Trash is for tossers
November 25, 2014 9:35 AM   Subscribe

 
I read this the other day and couldn't help nitpicking it - like, when I shop at thrift stores there are definitely still tags I have to cut off and discard, and does she not ever need to buy medicine, which as far as I know is not sold in bulk bins, and what does she do with the shards if she breaks a glass - but still, this is pretty cool.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:41 AM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


"I began saying "NO" to things like straws in my cocktails at a bars, to plastic or paper bags at stores, and to receipts."

It only took a few months of "I don't need a bag, thanks," but I finally got my bodega guy out of the habit of offering me a bag. I know its not the biggest deal, but its a start, and it adds up. And I love not accumulating bags and bags of bags recycle.

PS: Thank you kind mod who cleaned up my mis-placed post.
posted by frijole at 9:45 AM on November 25, 2014




I read this the other day and couldn't help nitpicking it

Yeah, that gets you nowhere. Perfect is the frenemy of good and all that.

If she can eliminate 90-something percent of her trash, that's very cool, and if she can start a company to make it easy for others to do the same, that's fantastic. I would shop at a store that didn't sell today's food in a package that will outlast our civilization, etc.
posted by pracowity at 10:03 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


I was going to laugh at the sustainable condoms, and I'm still smirking a bit but they do seem to have a sense of proportion after all:

I think holistically you can’t make the argument that one form of birth control is not sustainable because unplanned pregnancy is unsustainable.
posted by echo target at 10:08 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I came in all "But what about toothbrushes!" but if you go through the blog, she really does approach this project thoughtfully and thoroughly (and now I want a bamboo toothbrush). While she of course can't manage 100% "no trash", the logs of her use really are impressive.
posted by susanvance at 10:12 AM on November 25, 2014


Does it say anywhere how much the detergent is actually going to cost? Also unfortunately I agree with the commenters on the first blog post that shipping her product internationally is kind of the opposite of green.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:29 AM on November 25, 2014


If the product just "contains only THREE ingredients: baking soda, washing soda, and castile soap." Why not make it yourself? You could probably make a 3 year supply for less than $15 if you source in bulk.

Does Tide or whatever work better? Probably, but at what cost to the environment?

She's missing the ultimate fact that capitalism is bad for the environment. She got almost all the way there and then stopped just short.
posted by j03 at 10:46 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's really incredible what she has been able to eliminate, trash-wise. It does take a lot of time and changing daily patterns and not choosing for convenience. But really laudable and interesting ideas that if applied even a small way by a large group of people could have huge impacts. Reading the comments on her blog (not too bad here yet) though, I was like, "get over the toilet paper, people!" It seems to be everyone's first question. But what about the toilet paper? Everyone looks for a potential place that she has tripped up.
posted by butternsugar at 10:48 AM on November 25, 2014




I am basically lazy, so I don't work very hard to reduce my trash footprint. But even the few steps I have taken, mean I put out a lot less trash than my neighbors, week in and week out. There is a ton of scope for Americans to produce less trash. If she can promote some of these ideas, it can only help.

One thing that reduces the trash volume is also called "frustration-free packaging". Those plastic bubbles that are so hard to open without hurting yourself, and which take up so much room in the trash, are the worst invention ever. I try not to buy things that are sheathed in a plastic covers twice the size of the contents, because I don't like bruising my fingers with the scissors as I try to get that thing open, or slicing my hand open on the sharp edges, and I don't like the way one of those packages can fill the whole trash can because it cannot be compressed without injuring myself further. That stuff should be banned.
posted by elizilla at 11:04 AM on November 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


The waste companies, garbage men, and landfill people are gonna put a hit out on this woman.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:17 AM on November 25, 2014


She's missing the ultimate fact that capitalism is bad for the environment. She got almost all the way there and then stopped just short.

