The trash men picked up our trash yesterday for the first time in three weeks. Things have been so hectic here that for two weeks in a row, we completely spaced on putting the can to the curb on the right day. Thank goodness we are good about keeping our garbage waste as small and condensed as we do, or we’d have had a big problem. As it was, I felt bad for the trashmen that some of that stuff had been in the can for so long, but pretty proud that we were able to make it all fit!
Here are some hints, some from personal experience, some from scouring the net, and others just common sense, on how to keep your garbage output low:
1. Recycle! I would say at least half of our waste ends up in the recycling bin. It’s hard to believe there was a time when we didn’t recycle very well at all. We keep the recycling under control as best as we can as well by breaking down boxes, not buying things in small cans unless we have to, and so forth. Keep a bin or bag in every room that you find yourself accumulating a lot of recyclable waste – the kitchen, bathroom, home office…
2. Compost! Our garbage can would have smelled a lot worse if it had been full of old fruit and veggies scraps breaking down. Pretty much everything can be composted except for animal products.
3. Keep packaging in mind when you buy products. I choose cardboard or glass over plastic packaging whenever possible because it is more readily recyclable, because BPAs scare me, and because I try to re-use glass containers. I try to buy “refills” for whatever I can instead of big bulky plastic containers. Dried herbs are a great example of something you shouldn’t keep buying in containers – find someplace that sells them in bulk or in small bags and refill your old containers.
4. Buy loose produce. It’s actually cheaper for me to buy loose raw mushrooms than those (shudder) styrofoam tubs of them. I hate those foam trays. I never know what to do with them. (Note: a friend recently used them to make homemade stamps for her kids to decorate with using paint-genius!) Bags of apples are the same price at my store as the loose ones. Support companies who package their eggs in cardboard and not foam.
5. Smoosh! Whenever you can, smoosh down the trash in your can to condense it and make more room in the bag. Make sure you can still safely get the bag out and to the curb without breaking it, though! If you are lucky enough to live in a house with a working trash compactor, use it!
6. Re-use – the back of paper, used envelopes for grocery lists (and you can stick your coupons inside!), boxes for storage, tissue paper from a gift you received as padding for something fragile, plastic bags for garbage. The list goes on.
7. Use cloth/reusable shopping bags for your grocery trips, or, if you forget them, ask for paper. They even make small bags that fold up and fit nicely inside your purse.
8. Shop for quality products, even if it means spending a few bucks more, whenever possible. If it breaks in a few months, not only do you have to replace it, but you have to throw out the old one.
9. Avoid disposable products like razors and single-serving containers.
10. Switch to cloth napkins and rags, and save those paper towels for important things like soaking up the grease from the bacon you are splurging on making for Sunday brunch!
11. Invest in a reusable coffee mug and water bottle that you enjoy using, and take them with you everywhere.
Any more suggestions from the peanut gallery? :)