Can you live a "Zero Waste Lifestyle"?

October 12, 2017 06:46 AM

How much do you pile into your local landfill and where will it end up? One woman and her family are doing the unthinkable to live a “Zero Waste Lifestyle.”  The woman, who spoke to our affiliate WYNT, fits all her family's waste into one 64 ounce mason jar.

She's adapting the zero waste lifestyle, and environmentalists say more of us should do the same. The average American generates 4.4 pounds of trash every day and eventually landfills in every city will be full. Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages people to opt for reusable items to cut down on their trash and opt for reusable materials.

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Heather Oligny, a Saratoga mom is a pro at it. She doesn't use plastic at all, including bags and bottles. Even if you recycle your plastic, one way or another they will eventually end up in the landfill because the material. Oligny manages to fit all of her family’s trash for three months into one mason jar. Although many of us aren’t at her level, she says that isn’t a reason to be discouraged. 

"If more people make small changes it's actually a macroscale effect,” Oligny said. “You're never going to be able to have no waste but you can just do little things."

There's a unique facility in Monroe County devoted to environmental conservation. The Ecopark in Rochester allows you to drop off hard to manage materials to be recycled.

Officials from the Monroe County Department of Environmental Conservation sent us this list of tips to help you live a greener lifestyle. 

1.)  Reduce unwanted printed materials: 
Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by calling the following toll-free number: 1-888-567-8688 (that's 888-5OPT-OUT) or visiting the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website.
Opt out of receiving printed phone books by registering at the National Yellow Pages consumer choice website. According to the Product Stewardship Council, every 100 unwanted phone books removed from printing and distribution reduces greenhouse gas emissions equal to nearly 2,000 miles driven by a passenger vehicle. 
2.)  Avoid disposable items; use reusable items like drink bottles and shopping bags. 
Reduce the amount of disposable utensils, plastic water bottles and plastic bags you use by utilizing their reusable counterparts instead.  A reusable shopping bag can replace 1,000 plastic bags over its life. 
3.)  Look for products with less packaging. 
Buying in bulk rather than individually wrapped items significantly reduces the amount of packaging waste produced. 

4.)  Donate to and buy from second-hand organizations for clothing, furniture, building materials and more. 
Recycling clothing through donation can contribute considerably to reducing the impact of textile processes on the environment including the demand for chemicals, water and energy consumption (used heavily in the generation of new textiles). Local organizations provide a great outlet for these materials. 
5.)  Share or rent products that you only use periodically (e.g., tools, bikes, books) 
6.)  Extend the useful lifespan of products through repair (e.g., fixing a broken cell phone screen, rather than getting a new device) 
7.)  Compost yard and food scraps to avoid landfill disposal and create a valuable soil amendment. 
Grasscycling is a simple form of composting where you leave grass trimmings on the lawn after mowing.   Research shows that grass can be beneficial to a lawn’s fertility and general health by leaving it on the lawn to act as a fertilizer after mowing. 

8.) Recycle all clean paper curbside. 
That includes newspapers, magazines, junk mail, envelopes with windows, office paper, cardboard, and books. Gable top cartons and drink boxes (like a milk carton) are also recyclable. 
9.)  Recycle clean, empty plastic containers #1- #7 curbside. 
Caps and lids should be attached to containers. Styrofoam and plastic bags (though that often have #s) are not accepted in curbside recycling. #1 plastics (the type of plastic a water bottle is made of) can be recycled into fiber to make fleece, the filling for parkas, carpets and more. #2 plastics are often made into plastic lumber such as Trex decks.  A plastic lumber bench is made from 10,000 milk jugs. 
10.)  Recycle metal curbside. 
Tin cans, aluminum cans, metal cookware and foilware are all acceptable when clean. Aluminum cans can be recycled and made into new cans in as little as 60 days. If you recycled a soda can today, it could be back on the shelf as a new can before Christmas. 
11.)  Recycle glass curbside. 
Clean and empty glass bottles and jars are acceptable. 
12.)  Return plastic bags to retailers for recycling. 
Plastic bags and film should be brought to retailers for recycling, not placed in curbside recycling bins. Plastic bags accepted for recycling at retailers include bags from any store, zip lock bags, produce bags, cereal box liners, dry cleaning bags, bread bags, newspaper bags, and product wrap. 


Kaci Jones - @WHEC_kjones

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