Your Trash Footprint:

People across the globe have become much more aware of their carbon footprint. We would like to encourage you to also pay attention to your trash footprint.  

The notion of creating and using massive amounts of packaging that will never break down into usable components for the earth is not right. We need to start changing this habit by tracking our trash consumption.

At Hands On Hemp, we started to pay attention to how much trash we accumulate after just one week of living our fairly modest lifestyle. Even as we try to use less, we are stunned at our personal levels of consumption.

Packaging consists of one third of all municipal waste!!!  

How to Track your Trash at Home:

  • TRASH: Pay attention to how much trash you create in one week. Assess what is the major contributor. Take note that this trash basically never breaks down in landfills so is a permanent pollutant.
  • RECYCLING: Notice how many recyclable containers you use
    and also assess what they are. 


  • COMPSOSTING: Notice how much food you throw in the trash or how much you compost and hence divert from the landfill.
  • TALK about trash tracking with your friends and see what you can reduce or remove from your packaging habit.


  1. What are your Findings?
  2. Can you make any changes?
  3. Can you do the three R’s: Reduce first, Reuse, then Recycle?
  4. Can you REDUCE buying pre-packaged items?
  5. Can you buy more bulk, produce, and fresh bakery items that are not pre-packaged?
  6. Can you make more of your favorite foods, cosmetics, and cleaners from scratch? 
  7. Can you REUSE containers, bags, and jars and buy in bulk?
  8. Can you RECYCLE or compost more?
  9. Talk about trash tracking with your friends and see what you can reduce or remove from your packaging habit.

Track potential trash at the Store:

Next time you're at the supermarket, look for all the foods that are packaged and then look for all the foods that have no packaging.  When we did this, we noticed that:

  • We still have a lot of freedom to choose our preferred “packaging” for produce, bulk, bakery, bread and coffee beans because they are not already prepackaged.


  • Because it is easy to use Hands-On Hemp bags for these foods, it is a good place to start making a difference.
  • Packaging looks like an attempt to replicate the bright colors of natural produce!

  • Practically everything is packaged!!!  

  • Stores would be a lot smaller if they didn't sell foods in packaging.


The Purpose of Packaging:

Packaging, besides being used for mass distribution of processed food, is mostly used as a form of advertising, marketing the brand name and basically convincing customers to buy your product.  The idea of trade marking a name and using it to sell your product was created in 1870 and ushered in a whole lot of wasteful packaging.Buying food in bulk– whether produce, nuts, flour, or bread can still give pertinent product information to the consumer on one sign above or below the product for sale.

Processed Food and Packaging:

Processed foods are inextricably linked to packaged foods. Many of the foods we know we really shouldn't be eating for our best health are also contributing to the total disease of the planet through their packaging. Chips, cookies, frozen foods, candy, many processed cereals and a lot more. Of course I do eat these things from time to time, but the correlation is clear. Take a look around in the stores and instead of buying processed, packaged food, try to make healthier and tastier versions from raw materials that don’t create unnecessary trash.


Health Food vs. The Planet:

Is “health food” that is in packaging, good for the earth?

We went to the largest national expo of health foods in the country in 2012, with over 2,000 exhibitors showcasing at least 10,000 products.

In this environment, 60,000 industry representatives show up for health food but end up sampling products and throwing out wrappers that can only go in the landfill.  

We couldn’t help but feel the horrible hypocrisy before us: Good people who truly believe in health, but have sacrificed true sustainability for the capitalist selling machine.

In January 2008 Clif Bar and Balance Bar teamed up with TerraCycle to form The Energy Bar Wrapper Brigade – the nation’s first used wrapper collection system. Their mission? To collect used energy bar wrappers, diverting them from the nation’s landfills in order to be upcycled into a material that could be used to make shower curtains, backpacks and other accessories.

The program, while awesome and undeniably effective,  upcycles only around 10% of wrappers produced by a single company and personally I never saw a wrapper that told me to send it somewhere to be upcycled.

Health Food has been co-opted by business which has both made it more mainstream, but has also sacrificed sustainability, which then makes that health food, not healthy in the big picture.  

Consider the best option:  make your favorite foods at home from scratch out of the most fresh and wholesome ingredients that don't require packaging!