Sustainable Waste | The 1st R: Reducing. The Zero-Waste challenge

To see just how tough it is to go zero-waste, Earth911 Mary Mazzoni took on on a Seven-Day Trash Fast Challenge – striving to produce as little waste as possible for one week.

Getting prepared for zero-waste

Inspirated by the zero-waste Johnson family, Mary decided to get ready some reusable replacements for common single-use items ahead of time – making it easier to avoid throw-away products and reduce waste throughout the week. Being prepared with reusable solutions ahead of time it’s the only way to go reduce waste a little bit easier and with more confidence.

Survival Kit:

However, eliminating waste from day-to-day life goes way beyond avoiding disposables while on-the-go. After preparing only one meal at home, I filled my jar about a fifth of the way with non-recyclable food packaging, and it became clear that I would need to precycle to keep the week’s waste in check. What is precycling? To proactively choose products without packaging or with packages that can be recycled. One way to do it is shopping products packed in cardboard boxes, glass jars and steel cans, rather than other packaging. A step forward is  buying food supplies in bulk and bringing items home in cloth bags and glass jars, which significantly reduces household waste.

Food waste accounts for 18% of the total municipal solid waste in the UK, according to DEFRA. Starting with whole produce rather than prepackaged alternatives for daily meals is a common waste-saving step, but what about the fruit and veggie scraps left over after you’re finished chopping? Compost! Or give it to a friend that does it!

After five days of the challenge, Mary’s jar was only about half full. She was feeling good, but knew the weekend would be especially difficult. Takeout waste is difficult to recycle. So, what’s an eco-friendly way to do? Mary looked around for local restaurants that offered takeout food in recyclable packaging. But despite my efforts, she end up with a cut-up foam clamshell in my jar by the end of the weekend.

After seven low-waste days, Mary’s 16-ounce spaghetti sauce jar was full, but not overflowing. She was able to cut her waste from what would have been 31.5 pounds over seven days (based on the 4.5 pounds-per-day average of Americans) to only one pound. That would mean producing around 52 pounds a year, about 1,590 pounds less than the national average. If every American did this, US would save 49 billion pounds of rubbish!

Have you ever tried to go for zero waste? Do you have your own methods for achieving a zero-waste home? 



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