....So, in my quest to deal with the recycling issue, I started thinking about a related issue, which was trash in general. When I was part of a larger household, there was always this amazement each time a kid went off to school and the amount of trash created by said household decreased dramatically. This happened to the point where then I started to actively DO things to further decrease the amount of trash created. Things like washing and re-using plastic storage bags (or not using them at all), trying to buy veggies and fruits free style without the packaging, composting more, etc. This was the humble beginning of my personal environmental movement I guess.
Getting cooperation from others can be difficult, however, so there still seemed to always be more "output" than I was comfortable with. That said, I did eventually get it down to the science of one kitchen sized trash bag per week that was a combo of every can in the house. I thought that this was not bad for two people in this day and age of throw-away it's all OK...
That was until I started reading about the transition to a zero-waste lifestyle. HERE is one blog as an example. I'm not advocating one blog over another in this arena, it is just that TIFT seems to be one of the more sustained ones over time.
I think that basically, this type of lifestyle is what we all, those of us considering ourselves environmental friendly, are trying to work toward. Perhaps not to the extreme of all of your trash fitting into a mason jar, but attempting to seriously consider what our household solid waste consists of and limiting our impact on the local landfill.
Plus it can be an issue of economics. As my friend Oraia Helene said yesterday on Facebook, some communities actually charge you for the amount of trash you take to the transfer station. Yes, you heard both parts right. They not only mandate that the citizen transport his/her trash, but they make you pay to have it processed. My brother lives in a community in Maryland that does this as well and has been as long as I can remember. I actually think it is a fabulously forward thinking idea and much more fair than charging everyone the same amount no matter how much trash they toss into the belly of the earth each week.
So, I started my own experiment of sorts, just to see how little I can actually throw away. Incorporating all of the things I had been doing previously and adding others to them I am now:
-washing and reusing sandwich/freezer bags (I only have a few of these, leftover from stuff, not buying any new).
-buying fruits and veggies "loose" (unpackaged).
-making lotion and doing the no shampoo hair cleansing (I started this last year and admittedly due to laziness got away from it so now am trying to start again).
- buying that TP without the cardboard roller (it is hard to find here but when I find it I get it).
-making loose ground coffee with a mesh filter and using a tea ball or tea straw for loose leaf tea.
-stopped buying/using paper towels & paper napkins (THIS.WAS.BIG. and has cut my waste significantly).
-buying local soap w/out packaging (plan to start making this myself too).
**cutting down on recycled items further too and paying attention to what is moving through the market more readily. For instance, as I said in yesterday's post, the current demand is for aluminum and cardboard, so why not further cut back on plastic, whether recycle worthy or not? For me this means getting diet soda (yes I still drink soda on occasion and I know it is bad for you) in cans rather than in bottles or getting a growler refilled with my favorite local brew rather than buying bottles (which I can no longer recycle without pawning them off on my colleague as I said yesterday).
**figuring out a better way to manage pet waste! This is BIG for me. I already use biodegradable bags. I have tried one of those waste processing systems that you put in the ground but it didn't seem to keep up with the "output" if you get my drift. I had plans for a cat litter compost system a couple of years ago but never gave it a whirl. Perhaps the future will allow that? I find that having pets, like having kids, does require additional fortitude and creativeness where all this is concerned...
So, since starting this experiment, I have my output down to about one Walmart shopping bag sized heap per week. (I don't actually use a plastic Walmart bag LOL these bags are more readily biodegradable also). That still seems like a lot to me...
I'm considering it an adventure though. A very dirty, stinky adventure...
Recycling is a soap opera in these parts. Trash too. Rubbish. That's my word for it all. I don't understand how trash can be political but, here, it is. We have a private company that handles trash pick-up in our City residential areas. Out yonder, where I live, the same company handles it but it is more expensive. The City folk are on a single-stream recycling program. For those unfamiliar that is where a person mixes all their recycle materials into one container (why does that thought always make me start humming that song by The Offspring?) and then it is sorted at a holding facility by the company handling the pick-up, or whatever facility they contract with. What happens then is that other companies specializing in recycled goods buy the materials. Right now, cardboard and aluminum are bringing the best price for recycled goods. Glass is not well sought after, thus, the local glass woes have resurfaced.
Still, single-stream will accept everything, even though a disgruntled trash worker will tell you that if items are not well sought after they simply go in the landfill with everything else. The truth is they don't immediately end up buried. Instead, they are held and bidding is still done. But, eventually....well I can't seem to get an answer for that.
Add to this that if you do not live within the City limits here, the responsibility of sorting and transporting your recycled goods is left to you. This never bothered me. Recycling was just a part of my routine and once a week I would pack up my stuff and transport it to the County Solid Waste Authority (what a name, right? LOL accurate just not very sexy) and deposit it in the appropriate containers. There were also satellite drop-off sites at various locations, but most of them only took the major items.
Enter horrible budgetary decisions and even more horrible egos of local politicians and government hacks. Due to the overall cavalier attitude of the Authority, their major funding source cut their budget by more than half. Attitude aside this never should have happened. Welcome to small town ego driven politics in Podunk. To make matters worse and around the same time, the Authority then decided to abandon their home site (which they owned outright) and move to the local industrial park (with a hefty rent tag), thus further busting their budget.
Once again, they took glass off their menu because it was "just too expensive" to process. Then, last month they announced that their facility would close.
To me, this is whole scenario is the very lowest of lows with regard to politics, ego, and mismanagement. There is SO.MUCH.MORE drama that I could type about for hours but....blah....it just isn't even worth the energy.
So, what is an earth child to do???????
Well, at some point during this saga the private company that collects recycled goods agreed to pick up goods at the major drop-off sites for basically the amount of money the Authority had left to work with. So, OK, I can still manage my major items.
I colleague of mine offered to collect my glass. LOL, she does this for several people as she is a City resident. Funny how green people work together against the machine, isn't it? Sisters and brothers in arms I guess....
Even so, I felt that I should come up with an additional, more feasible plan for life. I'm in the process of doing that.
to be continued....