I'm fairly certain that if I needed to say, smelt iron, my DIY iron smelter would be wildly more polluting (at a smaller scale) than a commercial iron smelter. I'd prefer capitalism with robust regulations and strong regulatory bodies over home-scale DIY.

That being said, I am not looking forward to the mass of plastic and cardboard to be recycled at Christmas that probably didn't need to be produced at all.
posted by combinatorial explosion at 11:19 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


So this is the Hipster Zero Waste Home? Its an interesting idea but all that intentionality would give me an anxiety disorder!
posted by Middlemarch at 11:29 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


We're on board with the need to reduce plastic consumption, but my family's problem is remembering the reusable shopping bags. Far too often one of us gets to the checkout counter and realizes they're still in the car.
posted by Soliloquy at 11:37 AM on November 25, 2014


If you refuse to take the receipt, and you leave the tags behind at the secondhand store, do you think that just because the tags didn't go in your home trash, they didn't end up in the landfill anyway?

At least when the clerk hands me a receipt and I stuff it in my pocket, I know it'll go in the recycle bin when I clean out my pockets that evening. If I push it back on the poor clerk? Trash.
posted by elizilla at 11:39 AM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


We're on board with the need to reduce plastic consumption, but my family's problem is remembering the reusable shopping bags. Far too often one of us gets to the checkout counter and realizes they're still in the car.

I got a Baggu tote bag, which scrunches up to the size of your phone. It's awesome. You just keep it in your purse. I never remember I even own it until I'm right up at the counter.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:46 AM on November 25, 2014


So this is the Hipster Zero Waste Home?

She cites that as a major inspiration for her lifestyle change, and links to it. What do you mean by "all that intentionality"? That she's making conscious choices about every part of her life? I find that admirable.

Since the word hipster is so ill-defined as to be effectively meaningless, I will ignore it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:46 AM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


i mean she does love mason jars a lot
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:00 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


The waste companies, garbage men, and landfill people are gonna put a hit out on this woman.

Future archaeologists will curse her for starting what became known as the Midden-less Epoch, when all traces of human civilization suddenly disappeared.

until the flowering of the Religion of Refuse in 3129
posted by Slithy_Tove at 12:08 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


oh my god she made guests at her birthday party bring their own reusable napkins -_-

I don't think I'd ask guests to bring their own napkins if I'm the host and I'm in my own house, because I can give them one of my cloth napkins to use. But innumerable Slow Food meal events I've run or participated in over the years have asked guests to bring their own "dinner kit," which is your plate, glass, cutlery, napkins, etc. Cuts way down on waste and makes cleanup a lot easier. It's like any social norm, you get used to it pretty quickly and it ceases to be strange.

As far as the detergent, yes, you can just make your own. As you can a lot of household products. Not that I don't wish her luck.
posted by Miko at 12:11 PM on November 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I appreciate what she's doing, but all of the scare-mongering about ~~~~*CHEMICALS*~~~~ is pretty obnoxious.
posted by schroedinger at 12:20 PM on November 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Another story about a project undertaken to eliminate household waste as much as possible is told in the documentary The Clean Bin Project. It blew my mind. It made me aware of how much crap my family throws away even weekly that's just going to sit there, inert in some landfill, pretty much forever. The couple doing the project managed to produce only a small (like bathroom-sized) bin of garbage each in an entire year (more than what's shown in that Zero Waste Home link, but it was only their first year of trying). I think of it every time I throw something away now. I feel real anxiety over all the discarded packaging there's going to be a Christmas. What these people are doing is so admirable.
posted by kitcat at 12:34 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Have you ever seen how much trash most retail places generate? Great place to get big pieces of heavy cardboard - auto repair places. Most manufacturing generates lots and lots of plastic trash. Buy less stuff. Buy as little new stuff as possible. Buy direct if you can, esp. food. Find out what happens to the garbage after it gets picked up. In my town, it goes to an incinerator. Curbside recycling pickup is teh awesome.
posted by theora55 at 1:17 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


> At least when the clerk hands me a receipt and I stuff it in my pocket, I know it'll go in the recycle bin when I clean out my pockets that evening. If I push it back on the poor clerk? Trash.

