zero waste zero problems

We have some very exciting news! Wait for it… wait for it… it’s… trash bags! I am sure you are looking puzzled right now and rightly so. What is oh so exciting about trash bags, you might ask? The fact that we bought a new box for the first time in over a year.


No, we didn’t have some massive quantity of trash bags just waiting to be used. We just feed our compost like a fat kid loves cake and the worms in our vermicompost don’t know what hunger is.

While we have all of our food waste under control here at the home front, anything that we can’t reuse, we recycle which is collected by the city. All of the lonely left over, can’t be reused, good for nothing waste, goes to the trash. I am just proud to say it’s not much.

Compost and recycling were some of the first things Ryan got rolling after he dropped off the moving truck. Hence, compost being one of the first posts that we were able to bring to you fine folks. (After introducing ourselves and filling you in on our Knoxville bed, of course.)

We have been recycling for seven years, since this duo joined forces we started dating. For years we accumulated our recyclables (paper, plastics, metals, glass) in four different containers and drove to a recycle drop off location. Once we got there, we had to break it down again by type, color,  etc. It could be a hassle, but nowadays most places have curbside pickup available.

Like many areas, our county makes us use official bags to put the recycling in. They give you the first hundred plus bag for free. I fill the bags as full as I can, and we still have enough free ones left to last us years. We can go weeks before I put the recycle out to be picked up. Ryan thinks I am too frugal with them, but they are so tall. You can’t waste that space!


We want more folks to enjoy the sweet and exhilarating feelings that come from the lack of trash bag purchases. So we gathered our top five moves to cut back on waste.

In permaculture, they say, “the problem is the solution and thus waste is a resource.” Once you close this loop, your resources become endless.

Move #1
This makes a huge difference directly redirecting waste from the landfill for reuse. So many amazing products are now made from recycled materials. Recycling seems to be a little different in every location. Contact your local city or county waste department to find out how to get started in your neck of the woods. Waste Management has a nice breakdown of what is recyclable along with some helpful tips here – totally worth checking out.

Getting the recycling started was a breeze. Ryan called the county waste department, and before we knew it we had our own blue bin and blue official trash bags to be collected weekly. The bin is for all things paper and cardboard and the bags are for metal, glass, and plastics. Easy peasy.

Move #2
Compost is an amazing product of the break down of organic materials rich in nutrients and microbes that can be used in the garden. This may be easier for some then others, depending on where you dwell, though there are several different ways to compost. (Check our tutorial on composting hereWe even have a sweet reference list of what and whatnot to use.) If you aren’t able to compost, there are tons of great compost companies that will pick up your organic waste like Atlanta’s Compost Wheels.

When we have kitchen scraps, they land in a designated bowl or compost container to later be buried in the compost pile. Leaving rotting food out of the trash is easier on the nose (avoiding rank odor), stretches the buck (tossed food is working for you while decomposing), and keeps you from taking out half empty trash bags (saving you more money and our little world).

Move #3
This is a method of composting using worms to digest and break down food waste. (Those with apartments and tiny yards, this one is for you.) Vermicomposting is a great way to turn food scraps into a natural and powerful fertilizer. You know we loved it so much we had to break it down for you here with a tutorial on how to start your own.

Ryan first tried vermicomposting back when we were living in our favorite Massachusetts home – a three level duplex with sweet skylights. Somehow for the past three years I allowed worms to happily live inches away from my kitchen. I actually have no problem at all with worms eating my trash. In fact, I don’t want to know a life without it. Nor do our plants! (For the record, they no longer hang in/near the kitchen. They are comfy cozy in the laundry room.)

Move #4
There are a million ways to repurpose and reuse things that are normally thrown aside. All you have to do is think outside of the box. “One man’s trash is another mans treasure” has never been more true. Don’t hold on to everything, some things are definitely better off recycled than hanging around causing clutter. And remember, just because you reuse something doesn’t mean you have to hold on to it for the long haul.

While most empty containers get recycled around here, some always get reused. I have a shelf in the laundry room where I accumulate containers and jars that can serve us well later. For the longest time, I had been reusing bottles for my hair wash.  They even get used to help us start different plants around this blossoming homestead, but we will have more on that later.

Move #5
Make It Yourself
Buying common household products for our everyday lives creates tons of waste or at best more recycling (if you actually take the time to rinse the container). It probably comes as no surprise, this is my favorite move of them all. Making various beauty products (like face wash and deodorant) and household products (like laundry detergent) not only cuts back on piling empty containers, it cuts back on chemicals. Every time you run out of something, ask yourself the same questions we do, can I make that and is it worth it?

During this past year, we have really put ‘making it yourself’ to the test. Since it just keeps making us happy and saving us money, we are going to keep on keeping on. I have been sharing a lot of my DIY beauty products and soon Ryan will be sharing some of his.

There you have it, our top five ways to strive for zero waste. And when you are celebrating a lack of no trash bag purchases, be sure to drop us a line.

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