Sustainable Living E2 | Waste: Zero Waste, The 5 R’s, Composting

music playsCycling 4,700 miles across America? That’s the easy part. Try doing it with almost no negative impact and while paying attention to how every single one of your little daily actions effects the world around you both near and far. That’s what I did 2 summers ago and I learned all about the pressing environmental issues of our time and how I can be a part of the solution. Now I’m sharing with you what I learned in a series of 5 videos. This video is about waste. The average American creates 4.5 pounds of trash per day. With a population of 318 million Americans, that’s over 500 billion pounds of trash every year. It’s easy to just throw our garbage in the trash can and never think twice about it. It’s out of sight, out of mind. So on my journey across America, I decided that I would hold onto every single piece of trash I created. If I lived like the average America, I’d be carrying over 400 pounds of trash on my bike trailer when I reached Vermont. That would be physically impossible. To ensure that I’d be able to make it across America, I set some guidelines before the trip. Here’s a few of the things that I committed to doing. Compost all of my food scraps, Buy unpackaged food and bring my own reusable bags and dishes to eat, buy used stuff when I needed something or purchase new items with the least packaging, carry a reusable water bottle, recycle everything I could, and patch my bike tires or give the spent tubes to a bike shop that could upcycle them. But what I learned is that the trash I saw myself on this trip was nothing compared to what goes on behind the scenes. First, the raw materials have to be extracted from the earth. Forests were likely chopped down or mountain tops removed in the mining. There’s a ton of electricity and fossil fuels used to produce the trash and toxic waste made in the production. Next, the products are shipped all around the world to end up at the store, all of which takes a ton more electricity and fossil fuels. And of course, more fossil fuels are used to go to the store and go shopping. Throughout this entire process, destruction is happening both blatantly and in secret. Air, oceans, lakes and rivers are polluted. Animals are displaced and killed, and a lot of people get really sick from the pollution and the crappy work conditions. I learned, that’s what it took just to put this bag into my hands. For every garbage can of waste that we put on the curb, 70 garbage cans of waste are made up the production line. …and now this bag is trash. So what happens from here? The garbage truck comes and picks it playsMost of our trash is taken to landfills. But landfills are have hugely negative environmental consequences. They’re designed to keep stuff in them, not break it down. Even organic material doesn’t biodegrade properly and some excavations have found 25 year old carrots and 40 year old, still legible newspapers. The stuff that actually does break down, releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Other trash is incinerated and some of the most toxic, man-made substances known to science are released into the air in huge volumes. But much of it doesn’t make it to the landfill. Our oceans, forests and streets are littered with trash. It may be easy to overlook a few pieces of trash on the ground, but its way more prevalent when we look at the great pacific garbage patch. A garbage island the size of Texas that floats in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This trash is detrimental to animals and wildlife. So is recycling the answer? We absolutely should recycle. It reduces the need to harvest virgin resources and mine, but it is not the answer. It’s a highly resource and and energy intensive process.>From the trucks driving around to pick it up, to the huge plants taking up land, the electricity and water used in recycling the materials. Not to mention, a lot of recycling is sent on barges to the other side of the world and much of it is incorrectly disposed of anyway. After 104 days of cycling, I made it across the country creating only 2 pounds of trash and 9 pounds of recycling. Just very very rigorously I followed reduce, reuse, recycle. 2 pounds of trash, about 8 or 9 pounds of recycling, and all of my food waste was buried in the woods and composted. So, I don’t expect anybody at home to do just this, but, this definitely goes to show how much reduction can be had. I created over 200 times less trash than the average person in America. And it’s actually pretty easy if you stick to the 3 R’s. First, reduce. Ask yourself, do I really need this? or do I just want this? Then, reuse everything you can as long as you can. And if reduce and reuse won’t work, then make recycling your last resort. There are so many ways to apply the 3 R’s into your life. Here’s some of my favorite recommendations for you. Composting. Compost your food scraps and your yard waste. Ditching bottled water and carrying your own water bottle. Saying no to one time use disposable items and taking reusable alternatives instead. such as a hand towel rather than napkins. Buying unpackaged food like fruits and veggies and everything in the bulk section. of the grocery store. Purchasing used stuff rather then new stuff in packages. Repairing stuff rather than throwing it away and getting a new one. Donating stuff to a thrift store or a friend instead of throwing it away. Buying quality stuff that won’t turn into trash. And being grateful for what you have instead of trying to keep up with the Jones’ Subtitles by the community