You should really just throw BPA-containing receipts on thermal paper away. Otherwise, they put BPA in wastewater and in recycled paper.
posted by purpleclover at 1:27 PM on November 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Does Tide or whatever work better? 
Ha...reminds me of Consumer Reports test of detergents. ..guess which one they found works best? (cleanest clothes, least damage to them, etc) None at all. As in none detergent, just plain water.
posted by sexyrobot at 4:09 PM on November 25, 2014


Ha...reminds me of Consumer Reports test of detergents. ..guess which one they found works best? (cleanest clothes, least damage to them, etc) None at all. As in none detergent, just plain water.

That's amazing if true, do you have a source? The only articles I can find name Tide or Safeway's Kirkland store brand as CR's top picks.
posted by rifflesby at 4:49 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


What an inspiring person!

While it's good to have a discussion as to whether we can do even more, or whether we are doing the right thing to start off with, I find that sometimes people are too eager to get their criticisms in.

Her blog isn't preaching; her blog isn't judging.
She puts her recipes out for free - she hasn't patented anything.
She's faithfully updated her blog consistently. No paid membership behind a firewall.

People want to buy her stuff. She can say no - make it yourself or she can make a career out of it, thereby enabling her to focus on this idea full time, instead of doing it evenings and weekends.

I'm surprised no one's come in criticizing the fact that she exhales CO2!

We complain about pollution; we complain about too much packaging; we complain that people are poisoning their lives with too much junk - someone comes along and shares a perhaps-not-so-perfect life hack that works for them, and everyone starts picking.

This always happens when there's a post on an innovative idea.
It's rare that progress happens in a flash like penicillin people!
It's tens, hundreds, thousands of people worldwide, each contributing in their own way.
It's a societal brainstorming session!

I wonder what posts here would have looked like on December 17, 1903?
  • 120 feet? What use is that?
  • Another toy for the rich; call me when you invent something that the common person can benefit from
  • all the wood they used could have provided wood for fire for 30 households - what a waste
  • instead of making a mechanical bird they could have spent their time thinking of a better way to till soil

    I love all of you guys, and I"m probably exaggerating a bit, but let's be happy that this idea is blossoming and gaining momentum!

  • posted by bitteroldman at 4:56 PM on November 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


    > Ha...reminds me of Consumer Reports test of detergents. ..guess which one they found works best? (cleanest clothes, least damage to them, etc) None at al

    I've got Consumer Reports open in another tab (yay for libraries) and I'm not seeing that. They say not to use more than you have to, but I don't see anywhere where they say not to use detergent at all.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 5:19 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


    When I first visited Germany I went to a supermarket and shopped for the week. What I didn't know is that supermarkets by law don't provide bags. It wasn't easy lugging all that stuff home, but I was surprised by how quickly I adjusted in general. It really wasn't a big deal once you got used to it. Same thing in Switzerland where they levy a fee for excess garbage. Why can't the U.S. get behind something like that?
    posted by xammerboy at 5:53 PM on November 25, 2014


    Why can't the U.S. get behind something like that?

    Free plastic bags are banned in my city. Grocery stores still have the smaller bags in the produce and bulk sections, but they don't have them at the cash register any more. You can pay for a paper bag, or you can use your own bag (or hands or pockets or steal the cart of whatever).

    And as far as garbage: we pay per can, paying more for the larger size cans, and if you put out more than fits in your can you pay extra.

    I'm near Seattle, which prides itself on such things -- I know it isn't that way everywhere in the US. But it's not unheard of, either.
    posted by The corpse in the library at 6:04 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


    Ha...reminds me of Consumer Reports test of detergents. ..guess which one they found works best? (cleanest clothes, least damage to them, etc) None at all. As in none detergent, just plain water.

