I recently received an email from Elise from Seattle, Washington who is going to have a No Trash Week in her Community on October 7th -13th! I think this is a fabulous idea. She asked for tips and I replied:
1. Plan Ahead!!!!
-at least a week before you start, go through your house and see if you already have packaged goods or things on the verge of breaking. Get rid of it before you start
-find stores in your area where you can get the things you need package free and stock up in bulk
-if you can’t find your favorite food or snack package free, try to make it. This project is hard enough without having to go without your favorite thing
-get food and snacks ready so you won’t be tempted to run to the convenient store
2. Pack a little garbage free kit to take with you when you go out- a hankie, a reusable cup, may be a plate or tupperware container if you think you will need to eat on the go, and at least one cloth bag.
3. Take some extra time before you leave the house in the morning to make sure you have everything you need to be garbage free that day
4.Go to businesses in slow times if possible so you have time to explain exactly what you want (don’t forget to smile) and why. Ex)” I am doing a project where I can’t make any garbage for a week. I would really like french fires and a drink, but I need you to put the fries in this (hand container) and the drink in this (hand cup) without using anything disposable. Is that possible?”
5. Don’t forget the small things-straws, price tags etc. (fruit stickers are the worst but if you buy your produce from local farmers you can avoid them, or you can pick through for sticker-less ones at the grocery store;) Get used to saying “no straw please” every time you order a cold drink.
6. This is a lot of work, if you are doing it with a group, use each other! Eat together, go out together-take turns making things you need.
For more long term:
-buy good quality products that won’t break as quickly or have replacement parts
-find your local community outlets-recycling depots, metal workers (who will sometimes accept your beer caps and bottle lids),web forums like Free-use and craigs list where you can give away broken or old things or find someone to fix them.
She has a website that I would recommend : http://notrashweek.com/
And just in case you decide to do it, I want to say it’s very hard, but don’t be discouraged. I try to keep this site on the positive site, but I don’t want to give you the false impression that it is easy. The key is to just do your best, and try not to be too serious. This week at the Farmer’s Market, I was hungry, so I stopped at the pre-made food stall. I asked for a spring roll and she reached for a bag. When I said “no bag please” she grabbed a napkin. I said “no no, I don’t want anything, just the spring roll please”, and she went on a big rant that went something like ” Oh I know your type. People come here all the time wanting to save the world by rejecting all the packaging, so go ahead, just touch all the food with your dirty little fingers…” I said, in a surprisingly calm and even voice, “I don’t want to save the world, I just want that lone spring roll. I don’t have to touch anything else to reach it, and I’m going to eat it.” She continued to rant as I was saying “how much is it?” over and over. I can’t believe that I actually bought it after all that, but I did. I won’t again. The key is finding people who are supportive of the project and make you feel good! The other incident this week was at Sears-not an environmentally friendly place to shop, but it was Sears Days, which means “Big Savings” and I needed nursing bras. I got two and they each came in a cardboard box. I approached the cashier and showed her my shoulder bag and explained that I brought it to avoid getting a plastic bag. She said “OK” and proceeded to wrap the boxed bras individually in tissue paper. I said ” Oh wait, no. I don’t want that. Can you use it again?” and she said “No, it’s all crinkly now” I said ” I really didn’t want any packaging at all-they are already in a box” and she said ” OK, I’ll use it for the next people”. Probably she trashed it as soon as I left, but I hope she really did use it again. These types of things are bound to happen, but I find it best to focus on the positive experiences. In doing so though, it is important to be aware, that it is not always easy, and not everyone is supportive.
P.S. For those of you wondering, I haven’t had the baby yet, but am expecting to any day!