We audited our trash last week, to check in to see how we were doing, in our quest to make less trash. We hosted many people for both Christmas and New Years, and I am happy to report, that even with the present opening, we still have room in our trash can! (We forgot to put it our between Christmas and New Years.) Here is what it looked like:
8 plastic bags of assorted food packaging (crackers, bread, cheese, ham)
Three plastic tubs (cottage cheese, dip and spread)
12 candy wrappers. Mostly paper and foil.
One kitchen trash bag of paper (from a purge of old paperwork. This all arrives paperless now, but we still had it from the past.)
Christmas Packaging - fit in one 10" x 10" by 8" box. This was the rigid plastic around a toy each of my kids got. There was also tissue paper that was beyond reuse, and had already served us well several times! Santa wrapped his gifts - so there was a small amount of gift wrap We were pleased that Santa used eco-friendly printed paper.
One grocery sized bag of assorted tissues, floss, misc. bathroom trash - collected from all the bathrooms.
Two paper soda cups that came home from eating out - no lids or straws.
Three pieces of fruit that went bad.
A decent handful of junk mail and envelopes from Christmas cards we received.
12 glass bottles of various types. Did you know that glass can be recycled forever? It never goes down in quality like other products.
13 cans of cat food. Our elderly cats can't eat dry food very well any more.
4 soup cans.
8 cans from soda. They are being diverted to make soda can art, like this
4 wine bottles. Diverted to make these centerpieces.
Loads of gift bags and tissue. We refold and put these back away for another year.
Compostable plates from New Year's Eve. They will go into the worm bin.
5 plastic cups - that were washed out and will be used again.
5 cardboard boxes that will be used for art at reCREATE.
Eco -Packing peanuts - which can be used for to make fun art sculptures, like this.
Not Among Our Trash:
Wasted Food from Christmas Eve. We carefully calculated how much food was appropriate for our guests. We replenished food as needed. Result - virtually no wasted food after hosting 11 people.
Excess Packaging: Among the adults - almost all gifts were either handmade or "experience" gifts. I'm thrilled that we will be getting together with other family members to see theater performances, and attending some lovely fundraisers together. Not only are we helping causes, we now have some dates that we know we will be having fun together. My sister and her husband are taking our kids to see a show and keeping them overnight. They can't wait!
Disposable Plates & Cutlery - We did bring out some paper plates for New Year's Eve- but we will compost them. We used all real plates and cutlery for the rest of the time, and just cleaned up afterwards.
Shopping Bags - We bring our own when we shop - so we don't have a drawer exploding with one use plastic shopping bags.
Christmas Decor - I heard a story about a local family that put their Christmas Tree out for the scouts to pick up. It still had on the lights and ornaments. I can't imagine that! Each year as we pull out our ornaments, we revisit memories of Christmas Past. The result is that we reuse them every year. We did buy a tree this year... but I know it will be mulched and made into compost.
Much of the food we bought was placed in our glass containers, significantly reducing the amount of waste we generated.
We are still learning, but are quite proud of our low waste holidays! How did you do?