Archive for week without trash

The Week Without Trash Wraps Up

So living completely without trash is a bust.

My downfall started Thursday at a trade show, when a free grilled cheese sandwich appeared at my booth at 2:30 p.m. after I hadn’t eaten lunch… on a styrofoam plate.

Compromises had to be made Friday for free decaf at Caribou, too. And/or a box of Junior Mints (I swear I haven’t had them for years. Something about not being able to have them did me in).

WALL-E is sad about my lack of willpower. Image from

But! There are several useful lessons I learned from my week “without trash”:

1. Buying bulk foods is really fun and easy (and cheap).

2. Cooking at home and then taking leftovers for lunch in a pyrex is delicious, cheap, and trashless.

3. Trash = money. The less trash I throw away, the less money I spend (I saved SO MUCH this week).
– I didn’t eat out or pay for coffee.
– I bought more basic foods at the grocery store, which aren’t taxed the same way as processed foods.
– I planned my eating a lot more carefully and wasted a lot less food.

4. Napkins, towels, and rags cut from old t-shirts are better than paper products.

5. If the produce will be peeled, it doesn’t need a plastic bag.

6. A worm bin would greatly reduce the amount of trash I produce.

I’m relieved to be able to guiltlessly eat chocolate and cheese again, but I think I’ll keep some of these habits going as long as I can. Buying in bulk really is fantastic – fewer preservatives, less packaging, and you control the amount you buy. Amazing!

If you have kids in schools, check out this article about encouraging your school to weigh its trash.


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On Being Green at Work

My colleague and I discussed green teams on our way home from a training today – how it’s really important for employees to own “greening” the workplace and come up with their own ideas about ways to save resources.

This green suit by Stacy Adams came from

Today, I discovered three ways work today was not conducive to being green:

1. Having to go to a meeting at a coffee shop that does not serve things in “for here” cups. It’s awkward not to buy something…
2. Having to drive places.
3. Having to pay to park places with exact change. Having to procure said exact change by buying things. Like Kit-Kat bars. Which I eat. And then dispose of the remains.

Of course, there are three ways work is conducive to being green:

1. Paying for a good portion of a bus pas as an employee benefit.
2. Having a refrigerator and microwave in the break room.
3. Providing reusable cups, silverware, and dishes in the break room.

There are others who have thought about this a lot more than I have:
* Jill Velez from Whole Foods discusses ways to green up the workplace (thanks to Regi for the link!)

* Robin from Green Options shares 5 ways to green your coffee.

* Stephanie Rosenbloom and Michael Barbaro for the NY Times chart Wal-Mart’s rise to the top of the (green business heap?)

In other news, don’t forget to shop at thrift stores. You may just find an $8000 work of art.

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Chocolate Bar

Confession: I ate a chocolate bar. With a wrapper.

To appease my guilty conscience, I recycled the outer paper wrapper and turned the inner wrapper into a Valentine.

Here are a couple I’ve made – trying to take this picture really makes me appreciate the good photographers on Etsy. It’s tricky to get good shots of greeting cards. The one in the middle is made out of, you guessed it, recycled CDs. 10 CDs down, 40 to go…

Now I’m off to go unglue my fingers.

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Worm Bins and Potato Chips

Another day, another day without trash..! 3 down, 4 to go.

I almost broke down and went to McDonald’s today. I saw the woman at the security desk with her McDonald’s bag and really, really wanted to take it away from her. But no – I held strong, and remained trashless – and probably added about a week to my heart’s lifespan. McDonald’s marketing people are darn good.

To deal with the compost/veggie scrap situation, my cousin Karen recommended I get a worm bin. This may be my next venture, although I don’t really have a good place to harvest compost. Maybe if I join a community garden in the spring?

In other news, Potato Chip Dave went a whole year making only 30.5 pounds of trash and recycling. Here I was thinking I was so clever with my paltry week without trash! Dave, an L.A. steadycam by day, wanted to show you can reduce your waste while still consuming the potato chips and beer you love – so he did.

image from

Today’s trashless accomplishment: I have now successfully trained myself to use the hand blow dryers – an amazingly tough habit to re-train myself to do.

