Let’s face it: we throw away too much stuff. I don’t think I’ll get any argument there. Disposable products, packaging, electronics that seem to define planned obsolescence, it all ends up in the landfill.
Shop Smart. The first and most obvious way to stop throwing away so much trash is to stop bringing trash into your house in the first place. If it has a package, consider other alternatives. Can you make it yourself (bread, ice)? Can you choose a different product with better packaging (loose tomatoes instead of those in plastic packages, spaghetti sauce in glass rather than plastic)? Can you do without or get it second hand?
Compost. If you’re not composting yet, consider this little challenge the nudge you need to do so. Divert your kitchen scraps from the landfill, make garden gold. You can compost if you’re lazy. You can compost with worms. You can compost with your blender. Figure out what works and do it.
Donate items you don’t need. I once worked for a woman who threw the clothes her daughter outgrew away. I doubt anyone here is doing that, but think about what you toss. The local preschool might be able to use some of those obscure packages in craft projects. Your friend with a chicken might appreciate your egg cartons.
Cook from scratch. Buying a pre-made salad at the deli counter is fast, but leaves you with the hard plastic clam shell packaging to throw away. Instead, buy a head of lettuce, use your cloth produce bags and top with whatever veggies are in season.
Recycle. In my mind, it’s more important to reduce the amount of recyclable items that we use first, but if you must use them then please recycle.
In this household, we fill about one kitchen trash can a week. It’s primarily filled with plastic: packaging from our local butcher shop, bread wrappers, tortilla packaging). I’m sure that’s a lot less than some of you, and more than others. In any case, it makes me cringe every time we fling our trash over the edge at the transfer station. One thing I can do is start pre-ordering my beef. If I order in advance, they’ll package it in butcher paper for me. Yes, still coated, but better than straight plastic. And I can get back to baking our own bread. I’m certainly not aspiring to zero-waste like this family, but less trash? Absolutely.
So. Will you come clean and tell us how many bags of trash you go through a week? And what are you willing to do to reduce that amount?
Photo: Flickr user by woodleywonderworks