The Johnson family’s story has had a long-lasting affect on me. If you haven’t heard about the Johnson family, read this post. If you’re pressed for time and don’t want to read that post, in a nutshell, the Johnson family produces no trash (or almost no trash).
You know the old saying that once inflated a balloon never reverts back to its original size? Well, that’s what the Johnson family’s story did to me. Every time I go into the grocery store, I realize just how much trash I’m buying. No, I’m not talking trash as in junk food, but trash in how things are packaged.
When I buy produce, I not only bring home the produce, but I bring home the plastic bag they’re sold in. A tray of chicken wings comes on a yellow Styrofoam tray along with the clear plastic wrap that keeps the chicken on the tray and prevents chicken juice from leaking all over the place.
Not Just Groceries
We recently bought an office printer. There’s the cardboard box, plastic protective bags and more Styrofoam. On a smaller scale I purchased a set of wireless headphones. That came with more cardboard and of course that ever so annoying plastic packaging that even Houdini would have a hard time opening.
To really add fuel to the trash fire, the office futon (which we had to assemble), was packaged in enough cardboard, Styrofoam and plastic wrap to make the least environmentally friendly person cringe. How did the Johnson family do it? Did they ever purchase new furniture or equipment?
Back to the Baby Steps
Maybe I’m taking on too much at one time, but I am overwhelmed at the amount of trash we purchase. So, in usual style, I had to break things down into smaller manageable steps. Let’s start with an onion. The first trick is getting it from the store to the home without excess trash.
I bought loose onions but ended up putting them in the thin plastic bags at the store in order to weigh them. Once I bought them home, I realized in addition to the trash involved in buying onions, I created more onion related trash at home. If you only need to use ½ of an onion, what do you do with the other half of the onion that isn’t used? I tell you what I used to do. I used to either wrap the open onion in clear plastic wrap or put it in a zip lock bag.
When I used the other half of the onion, I had a baggie or plastic wrap to throw away. Now, instead of using disposable plastic bags, I use a small Rubbermaid container for my unused produce. I know it’s a small step, but that’s where it all begins.
I’m now more aware of what I buy, how I buy it and how much trash I’m purchasing. I’m also aware of how much “post-store” trash I’m creating in my attempts to preserve the groceries I bought. I know I’ve got a long way to go, but I believe awareness is the first step.
How about you? What changes have you made to reduce the amount of trash you and your family produce? I’d love to hear a few insider tips.