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waste-hierarchyMoving Toward Zero Waste Goals for Your Home.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, As of 2013, the average person in the U.S. generates 4.43 pounds of trash per day.  That’s a little over 30 pounds per person per week or 1,617 pounds of trash per year (.8 tons)…per person…per year!  That’s a lot of garbage. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could entirely eliminate our household trash?  Even though we might not reduce our trash output by 100%, research shows that by making zero waste a household goal, people can get a good deal closer to that target than they might think.

Take a look at this article by Chris Burger, former member of the Sierra Club National Zero Waste Committee:
How To Be a Zero Waste Family – Chris Burger

Most people are familiar with the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) – but there are a few other rungs on this ladder that some may not have heard of, including Rethink and Recover. Click the links below for more information on each topic.

  • Reduce: purchasing and using less products that produce trash; reducing the amount of discarded items; this can be applied to reducing or conserving resources as well as solid waste (water, energy, etc.).
  • Reuse: finding repeated after-life uses for items that typically would go in your garbage.
  • Recycle: for the ever-growing list of items that are able to be recycled or remanufactured.
  • Rethink: making thoughtful choices at the time of a purchase, particularly about end of service disposal options.
  • Recover: using items from waste as an energy conversion mechanism.

How Much Waste Do I Make?

There is an easy way to track this by monitoring your trash before you begin implementing changes and then continuing to monitor as you work toward your zero-waste goals. If you pay for trash disposal either through a pick-up service or by taking materials to the transfer stations, you can use this data to report on your financial savings as well!

Analyze Your Trash
You can do this easily by monitoring your trash and its weight for a week. Make sure you start out with empty trash containers in each room of your home at the beginning of the week and then weigh each bag as you remove it at the end of one full week. You can use most home scales to do this by weighing yourself first, then weighing yourself with your bag of trash and subtracting your personal weight.

Keep On Monitoring
Ongoing monitoring of your waste output on a weekly basis provides a few benefits. You can track your progress towards a zero waste goal, and it will help you stay focused on your objective. Financial advisors suggest that you write down all of your expenses to get a better grasp on your money management; weight loss advocates tell you to write down everything you consume in a day. Waste monitors might suggest that you keep notes about everything that goes into your trash bins so you have an evaluation mechanism for your results.

Zero Waste Resources:
Zero Waste: The Choice for a Sustainable Community – EcoCycle.com
Working to Build Zero Waste Events – North Carolina State University
Zero Waste America