As I was taking out the garbage this week I realized a completely unexpected result of my family moving to a paleo diet: less garbage!
I have for many years been strongly committed to recycling and reusing as much as possible. However, I have discovered that with the paleo diet I am also significantly reducing our family waste output. As a family we now generate less than one small kitchen sized bag of garbage each week. Why? What made the difference? Good questions and an analysis of our garbage, compost, and recycling might provide the answers.
First, we take advantage of green bin composting. Our city now supports composting of kitchen waste like bones, napkins, vegetable peelings, etc. in the bin where our garden composting goes. This innovation significantly reduces kitchen waste in the garbage. So, in our household first take at the coffee grinds, lint, and vegetable waste goes to the worm bin. Everything else that is food related waste goes to the green bin for composting.
Second, we continue to recycle anything that comes in packaging that can be recycled. However, I’ve noticed that even the volume of our recycling has decreased which leads us to the next realization.
Third, paleo foods generally require much less packaging than heavily processed “foods” and generate less waste. The paleo diet naturally follows the guidance in Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual and requires shopping around the edge of the grocery store for fresh fruits and vegetables and meats. All of which have significantly less packaging than processed foods heavy in packaging. Additionally, since I purchase meats from local farmers and locally butchered, they generally come wrapped in butcher paper instead of Styrofoam and plastic. Again – less waste.
Once this is all combined, it makes sense that our paleo diet generates less waste output from our house. And, since less resources go into the packaging of our foods before they come to our house, there is significantly less waste over all. A cool, but completely unexpected side affect of the paleo lifestyle – less garbage and fewer trips to the garbage can!