Support for Your “Journey to Zero-Waste”

Since not everyone is on Facebook, I hesitate to devote a whole post to a Facebook group, but this Facebook group is a particularly great resource! It’s called the Journey to Zero-Waste group.

The people in this group are well-informed and really committed to reducing plastics and other waste in their households. Commenters offer excellent solutions for some tricky problems. I often run across discussions on questions that have never occurred to me, regarding minimizing household waste.

Recent threads include:

• A Mom wondering what to do when the kids always come back from their stepmom’s without their reusable lunchboxes because the stepmom tosses them in the trash out of spite. (Several folks recommended either giving the kids lunch money on the stepmom days, or wrapping their lunch in parchment and twine on those days. Or, buying an old-school metal lunchbox. Also, since the kids are teenagers, several people recommended making the kids responsible for preparing their own lunches and bringing home the containers.)

• People who want to quit buying canned sodas and other drinks in disposable containers, but aren’t sure what they’ll give their friends to drink when the friends come over. (Keep it simple with water and tea, one commenter suggested. A couple of other people recommended making simple and inexpensive but delicious homemade drinks such as lemonade, fruit slices in water, cucumber slices in water. I can attest to the success of all of these suggestions.)

• A woman wanting to get a tattoo, and wondering what the “zero-waste” take on tattoos would be. Short answer: For hygiene reasons there are certain components that have to be single-use; there is no way to have a zero-waste tattoo.

• People feeling self-conscious about bringing their own reusable dishes and utensils to parties. (Lots of good solutions, not only for convenient dish-carrying methods but also for constructive replies to people’s questions).

In this blog I set out to offer you practical tips and moral support for a low-footprint lifestyle. One of the best tips I can offer is: Draw from many sources! There are so many great resources out there for us. The Journey to Zero-Waste group is one great resource. I hope you like it as much as I do.

I have to admit that with a slew of holidays, birthdays, and parties lately, I’ve been buying more beverages in throwaway containers than usual. I really want to tighten up on that, especially since it’s been in the news that China isn’t accepting our recycling anymore. And I really don’t know where our recycling is going anyway. It’s always better to REFUSE or REUSE than to have to worry about where something goes once it leaves my custody.

Speaking of China, someone in the Zero Waste group posted a link to this article about a creative approach that some cities in China are using to manage their mountains of food waste. “Expanding Chinese cities are generating more food waste than they can accommodate in landfills, and cockroaches could be a way to get rid of hills of food scraps, providing nutritious food for livestock when the bugs eventually die …”

New Resource Alert! Shortly after posting this blog entry, I heard about a firm called TerraCycle that specializes in recycling items typically believed to be non-recyclable. I learned of TerraCycle via a post on the Journey to Zero-Waste group. One of the group members reports that she has set up a TerraCycle box in her office to collect people’s used “K Cup” coffee cartridges for recycling. From the TerraCycle website: “TerraCycle is Eliminating the Idea of Waste® by recycling the ‘non-recyclable.’ Whether it’s coffee capsules from your home, pens from a school, or plastic gloves from a manufacturing facility, TerraCycle can collect and recycle almost any form of waste. We partner with individual collectors such as yourself, as well as major consumer product companies, retailers, manufacturers, municipalities, and small businesses across 20 different countries. With your help, we are able to divert millions of pounds of waste from landfills and incinerators each month.”