Day 29-30

Today marks the final day of my challenge. I can not believe it has already been a month! Someone just asked me if I was happy it was over and I blurted out "yes" with out even skipping a beat. I am not happy it is over so I can start being wasteful, I am happy that it is no longer a challenge and I can start to just make it a way of life.
It was a great experience and I really encourage others to try 30 days for themselves. You really get a chance to be more mindful about how you live, what you use and what you throw away. It also forces you to look further into how much you can recycle and to be a more thoughtful consumer.
The great thing I learned the other day is that you can recycle soft plastics. Plastic bags, food bags and packaging, plastic wrap, etc.
At the end of the month this was the trash I had made, barely half of a paper shopping bag.

But after discovering I can bring my soft plastics to the recycling center (the one bummer is that you can not put them in the blue recycling bin) I had made even less trash this month!

So at the end of 30 days here is the trash I made. Lots of little odds and ends but nothing to major. I wasn't entirely "trash free" just in case any of you had placed bets ;) however I gave it a concerted and thoughtful effort.

What I am most excited about is that the challenge doesn't end with my 30 days! Ashley has been following my blog closely and asking great questions. She has decided to continue with her own "No Trash 30 Day Challenge" and I can't wait to read it. So keep checking in and passing the blog along to more and more people!
Who knows, maybe someone will take up the challenge in August.
Thanks for staying interested and stay tuned for more!


One persons trash is another persons TREASURE!

My boyfriend and I moved into our apartment last November and neither of us had very much furniture. We now had a lot of space and nothing to put in it. I have always loved a good antique or thrift store. If you go often enough you will hit it just right and find the most perfect thing whether you were looking for it or not.
Now that I have started my challenge shopping second hand is even more important to me. And believe me I have fond GREAT stuff!

If you live in the Boston area and are looking for furniture I suggest driving out to the Salvation Army store on Route 1 in Saugus. They have a regular Salvation Army store in the front facing the street but if you drive around to the back there is a HUGE furniture garage.

Now I know from the picture it looks a little junky and on this particular day the garage was not in top form but trust me you can find some really nice stuff here. If you like retro and vintage pieces this place can be a gold mine and the stuff is so reasonably priced.
Below are a few things I have scored there;

I only buy the furniture that is in excellent condition and a lot of the time the stuff looks brand new.

Craigs List is also a great place to find things you may have been looking for. I had been wanting a chaise lounge since we very first moved in. I looked all over and found a few I liked in places like, Ikea, West Elm, Crate and Barrel, You know, all of the places you look when trying to make a house a home ;)
When I started to think about the trash I would make buying a huge piece of furniture I turned again to Craigs List.
Look what I found!!!

Now, this piece may be a little to eclectic for some but I have friends who have bought beautiful Crate and Barrel bedroom sets on Craigs List as well. You can really find almost anything on Craigs List.

Throughout most of my 30 day challenge I have been mostly looking at the little things. The day to day trash I make, however bigger purchases make bigger trash so it is even more important to look for alternatives.

I am really happy to say I have completely furnished my apartment by shopping on Craigs List, GoodWill, Salvation Army and the Cambridge Antique Market. Not only did I not make trash but I saved a few things from becoming trash.
That definitely makes the heart feel good.


My chipped polish had to go.......

First off let me start by saying that if you are trying not to make trash than you should not get a mani/pedi. Skip the nail salon and paint the pigglets at home. I wasnt really thinking when I went in to get mine before attending a wedding last weekend. Most places use disposable slippers and toe separators but at least all the tools are steralized and reused.
Any way, I had waited until the last minute to remove the chipped polish because I always end up using so many cotton balls and tossing them in the trash.

But then I found this little sock in my drawer tht didn't have a match. Voila! I just put this sock in the laundry with my other cleaning rags and I can use it over and over again!
The sock worked even better than the cotton balls and what a great way to use a single sock!


Day 24

Yay for summer and for farmers markets!!

These goodies came from the Tuesday farmers market in Copley Square. Even when i am not trying to be trash free I like to buy as many of my groceries as I can at the local farmers markets during the summer. I wish we could shop there all year round. Damn those East Coast 8 month winters!!


Day 19-22

Last week was going to have been my best week yet! I had made about three pieces of trash. However I hardly spent money on anything and not shopping really helps not making trash.
I was getting ready for my trip to Virginia and knew to bring an extra bag for any compost, recyclables or trash I might make that I would need to bring back with me.

