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Friday August 29, 2014
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Family vs. Garbage



Instead of granola bars, the Wilsons now usually eat actual granola or pancakes for breakfast. Apples are a favorite snack (cores go in the compost). Not buying packaged food, Jeanie says, saves them "crazy money." But they do treat themselves to takeout a couple times a week--"Pizza comes in a cardboard box!"--and Jeanie still buys a few things, like her favorite holiday tea from Trader Joe's, even though the cardboard box is wrapped in plastic.

The Wilsons' kids circle in and out of the kitchen as their parents talk and share their thoughts on the lifestyle change: Amata, age six, smiles and gives a big thumbs-up, while Dom, age eight, gives a thumbs-down: "Because what do you think candy comes in?" Felix, four, says "I like to help mommy with the recycling!" The family is committed to "not having more than we need," Jeanie says--although the kids still get toys and gifts from grandparents. She says the movie WALL-E, about a robot designed to clean up a garbage-ravaged future earth, helps the kids understand the downside of mass consumption.

The Wilson family is not alone. Sarah Lorenz, forty-two, estimates that her family of five has reduced its garbage by about 50 percent in the past two years. She started by cutting out disposable diapers years ago and then moved on to using cloth napkins for meals, rags in place of paper towels, and "handkerchiefs in pockets" instead of Kleenex. She even packs zero-waste lunches for her kids, using tiny Ball canning jars for fruits and snacks. But they're not ready to give up their favorite boxed cereals quite yet.

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