Low Trash Month: What I Learned

Low Trash Month: What I Learned


Well here it is September and I made it through my self-proclaimed low-trash month. It was both much easier and much harder than expected. Here are answers to the most frequent questions I received along the way:

What was most surprising?
The most surprising part for me was how easy the challenges I made for myself were, even the ones I dread the most, notably composting and cutting back on paper towels.

Granted, I’m only composting “lite” as I’m taking my food scraps to the farmer’s market where someone else does the dirty work, but it is a no hassle process, especially when you store your scraps in the freezer.

Trading in my paper towels was OK. The first thing I learned was I’m never going to do it if my paper towels are within reach. Seriously, I would be standing at my kitchen counter and next thing I would know, I had a handful of paper towels in my hand, like I was a sleep eater on Ambien. I finally stored them a few feet away from the sink and began using my micro-fiber towels.

micro-fiber towels

What was the most challenging part?
Drinking hot coffee from my reusable thermos instead of my beloved iced coffee on some of those 90+ degree days simply sucked. I was a hot, sweaty mess before I even started my day. Fortunately, I continued to look for a solution and found Grady’s Cold Brew Concentrated Iced Coffee at Whole Foods. It comes in a glass container that’s easily recycled and you can blend it yourself with water and milk at home.

grady's coffee

Plastic continues to plague my efforts at going low-trash. In New York City, plastic deli containers are not recycled. Think how many times a week you order in, bring home leftovers or grab a salad to take back to your desk. That’s an alarming amount of containers for even one person in the course of a month.

As I’ve learned, there’s no easy answer when it comes to recyclable containers. I started asking everywhere I went if the containers are recyclable. The one place I got a yes was One Lucky Duck, the organic, raw takeout place. But even the friendly and very concerned check out guy admitted that their corn-based containers are at best compostable. Well guess what? They may be compostable, but only at certain centers and the farmer’s market does not accept them. So despite the best efforts of the folks at One Lucky Duck, their containers are headed to the landfill. But as I said to the checkout guy, at least they’re trying. And if you keep looking for a solution, there’s a good chance you’ll find it or one will be created down the line.

If you’re really committed to cutting down on plastic containers, bring your own lunch to work/cook at home; try to frequent places that have brown paper containers for takeout or try a place like Just Salad that offers customers a reusable bowl (Bonus: you get free toppings when you use it!).

What did I find the most helpful?
I’m now a devotee to my Vapur water bottle. It’s lighter than the aluminum ones, which makes it easy to carry around with me on a daily basis. I filled it up at 16 Handles, the gym, the beach and even Yankee Stadium.


Will I continue?
That’s a resounding Y-E-S!!!!–with one exception: I did restart delivery of the New York Post again. I’m just not ready to start lugging my iPad around with me on a daily basis!

I won’t however go down to a no-trash home. In all honesty, I’m not even sure how one does that, even though this no-trash family apparently has no problem doing it.

At the risk of sounding like a cheeseball, cutting down on the trash I produce is freeing and makes me feel lighter and better about myself and home overall.

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