I started by packing food to take with me for the plane rides and didn't partake in any plane beverages or snacks. I even kept all of my food scraps in a plastic bag so that when I got home I could put them in the compost. I was off to a great start!

Oh man I was bummed when we stopped for dinner in downtown Charlottesville and the appetizer came in a basket with wax paper that could not be recycled! I did however bring all the paper napkins home to toss in the compost.

I hate to say that from there it just got worse. I did a little shopping but since I never took a bag I didn't really make trash except for the tag and receipt. Food was a huge problem though. Even with thinking ahead and being prepared I still wound up with a lot of styrofoam and paper plates. Now, these things can be recycled but it was just such a bummer knowing how many places use this stuff. I carried my new Sigg water bottle with me everywhere so at least I was covered when it came to water.

At the end of the weekend this is what I came home with:

All in all not to bad. I definitely skipped out on some things I would have liked to buy but at the end of week three I am still making about the same amount of trash as the first week.

I have 8 days to go. I think I am going to be a little more strict with myself for this final week and see how I do.


Who's turn is it next?

What an exciting idea someone shared with me! They liked the idea of the 30 day No Trash Challenge so much they wanted to take it on themselves. My 30 days ends June 30th and I would love nothing more than for someone to start a new challenge on July 1st. Maybe after their 30 days was up someone else would take on the challenge of August. Imagine to generate so much interest that we continue the challenge for an entire year!
So come on, who is up to the challenge? Do I hear August? Do I hear September?

On another note; I haven't had much to report because I have been doing so well! No trash here! I think I have 3 pieces of trash in my cigar box.

Here is a sweet little picture to get you all inspired.


Stop that junk mail!

We all get unwanted and unsolicited mail. Because of identity theft many people tear it up and throw it away. Some people put it in a paper shredder. Because of the window envelopes most of this junk mail never makes it to the recycling bin.
Since I am on the crusade to help reduce trash I thought I would share some info I found.
Below are some helpful hints to remove yourself from unwanted mail.

First class mail: Cross out the address and bar code, circle the first class postage and write "refused: return to sender". Drop in any mail box, it will be returned to the sender.

Bulk mail: The post office throws away bulk mail it can't deliver, so returning it does no good. Bulk mail is the hardest to deal with because the USPS actively provides addresses, support and encouragement to mailers. However, if "address correction requested" is written on the label: circle "address correction requested" and treat like first class mail.

Sexually Oriented Advertising (SOA):The only help you'll get from the Post Office in controlling junk mail is for explicit stuff. Fill out USPS forms 1500 if you wish this type of mail to stop. You define what you find to be explicit -- if that's an automobile parts catalog the post office won't disagree with you.

Credit offers: The major credit agencies all sell aggregate credit information any bidder. Direct mail and credit companies generate mail based on demographics including zip code, income band and credit payment patterns. Stopping this is easy, you just need your address, former address within two years, and social security number. One call does it all for agencies Equifax, Trans Union, Experian and Innovis. Dial 1-888-5 OPT OUT (or 1-888-567-8688) 24 hours a day.

Catalogs: Call the company's 800 number and have the label handy.
Write your instructions on the mailing label and fax it to the company. Mark "ATTN: customer service".
Tear off the label, write your instructions on it, and enclose in the postage-paid ordering envelope. Mark envelope "ATTN: customer service". This method is the least effective.

AOL (America On-Line): You could pave the nation with the free discs these people send out, call 1-800-605-4297 (24 hours a day) to get off the list. Tell them your first name is "current", last name "resident".

Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes: You can get the Clearinghouse to stop clogging your mailbox by contacting customer service at 1-800-645-9242 (8:30 am to 8:30 EST), sending a fax to 1-800-453-0272, mailing to 101 Channel Drive, Port Washington, NY 11050, or you can send email to pch@ant.net. PCH will remove any number of names from a specific address, but you have to list each name exactly and insist nicely.

American Family Sweepstakes: Ed McMahon and Dick Clark will stop telling you "You have definitely won 11 million dollars (maybe) " if you call them at 1-800-237-2400. AFP is a division of Time-Warner.

Local business & supermarket fliers: All mailings must be identified, by postal regulations. Each lose-leaf bundle of fliers, by postal regulations, must be delivered at the same time as an address card. Locate this address card; the cards usually have an advertisement and a photograph of a missing child. Call directory assistance to get the phone number of the sender, and call to get off the list:

ADVO (Mail comes with pictures of missing children). Call 1-860-285-6100 to get off the list. You may have to send a
postcard to "ADVO Consumer Assistance, POB 249, Windsor CT 06095-4176".

