You know how at the end of a long and busy work week, the thought of cooking dinner can feel exhausting?  That was me last night.  I made an executive family decision that we were ordering pizza for dinner.  

Of course, this resulted in an empty pizza box at the end of the night.  Not a very zero waste thing to do.  I recycled the top half, which was free of pizza smears.  The bottom half and the cardboard insert were both torn into small pieces and composted.  The little plastic topper was recycled, although my kids also like to use them as dollhouse tables.  

This morning as I was tearing the cardboard into small pieces, I wondered about a zero waste option for take-out pizza and Googled it.  I found something called a Pi Pan, a stainless steel, reusable pan with a lid for pizza takeout.  It doesn’t appear to be available for purchase at this time, though.  I also found something called a GreenBox on Amazon, but this is also made of cardboard can’t be easily reused or recycled.  And I found a company making washable, reusable, recyclable plastic boxes for pizza as well.  Although plastic can be recycled, I prefer to avoid plastics, many of which are made with non-renewable fossil fuels and contain chemicals that will stick around the planet forever.

Of course, pizza boxes are just a drop in the bucket of food packaging waste, considering the millions of take-out containers that end up in landfills every year.  But I know that I’ll still need an occasional night of take-out, when the thought of cooking feels overwhelming, and the alternative of asking my kids to show self-control in a restaurant when they are also tired seems cruel.  I love restaurants that let us bring our own containers in for take-out, which is what we typically do.  But there is something magical about warm pizza and a cold beer at the end of the week.  So chances are I’ll be tearing cardboard into small pieces again in the near future.

Have you figured out how to bring pizza home in a zero waste way?  I’d love to hear about it!  

Starting a zero waste business

Inspired by role models from the zero waste movement, in 2015 I started to consider what it would take to achieve a zero waste life and household.  Although I have recycled and composted the vast majority of my waste for the past 10 years, I still produce waste destined for the landfill, and the majority of this waste is food packaging.  

Since my effort to reduce waste in my home, I purchase most of my groceries from bulk bins and the produce section.   I’ve also changed the way my family takes food on the go.  I’ve made simple changes in the way we move through the world to reduce our footprint, inspired by the zero waste movement.  

This includes using washable bulk bags, snack bags, and beeswax wrap.  These three types of products help us reduce a huge portion of plastics and other destined-for-landfill materials from our everyday lives.  

In making this shift, however, I found that many of the products for purchase would eventually end up in the landfill.  

Reusable bulk bags with silk screen images, plastic tags, velcro, plastic buttons, polyester thread, or nylon lining (among others)  – these will all eventually end up in the landfill.

I found a need for reusable, washable products that, after their usable life is up, could be recycled or composted without introducing chemicals or other pollutants into the soil.  I decided to start making products that would leave no trace.

The manufacturing process also has the potential to create waste and contribute to pollution.  No Trace’s manufacturing process includes using raw materials with minimal packaging, recycling any plastic packaging, and using fabric and paper scraps for handmade paper.  No Trace products are handmade in Capitola, CA with zero waste and made with all natural, renewable materials.

Although No Trace isn’t 100% zero waste due to some packaging from suppliers, we are pretty dang close.  Being a zero waste business is a goal we’ll continue to strive for.  


Want to learn more about our zero waste efforts?  Check out the About page here.