The Idea (“We Have Enough Stuff”)
Not too long ago, we (Grant and Jen) cycled down the Pacific Coast of the United States. And when we got home, after months of carrying everything we needed on our bicycles, we thought “we have too much stuff”. In fact there was an entire house filled with all sorts of things that we hadn’t missed at all while we were away.
This led us to believe that maybe we didn’t need all those things in the first place and that definitely we didn’t need to keep buying more things that were just going to end up in the landfill. We figured we could go for days or even weeks without buying more “stuff”. Heck, why not a year?
Starting on Canada Day, July 1, 2008, we (Grant and Jen and our roommate Rhyannon) pledged to try to buy no more “stuff” and produce zero landfill waste for one year. No buying clothing or DVDs, no make-up or i-pods, no fancy running shoes, sparkley headbands or duct tape, no plastic patio lanterns, saran wrap or handmade pottery mugs. . . . you get the idea.
The zero waste idea came from the idea that packaging is also “stuff”. After all, it’s the goods we want, not the plastic or styrofoam surrounding it. We’re trying to reduce packaging wherever we can and to make sure that packaging we do get is either compostable or recyclable. No buying individually wrapped granola bars or foil lined boxes of cookies, no tomatoes in plastic clamshells or take-out containers, no frozen pizzas wrapped in plastic followed by cardboard followed by plastic. We know what you’re thinking: “what about toilet paper?” Yes, we can buy it. Check out The Rules for, well, the rules.
- The bottom line is this: by bringing less stuff into our house, we’ll have less stuff going out of our house and into the landfill.
Lets just clarify some things here. We are did this project for our own entertainment and satisfaction. We are not unemployed hippies trying to collapse the North American economy nor are we under the impression that recycling our yogurt containers will save the world. We just figured that we have done more than our share of buying crap in the past few years, and we could stand to cut down on the purchases. Also, we like a little competitive challenge.
Trying to be a responsible consumer entails so many choices and so much responsible research. How was the product made? What were the living conditions of the workers? What is the packaging like? Was it fairly traded? Organically grown? Ethically sourced? On sale? For us, it was much easier to decide to just not buy it. We are not advocating not buying as a sustainable lifestyle (eventually my underwear will wear out and I’ll buy new ones), but for a year we challenged ourselves to make do.
This was not a project in reducing greenhouse gases, living without plastic, eating locally, taking transit, riding bicycles, living off the land, making toothpaste, or saving the world; although, we may coincidentally do a few of these things. There are many other people successfully doing and writing about these activities, and you should definitely check them out. But for us, we were just trying to buy less stuff and make less garbage.
Who The Heck Are We?
Go to our Contact page for more info on who we are.
78 responses to “the project”
I know just how you feel. Our holidays are mostly self catering in small cottages. We don’t own a car and travel by public transport so we don’t carry any more than we really need. There is such a sense of liberation in living for a fortnight with little more than we can fit in a suitcase or rucksack.
I admire your courage on embarking on this enterprise and wish you well. I’m sure you’ll emerge from it with a better understanding of who you are and what is most impotant.
I’m really impressed with your local lifestyle. Travelling is definitely an eco- challenge for us. We trying not to fly this year, but we still use a car on the weekends. This project is slowly influencing all aspects of our lives – not just waste and consumption. I feel like I have more time now that I’m not constantly researching things to buy, and that in itself make this project worth it.
You of course must realize that if more people did what you are currently doing, the economy would take such a nosedive that there would be no recovery. American shopping is probably the most significant prop-up to our economy and during a recession, the last thing we need is a bunch of morons trying to stop want based shopping. It is not only inconsiderate but dangerous to our country as a whole.
Dear Hippy Hate,
You’re right, if everyone stopped buying everything, our economy would tank. Luckily, that’s not what the Clean Bin Project is about. We aren’t against spending money. We’re just trying to stop needless consumerism in our own lives.
We still spend money on groceries, dining out, theatre, movies, experiences, and transportation (including car parts and gas). We still pay our taxes and support charities.
In fact, we’re supporting local economy more than ever because instead of buying jeans made in China, we’re buying things like honey from a local farmer. That money stays in our economy.
Once our project is over, we hope we remember to think about what we’re buying. For example, maybe it’s better to buy one organic t-shirt from a North American designer rather than 4 cheap ones made overseas for the same price? Or maybe it’s more healthy to grow your own lettuce than buy it at the big box grocery?
