Jeff and Samantha are finalists in Clay Hill Farm's Green Wedding Giveaway Contest. As part of our community give back campaign for the Giveaway, we are going to try to eliminate as much trash as possible from our home life. In the United States, only about 1/3 of our trash is recycled and the rest is burned or sent to landfills  . In other parts of the world, such as Germany and the Netherlands, over 2/3 of the waste is being recycled . Over the next few weeks, we will be documenting our adventures to eliminate trash waste and make suggestions for the small changes you can make to have a big impact. We will discuss what we already do to reduce our trash, areas for easy improvement, and areas where we find it takes a bit more work to reduce waste. Hopefully you will become inspired and educated in new ways to reduce your own trash at home! Don't forget to vote for us at www.greenweddinggiveaway.com voting ends April 3 at Noon!!
Since this campaign gives back to the online community and will hopefully reach people all over the country, if not the world, we will be doing a local community giveback as well. Jeff is currently a student at WPI. To give back to that community, we are going to be working on a feasibility study and attempt to start a garden on campus where students can grown their own vegetables. A yearly vegetable garden, where students can learn gardening and see the fruits of their labor year after year, would be a great addition to an already environmentally conscious school.
Jeff and Samantha welcome any comments, suggestions and questions you may have - jeffsamanthaCHF@gmail.com
Stay Tuned for our Updates!!!
Trash Update (April 28th):
WE HAVE STILL NOT TAKEN OUT THE TRASH!! Since March 7th when we took out the trash to start this project, we are still on the same bag! It has been 52 days!! We noticed this week, that on our street some houses had two bags of trash, yet we only have 1 bag for almost 3 months. Granted, we are only two people...
Trash Update (April 22th):
HAPPY EARTH DAY, EVERYONE!!!!!
TIP: Think about what you can do each day to lessen your impact on the environment, not just Earth Day :)
Trash Update (April 6th):
Since the blog posting to www.greenweddinggiveaway.com is done, since the grand prize couple will be announced tomorrow, I wanted to add some good news on here. WE GOT OFFICIAL APPROVAL TO START THE GARDEN AT WPI!!!! It is going to be at the smaller lot, which is just down the street from where we live! We are very excited to get going on this project, once the weather is suitable. Also, after the WPI newspaper did an article on us and the to-be-garden, the Public Relations department contacted us to do a story on the garden, as well! This is great, because it will get more publicity for the garden and get more people involved. Now that Clay Hill's Green Wedding Giveaway is wrapping up, we will post occassional updates about the Community Garden, here to keep you up to date and maybe start your own!!
DAY 30 of Trashing our Trash...the potato chip bag is full, but not stuffed! This project has shown us how easy it is to reduce household trash. We will need to put a tash bag in the trash can, probably by the end of the weekend, as the bathroom trash is officially full and that potato bag is reaching capacity.
I (Sam) found a new oatmeal last weekend. While making it this morning I noticed that this comany boasts having less consumer packaging waste and the carton is 100% recyclable. Also, their packaging is smaller, less wasteful, and they also call it space saving for your cabinets! This oatmeal was less expensive than the brand that I used to use, but it also tastes a bit better than the other one. The obvious trash reducer would be to use real oats that are cooked...for those of us who do not have a lot of time to eat in the morning and prefer instant oatmeal, it is easy to look at the packaging for the least wasteful option!
TIP: Look at products' packaging, is their another option that is less wasteful?
Trash Update (April 3rd):
Voting ended today for Clay Hill Farm's Green Wedding Giveaway, so THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us!! We went grocery shopping today. We went to a different Market, Deli, and Butcher. At the Butcher Shop, the Butcher was thrilled that we brought our own containers for the meat. He thought that they were very easy to use and made it much quicker. I think we will be going to this butcher routinely, now, as they have a great variety and everything is fresh. At the market we got very fresh produce as well, all without plastic produce bags.
This afternoon we had an interview with a woman from a local magazine, she wanted to include us in a wedding story that she is writting for the summer issue. She was very interested in this project and also gave us some information for local food co-ops. We are still working on filling the potato chip bag with trash and we are on day 27!!
Trash Update (March 30th):
We did a little research tonight on alternatives to paper towels to wipe up bacon grease. Most people suggest using old t-shirts that have stains and/or holes. Wash them and then cut them up into squares for rags. When using rags you can simply toss them in the trash after as you have reused the t-shirt as much as you are able. Many people said that, while in their daily lives that have almost cut out paper towels, but they keep a roll for things such as bacon or other gross things.
