What’s in your garbage?

Yes, that’s kind of a personal question, isn’t it?  However, in order to get a handle on what you’re sending to the landfill, do one thing –  look at what is in your garbage can.  It can be pretty eye-opening, as in “how did that get in there?”

Is there packaging that could be recycled?  Or could the packaging be avoided by simply buying a different brand with recyclable packaging?  Or could you get that product in the bulk section of the grocery store and put it in a reusable container?  Full disclosure: the bulk of what is in our garbage is non-recyclable packaging such as freezer bags for vegetables, and crinkly plastic such as pasta bags or chip bags, and the occasional ice cream container (we sometimes make our own ice cream, but not all of the time).  None of these items is recyclable locally because there is currently no market for them.

Are there a lot of paper products such as paper towels or napkins?  Replacing those with cloth towels and napkins saves you the money spent repeatedly on things you have to simply toss. (see my post about “How did we get here”.)

If you see a lot of food in your garbage, what can you do to change that? Could you compost it in your yard, or in a worm bin in your apartment?  Remember, it is estimated that 25%-40% of food produced is wasted.  If you’re wasting 25% of your food, you’re wasting 25% of your food budget.  As your parents probably said, “clean your plate!”  Or just don’t take more than you can eat.  Or freeze the leftovers for later.  I’ll post more soon about food waste.

Is there something in the garbage that could be reused by someone else, for example, a toy or other item that could be donated?  Even things like rubber bands and paper clips can be reused at your local schools.  If you have ever been to a transfer station or landfill, you’ve seen that much of the garbage is made up of perfectly good things that someone else could use.

A great first step is to make a quick list of what is in your garbage, then choose one type of item to try to keep out of the landfill. Once that is accomplished, move on to another.

We’d love to hear what you think you can tackle.   Good luck!