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Friday, 5 April 2013

Simpler Living Tips #3: Less for the Landfill

Whether you want to avoid extra fees for putting out more than your quota of garbage bins each week or simply want to divert waste from the garbage dump, you may find some of these tips helpful.  My family of five produces only one grocery-bag of landfill garbage most weeks, along with a full blue box and a ½ full green bin of organic waste.
  • Think before you throw it out.  When we automatically put everything in the trash, it encourages a mentality of waste.  When you think about what this “waste” is made of or could be good for, you are likely to find a better place for it.
  • Teach your children from a young age to sort waste into organics/compost, recycling for containers, cardboard, paper, and so on.  It’s part of the unwritten curriculum in my Kindergarten classroom!
  • The compost/organic waster collection where I live allows many things to be included such as meat, fat, bones, tissues, paper towels and pet waste that are discouraged for a backyard compost bin (because they may attract pests).  I have tall paper bags in each washroom to collect tissues used for nose blowing so that they can be emptied into the compost.
  • Packaging.  We avoid buying foods that are individually wrapped and packaged. Part of our purchasing decision is what kind of waste will be created when we're done with the product.
  • Styrofoam.  I try to avoid buying things packed in Styrofoam, but when I have to I store it in part of my laundry room.  When I need to go to the Landfill, I deposit it in a special bin so that it gets reprocessed.
  • Batteries.  Keep batteries out of the trash because they are hazardous waste. Those little toys from fast food restaurants that contain batteries should not be put in the trash without first removing the little batteries. Some areas may have a hazardous waste day or depot to unload these.
  • Plastic bags.  We attach empty bread bags to the fridge with a magnet to air them out.  After shaking out the crumbs we reuse some of them to store long vegetables like celery, green onions and leeks in the refrigerator.  The liner bags in cereal boxes are sturdy, so instead of wrapping saran wrap over a plate to go in the fridge, try putting the plate inside the cereal bag and sealing with a twist-tie.
  • Clothing/Towels.  Clothing we have outgrown goes to a thrift store.  If it is too worn to go there, it goes to textile recycling.  Old towels are often welcomed at the humane society/SPCA.
  • Gift Wrap.  Save and reuse it.
  • Broken appliance.  My husband is the brains behind this one. Think like a salvage company and see what is valuable, such as the scrap metal, copper wire in the cord or the experience of taking something apart with your kids.  We save all scrap metal in our shed until we have a substantial amount; then we set it at the end of the driveway the day BEFORE garbage pick-up.  Scrap dealers are driving around looking for this and take it away for us.
  • Bread tags. I save these in a large Ziploc bag until I have enough to pass on to a charity that raises funds by selling them by the pound to a recycler. 

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