April 3, 2014

I haven’t taken out the trash in six months

Plastics recycling bin

Before you start thinking I’m super gross and live in a pig sty, let me explain.

I’ve been keen on zero waste for a long time. I’m definitely a devoted recycler and composter, having grown up with both at home. But once I moved out I got to make my own choices about where my trash goes and how to keep it from showing up in the first place. Here’s my secret.

Pacific Mobile Depot

This is the most fun you’ll ever have recycling. There are tons of people at the depot. Assuming you pre-sorted your stuff into categories, once you’re there you just drop it into bins and have a chat with people. I usually pay a dollar to have three months’ worth of stuff recycled and the depot is a seven minute bike ride from home. Super convenient.

Food packaging

I like cheese. I eat a lot of it. I noticed my sister was washing her cheese packaging. I thought it was a big deal until I tried it and realised it’s not that messy. All of that goes into my depot-bound bin instead of the garbage. Super win!

The fresh and deli meat I buy is all wrapped in butcher paper. This can be composted in special bins at the farmers market, but I currently burn it in my wood-burning fireplace. Terrible, I’m sure, so maybe I don’t recommend that.

At the end of the day, I refuse a lot of plastic, and make sure what I do bring home I can recycle. It’s simply a choice, and it’s not that hard.

Food scraps

I keep my compostables in the freezer and either bring it to my parents’ house or take it with me to the farmers’ market, which this time of year is about an hour away. I’m looking forward to municipal programs that will make this easier in time for the ban on food scraps in garbage which comes into effect next year. I don’t take animal bones to my parents’ yard, so those have to go to the Food Scraps Drop Spot. I make chicken broth before composting the bones.

Personal products

I make my own toothpaste among doing other smart things to reduce my bathroom waste. I use compostable floss (most effective floss ever, by the way), and here is my commitment to you now that I’ll start composting it again.

There was a letter to the editor in my local paper recently where a fellow called the biweekly pickup a load of garbage. I figure he’s got a waste problem. Just decide you’re going to do this, figure out your patterns, and do some quick research.

It’s going to get easier with the expanded recycling program coming to BC in May. I’m super excited about this program that will make it easier for my neighbours to get on board. It’s up to us to reduce our waste so we don’t end up paying $500 million for a new waste-to-energy incinerator — that thing is bad news for us all.

So you see, I’m not living in a pig sty. I’m just living smart. Here’s your challenge: can you avoid taking out any trash for just one month? Tell me how you did. Remember that it starts with refusing, then reducing!