Val-Pak Coupons: click the link and fill out the form - easy, but don't give them your email address.
Carol Wright Call 1-800-67-TARGET to get off the list.

Your local newspaper & supermarket (look for a phone number on the piece).
Most senders are professional companies which will handle your request politely. "ADVO Mailbox Values" and "Harte Hanks Potpourri" are the most common of these mailers. Your local supermarket's monthly coupon books may be handled by these companies, so be sure to specify if you want to continue to receive those. Your letter carrier is accustomed to giving each house a bundle, so you may also need to inform him or her of your action separately. The post office is prohibited by law from delivering unaddressed mail, so you should have little trouble convincing the carrier.

Too much junk to deal with individually: Start by sending a postcard or letter to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, PO Box 643, Carmel, NY 15012-0643 Include your complete name, address, zip code and a request to "activate the preference service". For up to five years, this will stop mail from all member organizations that you have not specifically ordered products from.

The Direct Marketing Association estimates that listing with their mail preference service will stop 75% of all national mailings. They process 50,000 requests a month and requests are kept active for five years. If you fill out the post office change of address form, the DMA will track the new address (you'll get a few months of mailings to the new address before they catch up to you). It can take up to six months for your request to be fully processed. You can also opt-out online, but they charge $5. The best way is to fill out their online form, then mail them a printout.

Hope that helps!


Days 12-15

The week had been going great. I hadn't made much trash and I found a great new kitty litter that can be flushed in the toilette and put in the compost. It was the second biodegradable litter I had tried. The first one was made of little pine pellets. it was fabulous at hiding odor but after just a few days the pellets had turned to sawdust and the kitties did not like this at all! After one night of protest from our little furry housemates I ran out and bought the "Worlds Best Kitty Litter".

I know other people who use this as well. I highly recommend. The kitties love it, the house doesn't smell and it doesn't make trash.
Three cheers for the Worlds Best Kitty Litter!

After the success of the litter things took a turn for the worst. I had been doing so well up till now but I had also been making some sacrifices along the way which had definitely been making it easier to not make trash. I wasn't going shopping on a whim, I wasn't eating out, I really was keeping my spending to a minimum. The conclusion I came to was the more money I spend the more trash I make. The other conclusion I came to is that I make the most trash when it comes to food.

For instance going out to eat. Most of the time the portions are to big for me to finish. Next time I go out to eat I will bring a container with me for my food scraps/leftovers and bring them home. Unless the establishment uses "to go" containers that I can either re-use or recycle. On this particular morning I had left the house hungry for breakfast and not thinking ahead. If I had been prepared I would not have left the food on my plate to be tossed into the restaurants trash.
*note, I at least finished the fruit ;)
Paper napkins are also a problem at most of the restaurants I go to. I really should bring a cloth one with me and hand the napkin back to the waiter for them to use on the next person. But if I am unprepared and not thinking ahead I can always bring the paper napkin home and put it in the compost.
Yes! You can put some paper in the compost too.

I wish I had taken a picture of the contents of my bag after the Roller Derby on Saturday night. Plastic beer cups, styrofoam plates and cardboard popcorn boxes. Now, not all of these things were mine but I didn't want the people I was with making trash on my time so I brought it all home and it went in my recycling bin.

After almost two weeks of not shopping you can imagine my itch to consume. I brought an extra bag from home so all the trash I was really making was the little tags and most of them could be recycled. However I found an amazing deal at the earring store and had to stop myself after two pair since the plastic backing they came on could not be recycled.

To Spit or To Swallow?

Get your dirty mind out of the gutter you pervert. I am talking about the piece of gum I got from a friend. Not until I was happily chewing away did I stop to think "what I am going to do with this gum when I am done chewing"?

I just couldn't bring myself to swallow it. They say it stays in your intestines for like seven years! So I trashed it. :(

At the end of week two I had made less trash than the week before so that was great news. I was bummed because I was really trying for no trash but I still have two more weeks to nail this thing. Next weekend I am going to a wedding in Virginia. I am really going to have to do some planning and thinking ahead so I am prepared for any trash I might make.
Stay tuned for the update! ;)


Day 9 - 11

Biodegradable Floss!!
I bought this at the Harvest Coop in Central Square in Cambridge but I know you can find it at other health food stores and of course at Whole Foods.
What I am finding to be the biggest bummer about the earth friendly alternatives is the price. This little box of floss is five bucks! Luckily floss lasts awhile but with such a high price tag it doesn't make it easy to be trash free. The sweet thing is that after I am done flossing my teeth I can put this right in the compost.
A nice thought my boyfriend brought up when I was complaining about the cost of my "non -trashy" alternatives was this; "We either pay the price up front at the register or we pay the price down the road with the damage to our planet".
I personally would rather pay the price now.