Actually, this project is really more about waste than about spending money. We are really concerned with the amount of garbage that North Americans produce, and we thought that we could personally produce much much less, so we’re giving it a go. I truly don’t see a downside to trying to reduce landfill waste. There is actually an economic value to recycling more – it creates jobs in the recycling sector and drives innovation in recycled content goods.
Finally, please keep the name calling to a minimum so this can be a thoughtful and respectful discussion. Thanks for checking out the site.
I’m 19, planning to live a sustainable life for myself, the society and future generations. I just did a six months eco volunteer program and learned a ton of stuff that I didn’t know. People are not even aware of their ecological footprint and think everything is fine because the truth is not seen. Grant and Jen, I admire your courage and encourage you to always try to produce less waste. The challenge you just took probably changed your life in many ways and I feel inspired and happy to learn that people actually do CARE about environment. I don’t want my kids to live in a landfill.
Thanks for your feedback. We feel the same way. We still have a long way to go to reduce our footprint, but waste is a good start. Where did you do your eco volunteer program? It sounds like it was a life changing experience.
I did my program in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. It’s a six months program called Katimavik and the theme of my group was “Ecocitizenship and Active Living”. It was indeed a life changing experience. I’m now trying to get my family to reduce their ecological footprint by doing lots of simple but important things. Hopefully this will make a difference!
I love your reply to Hippie Hate. Keep on doing what you are doing because it is sinking in to people.
oh gosh – Mr Hippy Hate – the economy ‘as we know it’ is destroying itself just fine & doesn’t need any help from anyone!!
I love shopping myself – but why would I need to buy garbage(=excessive packaging) together with eco bananas if I just want to buy & eat the eco bananas?!
I love food & pretty things & hate trash!
Do you want to live in a landfill or next to an incinerator? No, I don’t want either.. & I don’t want my loved ones, friends or relatives to have to either..
So let’s all lobby companies & manufacturers to create eco-friendly, 100% recyclable & recycled products, instead of running around shouting ‘hippy hate’ – no?!!
I *WANT* to buy butter without an unrecyclable butter wrapper!! If I can’t, I’ll make it – not with such gladness, but I will (or get someone who will!)
“American shopping is probably the most significant prop-up to our economy”?!!
I thought happy healthy people & environment were the most important thing for a healthy economy… Dead or seriously ill people, or subclinically-ill people don’t boost economy.. 😦
Economy-as-it-was was producing LOTS of seriously ill people… worldwide.. So hopefully a new & healthier economy will rise from the ashes of what looks like ‘crisis’…
I would LOVE nothing more than going to a shop & being able to see ‘pretty things’ again & not just (unrecyclable or not *really* recycled) ‘trash trash trash’….
“I would LOVE nothing more than going to a shop & being able to see ‘pretty things’ again & not just (unrecyclable or not *really* recycled) ‘trash trash trash’….”
Me too. Having your eyes opened is a real bummer. I just have to take joy in the unpackaged goodies I find.
If our economy depends mostly on wasteful consumerism then we are in deep trouble. It’s time to scale this mess down to a sustainable level. Since WWII ended, we have become wasteful beyond previous imagination. Let’s just stop it. These people show us that they can be happy and healthy with less, but I’m sure it cut into their available time to watch TV filled with commercials to buy more needless crap. Start taking responsibility for your actions so maybe the next generations won’t be living in a landfill !
A late-commer to this page — “Moron” is an interesting choice of words for someone who obviously did not read their crystal-clear explanation.
But also packaging elimination would not stop buying. Was it in the 1960’s that Australia introduced the required mesh bags for shopping?
Actually attitudes like yours are dangerous-ever hear of balance? Just because something is part of the economy doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause harm or waste. I am sure child exploitation is great for Thailand’s economy but that doesn’t mean it is acceptable.That is why the current economy is flawed, but maybe you’re too busy shopping to ever think about such things.Our current economy is designed to always grow and grow and grow, yet with 7 billion people we cannot sustain the demands without destroying our ecosystems and biodiversity that keep humans and other species healthy in the first place. In a sustainable economy, a lot of the unnecessary waste could be eliminated. Of course jobs will be lost in some sectors, but better ones will be created. Do you think people are doing the same jobs they did 40 years ago to keep the economy going? No of course not…that would be the definition of stagnation. Of course we still think and act in ways that are decades old. What is inconsiderate is how people behave buy, throw away, buy, throw away…repear. Here’s a thought–spend more on less and put pressure on companies to make cradle to cradle products that end up in landfills.
