August 9, 2009
Toronto recently emerged under piles of garbage after its worst and longest garbage strike. 36 days without a pickup. Thanks to the weather gods (or maybe the trash gods) the weather was tepid and the streets did not stink TOO much.
We managed pretty well and the only problem we had accumulating was 5 weeks of dog poo neatly wrapped in biodegradable bags from Norway.
We compost – a lot. We - what am I talking about? - I also cook from scratch and during the strike my Pups, Junior and Senior, ate mainly a vegetarian menu.
This got me thinking about the people who couldn’t wait to charge the newly opened dump-sites after only one week. What had they possibly accumulated? It also got me thinking about ways to reduce waste. To quote a phrase from Country Living UK, maybe it’s all about "precycling".
I’m interested in knowing what you do about minimizing waste in your house.
Here’s a list of things I do.
I avoid plastic packaging. Those hard plastic boxes that baby spinach comes in repel me. Not because of the $6.00 spinach but those plastic containers aren’t recyclable in our city. The soggy, green, pulpy cartons that strawberries come in are pretty ugly but they can be melted down to nothing in your composter.
The Municipality of Toronto charges 5 cents every time you need a plastic bag. For a while I’ve been using cloth bags or a beautiful French wicker bundle buggy (that I always get compliments on). So not only do I save plastic bags, but I get to look like Rupert Bear’s mother coming back from the market.
I never (hardly ever) buy prepared meals, boxed anything. I bought my son flatbread and hummus in a hard plastic resealable box once for school lunch and felt guilty all day. He has this habit of bringing his lunch garbage home at the end of the day. I guess that’s a good thing. I wash my Ziplock bags – they all get used more than once. I also wash my Swiffers. They work just as well.
When I make a weekday chicken dinner for example, I use boneless chicken and after making the vegetable or pasta all I’m left with is the Styrofoam tray and that weird little pad (we call it something else chez nous) that I’m really at a loss to know what to do with. I could avoid the trash altogether by buying chicken from the Chicken Lady on Roncesvalles but that’s another story.
When we shop for basics, about once every three weeks, we eschew bags and just load up the back of the car using boxes we store in the trunk. This way we get to touch our purchases 6 times before they make it into our cupboards!
When I can, I buy in bulk at the health food store (or bulk shop). Rice is affordable this way and when it comes time for baking this is the only way to shop. You can avoid paying $8.00 for pecans and spices are fresher and cheaper this way too. You can regulate how much you buy and don’t have to find a home for a year’s worth of fenugreek (unless you really like it!)
We reuse. Peanut butter jars are what we use for the kitchen scraps before they make it to the composter. Good jars with proper lids are great for decanting tomato sauce into. Fancy jam jars are great for loose spices.
We make good use of used-clothing pick up organized by the Diabetes Society of the Community Living people.
Basically I think “would I really want that (plastic box, broken dustbuster, holey sock) sitting in a landfill for all time." I’m also working on my son to become vegetarian. That way we will have next to no garbage at all. Now if I could only get the dog to use the toilet…