Analyzing Trash Output
I've written about minimizing our trash output to avoid paying for garbage pick-up. Even if you don't pay a premium for trash pick-up (or you live in a town where it's "free"), I recommend trying to do without trash pick-up for at least a few weeks. Why?
Personally, I believe that just throwing all of our trash into one big dumpster to be hauled away (and forgotten) means that we never stop to think about where all our trash is coming from and how it can be reduced.
We can put bags of garbage out at the road, and it's conveniently disposed of for us. Out of sight, out of mind. But trash doesn't just disappear when the garbage truck turns off of our street.
If you had to go through your trash, piece by piece, and come up with a way of getting rid of it (compost, burn, recycle, donate, etc.), you would probably give it a second thought.
I love washing canning jars, because to me they symbolize the true meaning of "recycle". They don't need to be sent off to a factory for costly recycling techniques. They can be washed in my dish water and refilled next fall.
If you've read the two posts I linked to above, then you already know some of my strategies for reducing trash output.
It started when we moved here 4 years ago. I refused to pay for garbage pick-up, and instead determined that I would start a compost pile and sort recyclables.
Suddenly, an empty cocoa box like the one in this picture, is a big deal. The sides are made of cardboard, which is easy enough to burn or compost. But the top and bottom are made of metal. What waste, for a little bit of cocoa powder.
However, the cocoa box isn't a big deal in comparison to this packaging for 7 ounces of whipping cream. Convenient, but not efficient, and certainly not environmentally healthy.
Egg cartons are easy enough to get rid of if you know someone who has laying hens. If you don't know anyone personally who can re-use egg cartons, ask around -- maybe someone else does.
By the way, I can't say it loud enough: Start composting! :) I was amazed when we started composting, at how our food scraps (peelings, egg shells, watermelon rinds, etc.) sunk and biodegraded and basically just disappeared after a while. Our compost scraps would have been many huge bags of food scraps if it were going to the landfill, but in our compost pile it just settled and composted.
Besides the compost pile/bin, I think the other most useful and frugal trash-and-energy-output-saving item is my clothesline. We use the cloth version of just about anything possible (including diapers, of course!) and line-drying is free. ;)
I'd love to hear your creative and resourceful ideas for reducing trash output! I'm sure we're not the only ones who don't have trash pick-up coming to our house every week. :)
Lindsay has a recent post about reducing junk mail. Unnecessary but unavoidable paper waste can be composted quite easily if you have a shredder! Yes, I'm kinda on that crazy composting bandwagon... :)
More frugal tips can be found here! :)