Monday, January 12

How I Went 10 Years on Only 80 Trash Bags

In 2005 I bought a box of 80 (13 gallon) trash bags and didn't think much of it. I needed them, and I was out. A few years later I started to change. I was more eco friendly, and I started to really educate myself about such things. Two things happened: I discovered the Johnson Family and their zero-waste home, and I also found Beth Terry's "My Plastic Free Life" site after watching her TEDx Talk about how she lives without plastic.

These people inspired me so much! If they could do it so could I, or at least to some extent. It looked pretty easy too, and I could still live a convenient modern life. I decided that I was going to try to cut back on the amount of trash that I produced, by making a few simple tweaks.

Here's how I made my trash bags last:

1. Stopped buying food in packaging. This was huge, and probably accounted for most of my trash. It's just amazing how much food is in packaging. It was encouraging as well, because this made me reflect upon my choices. I started to go to the farmer's market to buy good fresh food, and I always brought my own re-usable bags. I even returned the food containers and rubber bands to the farmers to reuse because I didn't need them, and I would only end up throwing them away anyway.

2. Incorporated minimalism into my lifestyle. I was already a minimalist, I just didn't know that there was a word for it. When I started to study it, I realized how much I appreciated going through life lightly. I spent less on stuff, therefore I didn't have to throw much away, and I spent the money on quality experiences that enriched my life. I love to go out and travel, so this was a worthy trade.

3. Stopped buying things that I couldn't recycle. This mainly pertains to food as well. If the product wasn't in glass or paper, I typically didn't buy it. Metal and plastic can be recycled as well, but I don't like buying food that's packaged in them. Some plastics are tricky to recycle as well, and it's easiest on all of us that live on this planet if less is consumed. That, and I try not to bring too much plastic into my environment. I love natural items that are made from quality materials, so I buy those instead. Besides, they tend to last much longer and then I don't have to replace them so often.

This worked so well that I'm now finally finishing the box of trash bags from ten years ago. Going in, I would have never thought that I could have achieved that. I'm pretty excited about it, and I'm going to keep going.

These are the bags that I use now. They're actually green!

This year, I downsized my trash bin, and started to get biodegradable bags made from corn. Aaron and I get them from local farmers that give them to us for free when we purchase produce from their stand. They're so awesome! So we reuse some of these bags for the market, and then the rest for trash bags.

In the long run, it truly is an easy change to make. It's just about wanting to do it. If we all do our part, we can make the world a better place. That's why I do what I do, I'm happy to for all of us, and perhaps this will inspire you to make everlasting change as well.

We're all in this together, one less trash bag at a time.