Couple goes waste-free for a year

Written by hanh


Amy and Adam live in a small community in Dallas, Oregon. On July 6, 2009, they began their pledge of living without producing garbage for one year. Like many of us, they believe that collective action is necessary to preserve our environment for future generations. Their chosen focus is waste and recycling.

Here’s how they plan to get by without garbage:

* Avoid non-recyclables
* Start compost bin in backyard
* Grow their own produce
* Make products like soap, cheese, butter, granola and bread
* Take their business to local butchers, dairies, farmer’s markets, and natural food stores
* Take rejected curbside recycle materials to recycling depot
* Use reusable bags for shopping and reusable containers for restaurant leftovers
* Replace disposable batteries with recyclable batteries
* Donate to and shopping from secondhand stores
* Legally burn clean, dry, untreated organic material

Their web site has a long list of tips and tricks for anyone who wants to reduce their own waste stream.

Even putting these rules into practice, it’s hard for anyone to avoid the waste created by hygiene and medical products such as a toothpaste container. Amy and Adam realize that they cannot be 100% garbage-free and have laid down some ground rules for themselves as to what they see as acceptable:

* Medical and hygiene products — they will recycle wherever possible and aim to keep unavoidable trash limited to the size of one plastic bag for the year.
* Leftover meat — Amy is a vegetarian so there is little meat consumption between the two. Any leftover meat will be given to their dog.
* Cat/dog poop — according to Grist, cat feces “can carry the disease toxoplasmosis and pass it on to us…the disease can be fatal to infants and immune-system-deficient adults, and make the rest of us sick.” Due to safety concerns, cat litter will be trashed. Dog poop will be buried.
* Vacuum cleaner dust/hair — returned to nature.
* Wiggle room — since Amy is a school teacher, it will be hard for her to avoid classroom items such as dry erase markers and pens.

Between the two, Amy and Adam will keep approximately one and a half tons of garbage from entering a landfill. That may be a drop in the proverbial bucket, but when a whole community joins in the effort, the results can quickly add up. Show your support by visiting their web site and following them on their green journey through their blog.

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  1. Dave

    Hmm, this is good. I’m surprised to see no mention of Garbage, the movie (a/k/a Garbage: The Revolution Starts At Home). The couple in that film learned a lot about their footprints. I wonder how large the “one plastic bag” referred to above, will turn out to be.
    Alternatively or also, a person could participate in community cleanups to remove trash from the environment. I am sure that I gather more than 1500 lbs. of trash from sensitive areas near the river in my town. Considered analogous to carbon credits, this could almost zero out my garbage footprint.
    Every day I pick up at least 10 pieces of trash and recycle as much of it as possible. Yesterday it was 30 items including 12 aluminum cans and 10 PET bottles. I participate in a local watershed group that removes 300+ bags of trash every year from parks and roadsides. We are able to recycle at least a third of it.
    There are lots of ways to reduce or eliminate your net footprint on this planet. Keep America Beautiful offers logistical support for local cleanup efforts.

  2. Nicole Tedesco

    The best recyclers, astronauts on the ISS, still produce garbage. It is valuable however to execute the exercises from time to time in order to understand what needs to be done yet to minimize our waste. In time technology will help, but first we must characterize the problem. (Thank you, Amy and Adam!) I don’t suggest we all live the ascetic life, all the time.

  3. Elaina

    No disposal of feminine products for 10 years! They should try this.. it’s AMAZING!!! Best thing that happened to the menstrual cycle.
    (though, note to females: you need to be comfortable with yourself)

  4. Ram

    Regarding the toothpaste container mentioned above that “it

  5. Penny

    Pertaining to the kitty litter issue – use a litter based on a natural product / biodegradable product such as wheat, recycled newspaper, etc. Scoop the poop ( toxoplasmosis is shed in the feces – mainly of kittens that are first exposed to the parasite) and put it down the toilet (and the dog poop too!) and then compost the rest of the kitty litter -pee and all.

  6. Dental McAllen

    We should really think of a better way not to harm our environment. It is our responsibility to think of a solution since we are the ones who actually created those mess.