It’s that time of year again! Time to crawl out of the heated house into the sunlight of the natural world and start tending the garden and cleaning up the home. I always loved spring cleaning when I lived alone because it was so easy! But now that I have a house full and I’m the “house spouse” of the crowd, it is a lot more work. So I have a method of working through it while thinking about the planet at the same time, a sort of “ritual” that makes it all happen faster. I thought I’d share that method along with some great ideas that can be modified to suit your individual situations. And hopefully this will help your spring cleaning go green.
Posts tagged garbage
The prime object of greening the kitchen is a plan to reduce waste. This will make a significant contribution to saving this planet and reducing the carbon footprint of our industrial society. However, going green does take a commitment, it isn’t something that can be done will watching TV or taking a bath, although you can make those activities greener, too. But going green may take some research and planning. At the very least, it will take thought. And your thinking should be about changing up the kitchen first because it is the most waste producing room in your home.
The best way get started is to just do it slowly, making changes when they’re painless and making easy, budget friendly choices. The whole idea centers around sustainability which means you should only make changes you can sustain over a long period. If it’s too expensive or difficult to repeat, then don’t even go there. If you want to get started today, I have some easy, simple steps you can take to get the ball rolling.
Nobody likes taking out the trash, right? Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can reduce the amount of waste you make at home. The three Rs of waste management – reduce, reuse,recycle – outline not only the options but also order of importance. Recycling is last because it should be your last option. Reduce and reuse – avoid making waste in the first place and you will have less to recycle.
The key is to change your behavior. Think about ways you can create less waste. Waste reduction is an ideal solid waste solution.
Reduce your paper trail
At home, a big part of what you throw away is paper. Most of that paper is what you get in the mail everyday – unwanted and unwelcome advertising mail. Nearly 5.9 million tons of advertising mail was generated in 2006 according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). Of that amount, about 3.6 million tons was thrown away.
Do your part – reduce the amount of unwanted mail that you receive at home. To remove your name from mailing lists, simply send a postcard or letter that includes your name, home address and signature to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512-0643. There is no charge for the service. You can also sign a petition to support the new “do not mail” registry at “do not mail.org”, Here. For more information and other ways to register, visit Off Mailing List and sign up. You also can stop mailings of credit card offers by calling toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT. Your request will reach the major national credit card bureaus.
Not all companies use these national systems to purge their mailing lists. If you are still receiving unwanted mail, just contact individual senders and ask them to remove your name from their mailing list. Depending on the company, you can send your request by mail, e-mail or phone. Why bother? Why just not recycle the unwanted mail? Recycling unwanted mail is fine, but reducing the flow of unwanted mail will conserve natural resources, save landfill space as well as save you time and money.
Americans generated about 31.3 million tons of food waste – uneaten portions of meals and trimmings from food preparation in kitchens, cafeterias and restaurants – in 2006 according to the U.S. EPA.
Admit it, you waste food at home, right? We buy too much. We prepare too much. We waste too much by letting fresh food go bad. Stop it. Plan meals and create a list of what you need before you go to the grocery store. Donate excess canned goods to a food bank. You also can reduce food waste by composting fruit, vegetable and other specific food scraps. Check out my other posts on the wasting of food and how to make compost.
Recycle your grass.
Yard trimmings make up the second largest segment of the nation’s waste stream – about 32.4 million tons in 2006 according to the U.S. EPA. You can help reduce that by recycling your grass. Say what? Grasscycling is simply leaving the clippings on your lawn instead of composting or disposing of them. Grasscycling saves time and money, is good for the environment and reduces waste. For more information, see the “FYI: Grasscycling” fact sheet Here.
Don’t spend cash for trash.
You don’t want to buy garbage, right? Well, depending on what products you buy, that may be what you are doing. Don’t buy stuff that is disposable, of poor quality or over packaged. Packaging waste, for example, makes up more than 30 percent of the nation’s waste stream – and you pay for it. Buy products in bulk containers such as dog food, cereal and paper products. Buy concentrates with less packaging such as detergents and cleaners. Buying in bulk and concentrates can save you money and reduce waste. You also won’t have to go to the store as often. Buy durable products that last. Buy recycled. Buy products made from recycled content materials. Buy products and packaging that can be recycled in your community. Bottom line? Buy only what you need. Use what you buy.
Saving On The Cost of Paint
You can reduce paint waste at home and perhaps save money if you take just a little time and do the math. Before you begin a painting project, measure the room. Calculate the area to be painted (height X width = total square feet). One gallon of paint covers about 400 square feet. To prevent paint from drying, cover the paint can (use the original container) with plastic wrap, replace the lid securely and store upside down.