The next change I made to my lifestyle over the past few days was with feminine products.

There are actually quite a few options to choose from and you can find them at health food stores or order them online.
I chose these two. They definitely take awhile to get used to and may not be for everyone. Maybe even not for me but I decided I would at least try them during my challenge.
Many people were recommending the Diva cup to me and to those people I would like to ask "have you actually tried the Diva cup or have you just heard about it?"
I will say I am giving it a concerted effort. I find it to be more or less comfortable and It worked great over night. It's not the easiest thing to use and I don't recommend it during the day if you will have to be using a public restroom, like at work. Give it a try and see if it is right for you, at the very least you and your girlfriends can laugh about it later.
I haven't tried the sponges yet but I am guessing it will be more of the same.
Was that a little TMI? I feel like that was a little TMI. But hey I am deep in week two and have made barely any trash so thats good news!


What's in that box?

After my last post someone asked me to take a close up shot of what exactly was in the cigar box. I dumped the contents out on the table to give you all a better look at what ended up getting thrown away. What I noticed when I did this was that a lot of this trash was from things that I had bought before I even thought about doing this challenge. Some of the trash was from things people had brought over, like some yummy carrot cake cupcakes!

So what my trash consists of is the following:

The piece you pull off the Netflix envelope to seal it shut
The wrapper from the cork of a wine bottle (well actually a couple of wine bottles)
Some twist ties that were to junky to re-use
A plastic bag that a veggie burger was in
A few staples
The wrapper from a Band-Aide
The wrapper from some yummy cheese (again, someone brought this over)
A "pre approved" credit card that came in the mail (a kind of plastic that can not be recycled)
The big sticker that comes on prescription bags
Little packets of soy sauce and wasabi from take out sushi (when buying the sushi I knew I could recycle the container but forgot about the little packets so I won't be doing that again)

Little things here and there that I didn't think about when I first started the challenge. Each day it gets a little easier and the more I plan ahead the less trash I make.


Days 6-8

1 Week down and 3 to go! I have learned so much about myself and my trash making habits and also have gotten some great feedback from people. One of my friends even wanted to take on the challenge herself. Imagine if trying to not make trash became a hot new trend! Not making trash could be the "new black".
With all of the positive reinforcement I am excited to get started on week 2 so thanks to everyone for all of the support.

Saturday was compost day. I brought my green bucket (which was packed to the brim) to the recycling and compost center. It turns out the residents of Cambridge have responded so well to the pilot program the city is going to extend the program past July. That just makes me so proud to be a resident of the city of Cambridge!
Did you know that a pound of compost equals a pound of carbon not released into the atmosphere. Maybe next week I will weigh my bucket so I know how much carbon I saved from being released!

After I dumped the compost it was off to Vermont to visit the family. What I have found during the "No Trash Challenge" is that to not make trash you have to always be thinking ahead.

The drive is about 4 hours and we always get hungry for snacks. There are plenty of places along the way to pick something up but we all know what the floor of the car can look like after a road trip, littered with trash!

To avoid this I packed a little tailgate picnic. It was fresh watermelon, strawberries, cheese and crackers for us! All packed in tupperware containers that I could pack again for the ride home.

It was a great first week. I did make a little trash but I am not going to be to hard on myself. I have found great alternatives in places where I saw myself making trash. At the end of the week all the trash fits in this little cigar box.

I hope to make even less in the following week.
Stay tuned!


Day 5
Tonight we were having dinner guests and I was craving steak. That meant making a trip to my favorite place to buy meat.

I have been a vegetarian and vegan on and off in my life for 17 years. I know all the arguments on both sides. That being said, now I am a meat eater. Since I know the meat industry is the root of all evil I always try to find the most humane and earth friendly place to buy the meat i eat ;)

If you live in the Boston area, or are up for an out of the way trip, you have to go to Lionette's.
They are located in the South End of Boston on Tremont St.
Not only does the meat come from healthy grass fed cattle (they have fish and lamb too!) its all local!

The meat comes wrapped in paper which after you rinse off can be recycled. No plastic wrap or styrofoam here!

