I Try: Zero Waste

The practice of accumulating as little waste as possible has been gaining momentum online and on social media. The “Zero Waste” movement has inspired people to rethink their daily choices in an attempt to take less from the planet and send less to the landfill.

This month, I decided to challenge myself. For thirty days, I will be attempting to create as little waste as possibly while still being able to go about normal day-to-day activities.

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Rob Greenfield , a Zero Waste enthusiast, wearing 87 pounds of trash —  the amount an average American could create in 30 days or less.

Why We Should Be Mindful Of Waste

In America, the average individual creates about 4.5 pounds of trash a day. That amounts to approximately 135 pounds each month. Many people are still confused about what and what not to recycle, and recycling rates in the United States fall somewhere around 9%.

Buying a plastic water bottle may be efficient if you’re running late, but if sent to the landfill, it can take up to 450 years to break down. Even food, which is the largest waste item, can take decades to break down if tied up in a plastic bag or container.

See: NY Times – Seeking the Truth in Refuse 

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Via Nasa.gov – Climate change is an issue that effects all corners of the globe.

Take less. Leave less.

Producing new goods takes energy, extraction, and often causes some type of environmental degradation. For example, plastic bags are made from crude oil and natural gas, two nonrenewable resources.

Even if you choose to recycle plastic bags at your local grocery store (that’s right, don’t put these in your recycling bin!), there is still a usage of energy in transporting the goods and breaking them down.

Another important thing to remember is that a lot of trash ends up in the natural environment where it may be impossible to retrieve. Garbage patches in the ocean consist of photodegraded pieces of plastic, called microplastics. These in turn end up in food, the soil, and even in the air. 

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Via National Geographic. Kathryn Kellogg, a Zero Waste Blogger, picks up trash on the sidewalk. In two years, she had only created enough trash to fit in a 16 ounce jar.

What Are The Rules To Zero Waste?

Zero waste includes anything that can’t be recycled or composted. This means that finding replacements for everyday trash items is important. For example, using reusable bags at the grocery store, utilizing cloth napkins at home, composting, and buying local are good alternatives.

This month’s challenge will an eye opener and a learning experience. The number 1 thing to ask yourself of when purchasing any good is: can this be reused or recycled? If not, refusing is most likely the answer (though there are exceptions).

Zero Waste has been claimed to be a way to better one’s life while helping the environment and saving money. According to blogger Kathryn Kellogg, it’s all about doing what you’re able to, and not being too hard on yourself if you create more trash than expected.

“I think many people are ready to cut their waste,” says Kellogg. “Just do the best you can and buy less.”


All information was taken from memory, education, or from external sources listed in the article or below. Sources below also include valuable sites and information. Check back in to see my progress, or follow the blog to get updates on new posts.

Kathryn Kellogg’s blog

Rob Greenfield’s Website

Recycling Guide

What Can Be Recycled In Broome County



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