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waste reduction challenge

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My family, along with three other families in our little town, are taking part in the Waukesha County Waste Reduction Challenge. We are recording our garbage and recycling weights for 5 weeks and attempting to decrease the amount of garbage we throw away through whatever creative ways we can employ the 3 Rs. The results have been mortifying for me. I am a bit of an eco-freak and pre-parenthood we were quite the bees knees when it came to not throwing much away. But man alive things are different now. So, I am attempting to take a very close look at what on earth we are throwing away… and you get to help me! Channel your inner voyeur and check out what we have thrown away in the past 3 days:

I have, for obvious reasons, excluded the used kitty litter. And, there should be 3 pull-ups in this picture, but they sort of stink.

Ok. Let’s assess. All of the obvious recyclables went automatically into the recycling bin so you aren’t seeing the paper, tin cans, glass jars/bottles and plastic jars/bottles. But some of the items in this picture are recyclable if you go a bit out of your way:

  • Plastic caps. Aveda collects these and uses them to make their new bottle caps. I just found this out and am perhaps a bit more excited about this than a normal person should be.
  • #5 plastics (like yogurt, cottage cheese, and other soft cheese containers). There are at least two local grocery stores that collect these for recycling. I can’t put them in my blue bin at the curb, but I can save them and bring them to these stores when I go.
  • Totally minor, but the paper outside of the gum boxes are paper, so rip that off and put it in our regular blue recycling bin.

As for reuse, I really should bit the bullet and make some super absorbent overnight pull-ups for my girl. And as luck would have it the ever fabulous Sew, Mama, Sew just ran an incredibly detailed, everything you would ever need to know about making cloth diapers, mini-textbook in this post. So I have no excuse. Well, except that whole time thing.

Ok, so taking out those pesky items, our garbage pile now looks like this (it’s like Highlights, for adults!):

And now I basically just feel guilty. Almost every one of these items could be avoided at the purchasing end.

  • I could use handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues (but it’s allergy season!)
  • I could buy yogurt exclusively in the large containers instead of the neat plastic sleeves (though I will say these are way cleaner AND they make Pia eat much more yogurt than she would otherwise)
  • ziploc bags. sigh. this is something that was never even in my house pre-kids, but now are a staple because they are so dang handy.
  • Chocolate chips, which we go through like water, could be purchased in bulk in a reusable container. (but that option isn’t available at my local Piggly Wiggly, so not such an easy choice.)

I believe the other items… cough drop wrappers (I cough. a lot.), band-aids, empty scotch tape roll, bird seed bag… are legitimate garbage. Thoughts from the gallery? I mean, nice thoughts from the gallery? Not like, crazy woman, you took pictures of your garbage???



4 responses »

  1. Guilt pains, guilt pains!

    Nice blog!

    Okay, so I shouldn’t have read this, I should have written my own, right? Maybe that’s my problem…

  2. The one CLEARLY frivolous piece of garbage is the band-aid. There is no visible blood on the pad of the used bandage (ew). This leads me to conclude that it was a “feel better” band-aid for a certain little girl instead of an actual blood-seepage-stopper. If that is the case, you really should splurge for the slightly spendy but TOTALLY worth it “invisible band-aids”. We use them all the time. What I like about them most, aside from their absence of waste (obviously their main perk), is that I *always* have one on me when Tea injures himself.

    The only other thing I have to say is, hmm…you have suspiciously little garbage for 3 days. You stopped eating for this challenge, didn’t you?

  3. Okay – I just read this blog for the first time. But I can make a suggestion. Buy the “freezer” quality ziplocs & wash & re-use them. Shake out the moisture & open face up & they’ll dry in a day, if you don’t like to do it yourself. You can wash the sandwich ones, but they don’t last as long. For the Nestle bag – I use my cereal bag liners for “wet” garbage (our compost bin overfloweth) & the used night-time diapers. I don’t use a garbage can plastic liner, so this helps, esp. in the summer.

  4. PS – You could probably compost the sucker stick & kleenex. . . Our past hardware store sold birdseed from a big bin. . .You could give up chocolate, but it is seriously not worth it!


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