Gardening Eden

author Michael Abbaté's Blog

No Waste November Lessons November 30, 2009

Filed under: Michael Abbate,No Waste November,Recycling — Michael Abbate @ 8:23 am

Vicki and I began this little STP (short term project) a month ago.  At the time, we said our goal was to produce no trash for an entire month.  Little did we know that efforts like this are spreading like wildfire (

Motivated by our love of the Creator, and our desire to steward the Creation, we did our best for 30 days.  We faced some unique challenges, including a business trip, over 1000 trick-or-treaters, Thanksgiving dinner, Black Friday, and nearly a week with nine people living in our home, instead of just the two of us.

You might say that we failed – after all, we did, in fact, generate considerable trash that begins its journey to the landfill today.

However, I think about this effort quite differently.  In my view, it was actually quite successful.  Instead of rolling out a trash bin every week, we were able to contain all of the trash we generated during an entire month in a single grocery bag.  That’s an amazing reduction in trash, probably close to 90%.

In addition, we learned many countless lessons on how to live with less while leaving less for the landfill.  Here are our top 13 lessons learned (and when we discussed it in detail):

1.  Think before you toss: first consider reuse, recycle, or compost before trash.

2.  Learn your local recycling options. (Nov. 2)

3.  Learn the joys of composting. (Nov. 18 & 19)

4.  Carry your own cup and water bottle; (and place setting if you attend a volunteer appreciation banquet!) (Nov. 21)

5.  Use handkerchiefs, cloth napkins and towels. (Nov. 8 & 17)

6.  Buy products made from recycled materials. (Nov. 25)

7.  Make packaging a consideration in your purchasing decisions:  buy in bulk, avoid frozen prepared foods, and favor those items that come in recyclable packing. (Nov. 16)

8.  Bookmark; a great source for recycling options near you. (Nov. 23)

9.  Use low-flow showerheads, toilets and faucets. (Nov. 12)

10.  Borrow, don’t buy. (Nov. 13)

11.  Dispose of hazardous materials carefully. (Nov. 22)

12.  Think ahead when you travel. (Nov. 5)

13.  Don’t expect others to match your enthusiasm; lead by example and others will see the possibility, not the challenge.  (Nov. 21)


Vicki and I are going to take these lessons and continue on, learning new ways that we can refuse to make refuse.  Will you join us?  I’d love to hear your struggles, victories and ideas.  Most importantly, don’t lose track of the reason we are doing this in the first place – we have want to honor the one who took us from death to life, from wasted lives to abundant lives.  He deserves every little thing we can do to show our appreciation.


Gardening Eden: How Creation Care Will Change Your Faith, Your Life and Our World, by Michael Abbaté, published by WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, 2009.  ISBN  978-0-30744-499-8.   For more info:


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