Family produces only one grocery bag of trash a week

While most of us feel like we've done our part in making the earth a better place whenever we drop recycling into the right waste disposal container and get it ready for collection on the sidewalk, many Americans are starting to take their own efforts to the next level. 

The five family members of the Hoffman Family in Illinois produce only one plastic grocery bag of trash each week, according to The Chicago Tribune. Another Chicago area family, the Rappes, manage to generate only 200 pounds a year, which is one-fourth of the average amount thrown away by a single person.

"Average Joe should be able to do this," Scott Rappe, a Chicago architect, told the publication. "It shouldn't take a class or studying a lot of books. You should be able to process the waste on site without having to twist your whole life around."

First things first - the families show that having a compost pile can significantly reduce the amount of trash that is taken away each week. Pasta, chicken bones and lemon rinds are all put out in a special place where they can naturally decompose. The Rappes even make their own laundry detergent.

Another strategy is to creatively reuse old things. At the home of the Holmeses, there's a plywood compost bin, gardens for vegetables and a swing made from tire scraps. They even use recyclable toothbrushes.

But how can one start recycling this way? Experts suggest that it may just mean making sure that everything gets recycled each week. Additionally, composts can be great ways of drastically cutting down on items that go to waste. The University of Illinois suggests finding a community's regulations regarding compost, then find a prime location with good drainage and moisture. A pile of leaves, a watermelon and a cardboard box are really all one needs to start.