DECLUTTERING

Waste Not, Want Not

Waste of food, waste of water, waste of stuff for our homes and workplaces. Where does it all go?  I can’t talk about it all at once, it’s just too much.  Cleaning out our spaces is really tough when you’re also trying to minimize the amount of waste and litter that you send out the door.  I’ll be writing posts in the future on different aspects of these so keep an eye out.


Recycle

The recycling program where I live is pretty good.  Most people that live around here have a pretty good handle on sorting out their household trash. I don’t go around checking out everyone boxes but as I am moving about I see most have their blue boxes, green bin (if they live in town), and garbage bags out.  The goal should be to make the bags of garbage less and less each week but for now we still have a three bag weekly limit.

On a recent trip to Halifax, NS  I was reminded of how much can be done and how much further we have to go. The recycling program in Halifax is well developed. Residents have to follow the system or they risk a fine upwards of $200 or not having their waste picked up. They will follow through and leave your pile at the curb if residents don’t take the effort to sort properly.  I have been told it does happen on occasion. In Aug 2015 the Halifax Region Municipality implemented a plan where clear bags are only accepted. Each household is allotted one “privacy” black bag for personal trash. They also have a green cart program. It seemed like a big step but residents adjusted and now it’s second nature.


Plastic Free

I’ve been aiming for less plastic in my home.  If I am going to be honest, I still have a lot.  Some of our water bottles are plastic but they still work and until they break I will use them.  Throwing away things that work fine and are being used just to get something wiser is wasteful. Some plastics in our home are just unavoidable such as parts of our car, lawnmower and appliances. My dish rack is plastic but like a lot of things it is just stuff I have purchased to fill a need. It was during a time when I didn’t care about the things I do now.  Also the cost is a factor.  It will be easier to make these choices as costs come down and availability/variety increases.


Package Free

When shopping aim for minimal packaging.  Biodegradable isn’t also the best either because it still may need to go through a process to break it down. As the volume of our garbage bag diminishes and the blue bins are more and more stuffed you can easily realize how much of what we purchase is actually packaging. recycling our plastics and paper can only take us so far in reducing waste. It is just re-routing where we put out garbage to a certain extent.  It still takes a lot of resources to break it down and turn it into something. How much of it ends up being trashed in the end?


Reuse & Up-cycle

Reusing bags is the most obvious one that comes to mind but also containers, bottles and boxes.  I notice many more people carrying around a refillable water bottle with me instead of buying bottles of water.  Many things can have alternate uses than the original it was made for.


Donate

Send things that can still be useful to another home by giving it away to someone or a company. Some people make a business of refurbishing and selling items such as furniture or appliances.  Recently I saw a charity requesting donations for cast iron ware for them to fix up and sell. What a great idea!

Some places to donate items that come to mind are The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, local community charities and then there are places like the SPCA which need supplies such as towels or food.  Housing and Shelter groups are another place to help out by donating. Make sure to contact your local shelters to find out what needs they have.  In some cases they may even have a pick-up program.


 

I have all this stuff that I don’t need and what it still boils down to is wastage.  We need to buy less and spend more carefully. Be thoughtful of the choices we make when we go shopping for food or clothes.

It is possible to de-junk without being wasteful.  It is just going to take a bit longer but it will be safer and cleaner and an opportunity to save some money.

ENVIRONMENT, Simple Switches

Ordinary Days

The small changes that we do in our daily lives will eventually add up to make a significant difference. Every time we make a choice to leave our reusable bags at home instead of putting them to good use at the grocery store it makes an impact. Sometimes I forget and get to the counter and they are out of boxes. I still have a choice of coming back later with my bags but sometimes my load is just to much and I live outside of town, so I am guilty of taking a couple of bags here and there. For the most part I have grown accustomed to always having some or just carrying my items in my hand. I use the example of the bags because it is a switch that many around my area have already made. I still notice a lot of the plastic bags being used but not nearly the amount even 5 years ago. The grocery store I go to is so accustomed to me have bags they are surprised when I don’t. More often than not I get asked in stores if I want a bag and being able to say “no thank you”, without hesitation is becoming easier all the time. That is the goal – to make all these adjustments big and small and make them ordinary.

My list of things is growing. I can’t say its a huge list but I am working on it and my hope is that it evolves as I move along. It really isn’t that hard to make these changes one at a time.

Here are some of the simple switches that I have already made:

Revamping My Cleaning Regime

Hand-Soap

Litterless Lunchbox

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.