In the spring of 2010 my husband Kris and I were featured in the Star Phoenix for our low-waste lifestyle. We moved into our home in May of 2009 and didn't need to roll out our 100 gallon garbage bin until May 2010. It wasn't an intentional challenge -- we just don't make much garbage.
I was shocked at how many people saw the article and commented on the effect it had on them. Even people that I assumed made very little garbage mentioned how it had made them reevaluate many of their habits. I'll admit I felt a little proud.
The question that people kept asking me was "how do you do it?" On the assumption that our Waste Watch readers might have the same question, I will be writing a regular article on just that: how to live a 'zero waste' life.
My philosophy is this -- there is no such thing as garbage. An item has to make it past a lot of 3Rs criteria before it lands in the one garbage can in the house. Number one, I avoid buying things that come in packaging that will undoubtedly become garbage. It's not as hard as it sounds. Number two, I reuse what I can and recycle or compost most everything else; and feel free to use your imagination here, because you're probably right.
There were only two of us in the house that first year, so to me it does not seem like that big of an accomplishment. Now we have a house mate with us for the winter and a baby on the way in June 2011, so I anticipate that things should get increasingly more challenging. Expect lots of interesting household and green parenting tips in upcoming issues.
Here is one small thing that I do to get more out of food that others might throw out: I make broth.
Meat broth: as I cut up meat for supper, I put a small pot of water to boil on the stove. I add all fat trimmings and bones to the pot, and let it simmer until the meat is well cooked. I let it cool, pour into yoghurt containers, label and freeze. Anytime a recipe calls for broth -- I have it! I feed the boiled bits to our accommodating black lab, or the garbage (but not the compost).
Veggie Broth: whenever I cut up vegetables and herbs, I put any cut off bits into a re-sealable bag in the freezer. Think celery and carrot ends, cilantro stems, onion skins etc. When the bag gets full I put them in a pot of boiling water, or the slow cooker if I can't babysit the pot. Cool, strain and package for freezing. Compost the strainings.
Soups are one of the most inexpensive and soul-satisfying winter meals. Real broth makes them more nutritious, and, in my opinion, far more delicious!