I mean out of the landfills!
I try to buy as little as possible. But I probably spend 10x the amount that you do on supporting my local economy than you do on yours. I support the local tailor by getting my clothes fixed and sized rather than spending money at a a chain store for new clothes.I get my shoes fixed by a local shoe repair guy. I pay the local IT guy to fix my computer when there is something wrong with it. For entertainment, I go out to see plays, ballets, and symphonies. I do my best to buy stuff made in my country instead of a Chinese sweat shop. I buy from locally owned stores and pay a little more money, for a superior product rather than going to Wal-Mart. I go to the local butcher instead of buying from my chain grocery store, and I try to buy from non-chain grocery stores/farmers markets when I can so there isn’t a monopoly for big chain markets. I go to the library, which employs people but I also buy a book or 2 every now and then from a locally owned bookstore. I take public transit which employs people too. But I also have a car for longer trips. If my car breaks down I go to the local mechanic. In my country over half of the population is employed by smaller independently owned businesses and our country is doing just fine.
Yes, those are all great suggestions for supporting the local economy, and we do pretty much all of them too! Our project wasn’t about not spending money, it was about not buying “stuff”, and it definitely re-set our idea of what we “need” vs want. Keep up the good work.
I think this is an awesome idea! saw your info in mec mag and i am motivated to continue making the small changes i already do with my family and to do even more!!!
my kids thank you! you do and will make a difference!
In your film you were wondering Jen if this is all worth it when you see the person next in line to you having their groceries double bagged. We all know the answer to that- it’s not only worth it but necessary.
I teach Grade 8 Science and will definitely tell the kids about this project- it’s ingenious. It’s also the first R in the 3Rs of recycle which we have totally forgotten about – REDUCE. I recycle, reuse as much as I can but this project will truly inspire me to reduce. And if I can influence one child in my Science class to do the same at home I will feel that I have had a success. Look forward to the film and more tips from this website. Bonne Chance!
Jen & Grant (& Rhyannon),
it truly is an AWESOME idea!!
My Mum & me already got inspired by your videos.. I keep telling people (who are already interested in green things & others) about buying cheese or meat or such with reusable containers, & almost all who were previously already ‘green’ think it’s a great idea!! (& wish they thought of it before!! :))
We’d never dare to do it if we haven’t seen you in the movie, & okay, there was a boost from Mrs A & Mrs Green too! Actually seeing things in the movie helped heaps though!!
Our bin also managed to get ‘slimmer’ as a result!!
Was wondering if it would be okay to translate/subtitle your trailer & the TV interview to inspire people here in Slovenia? Or maybe at least post with translated transcript?
(many understand English, but not all – eg I had to translate for Mum..)
/Also do you maybe have transcripts or such already..?/
You probably have my mail – not sure how this works.. Or I can send you a PM…
Anyway, would love to hear from you on this!
We found your site through the story in the MEC catalogue. Very cool!
Last night we were planning a canoe trip with some friends for this coming summer, and we recalled how last spring six of us hiked through the Grand Canyon for a week, North to South Rim; and that we were able to (because we HAD to) reduce all our garbage to one very small (20-30 cm) zip-lock bag.
This really did make us reconsider how casual we usually are with “garbage,” and redouble our efforts to be much more intentional with our purchases, and mindful about packaging.
I suppose we westerners may be a tad smug about how we use our blue-boxes, etc., but as I cycle to work down back lanes on “garbage day,” I’m amazed to see how many houses now pack out two or three and sometimes four blue boxes every week! Who are we kidding?
We wish you well in your good adventure, and hope you will be a very good inspiration to many.
TS-You’re totally right. We are putting so much emphasis on recycling that we forget about reducing first. It is amazing what people can do if they are forced by circumstance (or by arbitrary self imposed, year-long competitions). I’m definitely impressed with your single zip lock bag of waste. I find camping and hiking to be pretty big waste challenges because we always want to buy things that are dehydrated or packaged in plastic. Sometimes I miss the convenience of granola bars or dinner-in-a-bag.. . . . .
