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Zero Waste Labor Day

August 31, 2019

My hobby for the past couple of years has been to collect as little new plastic as possible, from packaging to products. I even tried composting in an apartment composter for a while until I had several infestations of other insects and my worms died. While I am certainly not living a zero waste life, I have endeavored to have less trash and to be aware of what I’m bringing into my home that I eventually will have to throw out.

Going totally zero waste may not be your thing, but can you do it for one day? All over the country Zero Waste Labor Day celebrations are springing up to bring awareness to how much we contribute to the landfills. The average American makes 4.4 pounds of trash a day. Outdoor picnics are one of the biggest contributors to an individual’s trash because everything is typically disposable.

If you’re hosting a Labor Day event this weekend, consider using real silverware and plates and washing them. If you are going to someone else’s house, lug a mug, a plate and silverware to avoid using disposables. I keep a set of bamboo eating utensils in my purse and a metal container in my car for leftovers.

Here are some picnic tips:

  • Use glasses instead of plastic cups
  • Label trash, recycling and food waste bins
  • Repurpose decorations from other holidays
  • Pack leftovers for guests
  • Use foil instead of plastic
  • Choose a drink in a recyclable bottle or can

If you aren’t going to a picnic this weekend, challenge yourself to see if you can go one day without throwing anything into the garbage can. Use recyclables when you can. Compost food scraps – if you don’t have a compost bin or live somewhere where that’s impractical, collect your food scraps and bury them in the back yard or forest at the end of the day. Make sure everything is bio-degradable that you are burying.

Noticing what goes into the trash bin is the first step in reducing your footprint on Mother Earth. Few of us are aware on a daily basis of the packaging of our food items that goes into the garbage. Even fruit and veggies usually have plastic labels on them, which are easy to peel off but don’t recycle.

Most of all, though, don’t feel bad if you can’t do zero waste. Our society really isn’t set up to make that easy. But the first step in solving any problem is always awareness. Make Labor Day your day to work on the planet’s health by using the day as a meditation on what you can do to heal Mother Earth.

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