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Trash Diet

I’m very fortunate to live in one of the greenest cities in America.  In fact, the city of Seattle has the ambitious goal of diverting 60% of it’s municipal waste to recycling and composting by 2012.  A major factor in reaching that goal is the city’s ability to educate it’s residents on how to reduce their landfill footprint through increased recycling and composting.     

Why am I telling you this?  Despite not technically being a resident of the city (I live in the burbs), I was recently invited by Seattle Public Utilities and The Glad Products company to take part in their trash diet program.  The concept is simple – they provide me with a home visit from an expert in sustainable living, as well as a 6 month supply of recycling and composting products, and I share what I learn along the way with all of you.


As someone who’s been secretly eyeing my friends’ counter top compost bins with an equal balance of awe and confusion, I jumped at the chance.  So once a week for the next month I’ll be sharing with you some tips and info. on how your family can go green right along with mine.



Together we’ll learn lots of useful stuff including how to get started composting and recycling, how to get the kids excited about going green, and even how to save a little money in the process.  I’m kicking it all off today with a list of “The Top 3 Things I Learned From Tom”.  (Tom Watson is the sustainability expert I had a chance to chat with earlier this week.  He’s also a super nice and knowledgeable guy.)


Click through for Tom’s tips – one of which actually does pertain to the photos above.  And you thought I was just trying to sneak in some more cute pics of the kids.


The Top 3 Things I Learned From Tom 


1) Being an eco-conscience family isn’t just about what you do with your trash, it’s also about reducing how much trash you produce.  That means re-using and re-purposing items instead of always buying new.  A great place to start is with kid crafts and games.  We stockpile all sorts of household materials (toilet paper rolls, large juice bottles, plastic baby wipe containers, egg cartons, etc.) for yet-to-be-determined future uses.

The cardboard from cereal boxes is perfect for cutting out 3D cityscapes and baby food jars with a little rice inside make great rattles.  Of course, the most classic example is the cardboard box.  In fact, the large model that our new trash/recycling bin arrived in provided my kiddos with hours of fun. (See here for more cardboard inspiration).

2) Craig’s List is an eco-parent’s best friend.  Let’s face it, kids (especially young kids) don’t have the longest attention spans.  That means they often outgrow their toys before the items get a whole lot of use (despite your kids begging you to buy the thing for weeks on end).

This phenomenon results in Craig’s List being full of kid stuff that’s in new or like-new condition.  Buying these items instead of something new means you’re keeping one more toy from ending up in a landfill.  Plus you’ll likely save around 50%!  And you don’t have to stop there, thrift stores and garage sales are also excellent sources for kid gear.

3) How you shop for and store your food can make a big impact.   By now, I think most of us are aware that using re-usable shopping bags is a good idea.  Not only does it reduce waste, it can also earn you perks at many stores.  (At my local Trader Joe’s anyone who brings in their own bags is eligible for a bi-weekly drawing for a $25 gift card.)

Along with re-usable bags, another thing to pay attention to at the grocery store is how food is packaged.  One super easy way to reduce waste is to buy items in bulk-sized packaging instead of individual serving-sized packaging.  This, of course, cuts down on the amount of trash produced.  Finally, the less food that goes rotten in your fridge – the less you waste.  So do your best to keep left-overs stored somewhere visible where they won’t be forgotten.  (We love these BPA-free glass snapware containers at my house.)  If you’d like more info. on sustainable shopping, see this excellent post.

That’s it for today – not too hard, right?  I hope this has inspired you to join us on our family journey to go green.  I’ll have a little more later on the Glad products we’re trying out but for now here’s the list in case you’d like to get some of your own:

Glad Composting Bags & Large Kitchen Composting Bucket
Glad Forceflex Kitchen Bags, Glad Kitchen Recycling Bags & Double Bin Stainless Steel Trash and Recycle Bin

Similar Stuff:
DIY Toys that are Totally Worth the Effort
More Homemade Fun
Eye Spy Bottles (aka Travel Sensory Boxes)



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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Ausmerican Housewife July 14, 2011 at 8:22 am

I didn’t know you were a Seattle girl! (My home town area! Actually Snohomish Co….)

I love my Lock&Lock containers! They’re bpa free, I got a nice set as a bridal shower gift and my collection has grown in the last year. My original set is still going strong after 4 years!

We cook for 4, freeze for two around here which works great. Leftovers don’t always make it *to* the freezer but they get eaten as lunches or dinners later on. Where we work has a great lunch room (and we’ve got plenty of storage for packed lunches.) We also do online grocery shopping and use it for all our heavy stuff (milk, juice, potatoes, rice, bulk food etc). Lighter stuff we lug home on the bus or mountainbike in our backpacks. Works a treat! We’d love a car but alas, no finances for one yet…


Marisa July 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Great post! I can’t wait to see the rest in the series. We had a big first last month—our first time not filling a whole garbage bag in a week! We had nothing for garbage pickup that week and I was ecstatic. Now it’s my goal every week. :)


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com July 14, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Cooking a little extra to freeze is something I really want to start doing – leftovers make great lunches for me and the baby.

Marisa – congrats, that is amazing!


Melissa Taylor July 14, 2011 at 11:49 pm

sounds like a cool opportunity – I’m surprised at how many people I know that don’t (gasp) recycle, use reusable bags, shop at consignment stores, etc. For us, it’s not only our value system but economics! We have to reuse.


Michelle DuPuis July 15, 2011 at 2:28 am

What a cool opportunity! We’ve been composting since we bought our house 3 years ago. It’s actually a lot of fun…and my gardens love it!


Tiffany February 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm

We use recycling as an incentive. Our kids are responsible for all of the soda cans that make it in the house. EX: When we have parties we buy canned drinks instead of the large bottles. After the kids have accumulated a bag or two, we turn them in for the cash. We let the kids use the cash for a fun Saturday out. We may go to the Zoo, Chuck E. Cheeses or to play Putt-Putt. It teaches our kids responsibility, earning money, and the rewards of hard work.


Steph at ModernParentsMessyKids.com February 17, 2012 at 3:12 am

Love that – teaches both environmental responsibility and an appreciation for money.


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