We purchased a dehydrator a few years ago, and for hikes like our Grand Canyon trek, it has been great, both for snacks (bananas, red peppers, apples, apple sauce, pineapples, tomatoes, etc.) and for some of our meals; i.e. chili. Wish we’d thought of this years ago! These taste much better than any bought snacks, and with some soup mix, rice, pasta and various kinds of nuts… we’ve found that you really can eat quite well without much fuss or garbage to carry out.
Your year long experiment is a challenge to us to reconsider how we might live more simply (& perhaps with less fragmentation and distraction!) not only when we’re off for a remote hike, but throughout life in general. It will be very interesting to see what new ways of living, and what habits will endure for you folk beyond this one year. Keep us posted!
Kind regards, TS
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I am totally on board – I will try this starting this Canada Day. The only think that concerns me – I am planning my wedding. I will have to be extra creative to get through this. Does buying something used count as buying something??
tt-That’s awesome that you are up for the challenge! You can, of course,choose rules that work for you. Once our year is done, and we go back to buying things, I am definitely going to aim for used over new. Check out SimpleSavvy and ThisYoungHouse both of whom had pretty eco-concious/DIY weddings.
This is awesome. Congratulations on a great idea and a great achievement. The ecological crisis means we have to find new ways of consuming and producing. The trouble is that no one seems to know the way forward. It takes pioneers like those involved in this project to shine a light into uncharted territory and to prove the nay-sayers wrong. You have taught us an important lesson: we don’t have to live the way we live now. Alternatives are possible!
Thanks David! Even thought we weren’t perfect in our year, we’ were really happy about how much less we consumed and produced compared to the year before. That alone makes me realize that people can change and they can change fast if they are motivated. We want people to feel empowered to make a personal shift and not be overwhelmed by the big picture of climate change etc. I don’t know if we’re pioneers- we’ve met tons of people doing similar things “under the radar”, and we definitely had our own heros to guide us this year, but thanks for your support. Spread the word!
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Hi Grant, Jen & Rhy,
I realize that I am WAY late to this party, but I just wanted to write to tell you how inspired I am by your project! I have been working on reading all of your blog posts from the beginning. Jen, I heard about your project from your sister Kate – she and my brother Ben go to school together in Ottawa. I have been blogging about a similar project (although not nearly as hardcore) that I started this past January.
Anyway, you have left me motivated to do more so keep up the great work!
Maren (aka marebare)
You’re never too late to this party! Sure our project ended, but we keep on learning and becoming more passionate about how we can reduce (consumption, waste everything).
Great work on your project! I have only read the last few posts, but will be back. It’s especially interesting to read about families since people always tell us that our project would be way too hard if we had kids. Happy blogging!
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In your film you were wondering Jen if this is all worth it when you see the person next in line to you having their groceries double bagged. We all know the answer to that- it’s not only worth it but necessary.I teach Grade 8 Science and will definitely tell the kids about this project- it’s ingenious. It’s also the first R in the 3Rs of recycle which we have totally forgotten about – REDUCE. I recycle, reuse as much as I can but this project will truly inspire me to reduce. And if I can influence one child in my Science class to do the same at home I will feel that I have had a success. Look forward to the film and more tips from this website. Bonne Chance!
I saw the movie and presentation in Peterborough, and I have to say that I cringed about throwing cat wastes down the toilet…
See chapter “How to compost cat and dog waste” in book Holy Shit: Managing Manure To Save Mankind by Gene Logsdon
“This could very well be one of the most important books ever written. Few people realize that the subject of excrement is so critically important, complex, and timely. Thankfully, Gene Logsdon has provided humanity with a literary gift that addresses this most basic and fundamental subject with wisdom, humor, poetry and reverence. Holy Shit belongs in every bathroom in every home. The book is great. I love it.”
—Joseph Jenkins, author of The Humanure Handbook
In his insightful new book, Holy Shit, Managing Manure To Save Mankind, contrary farmer Gene Logsdon provides the inside story of manure—our greatest, yet most misunderstood, natural resource. He begins by lamenting a modern society that not only throws away both animal and human manure—worth billions of dollars in fertilizer value—but that spends a staggering amount of money to do so. This wastefulness makes even less sense as the supply of mined or chemically synthesized fertilizers dwindles and their cost skyrockets. In fact, he argues, if we do not learn how to turn our manures into fertilizer to keep food production in line with increasing population, our civilization, like so many that went before it, will inevitably decline.