57 thoughts on “Sustainable Living E2 | Waste: Zero Waste, The 5 R’s, Composting

  1. Spot on Rob, inspiring and educational as always. Greetings from Croatia, stay great!
    You made me rethink the way I live my day to day life and put more thought in every step i take, now i garden, grow fruits and veggies (sell the extras on local market), keep chickens for eggs, forage and hunt for seasonal foods, compost all of my kitchen waste, sold my car and cycle to work or use public transportation in bad weathers. All in all living very low impact life compared to average person.. but I am not done yet, there is still lots of job to be done, I still work in very polluting industry (graphic printing on textile, plastic and paper), and i feel very guilty for doing so. Something is still holding me in place of not being able to let go of that part of me that is bad and contradictional to all the things i stand/live for. And i know its mainly ambition, since i have this dream of buying little bit more land and do full time organic market farming, so i need to keep the job for few more years to pay that dream.. anyways ill try my best, peace out.

  2. Always inspiring… looking forward to seeing you on the beach in NC next month! Our kiddos can't wait to meet you and learn more about keeping our beaches clean.

  3. Great info on the amount of resources that go into the production of stuff that we just discard. Loving the series so far.

  4. Bless the God of Heaven for people like you, i pray one day all Gods people will embrace this. it was tragic how much plastic i saw snorkelling today. peace to you.

  5. Cant wait for the next episodes!!!! you are a true inspiration, Rob! I am back at it again living out of my backpack this summer, and using a few of your tricks to keep my waste as low as possible. The only thing im still waiting to find out, is how you do clean your clothes whilest on a trip or trying for zero waste….. Keep on Rocking! namaste

  6. I'm eagerly awaiting the rest of your videos in this series. You are an inspiration for all of us. The only thing I'm surprised you haven't touched on is sewing your own clothes, bedding etc. It's a skill I'm brushing up on so I can not only save money but become more self reliant. Time for me to catch up on the rest of your videos. Thank you and have a great day! 🙂

  7. Watch it again! Great work! I've got a quote I say be for I buy something "how does it add value to my life ?" Thank you again ✌🏻️

  8. Want some inspiration to sell your car and go pedal powered?
    Episode 4 is out to inspire you!

  9. The next video on my feed after this one was a blonde rich girl promoting high end fashion. I unsubbed from her channel FAST! Time to check my priorities. Thank you Rob for doing incredibly important work. Thank you.

  10. Hi Rob, I've been loving all your videos. I have a health & mindfulness website/blog where I post videos/articles of all different types of people that answer questions that I believe are conscious questions that many other like-minded people will be interested in. I call it mindfulness debate and it is open to both sides of the debate. I have featured your video on my site if that is alright with you. I will take it down if you do not want tp be on it. My site is still very new but I believe that if people begin to watch the videos, it could gain you more followers and therefore help heal the planet.

    My website is
    Please let me know if you would like to be featured on my site.

  11. I love ❤️ your channel! (New subscriber)
    Here's a question for you: I've 3 indoor cats and have been wondering for some time whether it's all right to compost their waste. I use clay litter. The brand is Dr. Elseys. What's your opinion ? I'm interested to hear what anyone else thinks…ThxJoan

  12. i going to be like You .You have the true words.when we waste food .we not.only waste food .we wast.wahter.fuels.and Malena the worldwide duty on pullution

  13. Paulinu, I love you and respect what you're doing…but please stop breathing down my neck as if to say that we share the same circumstances. I'm doing the best with what I have and I'm glad that you are too.

  14. Thank you for letting people SEE that there “is no away”.

    When I recently toured a “recovery center” it galvanized me to strive for zero waste. ALL OF US need to realize we’ve been duped in the wasteful way we live …

  15. Great Stuff! I started watching your videos when you started your year on self grown or foraged food. Little tip! loosen the cap squeeze out the air and tighten the cap of the plastic bottle for it to take less space in trashbin 😉

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