In bizarre news – if only I could convince my building’s property management company to install poetry in the restrooms like this Japanese experiment, maybe we would all use a little less toilet paper.

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Trashless Weekday

An update from your trashless incipient bag lady:
I have a really impressive collection of last week’s produce bags growing in a cupboard. I need to sew myself some reusable bags out of old T-shirts or cheesecloth or something.

In other news, I have not found the medallion. I did, however, have a delicious trashless dinner:

Grown-Up Mac & Cheese (recipe appears courtesy Eve Thomas)
– Saute diced onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms in olive oil.
– Cook whole wheat pasta.
– Melt cheese with milk and a spoonful of flour.
– Mix together in a casserole dish, top with bread/cracker/matzo crumbs. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.

I made it through the work day having thrown away only two sticks of gum – a bad, bad habit held over from my junior high days – and a couple of paper towels when I forgot to use the hand dryer. Oh, and I also threw out a couple of disinfectant wipes at the gym. I tried to leave my treadmill unsanitized and the desk attendant gave me a dirty look.

So we’re up to about a ziplock baggie full of Jenntrash this week.

Things I learned today:
1. I have an instinct to reach for paper towels when things go wrong. It’s like my adult baby blanket.
2. In the end, it’s not really possible to buy anything at Trader Joe’s except apples and lemon curd without creating plastic waste.

Thanks for sticking through this with me.. 2 down, 5 to go!

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No-Waste Grocery Shopping

I love my coop’s bulk foods section – it’s actually cheaper to buy whole wheat pasta, brown rice, granola, etc. Do I sound like a tree hugger much? “Ooh, granola… brown rice…” Chocolate covered espresso beans are expensive – $13 a pound – but totally worth it. Espresso bean treats aside, I spent a lot less on groceries this week.

As my mom is wont to say about my vegetarian diet, “Where’s the protein?!” I have a carton of tofu and about 12 cans of black beans I’m working through from last week… not so much in keeping with my rules, but I’ll make the exception.

The only things I bought in new containers were yogurt (impossible to buy except in plastic tubs), and this fig spread and sheep cheese that came in cute glass jars that I want to pot things in. I returned my Castle Rock bottle for my $1.50 deposit (yesss!) and bought bulk eggs in an old crate.

In other news, I broke a pie plate on its way to Goodwill – the kind of tempered glass that can’t be recycled. Sigh. Klutziness is not green, but perhaps cannot be helped.

For dinner, we got deli sandwiches at Nelson’s – at least we only threw away a piece of wax paper.

Tally so far: grapefruit peels, carrot tops, fallen tortilla, fallen pie plate, wax paper.

1 day down, 6 to go.

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Day Without Trash #1

My first 12 hours of trashlessness: HARD, and not nearly as trashless as I would have imagined they could be.

For one, I have a lot of food sitting around in packages from grocery shopping last week: tortillas in a plastic bag. Cheese in a plastic wrapper. Grapes in a plastic bag. I can keep these bags for my trip to the grocery store, but I already have some pretty bag-ladyish tendencies (see the collection of cardboard boxes under my bed) and very little storage space. I’ll just keep them until I can’t, I guess.

Two, I’m a clumsy person. I drop a lot of things. It’s helping to have a kitchen towel and cloth napkin on hand at all times, but when food goes on the floor…

Three, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to eat at home. Today is busy: between 3-hour choir rehearsal and a fundraiser, Caleb’s going to spend most of the day in a different part of the city. I sent him with a home made veggie platter for choir treats this morning, but didn’t make it to the grocery store to find something for us to eat for dinner en route from Roseville to Como.

Still, so far I’ve only thrown away carrot tops, grapefruit skins, and a tortilla I dropped. If only I had a compost pile..!

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