Protect your paint from freezing. Use leftover paint for touch-up jobs, smaller projects or as a primer. If you absolutely have no other use for leftover paint, find someone who can use it, give it to a community group or contact your recycling coordinator.
Reduce by Reusing
Reusing items – by repairing them, finding new uses for them, donating them to a community group or selling them – reduces waste. Think before you throw. Use glass jars for storing food such as flour, nuts and dried fruit or for other items such as nails, buttons and office supplies. Reuse paper and plastic bags. Reuse boxes. Give magazines to office waiting rooms, schools or hospitals.
Save your packing peanuts and bubble wrap – use them or give them to someone who will.
Using Reusable Products
Consider not buying single-use items such as paper or plastic cups, plates and utensils – use the real stuff including cloth napkins instead. Use towels, rags and sponges for most cleaning. Just say no to paper or plastic bags at the grocery store.
Don’t take a bag if you don’t need one. Better yet, buy and use your own cloth or canvas bags – even more good news, they won’t tear. Buy rechargeable batteries and a battery charger – you can run almost anything from flashlights to digital cameras. In the long run, buying rechargeable batteries is less expensive and helps protect the environment.
Find New Life for Toss Outs
Instead of throwing away, consider selling or donating your unwanted stuff to groups and organizations that accept used goods. Consult your telephone directory to see what groups and organizations are in your community. Do your part. Reduce waste at home. If not you, who?
I read an interesting article by Glen the Green Guy. It is informative and, in my opinion, shocking. I had no idea so few people were recycling glass! Shame! I hope you’re not one of the slackers. Hey, it’s easy. And it’s such a great thing to do.
According to Glen the Green Guy, only 25% of the glass we use is recycled. The other 75% is ending up in the landfill! Why on earth is this happening? You can just toss your glass into a milk crate and put it out with the garbage. Heck, if you don’t want to buy the crate, just put the glass out in any cardboard box or paper bag and next week they will leave you a free crate! I mean, really, guys.
Every single piece of glass is recyclable. No matter what shape, size or color. And can you imagine our world without glass? It’s one of the most useful products around. It’s totally green to begin with! It’s made of all natural ingredients, such as sand, soda ash and limestone, and can be recycled eternally. I mean, you can recycle glass that is made into glass that is also recycled and made into more glass. It never loses it’s purity. It’s absolutely perfect.
It’s also extremely easy to recycle. Like I said, just put it out with the trash, separated from the trash, of course, and watch it go bye bye. And not only is glass used only in making bottles and containers but is also used to make fiberglass, matches, ammunition, watches, eye and sun glasses, TV and monitor screens and many other useful, indispensable items. They even make reflecting paint that they use on our highways by adding glass to the compounds.
And here are the motivating facts: one ton of recycled glass saves ONE TON of raw materials. And it takes less energy, as much as 40%, to use recycled glass instead of making new. Because of this, a large part, often as much as 70%, of EVERY glass container made is made from recycled glass. So, the need is there. The ability to use this stuff is in full on mode. All you have to do is do your part.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of being a “freegan” but I thought I’d clue you in on it if you haven’t. Its an interesting lifestyle where you buy absolutely nothing and live off of discards of other people. It sounds like being a bum and living in a really nasty pile of other peoples’ garbage but I’ve got news for you. Here in America we have an embarrassment of riches regardless of how many poor living among us. Many people just toss out stuff that is still usable and even salable. Let me tell you this: I have a neighbor who makes his living exclusively off of picking up roadside garbage and selling it on Ebay and Craigslist. I kid you not.
When I first heard about it, I went a little nuts on the idea. I thought about how easy it is to dumpster dive and just grab up good stuff. I had another friend years ago, when I used to flea market stuff, that also ran a booth at the market strictly on stuff she pulled out of the dumpster behind the mall. I mean, she had great lipsticks, shoes and gifts sets that are sold by expensive designers in stores like Dillards and Macys. I got a lot of my stuff in those days from abandoned warehouses. So I know first hand how wasteful Americans can be (no offense intended!) and how you can find a way to live off the proceeds. And you don’t have to go nuts like I did and buy a hardhat with a headlight or drive around to dumpsters after dark to grab the goods.
I was just discussing this the other night. We had some people over for a bbq and I was scooping up the leftovers and deciding what to do with them. Personally, I don’t mind leftovers because I can live on them for days afterwards. Everything except the meat stuff, of course. But I live with people who never touch a Tupperware container, are not curious about the bottom shelf and won’t eat anything that isn’t in a can, bag or box. I don’t know why, this is a mystery to me, that someone wouldn’t eat something because it’s “day old”. I have always prepared food in advance, kept it in Tupperware and heated it up until it was all gone. But there is a fetish, it seems, with a lot of Americans about eating anything that isn’t cooked “fresh”. And so food waste becomes a problem for a lot of us.