In the Spirit of Zero Waste (and the Satisfaction of Shredding Paper)

In the spirit of zero waste life-stylists and blogger Tippi Thole (, I started out my day by returning any plastic film and bags accumulating in our home and school’s Super Recycling collection into this bin (at our local Sprouts market):

Did you know? ? ? (If you’ve ever watched any of the Bill Nye shows with your kids, you’re sure to hear his voice – right?!)

All of this…

…can go in that above bin?

That is a lot of stuff. Now you know!! (Echoing Bill Nye again.)

Not that you should be purchasing any of it freely, but if it does end up in your hands, now you know where to put it! Thanks, Sprouts!

“Last year, our customers returned 22 million plastic bags to us, so we could recycle them for you. We also recycled 850,000 pounds of our own mixed recyclables including paper, plastic, aluminum and glass, as well as 80 million pounds of cardboard—that’s equivalent to 450,000 trees!”

In turn, I shopped plastic free like this.

There is absolutely no need to put any of this in those flimsy little film bags. (The cauliflower was unfortunately unavoidable because I didn’t see any loose florets for sale, but if I clean and dry the wrap – it can go in the film recycling too!)

When I buy co-op produce, it always ends up dumped into a bin, bag free. I follow this same spirit in store. Out of kindness for the checkout person and her clean belt, I place wet produce in or on top of a reusable bag until she gets to the point of ringing it up and bagging it again.

Check out these produce and bulk bin reusable bags that are becoming more popular in the general marketplace.

Back at home it was time to let some jam packed compost at work get some rest, and make room for a new starter batch.

What used to be…

  • food scraps and cuttings
  • coating-free paper/junk-mail/paperboard/napkins/paper takeout containers, even toilet paper and paper towel rolls (cut apart and put through our shredder ***I HEART MY PAPER SHREDDER***)
  • coffee grounds from our French press/used tea bags (including the string and tag)
  • leaves and grass cuttings
  • old cut flower bouquets
  • dryer lint
  • egg shells (rinsed and crushed)
  • …I’m sure there’s more but my brain is done thinking about this list… if it’s organic, as in made from the earth, and not meat/fat/oil/toxic… it can go in!

… it is all now, as we say in the compost/gardening world… DRUM ROLL…

black gold. (See the, how can I elegantly put this, fresh ‘pile‘ under the bin?)

Did I mention we have a tiny yard? But we manage just fine with this magical (for all you math nerds out there) function machine. To give you an idea of the kind of person I am at heart, this dual compartment tumbler was a gift I requested from my husband for mother’s day. I wanted this so bad! (I prefer dirt to pedicures any day.) It has one side for adding (note the + sign), and one for resting ( ).

The kids love the output and all the insects and bugs (roly polies) that like to make themselves at home underneath. Even though we have a separate worm composter, we enjoy how the red wigglers in the dirt find their way into the bottom of the pile and make themselves at home too. They just love that stuff, and they only make the soil richer.

Our tumbler has put up with years of sloppy abuse but continues to give (and functionally put carbon back into the soil) so much.

I prefer to keep our compost enclosed due to the limited size of our yard, and a family of brown rats ( that likes to frequent our bird feeder scatter. I just know they’d love to camp out around an open compost bin. And as much as I like to promote biodiversity, I don’t think my neighbors are in tune with that.

So while there is no true zero in the equation, we can certainly try our best to reduce. On to another day of thinking of waste a little differently. What’s your input/output model?

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