On October 14, 2012 by Robin Z

**This post is part of the Get Real series. Please remember that this is meant as a learning community. We know that many of you are passionate about what you do and we want you to express that, just please do so in a way that will be an encouragement and aid to others making a transition. We want this to be a “safe space” for participants to learn. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comments that are not handled in this manner.

Did you know the average American produces 7 pounds of trash PER DAY?   That comes out to about 102 TONS of trash in your lifetime–more than any other Western country with our same standard of living.  We are literally the most wasteful people on the planet. Did you know that 40% of the ocean is FULL of plastic trash?  That means more of the ocean is taken up by trash than by all of the dry land in the world put together. Sixty-nine percent of of our trash goes into landfills, and 25% of what we put into our landfills is waste that could be recycled.*

About the time my oldest son joined our family, we started caring more about living a greener lifestyle, and leaving behind a less wasteful legacy.  Seven years later, our home’s waste stream is much different than it was before.  Where there were once paper towels, paper napkins, and paper tissues, there are now cloth towels, napkins, and handkerchiefs.  Where there was once a stack of paper coffee filters, there are now two re-useable cotton coffee filters.  We took a good look around our home at the areas in which we are most wasteful and came up with re-useable options.  Washing and re-using zip top bags and aluminum foil are common practice here, as well as saving all the glass jars for food storage.  You’ll find a myriad of things stored in baby food jars around here, too.  You won’t find much plastic around here–we try not to use it (more on this in a post later this month).

One of my goals as I shop for items at the grocery store is to purchase things with the least amount of packaging, and 100% recycled content at that.  Yes, we are the ones who buy the 100% 1-ply toilet tissue, and it’s not so bad.  Recycling as much as possible, leaving behind less than one bag of trash per week is our norm.  Most of our food scraps go into our compost bin, though we avoid putting animal waste, bones, and fats in the bin–it will eventually change into a fine, nourishing top layer for my garden, made from our food waste and yard clippings. I am always seeking out new ways to reduce our waste stream, re-use what we already have for as long as possible, and recycle items when we can no longer find purpose for them.

Here are some of my ideas for becoming a greener family, especially if you are just starting out on a greener journey:

  • RECYCLE!  Send less into the waste stream/landfill
  • Reuse items over and over and over until they can no longer be used.  If you don’t really need that new item, don’t buy it!  Get by without it, or purchase it second hand.
  • Use those reusable grocery bags!
  • When purchasing new items, choose items housed in minimal to no packaging.
  • When purchasing new items, choose items with packaging made of 100% recycled material (preferably post-consumer)
  • Buy 100% recycled paper products (paper towels and napkins if you use them; toilet tissue)
  • Switch to cloth napkins, towels, and handkerchiefs
  • Stop buying plastic (or at least buy less of it!)

So where are you in all this?  Are you already a conscious consumer when it comes to your waste, recycling, and using less?  What are your favorite creative re-uses for items?  What else can we add to this list of ideas?  Tell us your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

*Resource cited: Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Edward Humes

October Week 2 Action Item:OAMM Get Real Series

Each week we will try to give you some simple action steps to put this journey into practice. It is important that you start this journey by understanding yourself, your goals and perhaps your obstacles.
  1. If you don’t already do them, choose a couple things from the list above and give them a try.  Let us know how it goes this week!

October Get Real

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