Ruthie was thumbing through the Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzyn and posed some interesting questions on the garbage we generate. Check out yesterday's comments for specifics. One of the things she noted was that Amy Dacyzyn really did a lot with her garbage. Her comment really got me thinking, could I be doing a lot more with mine? I thought it might be interesting to take some time to examine what's been going into my trash bin and what hasn't been going into my trash bin.
First a pet peeves about things people throw out. I have talked to more people who throw about their kid's outgrown clothes and toys in the last week than I care to mention. How hard is it to gather these things up and bring them to your local Salvation Army, Goodwill or other thrift store? Why not donate to a local women's shelter or freecycle? Find a friend who has kids a size smaller than yours and hand the outgrown clothes down. Take the extra step and keep this stuff out of a landfill while helping your fellow humans!
Around here outgrown clothing is either passed down to the next sibling or smaller sized friend, used in a project like the denim quilt or donated. I usually have a bag going at all times that everyone can put their outgrown clothes in. Clothes that are beyond repair (ie. too scary to donate) are either cut into rags or thrown in the trash.
We have very little in the way of packaging from foods since we buy in bulk and use the CSA for veggies but their is still some. Our grains and beans come in giant paper sacks. I cut these into drawing paper for the boys. This worked out especially well for my kindergartener who had homework every night and would have gone through several reams of regular white paper otherwise. Glass jars are often reused to store other items.
Plastic grocery bags turn up at my house with alarming regularity. I bring these by the CSA because they keep extra bags on hand for members who forget to bring their own. There's also a recycling bin at our local grocery store. By far the most popular, and probably least eco-friendly, use of plastic bags around here is to pick up my dog's poop. I've also used plastic bags as packing material in packages with breakables that are going to be mailed.
The gallon jugs that vinegar, shampoo, conditioner and liquid soap come in have a lot of uses. I let the kids use them as watering cans. I keep toying with punching one full of holes, burying it in the garden area and then filling it with water to make sure I get the water to the roots of the plants but I haven't done it yet. I've cut the bottom off of the vinegar container to use as a dog bowl in a pinch. I've seen people use them as little plant covers in the event of late frosts.
Vegetable trimmings go into one of the compost bins, either the worm bin or the traditional compost heap. Shredded newspaper and paper bags, without colored ink, make great worm bedding. I've also heard of people using shredded paper as a mulch in the garden but I've never had enough to try.
Share some of your ideas to deal with trash.