The Rubbish Diet Challenge Wrap-up

The eight week bin slimming challenge has come to an end and I’m proud to say we have successfully reduced our waste!  We went from one to two bags every week (which I thought was pretty good) down to one bag every other week.

How’d we do it?  First being aware of what it is we were throwing away was a good start.  From undertaking my Trash Diary the year prior, I knew we tossed a lot of paper towels, individual coffee cups, food waste and plastic packaging not recyclable in our area.  I focused on those areas first.

Paper towels were the first to go.  I moved the paper towel dispenser down to the basement and brought out dish rags as a substitute.  We also took away paper napkins completely and put a stack of cloth napkins on the counter.  Steve said to me the other day, “I don’t mind not using paper towels.” A complete 180 from when I introduced the idea and he grudgingly complied.

We had battles with our Keurig machine and the ubiquitous k-cups.  We fixed the leak problem with the refillable version and used zero k-cups during zero waste week.  It is a bit time consuming, so we’re exploring other options, but definitely on the right track of reducing this waste stream.

During zero waste week I avoided any disposable plastic container that couldn’t be recycled in our area, but over the course of The Rubbish Diet Challenge I learned that many more types of plastic bags were, in fact, recyclable near me.  That took a load off our rubbish bin.

Food waste was the biggest stream diverted.  We finally got a backyard compost bin (thanks Queens Botanical Garden)!  So our food scraps now go outside instead of in our trash bin.

My favorite week was zero waste week.  I had a few ‘ooops moments’ but dramatically slimmed down the amount of stuff we wasted by really thinking and planning first.

I must thank Karen Cannard for her brilliant challenge and amazing support during this effort!  You can meet all the bin slimmers and learn from their successes at her blog, The Rubbish Diet.

While the official challenge is over, we won’t be going back to our old ways.  We probably won’t strive for zero waste every week, but we will continue to think about what we waste and find ways to reduce it daily.

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About Amy Marpman

Director of Recycling Services at Great Forest, Inc. in NYC. Continually finding the balance of idealism with the practical realities that make or break recycling programs.
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