The one downfall I see to Lionette's is the price. It is definitely a little pricey. I don't cook steak often so I usually go there. If you don't live in the Boston area and don't want to pay the high price, I suggest finding your local butcher when buying chicken, steak, ground beef, lamb, even bacon.
I believe most butchers use a similar wrapping paper. If not you should ask them to start!

A trip to the meat area at the supermarket can be a trash nightmare with all of that extra packaging. I know some of it can be recycled but, I am not only trying to be trash free, I am also trying to use less. So from now on it's the butcher for me!
(I also love chatting up the butcher and getting cooking tips.) Its a total win/win situation.


Day 4

I was doing pretty well until 11:30am when I tore into a Band-Aid. I had a terrible blister on my heel (thanks, summer shoes) and didn't even realize what I was doing until the Band-Aid was stuck on. I don't even think there is a sanitary alternitive for Band-Aids and don't you just hate when you find dirty old Band-Aids lying around. Like, stuck in the sand at the beach or floating in the water. Yuck!

Luckily, after the Band-Aid incident and a few staples in a packet a co-worker handed me, I didn't make any more trash. In fact, my office trash can would have been empty at the end of the day if my co-worker hadn't tossed her coffee cup in there! Hmm, maybe I should get her a re-usable mug... Her birthday is coming up.

For dinner, I had some leftover quiche. Yummy! It was even better the second night. Yay quiche!


Day 3

I had every intention to go to the compost drop-off center after work today, but the bucket wasn't quite full yet and all I really wanted to do was get a bottle of wine and head home. So except for the foil wrapping on the top and the cork, I hadn't made any trash.

The reality is that even with all of my efforts I am still making a little trash. It's not much, in fact it all fits in a little cigar box right now. At the end of the week I will post a photo of all the trash I have made. Maybe in week two I will make even less!

The Refrigerator Special!!

Most people would just call this a quiche which, in actuality, it is. But it is also so much more than just a plain ol' quiche -- it's part of my challenge to not be wasteful. The veggies were on their way to becoming compost and while I didn't want a salad for dinner, I also didn't want to just throw them away. So with the leftover zucchini, mushrooms and spinach I made an excellent dinner! It also made for a quick & delicious breakfast when I woke up late on day 4.

I didn't have the ingredients to make the pie crust, so I ended up buying it at Whole Foods. The aluminum pie dish can be recycled and I can re-use the plastic bag it came in the next time I buy veggies.

Oh, I have never loved quiche so much!


Day 2

Monday June 2nd
So far so good! Aside from the tea bag I had left in my mug over the weekend and the sticker on my bottle of cranberry juice, I haven't made any trash. I got to pack my lunch in the cool new lunchbag I bought over the weekend!

We have a great little shop here in Cambridge that sells all sorts of post-consumer recycled goodies. Not to mention biodegradable and non-toxic cleaning supplies. So if you are in the Cambridge area, make sure to stop by Greeward in Porter Square!

Plus, check out my cool green bowl. I bought this awhile ago
from Whole Foods and I just love it. It makes me so happy to eat my
lunch out of it. :)


And so it begins......

Sunday June 1st:
First day of the challenge proved to be quite a "challenge". Also exhausting! By the end of the day my head hurt from all the attention I was giving to not making trash. I had literally made enough trash to fit in the palm of my hand.

Here are a few things that I will need to find a way around as I continue through the month.

Why if there is already a bar code on everything and a tag on the shelf must they put a little price sticker on every single thing?! Even organic fruit! Luckily it is summer and I know of some farm stands I can go to but that limits me to what is in season and close to my area. In the meantime, I'll just pick through every apple and
find the ones they missed!

Now most tags are paper/cardboard and can be recycled. But every tag
is attached by a little piece of plastic and I don't believe it is the
kind of plastic that can be recycled. I mean, they even stuck my poor
pineapple with one of those!

Rubber bands and food tags:
I try to only buy organic produce but even my broccoli had a rubber band and a tag, both of which could not be recycled.

Food packaging:
This seems to be a big one. Sure the box that the veggie burgers and frozen pizza come in can be recycled but then the actual food is wrapped in plastic which can not go in the recycling. Stay tuned for homemade pizza and veggie burgers!!

Tea bags:
The less-expensive brand I was buying was a packaging nightmare. Each tea bag was individually wrapped and each label fastened by a staple. I did find an alternative but at $6 a tin, I better stick to the loose tea and get a teapot for my office. Actually, a teapot for my office sounds quite cute. Hmm... lunch time office tea parties? Yes, please! FYI: tea bags without the string and staple can go in the compost!