Taking out the trash: Our family’s 2020 resolution

It’s mid-February, which means it’s high time to talk about New Year’s resolutions!

If research is correct, most people have already abandoned their resolutions. If that’s you, consider this a timely reminder to get back to it! The year is young!

This year I’m making it my personal goal to reduce our family’s trash. I’ve always been an environmentally-conscious person. (Click here to read about the environmental club my best friend and I made up when we were kids, and the time I wrote Bill Clinton a letter about the environment.) But lately I just can’t ignore everything I’m seeing about plastic, not to mention global warming, not to mention simply honoring God’s beautiful creation. I want to raise my kids to know that the world isn’t disposable, and I hope one way to do that is helping them think through how they consume and dispose of things.

Specifically, my goal (since all SMART goals are measurable) is that our family of six produces less than one garbage bag of trash a week.

Perhaps that sounds like a lot of trash to you. Perhaps it sounds like nothing. To me it feels attainable, but not without making some changes.

(Be inspired by this Instagram account. She has four kids and sends one bag of trash to the landfill every 50-65 days. Incredible.)

Currently our family of six, with one child in (sigh) disposable diapers, we make about two bags of trash a week.

Going from two to one might not sound like a huge change, but it is considering it’s a 50 percent reduction. And to only have two bags of trash a week we’re already make big efforts to minimize waste.

Here are some things we already do:

  • Recycle…a lot. If we didn’t recycle our trash would quadruple.
  • Have a waste-free kitchen. I like to say that in my kitchen, Ziploc bags, paper towels, and saran wrap are for emergencies only.
  • Compost. We have two tumblers in our backyard, that help reduce waste and create awesome soil for our gardens.


And here are some things I know we can do better:

  • Food packaging. We don’t have a ton of food waste, but individually packaged items (granola bars, cracker packs, etc.) and non-recyclable food containers are the number one thing that fills our trash.
  • Speaking of food waste, we can always eliminate even more food waste. (Tough, sometimes, with little kids around.)
  • Diapers. Oh yeah, and diapers. After cloth diapering three kids, I lost steam on number four. She’s worn them occasionally, but nothing like my other kids. I decided to start again a few weeks ago, and she waddled around and pulled at the diaper until I took it off. This will be a culprit, I think, until she’s potty trained.
  • Even more recycling. You can recycle almost anything if you know how to do it. For example, did you know that Trex recycles plastics? Or you can recycle markers? And corks!
  • Reduce, reduce, reduce. This means consuming less. More and more I’m being conscious of what we’re bringing into our home. (Ya know, like those individually-wrapped granola bars…) This is, I think, the most effective long-term strategy and also the toughest. It’s hard to make lifestyle changes. But ultimately, I think it’s worth it.


I intend for this to be a fully  year-long project because I want it to be a lasting change, not a flash-in-the-pan resolution. In that spirit, I’m devoting the first month to really paying attention to WHAT we throw away — what’s in our trash? Once I figure that out, the next step is figuring out if we can recycle, compost, or reuse more. And from there, working on reducing.

I’ll blog about what we learn, the challenges, what we change, and what we figure out we can’t change.

As we’re just getting started, share your tips! What are some things YOUR family does to reduce waste in your home?


(Mary took the photo of me with the trash, and when I asked her to take it she was understandably curious. “Why do you want this picture, Mommy? Are you trying to say you do all the work? You always take out the trash? Are you mad because Daddy doesn’t do anything.” Hahahhaah.)


  1. Jade February 21, 2020

    Yes! I’m all about reducing waste. Great job!!

  2. Amanda February 21, 2020

    These are great tips for reducing waste. We implement some of these and it makes a huge difference. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Samantha Smart February 21, 2020

    I love this! I have been making a more conscious effort to reduce our household waste and consumption as well. It can be difficult at first, but it is so worth it!

  4. Ally February 21, 2020

    Some things we do to reduce waste include:

    *watering the plants with cooking water (pasta, hard boiled eggs, veggies etc)
    *freezing food to prolong it’s life
    *reusing produce bags (orange/onion netting) for bows on gifts, string or dish scrubbers
    *cutting up old clothing (stuff that can’t get donated) for cleaning/dusting rags
    *no more sponges! I now use a tawashi (plant based scrubber) and have using the same one for months. Boil it every so often to keep it clean 🙂 https://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Tawashi-Cleaning-Vegetables-Household/dp/B00MH8NFF0
    *wash windows with used tissue paper, brown packing paper, or junk mail
    *have the kids help to prepackage bulk snacks into grab and go sized containers
    *use scraps of paper, cloth etc (what you may throw away) for crafts, cards, gift wrapping
    *textile recycling at H&M https://www2.hm.com/en_us/women/campaigns/16r-garment-collecting.html

  5. Melissa February 21, 2020

    1 bag per week is quite a goal! I applaud you and always try to reduce my families waste.

  6. Bre February 22, 2020

    I love this! We already recycle and use reusable cleaning rags, but I love all of the ideas! Thanks for the tips.

  7. Kimberlie February 22, 2020

    You are an inspiration. I’m ashamed to think of, much less count how much waste is produced in my home weekly. Your post has provided excellent ideas of ways my family can improve in our waste production.

  8. Erin February 22, 2020

    This is so important in my family!

  9. Taylor February 23, 2020

    Such an impactful goal! Way to go.

  10. Jen February 24, 2020

    Wow! That is a great goal! I want to work on this as well.

  11. Katlin February 24, 2020

    Being mindful is definitely the first Step. I love Mary’s comment at the end too! Haha!

  12. Emily February 26, 2020

    Wow, that’s a huge goal! That’s amazing.


  13. Heather February 28, 2020

    Love this post! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Allison February 29, 2020

    That’s great…I like your tips too. My family can def reduce waste and this gave me some good ideas.


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