Wednesday, March 28, 2012
How to stop using trash bags
I told you in a previous post that I would talk more about how 6 months ago we
stopped using trash bags. Well, here we are.
I am guessing the first question everyone will ask is...
Just like the TP question. Everyone wants to know what is so
wrong with what many consider a must have, can not live without,
your nuts for not using it, household item.
It's made of plastic. Duh, I know. Many are not biodegradable or
can be recycled. That means it fills a landfill never to break down or
never to be recycled into anything else.The EPA estimates that nearly
100 billion to 1 trillion bags are used each year with less than 6% of
them being recycled. That is a lot of plastic. We won't even address
the process of making plastic and the air pollution. The fact is, we are
running out of room to bury this stuff. Consuming less or even better
stop consuming at all is the answer.
The next question we always get when we challenge the status quo on
things is always this :
"Well, what do you use instead?"
Our answer always causes that rapid blinking look that I find so entertaining.
We don't use anything.
That's right. Our trash cans are naked. Naked naked naked.
Now, some of you probably just threw up a little bit in your mouth on that
thought but I assure you, I am a germaphobe so it isn't all that gross.
I am going to show you how to get unhooked off those bags. But before
we go any further I wanted to say, if your using recycled or biodegradable
bags, kudos for you. I know that biodegradable ones exist, I just can
not justify the price on our income. And our thought is, it is best just to learn to do without.
Want a naked trash can? Here is how.
Compost. Easy enough. Nearly all of our food that is not edible goes into our compost.
We also add in grass clippings sometimes. Shredded paper as well.
We must have a wicked garden, right? No. We don't garden! However, that soil gets
used in potted plants, flower beds and the like. Even if you do not do those things here
is a great idea to get rid of your compost....give it away on Craiglist/Freecycle. You
will be overwhelmed at the people who will want your crap...I mean compost!
Recycle. We had up to that point recycled in a lazy way. We knew the basics. But
I went to our county recycling website and got a break down of the recycling. Now nearly
75% of our trash is recycled. Paper, glass, cardboard, plastics all go into our curbside
recycling program. Any plastic bags we get go back to store recycling. We try to avoid them
at all possible by using cloth shopping bags and mesh produce bags. Sometimes it is
unavoidable. Our county does not recycle Styrofoam but our local grocer, Publix does
recycle the egg trays. We have drop off points for magazines & newspapers. Office
supply stores recycle our ink cartridges, old cell phones and so on. The point is if you
take 15 minutes to research you can recycle nearly all of what you toss. With very little
effort on your part.
Donate. Anything that is useable, we donate, sell or give away. There was a time
that we would just put the old beat up table down by the curb, *gasp*, I know.
Even things you think are not worth it can be used by someone else. Like I mentioned
above, old cell phones are recycled by organizations. Shoes , even beat up ones, are.
Our area has a diaper bank for any unused diapers. Whenever I see something in our
home that we no longer have a use for and I am not sure its worth anything to anyone,
I put it on Craigslist for free. I have never had an item not taken & used. There is always
someone who can use what you can not, I assure you.
What does that leave? Not a lot. We went from being a 4 curbside trash can family
a week to a half filled one can a week. We realized the #1 reason we lined our can was
for messy messes, like food. Once we eliminated that, we saw clearly that there
was no need to line our trash can. The poor thing is naked all the time now.
Is it easy to stop using trash bags? No, not at first. Because let's be honest,
do you really want to have to focus that much time on how to dispose of your
trash? Not what I enjoy doing either. But when I realized the key to conserving, less
consuming was all just a matter of a lot of brain work and little physical work then it
was just a no brainer for me to give it a try. Our transition from 4 curbside cans a week
to naked trash can took us 6 months. It was a constant process of, "where does this go?"
Looking for recycle symbols, referring to our local recycling center and digging yogurt
cups out of the trash while yelling at the kids & hubby. Fun times. But soon it became
second nature to question it. Soon it became the norm for the recycling can to be taken
out more than our trash needing to be taken out. It became our norm.
If you think this all too much for you. Then please, switched to biodegradable bags. If you
can't justify the cost (and they are a bit more than those hefty ones) then go to a landfill
just one time. I dare you. It's gross. I don't want my children's children to live on top of one
nor do I want that stuff to keep piling up. It was enough for me to know I had to do something.
Is it extreme? Maybe. But that is how I roll. I don't do things half way or to the norm extent.
But when I see how this earth is being taken care of, I question our stewardship to God. Or
rather, our lack there of. I am as far from a PETA tree hugging vegan as your ever going to meet.
I am a God fearing, raised in the South conservative folk who likes a good ol' juicy hamburger.
But I can't help but think, is this how God intended us to use what He blessed us with? When
it takes so little for us to do better? It is like the old saying...
When we know better, we do better.
~This post is being linked up over at Frugally Sustainable Link party "Frugal Days, Sustainable Way's #20" this week, go take a peek....it's awesome sauce!~