Monday, September 15, 2014

reducing waste

I'm kind of enamored with the idea of zero waste, but I don't know if I could ever make that happen. I know, I know, I'm in charge of my own life, right? If I REALLY wanted it I would stop making excuses and do it. But I think if I had the goal for zero waste it would be overwhelming and I would give up. I know that I can make small changes though. I've been trying to reduce the amount of junk mail I get. Every time I get a piece of junk mail, I try to unsubscribe. I could just use catalogchoice, but I've come so far contacting individual companies that I'm not sure if I want to give my information out to another company. We have a lot more days where we simply don't get any mail, which I like. Every piece of mail I receive feels like a burden to recycle or file (but I do like receiving mail from humans!). The blog post I linked to made me look at packaging in a completely different way. We use materials that last hundreds of years (plastic) to temporarily transport things from one location to another. Also, recycling is awesome but it still uses a lot of energy and anything that is recycled is basically downcycled, meaning that fresh paper gets turned into recycled paper, etc.

I have been looking into composting because I know that's one way to reuse a lot of the things I put in the garbage. The thing with composting though, is that it feels so "go big or go home." You can't just compost a little. We could start a compost pile in our backyard, but I feel like since we will be selling our home in the next year I don't want to create any problems there. I looked into countertop composters as well and they all seemed very expensive to me (for a process that could occur naturally outside with a little preparation). One thing that does work is putting scraps down the garbage disposal. This page has some information about if it's better to put leftovers down the drain or in the trash. Basically, it comes down to if your wastewater treatment plant composts biosolids or burns them. In Provo they are composted. I sent a message to Spanish Fork asking about it, but I don't know yet (update: they do use leftover biosolids as fertilizer, hooray!). Spanish Fork also has a compost facility that theoretically accepts compostible waste. Simply putting our kitchen scraps down the drain would probably be the easiest thing for us at least.

I like the idea of reducing my waste because it seems like it works pretty well for reducing consumption of machine-processed foods, or encourages local consumption of such products. I have this pastoral image of biking to the farmer's market every week and buying all my food there (but half the year there isn't a farmer's market, and I'd still need to buy staples like spices and flour at a grocery store, and I haven't biked anywhere for a year).

One more thing I can do to reduce my waste is to simply buy less stuff, or at least when I buy things online, to consolidate my purchases to reduce the amount of packaging in shipping, and also to buy things used (like clothes?). I've also been trying to reduce the amount of stuff in my life, but I feel very attached to some things. And plastic is everywhere, and I'm not sure how much it's worth it to try to avoid it entirely. And tissues! I need tissues. I wash diapers for crying out loud but washing handkerchiefs seems so gross to me (would I have to bleach them?).

I don't have a specific goal for waste reduction yet, but I'm thinking about it.


Alexis said...

My husband uses handkerchiefs (has since he was a kid) and at first I was grossed out, but honestly they get perfectly clean in the wash. You could even do a special sanitize cycle or something for them, but I can't imagine handkerchiefs being more dirty than diapers.

I also have that romanticized/pastoral idea of biking to farmer's markets. :D I don't even own a bike. I am going to start knitting some produce bags, though, so I don't have to use 5 plastic bags every time I buy fruits/veggies at the grocery store. Something to consider if you can sew/crochet/knit. I could make you some, but then I'll have to mail it so you know. :D

Rachel Helps said...

oooh, good one! I ordered some produce bags (I wanted them to be see-through) but I could probably crochet some too. Gotta use up all this cheap yarn somehow!