With his trademark humor, his years of experience writing about both farming and waste management, and his uncanny eye for the small but important details, Logsdon artfully describes how to manage farm manure, pet manure, and human manure to make fertilizer and humus. He covers the field, so to speak, discussing topics like:
•How to select the right pitchfork for the job and use it correctly
•How to operate a small manure spreader
•How to build a barn manure pack with farm animal manure
•How to compost cat and dog waste • How to recycle toilet water for irrigation purposes, and
•How to get rid of our irrational paranoia about feces and urine
Gene Logsdon does not mince words. This fresh, fascinating, and entertaining look at an earthy, but absolutely crucial, subject, is a small gem and is destined to become a classic of our agricultural literature.
About the Author
Gene Logsdon farms in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. He is one of the clearest and most original voices of rural America. He has published more than two dozen books; his Chelsea Green books include Small-Scale Grain Raising (Second Edition), Living at Nature’s Pace, The Contrary Farmer’s Invitation to Gardening, Good Spirits, and The Contrary Farmer. He writes a popular blog at OrganicToBe.org, is a regular contributor to Farming magazine and The Draft Horse Journal, and writes an award-winning weekly column in the Carey, Ohio Progressor Times.
hi Jen and Grant
Saw your DVD last night in Wakefield. Loved it!! Love you guys for getting the message across with such skill and good humour. We are going to change our trashy ways!!
I want to buy your DVD when it becomes available so can you put me on the list for that?
Have a safe ride
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Sorry I didn’t see your movie when it was shown here in Gander earlier this week ( didn’t know about it), but I really enjoyed listening to you both on “Crosstalk” on CBC earlier today. I’m hoping to learn more tips on leading a ” low garbage lifestyle ” from your blog . Good Luck in convincing all Canadians to keep our landfills empty !!!
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Saw the movie in Vail yesterday. I am inspired to do more (with less of course) and pass the message on. Thanks!
Thanks for coming out Krstan!
hi good people, I’m from Argentina, work with Surfrider Foundation and first i wanted to realise, now i think much better is not to have that to recycle.
in a way naturally i do wat you do all the time, and my friend are following me and we laugh when they carry all the super market things in their hands because bags are not my friends, jejejeje.
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Hi, Grant, Jen and Rhyannon! My name is Tamara. I’m new to your blog (and new to doing some blogging myself) but have a long-time interest in environmental issues. Recently, I’ve been thinking about how the internet – especially blogs – can be a place for telling personal stories that are also forms of environmental activism. Even though you make it clear that the blog is not necessarily about “saving the earth” per se, based on the comments it is inspiring a lot of people to adopt more sustainable practices. That said, I was hoping I could draw on your expertise in this area for a post that I’m working on for my blog. If it’s ok, I’d love to (virtually) talk with you a bit about your experience with creating and posting to this blog and then share our conversation through a link on my blog at artplaceidentity.blogspot.com. I’m hoping to gather some insights about what it means to share personal stories with an activist dimension online from people who have more expertise in this area than I do. I just started blogging recently for a Visual Research Methods class I’m taking, (I’m a graduate student in Cultural Studies) and I chose to pursue my interest in this topic as part of a project for this class.
One of the things that really interests me about your blog is that it is both personal, because it’s about your own lives and experiences, and political, because it advocates anti-consumerist, waste-free living. In your message about how the blog came about, you mention that this experiment was for your own satisfaction and not about a certain agenda, but because your experiences were shared through the blog, the project became part of a public conversation that been meaningful to readers. Would you say the blog is more about recording your own experiences or sharing ideas with a community of readers? Both? Has your approach to the blog changed over time? How did it shift when the year-long experiment ended?
When you first began to post, who were you writing to, primarily? Was it people you know off-line, or was it mainly for an online community? Has that changed over time? How does their feedback shape your experience with the blog? How does the blog form (short posts, links, pictures) shape your decisions about what to include on the blog?
Finally, what do most appreciate about the experience of blogging, personally? What influence that you hope your blog will have on others?
Thanks very much for the work you do on your blog and for considering this invitation to share your perspective on these questions. Any thoughts you have would be very greatly appreciated!
