ENVIRONMENT, Zero waste

My Evolving Curbside Pile

My house needs breathing room. Cleaning out the clutter is priority these days and although I have known it for quite some time I have managed to put blinders up and ignore it’s importance. Everywhere I turn now it is mentioned lately. People are jumping on the bandwagon. Between books, articles, podcasts, etc. I can’t escape the reminders. It shouldn’t be that hard but to some it is.

Decluttering, dejunking, minimizing or whatever name you want to use is also about considering the environment.  It is a decision that impacts how much waste we produce. The less stuff we bring in our spaces, naturally there is less packaging, the by-product of purchasing items. This movement that is happening has called attention to something that has been talked about for years and that is the importance of minimizing our environmental carbon footprint.


Household recycling started the ball rolling.  I remember when waste management started adding blue bins into the mix.  It was a learning curve and an exercise in shrinking the pile size of our garbage. Over the years the system has developed and changed. The number of items that can go into our boxes is always improving and so has my diligence in filling it up.

Composting took another chunk out of the pile.  I live in a rural area so I can do my own composting. In the towns around my home there are municipal green bin programs where along with your garbage and recycling is a weekly organics pickup. Every spring the gorgeously fertile soil is available to residences for free, which I think is a great added incentive.

Now it is about reducing the size of my blue bin. When I began using my reusable bags at the grocery store it was amazing how much my recycling pile shrunk. When I began shopping more thoughtfully and sometimes in bulk, it shrunk a bit more. I aim to buy fewer processed items and try to shop at markets during the summer. I try to spend more time on the outskirts of the grocery stores.  The inside aisles are full of cans and processed goods, boxes of cereals, and jars, etc. I still go there because there are things I need and want but I try to use them less often than more because of health and conscious food choices. Recently I began bringing reusable produce bags but it is still hit and miss whether I remember to bring them. sometimes I get there and realize I have left them at home. Buying bulk is another way to cut down on packaging. For snacks and lunches on the go I refill containers from larger packs of food. My next step can be filling containers where I can buy from bulk bins.  More and more businesses are beginning to support this which is a really good thing! It’s an indication of the demand from eco-minded consumers.  Momentum is starting to grow.

 

ENVIRONMENT, Zero waste

Zero-waste living would be easier if …

A friend posted this on her site the other day and it keeps running though my mind. As I go through my day and I am shopping, packing lunch or cooking supper this incomplete sentence keeps running though my head. I realize it can’t be answered in one sentence. A general shift has to happen on all levels, from individuals to communities, to businesses, to municipal governments, to our country leaders etc. We live in an industrialized society and we are so accustomed to living our lives guided by consumerism. We have gotten complacent and when given the choice chose convenience. I am guilty of giving in. I buy individual yogourts for my daughters lunches. She gets one everyday. It would make sense to send her with a container that is filled from the larger container in the fridge. It would be more economical and she wouldn’t have to add that plastic container to the recycling bin at school. So why do it? I want her to eat it and have told myself that she is more likely to if it is in that cute colourful little container. Somehow it tastes better and is more fun to eat when its in a package. But is that true? Have we all been tricked and convinced by business and advertising? We need to shift our attitude and not be persuaded by advertising an it is teaching our kids these things. giving them the ability to be critical and mindful so that they have the power to make those choices.

I do my tiny bit, but I want to do so much more. I use my bags at the grocery stores and often turn down the plastic ones at stores. When I pack lunches I use containers instead of baggies. I try to buy bulk if I can and not send in prepackaged treats. Mygirl brings a water bottle and only occasionally brings a juice box.

Packaging is the huge culprit because we live in a day and age where so much of what we have is imported. It is a world of trading and merchandising and with that comes packaging. All our stuff has to be prepared for shipping, prepared for delivery and distribution and then again prepared and perhaps repackaged for us to purchase from store shelves. It is impossible to avoid but we can minimize our impact at our own individual levels. Make conscious decisions of what and how we bring things into our homes. We can put our efforts into our daily lives – make easy switches such as doing away with plastic bottles where you can and carry your own refillable container. Bring your own bags to the stores or use cardboard boxes. Pack litterless lunch boxes. Shop local and eat more healthy whole fresh produce. Print out emails and such only when necessary. Eat less fast or take out foods – use your own refillable wares when you can as more places are beginning to do this. There are so many little everyday things that we as individuals can do. Once we get going and make the switches they’ll become habit and routine – not a big deal.