Ryan found this website called Zero Waste Home. As the name implies, it's about a family who has committed to minimizing the amount of trash they generate. By trash, I mean items that get sent to the landfill - they reuse, compost, recycle and repurpose as much as possible. They are entirely committed to the cause and have educated those they interact with not to give them things that will generate trash. They don't buy packaged foods that come in wrappers that will have to be thrown away, etc. The picture above is supposedly the entire amount of their "trash" from a whole year for a family of four (click the pick to go to their website). Ryan was interested in this idea and started thinking about whether we could further reduce our trash.
100 Days of Real Food
Around the same time, I came across the site called 100 Days of Real Food. This family is focused on only eating fresh, wholesome food. They got rid of processed foods, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors and all sorts of unknown chemicals and questionable food preparation processes. They challenge people to try to cut out processed foods for even as little as 10 days. Now, I know there are a million different sites that have different theories on what and how we should eat. I know everyone has their own opinion. But I think most people agree that we could all benefit from eating more fresh fruits and veggies and less "junk". I've always been a fan of homemade food and the idea of getting rid of packaged foods intrigued me.
Then I started to realize that the two ideas really go together - if you get rid of the processed (ie packaged) foods you will be already generating less trash! So we're going to start reducing our trash first and it will force us to eat less junk that way.
Phase 1 Goals
Now, I don't have the time or energy to just drastically change everything we do and start making everything from scratch. That sounds like a good way to get burnt out and just go back to our old ways. So we are gong to gradually phase things out. Here are our rules for phase 1:
- Don't bring home ANY plastic bags (grocery bags, shopping bags, produce bags, etc). All you have to do for this one is remember your reusable shopping bags! I am keeping some in both our cars so we always have them. I am eventually going to make some mesh bags for produce too, although so far I've been fine without them
- Stop buying any "single serving" products (cheese sticks, yogurt cups, slim jims, protein bars, granola bars, candy, soda cans, etc). You don't necessarily have to stop buying those products, just don't buy them individually wrapped. For example, instead of buying cheesesticks I bought a block of cheese, cut it into strips myself and bring them in a tupperware that i can re-use. Instead of yogurt cups, I buy a big tub and scoop it into a small container that i can wash. This is also a good time to start trying out some new recipes to replace snacks or foods you used to buy. I'll share some of our favorite replacements later!
- Start checking out the local farms and farmer's markets. Find out what fresh produce, dairy and meat are sold in your area. I know there are some farmer's markets near me that I've driven past a ton of times and never stopped at. Even if you don't buy something, go see what they have available!
See? That doesn't sound so hard does it? Now, don't waste things you already have. If you have a case of sodas or a box of protein bars - of course you can eat them. By letting things gradually run out it also gives you a little more time to decide if/how you are going to replace them. Leave a comment if you want to try out this little experiment with us or if you want some advice on how to replace something you currently buy single-servings of - i'm no expert but I'll happily tell you what i would do!