Sunday, July 3, 2011

zero waste

Zero Waste has not had a name to it until the last decade or so. I recall people telling me of going to the local store with a bucket, basket, jar in hand to get what was needed for meals (also of being sent to the bar with a bucket for beer, but that is a post for another time). These stories of reusing and not throwing garbage away with every meal intrigued me, even as a child. I grew up in a household that had a hole for compost, a dog that ate our meal scraps,  we used cloth diapers, returned bottles to the dairy..but also had plenty of trash at the end of each week. Always the amount of trash we produce is in my mind, what cost to produce it and what cost to the environment to hold it until such time as it decomposes. I cannot stand to see food served in meal and that garbage is a part of our landscape for untold numbers of years.

I remember when McDonald's stopped using styrofoam containers and went back to paper. It was a direct result of customer pressure. And as a former rep to mass market and chain stores, I was delighted when told that WalMart/Sams Club was pushing back on the manufacturers to reduce packaging and waste. That requests were made to reduce the amount of display cardboard and materials surrounding products. This was due to consumer pushback..people requesting that they not carry so much out of the store that then goes into a landfill.

I read a blog about a zero waste home.  My book group read a book about trash/landfills/recycling, and a member found this blog. It has fascinated me ever since, and I am amazed at how little her family produces in the way of trash. I am inspired to thank about what comes into our home and how we can reuse all of it. I am pushed to think about the real need for what I buy, and does it really need to come packaged in the way it does.

This month I received notice that Austin, TX will open a zero waste grocery store. Like the author of the zero waste home blog, customers will be able to bring their own containers to the store and have them filled. Scales can easily subtract the weight of a container, charge the difference, and the consumer returns to the store the next week with the same container ready to be refilled.

Rodney, who buys honey from us at Lauraville/Hamilton, carefully saves every Mason jar and returns them to us to be refilled. Many of our egg customers bring the cartons back to us so we can refill those. We always happily accept them back.

With our CSA distribution people arrive with their own containers for our vegetables. Usually a bag, many times the same ones they carry to grocery stores. Last week one of our CSA members showed up with individual containers, stacked, and I was thrilled to fill each one with a different item.

Then yesterday Jeanne showed up with a cool basket she had purchased that morning at a yard sale. The eggs went right in it, eliminating the need for even our recycled paper egg cartons. And she brought along a beautiful wicker basket, then proceeded to load her vegetables in like a bouquet. She asked for a container like the one Homer picks into for distribution..and his prototype, just a little different size than the others, became hers. Just so tickled that people are thinking and acting to reduce waste!

Jeanne with this weeks goodies, right off the farm:

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