An Ardent Waste-hater Since Age Four
Jacquie Ottman was nicknamed ‘Junky Jacquie’ by her siblings when she dragged home board games and other treasures from the neighbor’s trash. Still dragging home finds from NYC’s ‘treasure-troved’ sidewalks, Jacquie started this blog to create a movement that could change culture around waste. Her goals are to empower ardent waste watchers to share the many ways they reduce waste in their lives, and to create insights that can help forward thinking businesses develop new products and services that can help all consumers use less waste.
A New Product and Strategy Expert by Day
For the past 25 years Jacquie has been helping consumer product companies and the U.S. government develop and market products and services that can help meet consumers’ needs to live more sustainably. (One of the clients she is most proud of is the US EPA’s Energy Star label that is probably on your fridge, TV, and printer. An internationally recognized speaker, she is also the author of four books, including her latest, The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding (Berrett-Koehler, 2011). It was named a Top 40 Sustainability Book by Cambridge University (U.K.) and is required reading by a number of college and grad courses across the U.S. (One of our Waste Watchers, Fredrica Rudell, uses it in her own course at Iona College!)
What Jacquie Does to Reduce Waste in Her Life
Takes care of things
I make sure to regularly polish my shoes and other leather goods to make them last a long time. And as soon as I drop something on a white blouse or the carpet, I try to blot up the mess to make sure stains don’t set. All of these kinds of things keep my things new looking longer and lasting a long, long time.
Uses things up
To make sure they get used up, I take the half-used bars of soap from the hotel shower, along with partially used little bottles of lotion. (One of these days I’ll admit this to my friends and colleagues waiting for me down in the coffee shop, but for now, I don’t want them to think I’m weird or anything.)
I take a pencil and get a whole inch of antiperspirant that would otherwise go to waste!
I scrape the sides of mixing bowls and inside the mayo jar with some extra flexible spatulas. It’s amazing what you can get if you know how to scrape!
I get out every last drop from the dishwashing liquid bottle, the olive oil jar and the Lubriderm lotion bottles by turning them upside down overnight. (A lady who works at the Clinique counter once told me over a Chinese lunch near Bloomingdale’s that customers actually slice their tubes to get out every last drop of the precious potions, but I haven’t tried that one yet. — Maybe because I don’t buy expensive makeup?)
I reuse the reverse side of paper in the office, making sure to strike through the used side first so I don’t get confused with what’s already been printed on it.
I keep pens around until the ink has really dried up, and sharpen those pencils down to the nub (issue: by the time the pencil is used up, the eraser is dry. NG!)
We reuse envelopes in the office—and have extra large mailing address labels so we can cover up the old address.
I mend clothes, sheets, socks, etc. so they last as long as possible. (Do you love to hear the words “mend” and “darn” as much as I do?)
I’ve got a collection of glues in a specially marked Ziploc bag ready to repair anything from wood and metal, to fancy plates and tea cups.
Uses leftovers creatively
I make stale bread into bread crumbs with my Cuisinart. Here’s an article on new uses for old bread from one of our Official Waste Watchers, Jocelyn Deprez. (If she hadn’t written it first, I would have!)
I turn the leftovers from the Christmas ham into ham croquettes.
I make overripe tomatoes into tomato soup or pasta sauce. (See my post, Recipe for Truly Satisfying Tomato Soup.)
I have a special canister in the cupboard where I store all those extra little soy sauce and duck sauce packets that come with Chinese take-out and I turn them into sauces for leftover meats (Check out my post, What To Do With All Those Duck Sauce Packets.”
I save the little packets of salt and pepper and sugar that come with take-out sandwiches.
I proudly take a doggie bag home from restaurants – and sometimes even ask for the bread. (Apparently so does Fredrica Rudell. Check out her post, “Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli — and the Bread Basket”).
Stops waste before it’s created
I carry a Chico bag at all times – so easy to whip out whenever you need a bag. I also carry one of our WeHateToWaste.com branded People Towels — really handy for restrooms, the gym, on a hot day and for hot flashes!
I actively get off of junk email and direct mail lists.
Happy in a school uniform for 12 years, I usually wear the same thing to work everyday (black pants and white tee shirt or turtleneck.)
I watch TV on a Sony Trinitron that’s 35 years old.
I stopped getting my hair colored (Okay, I’ll put up a new picture soon. The silver looks really great!)
I sell things on ebay, Craig’s list, and give things away on Freecycle.
I pool leftovers with neighbors into great shared meals.
I divide up a big bag of clementines every winter with neighbors.
I live in a small NYC apartment – I recently consolidated my home and office into one apartment – a 40% reduction that saves me one bathroom, one kitchen, one electricity bill, telephone bill, DSL line and heating.
I swap newspapers with neighbors (I give Arlene my NYTimes and she gives me her WSJ. Then I give both to Frances down the hall.) I started a “take a book, leave a book” in my NYC apartment building. Read more here.
I take things to thrift stores (and happily grab the tax deduction). I think previous owners should leave us all a note. Read more here.
I love to prowl flea markets and antique malls, looking for bargains and just having fun well, looking.
I “regift” with friends to make everyday occasions special. Enjoy this post.
I share my fax machine, copier and printer with neighbors.
I grow my own plants.
I make cuttings from plants, so I never have to buy new plants. (One of these days I look forward to making my own soil from compost, but am still warming up to the idea of the worm bin under the sink.)
Reuses, refills, repairs
I reuse Ziploc bags and store veggies in those Mrs. Meyers Green bags so they will last longer. Just bought one of those Rubbermaid Produce Savers, so am trying that out these days.
I refill my Poland Spring water bottles rather than buy new (I’m still alive despite what they say about plastic migration.)
Uses space efficiently
For 22 years I lived in a 280 sq ft apt; now I live and work in 636 sq ft.
I work from home, so I save time and money and anguish on the commute (Have you ever tried the #6 train during rush hour?); and I don’t waste space having an office part of the time, and an idle home the rest of the day. (I’ll confess to not taking the plunge to using a Murphy bed in the living room — I just adore my bedroom and real queen-size bed.)
I’ve never owned a car. I try to share cabs. I walk practically everywhere or take the subway, train or bus — and take advantage of opportunities to catch up on all those articles I cut out from the paper and Arlene’s magazines to read in my leisure.
Makes instead of buys
I make presents (or openly regift) rather than shop for new things. One thing that I’m especially proud of making was a cookbook of five generations of compiled family recipes that I gave everyone for Christmas in 2000.
I take the water from the boiled egg and use it to water my plants. If I had a garden, I really would shower with a bucket and water my garden, I just know it. For now, I’ll speed things up in there with a little encouragement from my shower buddy (timer).