Waste. Garbage. Trash.
We generate quite a lot of it, especially with moving. Unfortunately, out here in the country, there’s nobody who comes and picks up your garbage, and there’s bags beginning to pile up, here. You have to haul your own to the dump, and I’m not even sure where the dump is, just yet. I don’t relish the thought of taking drippy smelly bags to the dump in the trunk of the Saturn, either. Eventually, I think we are going to need a truck.
We’re normally pretty good about garbage. We recycle the recyclables, and generally avoid buying stuff that is over-packaged…in fact, we generally avoid buying stuff at all. However, the junk mail seems to be accumulating in our mailbox, and there is a lot of plastic packaging from the things we’ve had to buy for the acreage, like the new fridge, and the shower head and the toilet repair stuff. This is going to get worse, too, with all the renovations we have planned. There are also a ton of boxes in our basement, and newspaper we used for some of the fragile things. The kitty litter still needs scooping. We’re still eating, which generates its own waste, as well.
So what do you do?
Well, as I said before, we’re going to continue recycling the things that we can. We’ll have to store the cans and bottles and plastic in a shed or the basement, until there is enough to warrant a trip to the recycle bins in town. Hopefully, as we preserve more of our own food in glass jars, we’ll generate fewer tin cans to have to deal with. The paper, we’re not so sure about…it is bulky, and heavy, and builds up fast. We are considering doing what the neighbors do, and running a burning barrel. I am not sure what’s worse for the environment – burning the paper, or using the gas to haul it into town for recycling. We might also use it for mulching the garden, but I’d want to know what’s in the paper and dyes before getting too excited about that. I plan to talk to the mailman about getting our junk mail stopped. It worked well in Alberta…hopefully they’re amenable to the same idea here.
The boxes – those we’ll save for the next move.
The food waste – this can mostly be composted, or fed to the dogs (who love it, I might add), or, once we get them, to the chickens. We need an enclosed compost bin, though, stat – there is enough wildlife here that I don’t want to have any food scraps just laying around. Skunks, in particular, are a real nuisance, and I do not want them thinking of our yard as a good place to hang out. Especially with the dogs.
The kitty litter is going to be a bit of a challenge. We can’t just toss the cats outside to do their business – the eldest has been an indoor cat for 16 years, now, and is too old and arthritic to be putting outdoors. Even the ‘kittens’ are over 3, and also have no outdoor survival instincts. Not only is our area rural, but we are only a mile from a river, with provincial forest on the other side, and about 5 miles from another provincial forest. There is a lot of wildlife, here, and the local coyotes and hawks would make quick work of our little 5-pound kittens. We’re trying to switch from a clay-based litter which does not break down well, to a wheat- or corn- based litter, which could at least be reasonably composed and placed around non-food plants for fertilizer. Of course, the eldest cat is resisting the switch, even though I have been mixing in only a little corn litter at a time, and started peeing beside the litter box once the corn litter exceeded 50%. We’ve cut back, and are going more slowly, but we sure hope he’ll transition over. Kitty litter is probably our largest source of waste, by weight and by volume.
That mostly leaves non-recyclable plastic. Non-recyclable plastic includes things like saran wrap, ziplocs, empty deodorant tubes, shampoo bottles, and toothpaste containers, as well as the little baggies that the beans and lentils and rice come in. The food bags, we try to avoid by buying in bulk. This was difficult to manage even in Alberta, though, as most places don’t sell bulk, and the ones that do, want you to buy some ridiculous minimum order like ten bushels or something. It was also hard trying to find all of the different things we wanted, like navy beans, or rye flour, or whatever. Sugar, rice, and flour were easy, and everything else turned out to be a real pain in the neck. We had a Mormon friend who helped us out in Alberta…maybe we can make some contacts here, as well.
Ziplocs, we wash out and re-use until they spring leaks and can’t be used anymore. I used to hate washing them out as a kid, and now I am turning into my Mom! Hubby still hates washing them, but will do it, even if he grumbles the whole time. Saran wrap, we use so rarely, it isn’t really an issue. I am stumped with the personal hygiene plastic, though. It’s not like I can quit using toothpaste and deodorant.
There is a lady named Beth Terry who is living almost completely plastic-free, and I have borrowed some of her tricks over the years. I really admire her tenacity in finding alternatives to plastic, and hope to eventually get there, ourselves. Once you have gotten the proverbial low-hanging fruit (like using fabric shopping bags), however, it seems to get complicated, time-consuming, and expensive to find no-plastic alternatives, and time and money are both really precious resources right now. While I don’t like going with the flow, we may just have to live with just tossing some of this stuff, for now…