I Challenged Myself To Go Trash-Free For A Month

THE IDEA

  • To use one trash bag for the entire month
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WHY IT MATTERS

  • One of the biggest benefits of the month was knowing exactly where my trash habits currently stand. After all, you have to diagnose the problem before you can start finding solutions.

WHAT’S NEXT

My partner and I live in a small rental apartment in New York City without a backyard and with a dog who must poop on the sidewalk. There was only so much I was willing to do in the name of no waste.

Instead, our goal was to use one trash bag for the entire month. It was a far cry from one mason jar, but it was certainly a baby step from what we’ve produced in the past. And more importantly, it was a goal we could (and did!) succeed at.

1. Look before you toss.
As a lesson in awareness, No Waste Month proved to be incredibly successful. I overthought my choices every time I approached a trash can. I did more research on tea bag packets than I’ve ever been motivated to do. And I proved through my own example that we’d all probably create less waste if we simply took the time to learn what we could and couldn’t recycle.

Some things required a quick Google search, but most of the time the information was written right on the back of the package. You just need to take the time to look.

2. Embrace inconvenience.
I vowed to get my mail-order shipping addiction under control during No Waste Month. But alas, I can’t quit you, Amazon Prime.

As much as those packaged food wrappers added up, they paled in comparison to the quantity of waste created from retail purchases and the extravagance of having them delivered to my door.

Living greener means buying less stuff and returning to the days when it was harder to do so at the click of a button. Unfortunately, when you shop online, you never know what kind of packaging your purchase will come in, so there’s no way to avoid bubble mailers and packing peanuts. Where we do have agency over is not using those materials ourselves. Choose envelopes made from recycled paper at the FedEx store, and avoid those bubbles at all costs.

But more importantly, put that Amazon Prime membership on hold for a month and try to remember what it was actually like to walk or drive to the store when you want something. A tall order for the holiday season, I know. So start getting those gifts out of the way now!

GO DEEPER

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WHAT DO YOU THINK?