4 1/2 days left of voting for the winner's of Clay Hill Farm's Green Wedding Giveaway Contest. Please help us by spreading the word and VOTE FOR JEFF AND SAMANTHA on www.greenweddinggiveaway.com!
Trash Update (March 29th):
We decided to make bacon tonight, because we had breakfast for dinner...YUM. However, we could not think of another way to soak up the bacon grease other than the paper towels!!! Unfortunately, we used 2 paper towels...I am going to do some research to see if there is an alternative. We did not want to use a towel as it could leave lint, as well as ruin the towel.
I cannot believe that we have been doing this for 22 days now!!! Clay Hill Farm's Green Wedding Giveaway Contest is coming down to the wire now...just 5 1/2 days left of voting as of this evening!! So for those who have already voted, thank you thank you thank you; to everyone else, please take the 10 seconds out of your day to vote for us on www.greenweddinggiveaway.com
Trash Update (March 27th):
We went grocery shopping today and once again brought our own containers for the meat counter. This gets easier each time we go. The very first time that we did this, it was slightly awkward asking the person at the meat counter to put chicken breasts, rib-eye, ground meat or anything else in our containers. Now, we do not expect them to have any issues with it.
It is so nice to get loose fruits and vegetables! We pick and choose which individual things that we want, rather than grabbing bag and getting what you get.
We went to another chain grocery store that is known for its organic produce. At this store they have canisters filled with granola, cereal and the like for you to put in bags, but you could certainly bring your own canisters for this, too. It would be wonderful, if this store was closer to our place than just under an hour away.
Trash Update (March 26th):
Today is the day of Earth Hour. Here on the east coast at 8:30 p.m.- 9:30 p.m. for more information www.earthhour.org/ Their message is to go beyond the hour to make our world a better place.
Trash Update (March 23th):
TIP: Instead of plastic tupperware containers, we purchased stainless steel containers, these will potentially last a life time. Plastic containers can warp, stain, and eventually crack over time. While stainless steel containers are slightly more expensive initially, you will not need to replace them!
TIP: Try baking your own bread, rather than buying bread, this could save one and maybe two plastic bags. Also, it is healthier, since there are no preservatives. We have really enjoyed experimenting with different flavors and seasonings.
Trash Update (March 22th):
We decided that we should take this opportunity to share a little bit about Clay Hill Farm (York, Maine). In 1991, Clay Hill was the 1st restaurant in the country to be a certified wildlife habitat and bird sanctuary by the National Wildlife Federation. In 2008, they were one of the first businesses in Southern Maine to be awarded/certified as a state Environmental Leader. They have been voted #1 for Weddings and Romantic Dining by the people's choice on the Seacoast. The original working farm was built in 1780 and the property has been family owned and operated since 1986.
Clay Hill uses pesticide-free land care, composting, and recycling. They have herb and vegetable gardens that they use in the restaurant, which helps promote their passion for local and seasonal food. There are nature trails and over 100 bird houses on the property. Clay Hill is committed to community outreach and environment awareness. If you are interested in learning more about Clay Hill Farm and their Eco-Reach program go to www.clayhillfarm.com and www.chf-ecoreach.com
Trash Update (March 20th):
We went to the grocery store for a few items this evening. Samantha needed cotton balls and found certified organic cotton balls. The store brand had 70 count for $1.89 and the certified organic are 80 count for $1.99, so it was less expensive to buy organic.
Baking our own bread for lunches this past week worked out really well! It was delicious and something a little different. We decided to make more for this week's lunches. Making our own baked goods, not only saves on packaging, but it is something fun that we can do together.
Trash Update (March 19th):
TIP: If you like to drink with straws or your kids do, you can easily find reusable straws, which are made of stainless steal!
TIP: If you like to clean with paper towels, try using old hand towels or wash clothes, which can be thrown in the wash and reused many times.
Trash Update (March 16th):
We did some research and have found that tissues, Q-Tips, and dryer lint can be thrown into a compost. Dental Floss on the other hand, we are finding is usually made of non-biodegradable products such as nylon and polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE). Many sources online say that you should just use as little as possible at at time or find an additional use for it (after you clean it off, of course).
Trash Update (March 14th):
I (Samantha) opened a new Orange Juice and half and half container this morning and, of course, both containers have plastic rings/seals over the opening. However, this plastic is recyclable, because it is the same twist cap. So, this was no new plastic, unrecyclable trash this morning.
