“So that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” – Gandalf
When we started this blog last fall, one of our goals was to encourage ourselves to generate less trash. At that time our family of three was easily able to fill two city-issued trash cans a week, and we were definitely feeling concerned about the amount of trash we were generating.
Our neighborhood does not get city recycling bins. Last fall, we hunted for a recycling place nearby but weren’t successful in finding one that didn’t require an unacceptable amount of gas to reach, so we decided to try to farm our recycling out to family when we visited. We would grab a small bad of items on our way to a visits. This, however, didn’t work well as their bins would rarely fit more than a few extra items above their own households’ use, and certainly wasn’t a solution for disposing of the large amount of material we were generating.
So we redirected our efforts at creating less waste. First, we stopped our subscription to the newspaper and cancelled a few magazines that we never really read. We also decided to try composting. Our early effort was to put a compost pile at the far end of our yard, but this eventually meant we were less likely to make the trip for just small amounts. We then tied to collect small scraps in a metal container that could be emptied when full, but that was problematic as it took on a funky odor that discouraged users from opening it! Lately we have moved the compost pile to near the back side of the house where, on good weather days, we can just open a window and chunk the scraps out. On bad weather days, we are catching scraps in paper bags that when full can be thrown straight into the pile where they will break down as well.
We also started making efforts to change the containers we bought. The easiest was to greatly reduce purchasing foods in metal containers. We actually found that one not too difficult as we were able to switch to products that were frozen in bags or jarred. As we started looking for more products in glass jars, we began to wash and reuse them instead of using plastic storage containers. As we have accumulated more sizes of glass jars, it has been easier to prepare and store homemade soups, stocks, sauces, and preserves (products we used to buy pre-made in the past).
Finally, about 6 weeks ago, a new recycling station opened near our house, making our efforts much easier. Now we have set up a recycling area in the garage. I put a small bin in the kitchen near the back door where all recyclables can be stashed until the next time we go to the garage where they are easily sorted into bins for plastic, glass and paper. We repurposed several large plastic storage bins, that had previously been sitting nearly empty since the move, by lining them with lawn sized trash bags that make loading up and transporting the bins when full very easy. So far, we have had several trips to the recycling station that have gone really smooth.
The last couple of months, we have only been filling (or on good weeks not quite filling) one city trash can a week. So, by a few simple efforts and particularly by looking for ways to make the process user-friendly to our household, we have so far painlessly cut our garbage production by about half.