    The basic operation of soap is a chemical fact, so that's not true.
    posted by michaelh at 7:13 PM on November 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


    How does she buy things like cooking oil or other liquid things?
    posted by gt2 at 8:13 PM on November 25, 2014


    One great thing you can advocate for in your town/city, which has reduced our curbside trash by literally half, is curbside composting. Many cities are doing this now, as it's a win-win-win - it actually turns waste into a more valuable product, unlike most recycling, so it can be run at a profit. And we can go pick it up in the spring to use in our yards/gardens. It's actually better than home composting - because it's large-scale, and gets really hot, we can put in paper scraps, animal bones and skin, olive pits, citrus rinds and other stuff that doesn't break down in backyard compost.

    As far as buying cooking oil: it's not uncommon in large towns or cities to have a store that sells oils from large vats with spigots. You can buy a reusable container or bring your own in, and pay by the ounce. Similar to dry bulk goods only with bottles. I don't know about other liquids, but if she's buying in glass it's all recyclable or often returnable. I just bought canola oil in glass at the regular grocery last night.
    posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


    Meanwhile, in Australia, Coca Cola is fighting in court to stop a 5c per bottle deposit scheme.

    How does she buy things like cooking oil or other liquid things?
    When we shop at the local food co-op we take glass jars and fill them from the 20 litre barrels.

    First time I shopped there I didn't know to bring my own bags. Fortunately, I only needed 3 or 4 sweet potatoes, so I left with them in my pockets. Cargo shorts for produce shopping!
    posted by bystander at 8:29 PM on November 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


    She's missing the ultimate fact that capitalism is bad for the environment. She got almost all the way there and then stopped just short.

    These pieces are viral marketing for a business. It isn't missing anything--its intent is completely capitalistic.
    posted by mobunited at 10:13 PM on November 25, 2014


    She may want to rethink her brand name: it's very similar to "Simple", which is already a well established soap and skincare brand from Unilever.

    (The name also struck me as an obvious homage to The Honest Co, which isn't quite as full-on in the environment aspect, but shares pretty much the same ideals)
    posted by rh at 6:39 AM on November 26, 2014


    Scotland just introduced a 5p charge for all plastic bags a month or so ago (Wales has a similar scheme and I think it's coming in England too). It's noticeable already how many more people are using their own re-usable bags. It's like anything else that you just need to do it for a few weeks and then it becomes habit to remember the bags when you go to the shops.

    Germany has a really good bottle deposit scheme where you pay a little extra for every beer or wine bottle then return it to the machines which are in most supermarkets to get your money back.
    posted by neilb449 at 4:35 AM on November 27, 2014


    This couple tried to live rubbish free for a year and pretty much succeeded.
    posted by poxandplague at 1:58 AM on November 28, 2014


    The basic operation of soap is a chemical fact, so that's not true.

    well, this was pre-internet days (actual paper magazine), so hard to cite, but IIRC, even their reaction was "huh. Wadda ya know." I think it was probably due to one of their criteria being 'damage to clothes' ie color fade etc, so plain water ended up winning. I would guess that modern day washing machines just move the water around so much that the chemical action of the soap just becomes unnecessary for removing dirt. This was definitely in the days before everything became 'ultra' so they've undoubtedly done this test multiple times since then...so, grain of salt and all that. Hm, maybe it's experiment time.
    posted by sexyrobot at 9:03 PM on November 28, 2014


    sexyrobot, are you sure you aren't misremembering that they found plain soap flakes more effective than detergents?
    Soap has a structure similar to three detergent molecules in one, making it a better cleaner. This often surprises people who are bombarded with advertising about superior cleaning powers of detergents to discover soap is better.
    posted by bystander at 4:11 AM on November 29, 2014 [1 favorite]


    From what I understand, chemically, about how soap works, there's no way plain water could be more effective than soap, given the same washing methods.
    posted by Miko at 8:47 PM on November 29, 2014


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