Mt Airy Greening Network - MAGNet
How we reach zero-waste, well almost!

How we reached zero-waste, well almost!

Reciting the mantra of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, we've changed a lot of our habits. Curious about the Recycle part, we decided to weigh and log all our "trash". We did so for 7 months, from July 2002 till Jan 2003, with the intent to recycle all we could. I had even setup a new compost bin!

Averaging 100lbs/month, our 2-adult family's waste was composed of 28% mixed paper, 17% recyclable aluminum, glass, metal & plastic containers, and 2% that we took to a special recycling center in Pottstown. In addition, there was the 37% of food scraps that we composted. That's 84%. Only the remaining 16% went to the dumpster!

Some stuff we didn't think of weighing included clean plastic bags that we took to the supermarket's recycling bin, and reusable clothes & house wares that we took to local thrift stores. Of course, we try to carry canvas bags wherever we go, to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the liquor store, etc so we don't return with yet another plastic bag!

I was really proud of our numbers. Recently, however, when I shared these numbers with a friend, though he was impressed with the 84% diversion, he inquired what the remaining 16% consisted of. Aargh! I hadn't logged this! Still, since I maintain the habits from our 7-month waste analysis, it appears that the large & heavy items are mainly old shoes & tiles from a bathroom floor that needed a re-do. My friend said Nike recycles athletic shoes and artists (he's one) will take the tiles for mosaic projects.

So maybe we could have achieved 95% diversion! Sounds almost fantastic; that a zero-waste lifestyle can be within our all we need is a composting toilet, but I'm not certain how to get that past the condo association!

Created on April 29, 2004 by Meenal

page last updated: February 16, 2005.