Yes, you read that right. Having a house full of kids and people most of the time, I only take my trash out once every three weeks or so. And no, I’m not some overzealous green warrior. In reality, it just happened that way for practical reasons.
Actually, it all started because I was trying to lose weight. Being 300+ pounds, I wanted to slim down before my heart stopped, permanently.
For the most part, this cut a lot of my trash from the equation.
What Reduces My Trash?
So, I don’t put a lot of effort into living the most green life possible. But how I approached fitness made a vast improvement in how much I throw away.
Mostly, it was because I didn’t have a lot of money and wanted to be fit on a budget. Everything else just came about out of necessity.
To start, reducing the amount of food I ate also reduced the amount of junk I tossed into the trash. And I’m not talking about scraping leftovers into the can.
For example, one of my staples for the longest time consisted of having a box of Walmart cupcakes next to my desk. That, by itself, produced an extra box and 12 plastic wrappers.
Since this was a common thing, perhaps twice per week, it added up. And that’s not including all the other things I ate as well, such as Taco Bell or near-endless amounts of pizza.
Focusing on losing weight directly reduced my trash output.
Only Cooking What I Intend to Eat
Because I am trying to lose the weight, I needed a viable way to eat. Since I love Lean Cuisine, I decided I should try making my own to save money.
Nowadays, I’ll cook and then portion out the meals into freezer and microwave-safe containers to make my own lunches and dinners. I carefully weigh and divide everything up so I can keep track of calories.
At any rate, this means I only cook what I intend to eat. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I actually threw food away. I don’t have leftovers because I portion out my meals.
The best part is that my meals are far better than Lean Cuisine, and they cost about a third to make.
Avoiding Heavily Packaged Goods
I stopped buying larger packaged goods a long time ago. I’m talking about things like boxed cereals and overly packaged goods.
Mostly, this is because we really couldn’t afford it back in the day. My girls were almost in their teens before they realized that cereal can come in a box.
Now, a lot of what I buy today comes in a box of some kind. But then, I simply roll or fold them up into one another. At one point, I had a month’s worth of Lean Cuisine meals folded up into a single pizza box.
And even those were never thrown into the trash. It takes but a second to recycle, and I’ll go over that aspect in a moment.
Using My Own Shopping Bags
I started using those $1.99 reusable bags from Safeway and Trader Joe’s simply because I got tired of collecting plastic bags. And nothing is worse than trying to use Walmart bags for any purpose after you get home and unpack your groceries.
It’s almost like Walmart bags degrade as you’re walking out of the store.
At any rate, I also bought one of those cold-storage bags because my ice cream kept melting before I got home. So, you see, it is quite practical to use those kinds of bags…especially if you don’t want to drink your ice cream later.
Now, sometimes I’ll forget to take my bags with me. But that’s OK, because I’ll use the plastic bags when scooping the cat litter. So it all works out in the end, kind of.
Living in Denver, we have recycling services available at no extra cost. Which means I can easily break down any boxes and such to throw them into the purple bin.
And because we don’t produce a lot of extra trash, I only wheel the bin out once per month, if that.
But it’s nice to know that I have access to free recycling pickup. The trash service I had before wanted an extra $70 per month. We just wind up driving out to the free recycling dumpsters.
Unfortunately, not all cities or areas have recycling convenience. But because we do, my trash is very minuscule as I can simply toss recyclables in the correct bin as I walk through the kitchen.
My Trash is Still Trash
I’m not going to say that I’m some kind of recycling, green, guru. After all, I still throw stuff away. However, I can say that my trash cans go out far less than anyone in the neighborhood.
So, even though I’m still a consumer, I’m doing my part to live green in a practical sense. And most of it is out of financial necessity while keeping myself alive.
Michael has been interested in the practicality of living green for quite some time. He works closely with GreenGeeks Web Hosting as the Content Marketing Team Lead and an author of various articles.