Waste of food, waste of water, waste of stuff for our homes and workplaces. Where does it all go? I can’t talk about it all at once, it’s just too much. Cleaning out our spaces is really tough when you’re also trying to minimize the amount of waste and litter that you send out the door. I’ll be writing posts in the future on different aspects of these so keep an eye out.
The recycling program where I live is pretty good. Most people that live around here have a pretty good handle on sorting out their household trash. I don’t go around checking out everyone boxes but as I am moving about I see most have their blue boxes, green bin (if they live in town), and garbage bags out. The goal should be to make the bags of garbage less and less each week but for now we still have a three bag weekly limit.
On a recent trip to Halifax, NS I was reminded of how much can be done and how much further we have to go. The recycling program in Halifax is well developed. Residents have to follow the system or they risk a fine upwards of $200 or not having their waste picked up. They will follow through and leave your pile at the curb if residents don’t take the effort to sort properly. I have been told it does happen on occasion. In Aug 2015 the Halifax Region Municipality implemented a plan where clear bags are only accepted. Each household is allotted one “privacy” black bag for personal trash. They also have a green cart program. It seemed like a big step but residents adjusted and now it’s second nature.
I’ve been aiming for less plastic in my home. If I am going to be honest, I still have a lot. Some of our water bottles are plastic but they still work and until they break I will use them. Throwing away things that work fine and are being used just to get something wiser is wasteful. Some plastics in our home are just unavoidable such as parts of our car, lawnmower and appliances. My dish rack is plastic but like a lot of things it is just stuff I have purchased to fill a need. It was during a time when I didn’t care about the things I do now. Also the cost is a factor. It will be easier to make these choices as costs come down and availability/variety increases.
When shopping aim for minimal packaging. Biodegradable isn’t also the best either because it still may need to go through a process to break it down. As the volume of our garbage bag diminishes and the blue bins are more and more stuffed you can easily realize how much of what we purchase is actually packaging. recycling our plastics and paper can only take us so far in reducing waste. It is just re-routing where we put out garbage to a certain extent. It still takes a lot of resources to break it down and turn it into something. How much of it ends up being trashed in the end?
Reuse & Up-cycle
Reusing bags is the most obvious one that comes to mind but also containers, bottles and boxes. I notice many more people carrying around a refillable water bottle with me instead of buying bottles of water. Many things can have alternate uses than the original it was made for.
Send things that can still be useful to another home by giving it away to someone or a company. Some people make a business of refurbishing and selling items such as furniture or appliances. Recently I saw a charity requesting donations for cast iron ware for them to fix up and sell. What a great idea!
Some places to donate items that come to mind are The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, local community charities and then there are places like the SPCA which need supplies such as towels or food. Housing and Shelter groups are another place to help out by donating. Make sure to contact your local shelters to find out what needs they have. In some cases they may even have a pick-up program.
I have all this stuff that I don’t need and what it still boils down to is wastage. We need to buy less and spend more carefully. Be thoughtful of the choices we make when we go shopping for food or clothes.
It is possible to de-junk without being wasteful. It is just going to take a bit longer but it will be safer and cleaner and an opportunity to save some money.