Before this project, I liked to clean the kitchen with papertowels. This probably created a lot of our trash. Jeff had hidden the papertowels under the sink and had put up a hand towel on our paper towel holder. I started cleaning the kitchen with a sponge or an old towel.
The only real trash that we still have, is in the bathroom. Tissues, Q-Tips (cotton Swabs), and Floss. While a person could use a hankerchief to blow their nose, I do not use them and will not. This week I will do some research to see if these things can be composted at our future home.
Trash Update (March 13th):
We went grocery shopping today. Along with bringing our reusable grocery bags, we decided to bring containers for the deli/butcher counter. We asked the guy at the counter if anyone ever brings in their own containers and he said that he had never seen it before. This seems strange to us, since the labels for deli meats usually say that you should transfer the meat to another container, so why not just bring an alternate container in the first place?
The market that we went to today is a small market and deli, here in Worcester. This store has fresher fruits and vegetables and is more likely to have local food than other grocery stores. They use, what we think of as, the punishment method to going green. They charge 1 cent per produce or thank you bag. Some of the large chain supermarkets are using the reward approach to going green. They reimburse you 5 cents per reusable bag that you bring in for your groceries. The punishment approach seemed to wrok better for us, because we did not want to pay for those little bags, no matter how inexpensive. Along with this store's punishment approach to going green, they even give you a very small receipt. The chain stores give you printed out coupons and huge receipts.
We bought loose fruits and vegetables (meaning we did not utilize produce bags). Also, we decided to not buy store bread this week for lunch sandwiches, rather we will bake bread on Sunday night. This saves us from accumulating yet another plastic bag. Lettuce is one vegetable that is very hard to find without a plastic bag, so hopefully when we need to get lettuce next week, we can find it without a bag somewhere.
The only thing that we bought this week that is not recyclable is cereal. It would be great if cereal companies would stop putting plastic bags that cannot be recycled in their recyclable cardboard boxes.
Well, that is about all for our grocery shopping trip today. Feel free to e-mail us any ideas, comments, or questions about trying to have a greener grocery shopping trip.
Trash Update (March 11th):
This project of eliminating our trash at home seemed to revitalize the motto: REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE... The trash went out on Tuesday (3/8/11). Jeff decided not to replace the trash bag in the trash bin. This has made it a bit easier to not go back to the habit of putting stuff in the trash. We were already pretty conscious of what can and cannot be recycled, but now we double and triple check that things can go in to the recyling bins. We have made smaller meals all week so that there are less scraps after meals!
We had our 1st PIECE OF TRASH yesterday (3/10/11)!!! We finished a box of cereal--the cardboard box is recyclable, however the plastic bag that holds the cereal is not! This is as good of a time as any to explain Worcester's Zero-Sort Recycling. Anything that fits within the following RECYCLABLE category can all go in to a bin and set at the curb for collection. RECYLABLES: cardboard, clean boxboard, office paper, newspapers, magazines, iserts, junkmail, evelopes, catalogues, metal food and beverage cans, aluminum foil, milk or juice cartons and drink boxes, glass bottles and jars; NON-RECYCLABLES: plastic bags, unmarked plastics, windows/light bulbs, Pyrex or ceramics, foam packaging, aerosol cans, and anything containing food waste.
Our 2nd piece of trash came soon after the cereal bag. We had chicken for dinner, which came from the freezer and out of a vacuum-sealed bag. Most of the time that we separate meats into meal size, we make the vacuumed-sealed bag a bit oversized, so that we may reuse it before it goes in the trash.
So far this week we REDUCED the size of our meals, to ensure less or no food scraps; RECYCLED anything and everything that fit into the categories of Worcester's Zero-Sort recycling and; REUSED plastic bags whenever possible.
Current Trash State (March 7th): DAY 1
Today is a good day to start our program. The weekly trash collection is tomorrow morning, so we get a fresh start. We are currently located in Worcester, MA, where they have a great recycling program. The city collects nearly all recyclables through their zero sort program. They even offer composters for a reduced rate. However, even with the great opportunities, Worcester falls short of the national average recycling rate.
As a base measurement, we usually create between 1/2 to 3/4 of a bag of trash per week. After investigating this weeks trash, we found that the majority of the material is food packaging, plastic packaging, a couple of take out containers, paper towels, and tissues. A place we will certainly focus on is in the food purchasing, taking care to note the packaging and choose food with less packaging if possible.