All the best,
I’d say that this blog started off more about recording my own experiences and has now become about sharing ideas with a community of readers. Once the year long project ended, I felt that we had a “system” in place, so zero waste became normal and, for lack of a better word, almost “easy”. I stopped writing 3 days and week and went down to about once a week (or even less these days). A secondary reason for this shift is that Grant and I decided to share our story through both facebook and a documentary movie, so a lot of our attention turned towards those avenues of communication. I used to spend my lunch breaks writing blog posts and reading others’ blogs, but now I spend them promoting the film and answering emails.
I’m not to big on readership statistics, but I’m pretty sure my first readers were people I knew personally (aka my mom), followed by other people who blog about zero waste. I was truly surprised when we started touring the movie how many people “came out of the woodwork” who had been reading the blog and really connected with us as people. I shouldn’t have been surprised, because I feel that way about other people’s blogs, but it was pretty cool to be on the receiving end of that.
I have way more ideas for posts than I ever get around to. I try to keep it fun and short (ish) and to include a photo. Compared to facebook and twitter, I get to say a lot more, so posts are like the “long form” version of what I’m up to.
Finally, I most appreciate the wonderful people I’ve met through blogging – both people whose blogs I read, and people who read my blog, both in person meetings, and online connections. I hope my blog gives people ideas for zero waste and inspires them to try something new -like I did when I started writing a blog 🙂
Thank you so much for your response, Jen — especially since I know you’re incredibly busy with the film! Congratulations! Can’t wait to see it!
How great that you’ve been able to meet your readers – and the writers of blogs you read – in person! What you said about meeting readers who you didn’t know before were readers while touring the movie really struck me. There were – and are, I’m sure – so many people in the world who are inspired by your blog and who feel connected to you and your story, but whom you’d never met or heard from before.
It’s funny – even though we readers of our blog have the ability to reply to a post that moves us, it sounds like, in your experience, that doesn’t always happen as often as I would have guessed. There are all these “silent” fans out there. They’re moved by what you’re writing but without your knowing about it. At least, not until you meet them in the world outside the blogosphere.
I guess, in that way, blogging is still sort of like traditional publishing in that lots of people can read your work but you only get to hear back from a handful of them — in that case, through letters/emails or meetings at lectures or book tours, in this case, through blog comments and a film tour!. Your film tours are offering so many great opportunities for those personal connections! That’s fantastic – but it makes me wonder why more of those readers didn’t just contact you earlier through your blog.
I wish I could attend a screening and chat with you in person; there’s certainly something special about a face to face conversation that isn’t the same online. And yet, I suppose the opposite is true too. Here we are, chatting online for all the world to see about your experiences with the blog. It would be hard for that kind of “public” conversation to happen anywhere else but the blog.
Thanks again for helping me learn from your experiences, Jen! Your comments above gave me a lot to think about!
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I commend your efforts and hope you are successful.
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We’re 9th graders at Deer Valley High School and for earth day all of the honors biology classes (periods 1, 3 ,5,and 7) are having an “Earth Week”.
On Monday, period 3 put up bins at lunch for empty recyclables,
period 1 is having a plastic bag competition in all of the first hour classrooms around the school throughout the week, period 5 (our class) is showing the Clean Bin Project next Monday to raise awareness. Period 7 is then making a giant made out of all of the recycled bottles that were collected. To advertise, we made signs to carry around school throughout the day made out of recycled paper also. The documentary inspired us to go out and make a difference, and we want everyone to know the harmful effects of not recycling. Thanks for the inspiration!
*Giant Christmas Tree
Just read about this amazing project and movie in Spokane’s weekly magazine The Inlander. Does anybody out there know of any young people who have tried been inspired to try a clean bin project in a classroom or at home? That is the hope for our future and I would love to hear stories that have been inspired by our these marvelous folks.
I’m writing a teen article about this wonderful idea ‘clean bin project’. I have some questions to support my article. Can you give me 10 tips of doing this project. And what would be a main goal or motivation so that teen would start doing this project?
I really think this clean bin project is cool and neat and I just started this project too! Thank you for making this project!! Time to save our enviroment!
