Package Free/Waste Free

So this is a project, unlike the last one, that will see some results. You’ve of course heard of the 100 mile diet and other such fads, challenges, or lifestyles. One of the things my wife and I are interested in is reducing our packaging and waste. To almost zero. When we composted at our old house (meaning we just threw our food scraps in a hole in the back yard) and shopped at the Ann Arbor People’s Food Co-op, just about the only waste we had was Kleenexes and toilet paper rolls. While we went to Europe and shopped at the street markets every day, we saw how easy it is to live without much packaging (particularly if you lay off the processed stuff).

New domicile, new challenges. We’re in an apartment in a denser, more walkable area, but now we don’t have the compost hole or the PFC. These days we’ve got about one tied-up plastic shopping bag a day of waste, which I think is too much. Our apartment complex also doesn’t recycle, but we’ve found a place across the street where we can drop our recyclables under cover of night. The first solution is a free-standing composter. If you have any experience with these, send along an anecdote or a recommendation. They pretty much all look good to me online when I don’t have to smell them or wave away fruit flies. If I remember correctly, Murph has a composting drum. How much did that cost and how much trouble is it?

Next up is reducing our bottles and other plastic containers. The PFC used to have bulk olive oil, laundry detergent, and dish detergent. I had no idea what a blessing those were. Nearby we have a Wild Oats with a decent (if expensive) bulk section, but not those three liquids (which we use quite a bit). Farther away is Whole Foods where I am reluctant to shop and I don’t think those are in bulk. Generally not looking good, so we’ll have to think more about this.

In other issues, I’ve introduced my wife to paper towels for cleaning rather than newspapers, which we should get back to at least part of the time. We probably waste too much food, too, which comprises a decent part of our daily bag o’ rubbish. We take cloth shopping bags to the grocery store, but we still get a few plastic bags per trip to use as garbage liners. Most of our plastic stuff does double or triple duty before it hits the garbage can.

Anyways, given this varied activities, how have you all been reducing your waste? What are some areas I’m missing. This seems like another area that we could make dramatic improvements on without losing any quality of life (like cutting out our cars).