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Amy Korst spent a year generating as little garbage as possible — but not because she and her husband were tree-huggers. They wanted to see what they would gain by giving up on tossing out, says Korst, author of The Zero-Waste Lifestyle: How to Live Well by Throwing Away Less and creator of the blog Green Garbage Project.

After deciding to do it, she found it wasn’t difficult. “It took maybe 10 extra minutes to sort recyclables or put produce in Tupperware instead of in a plastic bag.”

The results: “I was able to fill up one shoe box for the year” of garbage that couldn’t be reduced, reused, recycled or composted, she says. How did they do it?

Be proactive. Instead of focusing on discarding things, Korst and her husband thought about recycling before making purchases. “I can choose to buy toilet paper wrapped in paper vs. wrapped in plastic, because plastic is harder to recycle,” she says.

Cook and create. Korst gave up certain foods because foil packaging wasn’t recyclable. “I was able to make most things that I would have previously bought, and it was healthier, too.” That included chips, doughnuts and cheese.

On the job. Korst concedes you have to follow office rules to keep a job. But you can still create less waste: Write on both sides of a sheet of paper, recycle paper and use electronic communication.

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