Why bother? An obvious reason to reduce waste is a strike by city workers. Some people want to be Green. Reducing waste is also a way to become more self-sufficient. Not to mention I'm tossing away resources – compost, fertilizer, containers, bedding and mulch. And in my case, I'm planning to be lazy. The homestead we plan on moving to doesn't have garbage removal services. So here are some ideas to keep the garage bags, blue bags and green bins empty.
Empty the Garbage
I have two raw fed dogs. Combine that with the carnivorous humans in the household and we throw away a lot of Styrofoam meat trays. I will buy meat in larger bulk sizes. I will also buy more of my meat from local farmers and butchers who usually package their wares in butcher paper. I am assuming that butcher paper can be burned. If not butcher paper would take up less space in the garage than the trays.
Yogurt containers are all #5 around here and can't be recycled. I reuse some for various projects, but the containers usually pile in faster than they can be used. I have started making yogurt. I will be swapping yogurt containers for milk containers in the grand scheme of things. It is an improvement.
Dog poop is something I'm currently throwing in the garbage – which explains the dirty looks I get from the garbage collectors. I will build a dog poop composter. Instructions here. The finished compost will be used for ornamental plants and trees. I plan to actually build two of these and alternate their use so I will have one for finished compost and one that I'm filling.
Growing more food in the yard reduces the packaging coming into the house.
Use fabric bags for all shopping.
Replace facial tissue with fabric handkerchiefs.
Replace paper towel with rags.
Use a Diva cup and/or glad rags instead of disposable feminine hygiene products.
Empty the Green Bin
Build a backyard composter and use it for all appropriate waste.
Build a worm composter which will take care of coffee grounds, most vegetable matter and even some shredded paper. The castings are wonderful fertilizer.
Buy some chickens and give the choicer bits of vegetable waste to them. In turn they fertilize the ground and scratch it up.
Use egg shells in the garden to ward off slugs. Apparently egg shells can also be used in some home cleaning recipes.
Giblets are fed to the dogs. As are poultry necks. Some egg shells are given to them as well. They are happy and healthy and those bits are kept out of the waste stream.
The lawn mower is mulching mower. The grass clippings are immediately returned to the lawn. Although in the future I may select a ground cover other than grass which does not require mowing. If I can find something to hold up to the dogs, it will be a miracle.
I will be changing my mindset on yard waste. I have been keeping a tidy yard and throwing the clippings/branches/etc into the green bin. Instead, I will compost in place when possible and use the bin otherwise.
Chip smaller branches for mulch on pathways and planting beds.
I still need a solution to the animal parts which I would usually throw in the green bin. I would like to try to make bone meal from the left over bones. I'm not sure if that is possible.
Empty the Blue Bag
Pop bottles. We go on pop binges. At times we have a sizable number of bottles in those blue bags. The smaller bottles were reused for packaging coffee and chocolate drink mixes as presents for Christmas. The larger ones can be reused some for bird feeders. Again, the incoming number rarely matches the reuse projects. One solution is to reduce or completely eliminate pop from our diets. A good idea for sure, but we all need our vices. Maybe brewing our own would be a good compromise. Then we can control the ingredients and there is actual work and patience required to create the supply. Also the bottles would be re-useable.
The cans from canned goods can be removed from the waste stream by preserving vegetables and meat. This requires a garden, some seeds and some decent weather. Or at least a visit to the farmers market. Also requires some tools and bottles and tops all of which are reusable. The lids shouldn't be used for heat canning a second time, but are fine for repackaging and storing food/buttons/screws/you-name-its until they start rusting.
Paper products will be burned in the wood stove when we get one. Ashes from the stove will be added to the garden.
An outdoor wood stove will be built to burn stuff we'd rather not burn inside. Plus an outdoor stove is just cool. I start to drool just thinking about a big clay outdoor pizza oven!
In general I will...
Look for items with permanently reusable packaging like glass jars for shop supplies or plastic food trays for soap making molds.
Look for items with less packaging or at least recyclable packaging.
Give clothes/household items/etc to charity instead of putting it at the curb.
Continue to look for opportunities to eliminate waste.