One of the top themes I am asked about in regards to a less waste/ Zero Waste lifestyle is trash cans/trash bags. People are curious about how to best make the transition from a large kitchen trash can to a smaller (or no trash can at all). I also get asked a lot about trash bags and what to do about them. Here are my best tips for the transitional phase.
#1- Get rid of the big trash can. Visually this makes a HUGE difference with your habits. Get rid of the kitchen trash can and move the bathroom can into the kitchen. Having this visual reminder of size fill will help immensely.
#2- Talk about it with your family. Share with them why you’re so committed to this idea and get the rest of the family excited about it. Turn it into a game with the kids and show your spouse how much money you can save using reusable products over single use. Make it fun and lighthearted!
#3- Take the “single-use item challenge.” We outline it more on our blog here, this activity is profoundly eye opening about the number of items that are thrown away. Doing this alone helps significantly with the transition to a smaller trash can!
#4- Set up a station with all your bins. Place compost, trash, and recycling in the same area. Attach a print-out or list of what should go in each bin (check with your local recycling company, they generally have freebie printouts of what you can recycle). This will keep family members from dumping everything in the trash because they don’t want to go outside or to the mud room for compost and recycling.
#5- Rethink your waste. The majority of what gets thrown out should be recycled or composted. If you don’t have a compost pile at home post an ad on Craigslist offering free compost and drop it off on a regular basis, or contact your local health food store to see if you can add it to their bin.
#6- Consider your trash bags. As your waste becomes less and less, your need for trash bags obviously decreases. Most municipalities do require trash to be bagged. A few options are: compostable bags, reuse bags from items that you purchase packaged (such as onion and potato sacks, bread, frozen veggies, etc.), ask to share with a neighbor, or (once you’re generating an extremely minimal amount of trash) save it all in a jar to display your commitment to reducing your waste!
What has been most helpful for you as you’ve aimed to reduce your waste? What questions do you have about transitioning to a Zero Waste lifestyle? Let me know in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.