Say No to Disposable

Amagerforbrænding trash incinerator and ski park

You and your favorite ski area have a problem and that problem is trash. First, trash on ski slopes is shameful. Littering fouls the same mountains that we are privileged to ski and board. Trash is also a problem as ski areas must haul away piles of boxes, bags and wrappers to landfills. Even if your ski area is built over a trash incinerator, the trash you throw away has a carbon footprint coming and going from the snow.

As we all know, the 'Three R's' of waste are Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. I recycle as much as our town will take (more about recycling later). I reuse items as long as they last and have donated many things I no longer need. The first and probably most important 'R' is Reduce. I buy many grocery staples in bulk to reduce cost and packaging. But, after one takeout meal I am beginning to see how difficult reducing our waste to nothing will be.

What's the big problem with trash?

Trash literally embodies the natural resources and energy wasted in the production, transportation and packaging of the goods we actually use. The material left over from anything you buy which can't be reused or recycled takes up finite space in a landfill. Our tasty takeout meal of gyros, falafel and spanakopita came in one-use styrofoam clamshell containers. Those clamshells are cheap to buy and use, but they become expensive as they fill up landfill space. GO Box in Portland could have a solution with reusable containers made from more durable type 5 polypropylene.

I'm looking at what 'disposable' stuff I can reduce from my life. The list I've compiled so far includes:

  • Coffee Cups - Easy, use a travel mug instead
  • Plastic Produce Bags - Easy, switch to cloth fruit and veggie bags
  • Razor Blades - Tricky, buy and learn to use a straight razor
  • Kleenex - Sticky, I can switch to handkerchiefs
  • Paper Towels - Easy, increase our use of cloth towels
  • To-go Containers - Should I take my own containers or do I eliminate takeout?

Some of these trash-reduction changes will be easy. I already use cloth kitchen towels, so reducing paper towel use isn't hard. Eliminating razor blades could be trickier. I've started looking for a straight razor and I will have to learn how to shave with a bare blade. I'm going to experiment with bringing my own containers next time I order a takeout meal.

Zero waste, like a net-zero carbon footprint, is an ideal. It will be difficult to get to zero waste, but no one said sustainability was easy.

{this article was originally posted on}

More Info:

Skiing Your Way to ‘Hedonistic Sustainability’

Zero Waste

Zero Waste Alliance

Waste Minimisation

GO Box