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Reducing waste by reducing packaging

Garbage gone wild. Plus a heap of Catholic guilt on the side.

A few weeks ago a thought popped into my head “What would our garbage look like without all these disposable diapers in it?”. So with my husband and my mom (who is over all the time) on board we separated the two types of waste. I wanted to see really how far we have come. Also, what our diaper waste is doing to our household garbage. This is how we had our garbage set up under the kitchen sink this past week.Here is the everyday garbage that our family of four accumulated. over the week.We had a separate can for my two-year olds diapers. I wanted to know what our garbage could look like diaper-free. At some point during the week my mom thought the diapers stunk too much and put them in the can outside. This is the rest of the weeks diapers. Look, it ain’t pretty but it’s full disclosure. I never said we were perfect. Far from it.This is the shared family bathroom garbage. Some of the waste is tp my son put in there, random baby wipes and the bottom of our shower curtain.Our en suite bathroom garbage has q-tips in it, some random garbage from the garage and yes that is a handi-pak of cheese n’ crackers. I cannot control my husband… This can has more than one weeks worth of garbage in it. I would say about three weeks.On Earth Day, my husband announced that he was storing the second garbage can in the garage. We don’t need it anymore.The can held all the weeks diapers, kitchen garbage, family bathroom garbage plus some outdoor garbage my husband added. This experiment has been very eye-opening. We have come a long way. I am very proud of our progress. Now for the tough part…

Our goal is to have our youngest son potty trained as soon as he is ready. Obviously it will make a major difference in our trash. I understand that disposable diapers are very bad for the environment. If anyone understands that it is me! Some people reading this must be shocked that we use disposable diapers. I hope they try not to be judgemental. We are trying our best within our specific circumstances. I also understand that cloth diapers are great and work for many families. We owned lots of cloth diapers (and tried it with both kids) but it didn’t work within our family dynamic. I will not be starting up using cloth diapers because of this experiment. As part of realizing what is actually used and what isn’t used in our house (and shedding the unused) I donated all the cloth diapers recently. We will still be using diapers for awhile. We have some training underwear he can wear (occasionally) with plastic covers plus one that has a liner built-in. With this new awareness of just how much of our waste is from diapers, I am also going to incorporate some non-diaper time into our routine.

Wow! Full disclosure is tough. I feel judged and I have not even pressed Post. It feels like I just went to confession and I am waiting for the priest to tell me what to do to repent. Catholic guilt at it`s finest!

How much garbage do you put out each week…


“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” – Havelock Ellis

“You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.” – Jan Glidewell


About stephanieough

Wife, mom, concerned citizen of the earth. Striving towards intentional living rather than blindly following. Former Education Specialist for a corporation, I have now taken a step back to spend time with my family and work closer to home. Hoping to reduce our waste through refusing, reducing and reusing so that we will not have to recycle as much. Also, I love to explore zero-waste fast food and take pictures of my sucesses. I'm a fan of British comedies like Red Dwarf and Black Adder, Kevin Smith and his movies, Asian food, documentaries, biographies and going to Las Vegas on vacation. If someone told me I could only listen to the Beatles for the rest of my life I would die happy.


11 thoughts on “Garbage gone wild. Plus a heap of Catholic guilt on the side.

  1. What a great experiement. We have tried to go wasteless but it’s very difficult. One thing we did was to take our own containers to the market instead of bringinng home the plastic bags everything seems to come in. We take bottles for all kinds of things, get our fruit put in boxes that we use each time, and it’s cut down quite a bit.

    Posted by subtlekate | April 25, 2012, 12:21 am
  2. Don’t feel judged, you are doing a great job in so many other areas! We cloth diapered our second child from birth to potty training, but for our first born we used disposables from birth to potty training. You can’t win ’em all. 😉

    Posted by Erin | April 25, 2012, 2:18 pm
    • Thanks Erin! There is a vulnerability to full disclosure. I guess I was feeling a bit sensitive 🙂 What I was am really excited about is the amount of other garbage. I’ll try not to worry about the diapers too much 🙂

      Posted by stephanieough | April 25, 2012, 6:53 pm
  3. You aren’t judged in my book. You’re doing so much more and are so much more AWARE than 99% of the population, I look up to you. Anyone who hangs onto her coffee cup in order to reuse or recycle it from the plane ride and contemplates NOT using the tiny individual creamers in that coffee is a winner in my book. I read your posts and am always inspired. I think you’re doing great. At least you gave cloth diapers a try! And look at all the other ways you’re not wasting.
    Zero waste is difficult because it has the word zero in it. If it was “less” waste, it might not make you feel so judged. Every single time I eat out, they serve it in those damn styrofoam containers or in plastic. Granted, I don’t eat out as much anymore because of that, but I still do it. And I look around when I come out of the restaurant to see if there’s anyone I know watching. Where are the cameras? It shouldn’t be like that. If society offered us a few more options, it sure would be easier to chose the right one. I also don’t post some things for fear of judgement. (By whom really? These people that dont’ even really KNOW us?)
    You’re doing the best you can. And that’s all anyone can ask. So can that Catholic guilt. It doesn’t do any good.
    You’re GREAT. Don’t ever forget it.

    Posted by Jennifer | April 26, 2012, 10:14 am
  4. had cloth diapers all ready for my sons arrival. He had the worst diaper rash you had ever seen. I change him nearly hourly, I double rinsed the diapers. He was allergic to plastic panties I had put over the cloth diapers.
    He had no trouble with disposables. I felt like such a failure

    Posted by Lea Wisdom | May 3, 2012, 7:25 pm
    • I guess we have to cut ourselves some slack sometimes. I remember the guilt I felt about not being able to nurse my oldest son exclusively. At five months I finally threw in the towel. Meanwhile friends were nursing for at least a year.

      Posted by stephanieough | May 3, 2012, 8:29 pm
  5. Steaphanie,

    You are doing a fabulous job. Diapers aside, awareness is the first step and you are clearly making great progress in reducing your waste.

    I have been working consistently for more than 20 years to reduce the waste we generate from our home but still manage to slip up from time to time.

    We compost everything possible, recyclables are all separated from the waste so we are left with very little.

    You may be interested in this older post from my blog on this very topic. http://organisedcastle.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/rubbish-revealed-and-reviewed/

    Posted by Fairy | May 4, 2012, 4:23 am
    • Thank you! I started the week of seperating out the diapers with such anticipation. Then when I saw all the diapers it really made me not look at the positive side. For a family of four we are not doing half bad. I read your post and it was great 🙂

      Posted by stephanieough | May 4, 2012, 4:05 pm


  1. Pingback: The year in review – Part 2 « stephaniegetsridofhercrap - April 29, 2012

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