Since we live about 25 minutes by car to the nearest town, over an hour to the nearest city, and we don’t have trash service, we have to get creative with waste management. That means we’ve ended up finding ways to turn our waste into food.
First and foremost, we try to reduce the amount of trash we produce. We do this by buying things in bulk and eliminating single use plastics (grocery bags, ziplock bags, etc) and paper products (like napkins and paper towels) whenever possible.
We’ve also transitioned the majority of our kitchen and bathroom products to zero waste items, which really just means that the product itself and/or the containers, and packaging can be reused, recycled or composted. By transitioning to low-waste and zero waste items, we’re not only redirecting things from the landfill and oceans, but we’re often saving money since we have to pay for both fuel to get to a transfer station, and $5 per 55-gallon trash can at the dump. Even if some of these low-waste items cost a little bit more upfront, most of them last way longer, look nicer, and often the packaging can quite literally turn into food. And obviously, they’re better for the planet, since it can take up to 1,000 years for most plastics to decompose in a landfill! That’s if they don’t end up in the ocean as a microplastic, harming marine life.
My favorite low-waste kitchen switches
HoldOn Bags Review
This post is sponsored by HoldOn Bags, they make heavy duty plant based, non toxic 100% home compostable trash and kitchen storage bags. They offer a variety of sizes for different needs too. We’ve been testing them out for over a month now and are truly impressed with the quality and how quickly they compost (in 2-3 weeks)! We use the 4 gallon bags for our kitchen countertop compost container and bathroom garbage, and the larger 13 gallon bags for our main house garbage can. We also use their 1 gallon zip sealed bags to store fruit in the freezer for smoothies and the sandwich sized bags for snacks and sandwiches. The sandwich bags are also great for backpacking because they are super lightweight. All their bags are durable and they truly do compost in weeks! They even get shipped plastic free and inside recyclable/biodegradable boxes.
My favorite low-waste bathroom switches
Check out my more comprehensive list of zero waste household products.
Most of our food waste gets composted, since our diets are mostly plant based. And all of that compost, turns into rich food (and a fertilizer substitute) for both our indoor houseplants and in our outdoor garden! Unfinished compost (that’s not fully composted) can even be used as mulch on more established outdoor plants like fruit trees.
At-Home Composting Basic Tools
Next, we recycle as much as possible! The closest recycling facility is over an hour drive, so we stock pile our recycling and take it once every month or two when we’re running errands in the city. We also read number labels on any plastic containers we do end up buying groceries or other household products in. Plastic numbers 1 and 2 are the most likely to actually get recycled. So for example, I drink milk alternatives (almond, cashew, oat) which typically come in plastic #2 containers, and therefore I feel slightly more confident that the jugs will actually get recycled when I take them to the recycling center.
We even recycle our grey water from our washing machine! We use biodegradable detergent pods, and then the water goes into a DIY reed bed filtration system that we made out of a stock container, PVC pipe, rocks and dirt. Then once the water has been filtered through the natural layers we’ve added to the tank, it gets used to water the more established fruit trees in our garden. So not only are we turning our food waste into compost, we are also recycling our water waste into an input for our garden, and turning more waste into food!
Then finally, any waste we don’t cut out from the consumer process, can’t be recycled, reused or composted, gets thrown into the trash. We usually take our trash once every month or 2 to a transfer station about 25 minutes away.
We’re definitely not doing everything we can do on these fronts, nor have we perfected these processes, but we’re learning as we go, and it’s been really educational to see the end of life cycle of a lot of our products, and fulfilling to be able to convert some of our food and water waste back into food!