April Action toward transition - Zero Waste at Home

posted Apr 7, 2011, 10:10 PM by Ania Moniuszko

Don’t Just Recycle – Refuse!


Here are some of our favorite tips come from the fabulous, local blog “The Zero Waste Home” (zerowastehome.blogspot.com) whose motto – “Refuse-Reduce-Reuse … Recycle only as a last resort” -- we enthusiastically endorse.  Blogger Bea Johnson encourages everyone to not only reduce consumption but also to refuse store bags and wrappings and to make lots of your own food and products instead (why not make your own tooth powder?). She even takes glass jars to the market for fish, meat and cheese rather than having them wrapped in paper or bags. The result? “I can’t remember the last time I took out the trash,” Bea says.

If these tips (or others on the blog) inspire new ideas, please share them on the TransitionSF listserv.


These are “givens”:

- Arm yourself with a reusable water bottle, a couple grocery totes, a few cloth bags and reusable jars and bottles. And shop at farmer’s markets.


And now, Bea Johnson’s even more creative ideas:


- Welcome alternatives to disposables (paper towels, garbage liners, wax paper, aluminum sheets, disposable plates, cups, etc....): swap paper towels for reusable rags, swap sandwich baggies for kitchen towels or stainless containers, drop garbage liners all together (wet waste is mostly compostable anyways).


- Buy in bulk or at the counter and bring reusable bags (dry goods), jars (wet items such as meat, deli, fish, cheese, oil, peanut butter) and bottles (liquids: oil, soy sauce, shampoo, conditioner).


- At default of bulk, find a supplier (bring your jar to the ice cream shop, a pillow case to the bakery for your bread, or your bottles to the winery/brewery) ... or make it (mustard, salad dressing, hot sauce, jams, OJ, hummus, cookies, canned tomatoes).


- Use bulk castile soap as a dish/hand cleaner, baking soda as a scrubber (in a stainless Parmesan dispenser) with a compostable cleaning brush (a wooden one with natural hair). Choose dishwasher detergent in a cardboard box.


- Use 100% recycled and unbleached toilet paper individually wrapped in paper (if you have solar you could install an electrical washlet to your toilet sit).


- For shaving, (re)use a safety razor and shaving soap (usually wrapped in paper) or Alep soap (found in middle-eastern stores).


- Switch from toothpaste to homemade tooth powder, in a glass parmesan dispenser, and use compostable toothbrushes (Preserve brand).


- Reduce your cosmetics and consider homemade substitutes such as cocoa powder as bronzer and homemade balm that works on eyes, lips, hair and nails, and in lieu of disposable feminine products, invest in menstrual cup and reusable liners.


- Use zero waste cleaning: microfiber cloths for mirrors, hydrogen peroxide for mold, baking soda as scrub, a mix of baking soda and vinegar as drain cleaner.


- Laundry washing once a week saves time and dryer energy costs, use eco-friendly detergent, full loads, and cold water cycles as much as possible. Savon de Marseille, dishwasher detergent, lemon or hydrogen peroxide work great on stains.


- Dry on a line when possible.


- Make finger foods for larger parties and consider serving tap water with lemon slices instead of fizzy water.


- Transfer your music onto your iPod: Donate your CD player and CD’s for others to enjoy.


- Use refillable stainless pen/pencils, white board markers and highlighters and donate extra office material (paper, pencils) to your public school's art program.


- Start your personal junk mail war, cancel your phone directories, and sign up for electronic bills and statements.


- Ditch the trash can, strive to use your compost and recycling bins exclusively.


- Use your library to read business magazines and books, sell your books or donate them to your library for other people to enjoy.


- Use memory sticks and external drives instead of CD’s.


- Only shop a couple times a year to avoid compulsive buys.


- Buy mostly secondhand.


- Make room for compost, pee in your citrus and compost. Consider a worm compost for liquid fertilize.


- Return plastic containers to the nursery.


- Find bulk seeds.


- Find a bulk garden center, and get your dirt, rocks, compost, etc., in reusable sand bags.


- Install rainwater and gray water catchments (check your city ordinances for the latter).