Waste Not…

I’m a woman on a mission.  My head is held high, my cape flapping in the wind, fists on my hips…. okay, not really.  I’m no superhero, but I am on a mission!!  Every two weeks is garbage day, and every two weeks I’m completely and utterly ashamed of myself.

I go on and on about saving the planet – and yet 2 or 3 large non-biodegradable plastic garbage bags filled with goodness knows what (I mean, how much waste should a family of three really be generating???), make it to the end of our driveway, and ultimately, to the landfill.  I feel like the world’s biggest hypocrite every second Thursday.  We do recycle, and our two large bins are also full to capacity and beyond, every single week.  Now, that can be a good thing, and a not so good thing.

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So yes.  My mission.  To see how much I can decrease both our landfill waste AND our recycling waste…because lets face it, not everything that makes it to the blue bin ends up as a new cereal box or water bottle.  Maybe that’s just my own conspiracy theory; of which I have many; but I stand by it.

So I started looking at ways to reuse and re-purpose a lot of what gets tossed.  There are SO many ways, if we’re just willing to stop being lazy, because it’s just easier to tap the toe pedal on the trash can.

Number 1: COMPOST!!!  There are so many things we can actually put into the compost bin that I would have never even thought of!  That alone should cut our waste by at LEAST 50%!  (I’m not even joking…it’s pretty bad!!)

So Mission Number One: Be A Compost Queen!

This means I have to start by GETTING a compost bin…or 10… I figure I’ll start by looking on local sites to see if anyone is getting rid of old wooden pallets for free.  There are many websites that will show me how to build a simple – or complex – compost bin out of old pallets.  So that’s step 1.  Step 2 – Stop tossing it in the trash…put on my shoes…and dump it in the compost bin!  Step 3…wait…  and Step 4, FREE FOOD FOR MY GARDENS, WOOHOO!!!

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Number 2: REUSE / RE-PURPOSE!!!  Do you ever look at the simplest thing in your house and think “what could I do with this?”..no?  Well, I do all the time…I just never actually did the “doing” part.  Until now my friends!

Paper products coming out the wazoo?  I certainly do!!  Junk mail, newspaper, old magazines, cereal boxes, etc… well, I found this guy online (get your mind out of the gutter!!)…and he’s an absolute GENIUS.  Now, I’m sure he didn’t invent the concept, because after turning to my trusty friend Mr. Google after watching his video, I found out many others have the same idea.  So really, I’m not sure who thought of it first, but high five to you!  You’re thinking, spit it out already! (Don’t deny it, I know you are!!) …Homemade Fire Logs!  I won’t go into detailed instructions here because I’ll just end up rambling again…but click on this LINK to watch his video!  If you don’t think it’s awesome…well…

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Toilet paper / paper towel rolls, plastic muffin trays/takeout containers, egg shells, yogurt cups…what do they (and a shit load of other disposable items) all have in common?  They’re free seedling starters for your flowers and veggies!  Why buy your seedlings in those black plastic trays and end up with even more waste on your hands, when you can use what you’ve already got to do the job?  And the perks?  The egg shells will make your calcium loving tomatoes love you, and when you’re done with them, you can grind them up in an old coffee mill and scatter them around the base of your plants to add calcium and deter snails and slugs (coffee grounds will also help with the pests and feed your plants)!   The paper rolls can then be tossed either into your compost bin for next year, or cleaned of the dirt and added to your next fire log!  And if you’re gentle with your yogurt cups and muffin trays, they can serve you for years to come!

Lots of water bottles end up in your blue bin?  Suck it up and turn on a tap, it ain’t gonna kill ya! (use the ones you already have as another seedling planter, or donate to day cares or schools to use as crafts…and for goodness’ sake, don’t buy any more!)

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A lot more waste can be eliminated if we start making a lot of the foods we consume instead of buying it prepackaged.  This is true of most breads and baked goods.  It is also true of frozen and canned vegetables – either opt for fresh and bring your own cloth produce bag, or grow your own and preserve it for year-round consumption.  Buy your grains, pastas and other dried goods at bulk stores, using your own reusable containers instead of the provided clear plastic bags and twist ties.  (Most stores will pre-weigh your containers before you fill them, so you’re not over paying for the extra weight!)

Now, I know this isn’t going to all happen overnight.  As gung-ho as I am about the whole thing…I’ve also got a 16 year old daughter, and a very set-in-his-ways husband to convince.  But as with everything else, a step forward is a step in the right direction.  Lets see how well I can do in December!!  The idea is for me to start practicing what I preach!

Do you have any other ideas to help reduce the seemingly insurmountable mountains of waste produced every day on our planet?  I’d love to hear them in the comments below!!! 🙂