Check out our top ten tips at http://www.cleanbinmovie.com/takeaction/
Also, read my blog post about kids and zero waste at https://cleanbinproject.com/2012/02/08/what-can-i-do-im-only-a-kid/
We’d be happy to answer questions – shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey! I’m Lauren Burns-Budd from Freyberg High School in New Zealand. I have to say your clean bin project is very impressive! I would love to have a chance at doing all the amazing things you two have done and make all the things you two made. You really are an inspiration to me and to many at my school. I wanted to say thank you myself for showing us an truly deserved award winning film so…Thank you and keep doing what your doing! 🙂
Thanks for your kind words! I hope you decide to give waste reduction a shot – it has been a really fun journey for us, and we couldn’t go back to making a full bin of waste each week. Thanks for having us at your school!
Hi, I’m a student from Palmerston North Girls High School and I really enjoyed your film and the talk you presented today! Your project is really inspirational and I hope that more people start becoming more environmentally conscious – I know I certainly will! I just have a quick question: what’s a good way to pack sandwiches to take to school? I currently use aluminium foil and I see a lot of people wrapping their sandwiches in gladwrap, which are obviously not good for the environment!
Thanks for the feedback! I usually use a reusable container to pack my sandwiches. It could be plastic, metal or glass and you can probably get them in NZ at a grocery store or Kmart. That way, nothing goes in the rubbish bin. PS – I think your blog is great!
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Hi guys!! My name is Romina from Argentina, far away from Canada. Just seen the movie showed at the GreenFilmFest in Buenos Aires and wanted to give you some feedback from a place where garbage is a very different story. Although inspirational and also funny, let me share with you that here, things seem not to be that easy when trying to put in practice your experience. I thought it would be nice for you to listen to a different story from a country like Argentina where things work differently, as you’ve been researching on this matter, and also nice to share our experience with people from other parts of the world who may follow your blog. Our biggest issue regarding waste management and reducing garbage is political and social. We suffer from a lack of compromise from our political administration and many turbid negotiations in the waste management business. Of course this is in part guaranteed and sustained by lots of people still uncompromissed and indiferent on waste & garbage issues and mainly, miss/un informed. But the most gloomy fact is the lots of poor families that “live” on the landfills, whose daily miserable income depends on what they can dive out from the piles of trash. This is a terrible sad picture to which we are used to in many crowded cities in developing countries. Lately, there has been a lot of local debate in the media because we are discussing the closure of our main landfills in Buenos Aires, landfills which have contributed to sustain our compulsive consuming way of life. So the debate has extended to our own way of living and the need for us to begin, for once and all, at least separating the garbage to begin recicling. The minimizing consuming debate I think will come afterwards at a higher level of consciousness! Also, some people who “live” on the garbage has organized themselves in the city in formidable ways so exemplary that their experience has even been studied and replicated abroad (this is the case of Cooperativa El Ceibo, if you want to check it on the web, unfortunatelly in spanish I think) . They have made possible for the recilynig system to come to life in Buenos Aires, still in an informal way and with little support from the government but still, minimizing trash at the landfills. In this way, is that your film is so timely and contagious, and I hope that everyone last night at the movie theatre, after watching the film, may feel today (as I do) with such a strong perspective that we can change things when we really want to. The rest of the picture… still hope we will work it out with a lot of common effort and politic will.
Thanks guys for sharing the experience! Keep on spreading the word! I’ll follow 🙂
Just seen your film on ILC. Great inspiration. Im not one for good words but i wanted to let you know i thought this was great. Presented beautifully and naturally. You are one in a billion actually living what you preach. I could imagine it gets discouraging, but rejoice at the fact that you are doing something very few people can or would even attempt to do. You are modern day superheros. I wish everyone was as humble and modest as the two of you and those you interview in your film.
You were both winners!! I honestly never thought that was even possible.
First Class Jen and Grant, First Class.
Keep up the great greening revolution.
I share your feelings completely and even try to write about them sometimes here: http://whyisallieverwantismore.blogspot.ca/
Curtis (the new guy in the office :))
Actually, we don’t need too much stuffs such as TV, telephone, computers, or other electronic devices in our life. But people buy them and use them. This cause too many uses of electricity and environment pollution. Instead, we can do some physical activities like basketball, jogging, soccer. This can make us healthy and use less electricity. So we can also spend less money.
In addition, we don’t have to use plastic bags. All we need to do is just preparing some recycled bags and use them during the shopping.
