Wednesday, January 23, 2008

One man’s garbage

Sometime last year we started on a phased approached to shrinking our environmental footprint.

In Phase I – we tackled energy usage.
You know.. flourescent bulbs, power strips for passive electrical devices...etc.
Getting a new refrigerator was also discussed… but that falls into the major purchase category which would require an addendum to the ‘08 fiscal budge, we would then need to form a committee to get that approved by the board of directors, and if that passed a research team would need to determine energy efficiency guidelines, and our user acceptance group would need to review the different models and options… I mean we had to draw the line somewhere.

This week we begin Phase II – cut down on waste.
First we plan to scrutinize our household garbage.
We want to see how much waste falls into the following categories.
* Paper: recyclable (or burned)
* Plastics: recyclable
* Plastics: non-recyclable
* Food: to compost
* Food: not to compost (meat/bones/grease)
* Misc… this should be an interesting catagory

Then we cut down on what's brought into the house. Less in = less out.

* stop incoming paper
I have already called 17 catalog companies this morning and have stopped the newspaper.

* stop using plastic bags
We already have the reusable bags for the grocery store. But its time to stop accepting them from other stores. In most cases we should be able to carry out our purchases, put them in a large tote, or put them back into the cart to load into the car. If necessary, a paper bag or shopping bag can be used – but must be repurposed.

* purchase items which use less packaging.
For example - meat purchased at the grocery store is set in styrofoam and wrapped in plastic, while meat purchased at the butcher is wrapped in paper.

Composting will be our biggest change. We have never composted kitchen scraps before.
We have always tossed them safely into our drawstring white plastic tall kitchen garbage bags and tightly sealed them so they can be sent to a landfill where they will never decompose because they are so well protected in our drawstring white plastic tall kitchen garbage bags.
How dumb is that.
So instead we will be the bane of our suburban neighborhood with our snazzy new compost bin – sure to be enjoyed by domestic and wild animals alike.
I feel greener already.


WenWhit said...

You cute little tree-hugger.

I say that with incredible affection, since you're hugging MY tree. ;)

The Guy Who Writes This said...

I got it down to one pick-up truck load of garbage a year. It helps a lot to get a plastic jar that can't be recycled and fill it with things like plastic bags that can't be recycled and small items. It's amazing how much stuff you can squish in there.

Zoe said...

We compost and we are not the bane of our bungalow neighborhood. We don't have any problems with animals getting into the compost.

Val said...


weese said...

Zoe - do tell.
why do you not have animals in your compost?

SassyFemme said...

You'll either be pulling the mice out of the basement, or providing a nice warm spot for them with their full bellies.

weese said...

sassy... we're not gonna compost in the basement :)
the current plan is to compost about 300' feet from the house.
but i am welcoming any and all feedback.
(guy's plastic jar idea has my conservative wife intrigued)

Lesbianlife said...

Horay, what a great contribution.
Tagging you!

eb said...

Bet the chipmunks will love it.

dykewife said...

i saw a genius idea for creating a quick composter. it used a medium sized type cement mixer (not off a truck, but one of the portable ones that can be rented) that no longer works well or is ancient. the man welded a hinge and connected a door flap to it. then he started putting his kitchen waste, lawn clippings and yard waste (except rhubarb leaves) into it. he'd add some soil and alfalfa pellets (they help with the breakdown somehow) and give it a quarter turn once or twice a week. very shortly he'd have usable compost. it was quicker because of the turnover of the materials.

i thought it was brilliant and will someday have my own rotating compost bin. :)

dykewife said...

oh about the mice...i saw an advertisement for a ridex pest control thing that you plug into a wall outlet. it is supposed to help keep houses free of rodents and pest insects. all you need is one per floor of your house.

when i saw the ad i instantly thought of you. :) i think they have a website. if they work they're most definitely more environmentally friendly than poisons and less cruel than mouse traps.

SassyFemme said...

I know you're not composting in the basement, silly, but won't it attract all sorts of critters? Seriously.

Dykewife, those mice plug in things don't work that well, we're using them and still catching mice in the traps.

Anonymous said...

Composting is great, of course I can't compare it to where you are because here in Oz we don't have the same 'critters' attracted to it. Oh, except for mice and rats, and they are here anyway.
We have a medium sized bin, no bottom, that we move around the garden each season, composting household scraps and some organic garden material with a little water.

Hahn at Home said...

I composted all the time and never had a serious critter problem. Good luck!

Also, we have plastic bag recycling out here - you can take 'em right back to the store (I've switched to cloth bags you can get at a lot of places too though) and you can start a recycling program yourself - I heard about a toolkit to start a program yourself in your town (if you are ever interested I can send a link-but, it's a client of my company and I don't want to get in trouble!) Also, NYC is starting one up.

sporksforall said...

We have the reusable grocery bags. We forget them most of the time. Sigh.

Zoe said...

I'm not sure what type of bin your using, but I made compost bins out of old trash cans.

When your compost gets going your garbage cans should be much more attractive to critters than your compost.

clammy said...

I'm late to this post but I love the plan and the process - especially the "user acceptance group" Ha. Do tell when you go through that!lsuysev