Earth Day is Every Day When You Strive for Zero Waste

In light our annual Fairfield, CT Earth Day Celebration, I have updated this post I wrote.

Hey, Fairfield, Reduce Your Waste! It’s Frugal and Sustainable! 

We are a family of five, including three growing children.  Our ranch style house is 1,100 square feet, with a 600 sq. ft. finished basement that has a full bathroom (thank goodness!).  We have been a one-modest-income family for nearly nine years.  We live debt-free in one of the most expensive counties in the United States.  Little did I realize that it all began with cutting down on waste – literally, garbage.

In 2003, our Smith and Hawken compost bin was a Consumer Reports Best Buy. Today, there are many affordable recycled plastic compost bins from which to choose.  Better yet, DIY, do-it-yourself!

The first expense we cut was our garbage service.  (If you are reading this from out of town, you read that correctly.  Garbage service is not covered by city tax.)  At that time, we had two in diapers and a town dump run four times a month.  So for the first couple of years, it was only a savings of about $100 per year.  However, a couple of years later, after our third child was born, we did two things that affected our garbage disposal: established a compost bin and discovered Freecycle.

With a compost bin and worms from the backyard, our vegetable scraps turned to soil.  Composting eventually led to the start of a modest 4’ x 8’ ft. raised bed garden, which in two years lowered our food bill and raised our health quotient.

Cherry tomatoes, bush beans, butternut squash, rosemary, basil, sage, nasturtium, marigold and pumpkin grew in our side garden. Cucumber grew next to our roses in our front garden.

Freecycling decreased our need to purchase items.  I’ve gotten great toys and games, arts and crafts, bread machines, glass bakeware, winter boots and clothing -in great condition- for our family.  Conversely, by offering items Freecycle, I began the long, on-going process of de-cluttering our house.  With composting and Freecycling, our trips to the dump and our spending began to decrease even more.  Bonus: the environment benefited, too.

Other ways we began to cut down on waste and spending:  for the last five years, since my daughter started 1st grade, we have been using cloth napkins, and much to my husband’s dismay, stopped using paper towels.  Instead, we reuse rags, wash with cold water and hang clothes on outdoor- and/or indoor- laundry lines.  Also, for the last eight years, we have belonged to an organic and natural food co-op. We save a lot by buying “dirty dozen” organic produce and buying at lower, bulk prices: organic grains, flour, sugar, dried herbs, and non-food items, such as detergent.  Buying in bulk not only saves money, but produces less garbage.  Over the years, cooking has become less mysterious and more of a joy.  Cooking from scratch is always cheaper.  See my Frugal Foodie Recipes :)!

Today, with composting, single-stream recycling (as of last summer – #1 – 7 plastics and paperboard boxes, such as toilet paper rolls and cereal boxes, can now be recycled), cooking from scratch, and just buying less, we go to the town dump once every four to five weeks!

Several months ago, an online news video story about the “Zero Waste Home” caught my eye.  Bea and Scott Johnson and their two growing boys downsized from a 3,000 square foot home to a 1,400 square foot home.  They went from filling two large rolling garbage cans per week to holding four months worth of garbage in two hands.

Their grocery bills have been cut by 25% by shopping locally and carefully planning meals.  Their utility bills have gone down even more.  “Zero Waste is good for your wallet,” Bea says.  But most of all, they have achieved a well-being of health and happiness they did not enjoy with having more stuff.  This family is a living example of “LESS IS MORE” and “HEALTH IS WEALTH.”

Living in Fairfield, CT, in Fairfield County, one of the most expensive and affluent counties in the United States, is to be surrounded by a majority who believe that success is defined by having the most square footage, the most luxurious cars, and the latest “stuff”.  I challenge you, dear reader, especially Fairfielders, to help turn this definition around:  Let’s teach our children that success is defined by the ability to put people before things, and to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Less IS more.  Health IS wealth.  Consider joining us on our journey toward simple prosperity.

Our town library is an extremely valuable resource!!!  Utilize and support it in every way you can. (Register for upcoming library workshops led by TFF’s Marilyn Syarto on Budgeting and Couponing.)

The Zero Waste Home video news story I stumbled upon.

Here’s The Zero Waste Home Blog that inspires me.

The “Dirty Dozen” Organic Produce list helps make eating organic fruits and veggies affordable.  Download the app or print the wallet-sized shopping guide here.

Learn to Cook for Good.

One of many resources on cooking and eating on a budget here AND here for budget food ideas.

Our organic and natural food buying club is open to new members.  Send me your email address to learn more.

~Aimee, TFF

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5 thoughts on “Earth Day is Every Day When You Strive for Zero Waste

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  3. Thank you for sharing this very powerful quote! “Let’s teach our children that success is defined by the ability to put people before things, and to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle. Less IS more. Health IS wealth.” It gives one a lot to think about!

    1. Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. I am grateful to belong to a community of parents who are striving toward this goal and legacy for our children. Happy Earth Day! ~Aimee, TFF

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