things that people are pushing to ban tend to make very little difference in the scheme of things, only limiting the lives of those disadvantaged further. I would really like to see the plastic road base in practice as the roads are shocking here and it could be a great solution.

The plastic reduction movement on social media is successful as it aims to shame. It is sad and I just cant get on board with them. People in places without safe drinking water need to buy their drinking water in bottles- the waste coming out of poverty stricken countries is out of necessity. If fresh food is not wrapped in plastic in my (very dry, hot) state, it has a short shelf life - less fresh options in the community leads to more health problems and more (non recyclable) plastic waste within the medical industry. We do grow what we can. My godmother was quadriplegic and used plastic straws for all of her nutrition needs, straws are the latest hashtag trend to outright ban here. "Single use" plastic bags were banned (we are now charged 80c for plastic bags - non negotiable for online orders) grocery stores will not pack cloth bags with the covid risk, adding to the distress of shopping with a disability. It frustrates me that the majority forget the people most affected by the latest hashtag craze as they haven't been forced to use plastic out of necessity but only out of convenience. I'm all for environmental welfare, but if people practiced responsible use and disposal in the first place, then we wouldn't have these rolling bans pushing those below the poverty line into further financial and social stress.




TL;DR I love the sudden wake up of people realising the environment matters, but hate that hashtag activism aimed at shaming the poverty stricken who are forced into the use of plastics out of necessity.
 

tortoise

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In most cases, there are alternatives to plastic that could be economical if the demand was high enough to get it produced at a larger scale. Part of my intent is to increase my demand of these items to help boost the market for them.

On the flip side, zero waste doesnt require buying the trendy products. More seasoned zero waste people use durable plastic items that are obtained secondhand, because its cheap, functional, and doesnt fund new plastics being produced.

I'm often annoyed by the young privileged "influencers" who want to live plastic free. Completely. Okay, well... have fun without your computer, phone, electricity, air conditioning, furnace, waterproofed anything, car, bus, bicycle, etc. 👍😅

That's why I focus on purchasing secondhand and on single-use plastic. Neither have much impact on my lifestyle, but they help reduce waste.

The planet needs millions of people to practice it imperfectly rather than a handful of people to go to extremes.
 
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JanetMarie

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@tortoise your comment: "the planet needs millions of people to practice it imperfectly than a handful of people to go to extremes" is a winner.

One thing I would like to suggest to cut down on plastic grocery bags, is that you can still use your own bags, but you just have to bag everything yourself, which I've been doing. Also, most grocery stores still have paper bags, you just have to ask for them, which I also do if I forget by bags at home. Even if I did phone in an order and opt for curbside pickup, I would still ask for paper.
 

tortoise

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If COVID activity stays constant in the next 2 weeks, I'm ready to shop in store. I'm so fed up with walmart plastic bags! Its a lot of trash to move around - extra work for me! The grocery stores have paper bags. I havent seen signs saying no reusable bags lately.
 

flowerbug

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you can recycle the plastic bags that a lot of stores use to bag food in. just have to find out the stores that will take them back and remember to take them when you go, but i vastly prefer to bring my own carry bags when i need to. i also often ask the checkout workers to not bag items if there are only a few so i don't get a bag for no reason.

at home i reduce a lot of trash use by reusing containers or bags as many times as possible, but also we have some food storage containers to reuse many many times (i think we have a few containers here we've reused a few hundred times already and they're still in good condition).

as for paper and paper products, anything that is clean enough here i use as worm bedding or to smother things in the garden or to help when weeding difficult weeds - i'll dig a deep hole and bury the weeds down at the bottom, but put cardboard or newspapers over them to give them more of a barrier to keep them from coming back up again. this works pretty well for a lot of weeds. the really tough weeds i just put on top of the weed pile so they dry out completely and then fall apart.

we do have recycle pick up here once a week so a lot of plastics, metals and the cardstock with a lot of printing on it (like a cereal box or a package) with colors and shiny i will just put in the recycling to be processed as i've made the mistake in the past of shredding a plastic coated cardboard box and then had all those bits of plastic in my worm buckets and then that went out into the gardens and i still have to pick bits of plastic out of the gardens here or there. lesson learned... just plain cardboard, plain paper, plain craft paper. all ok. black ink printed is also ok, but i prefer as plain as possible. doing much better now. :)

i'm also in the middle of getting rid of some old books from school that have no value at all (really badly written technical books that nobody would care about if they never get read again). i have to break them apart and cut the binding glue edges off so i won't have that gunk ending up in the worm buckets, but the plain paper of a book is just fine worm bedding in the end. they'll chew through it eventually. :)
 

flowerbug

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i vastly prefer natural materials as much as possible.

yes, the more people that make some effort the better than none at all.

still i think there is a lot more to be gained in the world by not consuming as much stuff to begin with and other changes in lifestyle.

i'm also in favor of population control and reduction, rewilding more places, bringing back wild animals and many other things which help to preserve the wild lands that are left.

as far as food storage goes, glass is by far my favorite. it may take a lot of energy to recycle, but reusing it doesn't take that much energy at all and that is what is lost in the more recent version of recycling, that we don't get bottles and jars back to the manufacturers whole and in good enough shape that they can be reused without having to break them up and then melt all that down and reshape it again. that's just the silly way of doing things. yes, for broken items you want to be able to recycle them but a glass bottle can be reused many times before it gets chipped, cracked or broken.
 

baymule

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Our Walmart has recycle bins inside the door for their plastic bags. I reuse them, especially in the summer when the garden is in. We sell or give away excess vegetables and I use the walmart bags for that.

We use cardboard in the garden to smother weeds.

Now you got me thinking about what's in the trash can.
 

Hinotori

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The plastic bag ban was delayed a month here. So Feb 1st no more.

I've been using canvas bags for years for groceries. They get tossed in with the towels for washing. I do carry a few of those nylon bags in purse in case I have to run into some place unexpectedly.

I'm saving most the cardboard for the garden right now.

Tea bags and their little tags go in the compost. The staples rust to nothing so no worries.
 

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