How to Start Reducing Waste in Modern America

By Kent Wang — Flickr: Kent Wang pocket square, CC BY-SA 2.0
  1. I made a bunch of handkerchiefs for my older son, who goes through tissues like it’s his paid job or something. If you aren’t a sewing person, you can buy handkerchiefs in the mens’ department of a department store, or just cut old T-shirts into 8x8 or 10x10 squares. Then rewash them until they fall apart. Next step: Make more for the rest of us.
  2. Ordered milk delivery. Believe it or not, the Bay Area has a milk man who delivers milk in glass bottles and picks them up for return the next week. We got our first delivery today so I don’t know how this will work out. Next step: Add other products for regular delivery that have returnable or no packaging (for example, I might change my CSA box because they’ve been putting everything in plastic lately).
  3. I cancelled paper delivery from Office Depot. We have a backlog and I need to do a better job using paper that has been printed on once as scrap instead of burning through new paper all the time. Next step: use one-side printed paper for grocery lists instead of fresh legal pads or post-it notes.
  4. I got a reusable coffee filter. Since it’s made of plastic (while the paper ones are compostable), I am uncertain about the long-term value of this. We’ll see.
  5. I’m throwing away the many shopping bags we have that were ripped or donating the ones that are too small to carry very many groceries. I identified the five best bags to use. I put them in my car, and return them to the trunk after use. For some reason, having fewer has made it easier to use them.
  6. I ordered Thinx, the underwear that you can wear for your period without a pad. I haven’t gotten them yet, but if I can eliminate even half of the waste from that whole process it will be a miracle. Next steps: Try them!
  7. I got a shammy to use for wiping up kitchen spills instead of using a dozen paper towels every time it happens (i.e. every other day).

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