Because how we spend our days is,
of course, how we spend our lives. Annie Dillard

Producing As Little Trash As Possible - Results

30 Day Challenge by Heather on October 6, 2014

trash-bin-filled-with-non-recyclable-plastic

September is over, along with my challenge to Produce As Little Trash As Possible.  

So how did I do?

Well, considering my husband and I only filled up one trash bag this entire month instead of the usual four...

I'd say pretty darn good!

I lessened the total amount of waste I generate on a daily basis by applying a new found awareness to every action I make, solidifying habits that help me to consume and dispose of less.

I redirected mounds of potential landfill waste by continuing to avidly recycle everything I can, and by embracing composting in my home for the very first time.

In the end, the lone trash bag at the end of the month was full, but surprisingly not at all heavy, as it mostly consisted of a variety of lightweight, non-recyclable plastics, including:

  • Cling wrap from restaurant to-go items (sandwiches, cookies, and other baked goods)
  • Produce packaging (cling wrap, netting)
  • Produce PLU stickers
  • Thin plastic packaging and wrappers for all types of food (string cheese, bacon, nuts, energy bars)
  • Bulk TP plastic wrapper
  • Disposable razors
  • Dental Floss
  • Drier lint
  • Snapped hair elastics
  • Fish tank filters
  • Clear plastic windows on junk mail

I am thrilled to have lessened our landfill waste so significantly, but I now strive to replace each item above with eco-friendly alternatives.  For starters, I swapped nylon dental floss that I typically purchase, which takes forever to decompose, with 100% biodegradable silk floss that I recently discovered. I also stumbled upon, and will now only buy, a brand of frozen berries that wraps their product in 100% biodegradable packaging. If I had a wood stove or fireplace, I would use the drier lint as a fire starter (one day!).

I know I can't do much about most of the items on the list, and I can be okay with that for now. But if someone informs me there are suddenly recyclable or biodegradable razors and fish tank filters on the market, you better believe I'll be taking advantage of that!

A true practice in compassion, this challenge has increased my awareness of a global problem, has strengthened my feeling of connection to the world, and has sparked the activist flame inside me.

I want to share with others the benefits and ease of recycling, composting, and other various habits to reduce landfill waste. I want to write a proposal to my office manager about the benefits of composting and get them on board with the Mr. Fox in-office composting service. I want to educate myself on a deeper level of other social issues and injustices, and live my life in a way so that I am not another unintentional source of the problem.

Doing something positive for myself, for others, and for the environment makes me feel like I have a real purpose, like I really matter and am actually adding to the good of the world.  As one who suffers from anxiety and occasional depression, this makes me happy, sets my mind at ease, and makes my heart feel full. 

I'm starting to think that all those books I've read about compassion being the true key to happiness weren't just messing around.  And anyone can benefit from these gratifying feelings of fulfillment, just as anyone can make the simple effort to start taking care of our planet.

So yes, this month I truly feel I've produced as little trash as possible, but I think next month, and the month after that, I can produce even less.

Because I can't think of one good reason to stop now.