You’re right that bringing your own bags takes a little more work, but it’s worth it. And I second the idea of getting outside more and staring at a screen less (she says at 9pm while feverishly typing, checking email, and browsing the internet all at once)
MACS Grade 1 Zero Waste Challenge
We are the Grade 1 class of Micanopy Area Cooperative School and we’d like to tell you the story of our Zero Waste Challenge. Today we are celebrating because we reduced the amount of trash our classroom sends to landfill each week from 17 pounds (which was 680 lbs or the size of a small horse over one year) to 11 ounces (which is only 27 pounds or the size of a small dog). This is how we did it:
The first thing we did was not use paper cups, but use reusable cups instead. Then we tried really hard to recycle things that the school already recycled – like office paper, cardboard, and recyclable plastics like yogurt containers. Instead of throwing away our cut paper, we put the big pieces in the scrap box to keep using it. Then we stopped using so many brown paper towels, just one is enough. Next, instead of throwing away fruit and veggies we composted them. Then we composted our brown paper towels. Paper towels are made of recycled paper so we can rip them up and put them in our compost bin. Then we thought of what we could do with waste paper (like tissues, paper towel, napkins). We made new paper out of used paper and even made butterflies from recycled paper and made a present for our teachers! We also started taking our waste paper to a Mosswood Bakery in Micanopy who burns it to make bio-char which can be used to fertilize our school gardens. We can take our milk cartons and everything made of waste paper (even wipes) for bio-char. We also used milk cartons to plant seeds for our school gardens. Then we recycled our candy wrappers, chip bags, and other wrappers through Terracycle. We also recycled our foam trays and plastic bags through Publix, our grocery store.
Our teacher Ms Cathy says she “…likes how all the children learned to separate all the items for different purposes.” We had so many types of recycling, we got confused, so we got new bins (well, used bins, from the Gainesville Repurpose Project) and decorated them with signs so we would know what to put in them.
We also had lots of parties learning how to repurpose our trash. The Repurpose Project came and we made crafts – we had the best table at the school Spring Fling! We had a “Recycled Valentines” party where all our crafts were made of our own trash. We made Hallowe’en ghosts from washed hand-wipes, and we made snow houses out of used milk jugs.
Together, we learned that there is no “throw it away” because all the garbage we make has to go somewhere so we need to be fox smart about what we do with it. Our teachers Ms. Cathy and Ms. Wendee, and our class Mum Kitty all say “We all learned how to do more recycling even though we thought we already knew how.”
We don’t know yet what to do with used gum – it doesn’t recycle or compost if it isn’t made of tree gum. But we think we should just add flavor and re-chew it.
By Alana, Anthony, A’Zhani, Brionna, Chelsea, Dylan, Eden, Hope, Jayda, Jordan, Leah, Linden, Megan, Michael, Ronin, Trey B., Trey G., Tyler, Will, Willow, Ms. Cathy, Ms. Wendee, and Kitty
Wow! Your class has done a lot! I hope other classes read this and get inspired to make some changes too. I think using the reusable cups and composting are probably the two biggest impact things you are doing, but I also really like your creativity making your own paper and making art from milk cartons and items other people would consider waste. I don’t have an answer for chewing gum either, so I try to choose candy that is edible and has compostable wrappers. There is a company in the UK that is looking into recycling gum, so hopefully they have an answer soon. http://www.gummybin.com/
I’m always amazed how much there is to know about recycling and living zero waste. Thanks for sharing your story!
Jen (and Grant)
Was it fun to do the clean bin my school watch the movie
Last year me and my husband we decided to make our own adventure in the mountains and we spend about three months walking and sleeping in tents. It was incredible! What I leaned is that we could live without all of the useless stuff at home, so when we tuned back home we made a big garage sale and we get rid of almost everything which seemed to be useless for us. I must say that it was a relief. Now I can breath at my home. I recycle almost everything and even make my own compost from the leftovers. I am glad that I did that change!
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I saw your doco and thought it was totally awesome. I’ve tried adopting the same principles. I’ve reduced my waste probably by half. If I tried a bit harder it could be zero, but im still warming up to the idea.
Thanks for showing me your zero waste ways.
Cheers, from Melbourne, Australia.
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So how did you start by having left overs from meals and what did you do with them. Plus things like meat or fish packaging, etc.. Sure plastics and card board can be recycled?
We did compost, but we tried to avoid food waste if possible. Meat and fish we bought at the butcher shop and fish monger in our own containers. Plastics and cardboard can be recycled, but we tried to avoid when we could. During the project we did not purchase anything in plastic packaging, but we did have some products in paper or cardboard.
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