A few weeks ago I took my students to the local transfer station. For those of you not up to par with your garbage-lingo, the transfer station is the place your trash goes after it is picked up from your house and before it heads to the landfill. It is pretty crazy to see what folks throw away...This trip made me think a lot about my family's trash-- what we throw away and how we can make a dent in reducing that.
First off, living in Portland, our trash only gets collected once every two weeks. This is usually no problem, as curb side recycling picks up glass, paper, metal and several types of plastics, and we can compost all of our food scraps and yard waste. So, compared to the rest of the country, I think the amount of trash that we send to the landfill each week is considerably less than average.
But, compared to the rest of the world, our trash load is enormous. We still have a can that is usually 3/4 full every two weeks, and after a big purge, it may be crammed full. I wanted to know how my family could create that much trash when we are so conscious of composting and recycling and we aren't huge consumers... So, for a couple of weeks I paid really close attention to everything that was going into our trash can, and here is what I found:
- about half of our trash is dog poop, cat poop and cat litter. We use a compostable sawdust litter in one of the litter boxes, but one of the cats refuses to use it, so we still have a litter box full of the clay-based litter that we have to completely change (and toss) every couple of weeks.
- in our kitchen trash, we were putting whatever I had swept up off of the floor (usually that is mainly pet hair, and with 5 animals inside I have to sweep a lot!), along with packaging that can't be recycled curbside or taken to the local recycling center, old sponges, a few broken toys, and lint from the dryer.
- our bathroom garbage gets filled up very quickly with toilet tissue that some folks in the family like to blow their nose with. I use old bandanas for this, but can't seem to convince everyone to join my hanky brigade.
- and then, we sometimes have a big item that gets thrown in as well-- like our toilet seat that recently cracked and was unable to be recycled.
Then I thought about how I could lessen what we throw away. I know that we need to get more items in bulk and use less packaging, especially food packaging. It's especially tough when I am packing a lunch each day for a picky eater, but I know that I can do better. I also have plans to make reusable snack bags for Finn to bring to school. I wash out our ziplocs and re-use them several times, but reusable bags would cut out that waste all together. Now if I could just find the time.....
I think being more selective about we let into the house is our best bet. When I choose toys for my children, they are often things that we buy used, or that are made to last. But trips to birthday parties or the nickle arcade result in handfuls of cheap plastic items that often break on the way home. And when my kids receive presents from others or choose toys with their own money, those are often not the same items I would choose.
I would like to figure out and attempt to reduce our trash even more. How do you reduce your trash?Pin It Now!