Why do I have so much trash?
I’ve been home pretty much all day everyday for the last five months. Although the lockdown in Southern California has loosened its restrictions, I’m still spending most of my days at home. Because of that, I’m cooking more meals at home. While I’ve been saving money in that regard, I noticed that my use of paper and plastic products has increased exorbitantly. Three meals seven days a week adds up quickly. Think – dinner napkins, milk cartons, and plastic strawberry containers. In an effort to be more environmentally conscious, I decided to record how much paper, plastic, and food products I was consuming for a week. In the end, I wanted to determine the ways I can waste less and think green.
The first place I started with trying to go more green was with composting. Since this was my first time composting, I used a simple kitchen bowl. I was a little nervous about holding it in my refrigerator, to be honest. I imagined a swarm of flies hovering around my kitchen waiting for my fridge to open. Also, the bowl I chose was too big and ended up taking a lot of space in my fridge. After doing a quick search on Amazon, I found a lot of other good options I can use for next time.
Here is what I composted in compliance to the EPA:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Coffee grounds and filters
- Tea bags
- Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint
- Hair and fur
In the end, my fridge did not end up smelling, nor did flies swarm the kitchen. The compost bowl did fill quicker than I thought, which made sense since I was eating only at home. Seeing my food scraps go into that bowl after every meal made me stop and think more about the food I was preparing. When that next meal came around, I was more aware of how much I was using and consuming. Something I need to work on is using all of the food that I buy, rather than only using one ingredient for a single meal. Not only will that be smarter for my wallet in the long run, but it will also eliminate food waste.
While my simple kitchen bowl served me well, if I’m going to continue composting I’ll need to step-up my game. This sub-pod composter is next level and something I’m going to be saving up for. Bonus, it’s good for my garden as well!
Second on my list was recyclables. I’ve always been good at sorting out the paper, plastic, and cans, but I wanted to do more.
Things that I recycled are:
- Junk mail
- Printer paper
- Paper egg cartons
At the end of my week I filled two paper bags worth of items from the list mentioned above. Multiply that over a month and that’s a lot of paper products.
Here are some things I’m doing to change that:
- Unsubscribe myself from junk mail lists.
- Change my magazine subscriptions to online only.
- Opt to have my bills sent to me electronically.
This New York Times article provided more insight on this.
I also plan on buying some linen napkins to use instead. Currently in my kitchen are both paper towels and paper dinner napkins. I realized that one day while I was mid stride in my kitchen and wondered, “why do I have two paper products in the same room?” Granted, that’s how I saw it at home growing up, but now I can do something different. Heather Taylor Home, Anthropologie, and Pottery Barn all have some great linen options I’ll be looking into. Plus, I can swap them out throughout the year to fun, festive ones! It’s the little things, guys…I’ve been locked in my apartment for far too long.
Compostable Trash Bags
I shop a lot at Trader Joe’s and unfortunately, they use a lot of plastic for their produce.
The plus side about shopping at Trader Joe’s is their produce bags. Those are compostable and I use them as trashcan liners in my bathroom. The advantage to compostable trash bags is that they won’t end up as tiny pieces that wind up in the ocean. Columbia University has a great article discussing eco-friendly trash bags.
I took a note from Trader Joe’s, and have started buying compostable garbage bags for my kitchen.
These bags don’t have drawstrings that help tie them closed, and they don’t stretch as much as some of their competition. It can be a little annoying when I accidentally rip the trash bag while pulling it out of the bin, but that annoyance quickly fades away when I know it’s better for the environment.
The other part of my being more eco-conscious is just creating less trash altogether. Here are some other ways I’m trying to eliminate waste:
- Swap plastic sandwich bags for reusable ones
- Instead of plastic wrap, how about bee’s wax?
- Unpaper towels for cleaning around the apartment (plus, I love how colorful these ones are)
- Period underwear…enough said!
These are just a few ways I’m trying to make green choices. The more I learn, the more I plan on doing.