Monday, November 12, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not.

I have become like addicted to recycling. I probably think about it more than most things. It's like, Chris. Water. Food. Can I recycle this goat cheese packaging if it has a little cheese residue in it (yes, if you rinse it)?

It's bad.

But it's good. Because recycling lets us use what's already in motion in the world. It creates more than the energy it expends. It's one of those beautiful systems that SIMPLIFIES. Read some of the many benefits HERE.

So, it's kind of satisfying (albeit a little messy) to see that 2 of our 3 compartments in our waste-sorter are filled with cardboard boxes, peanut butter jars, Amy's burrito wrappers and Michelob Ultra cans. In fact, it's so satisfying, that I look at that one bin for waste and wonder what I can do to cut down even more. Like, I feel like a huge jerk for throwing perfectly good glass bottles away. Luckily, Salt Lake County is in the testing stages of a curbside glass recycling program.

Europeans used to be the poster child of the recycling process. Glass bottle collection bins at the supermarket; a monthly waste-paper collection service; curbside compost pickup. But in the U.S., and especially in Salt Lake City, we have implemented a pretty braggable system ourselves. As I mentioned above, we may soon have curbside glass recycling. Plus, markets like Whole Foods will take your bottles for free. Plus, we have curbside pickup for paper, plastic and aluminum recycling. And in Salt Lake City, we have a whole trash can devoted to compost disposal. That's awesome, because I notice how my "waste" section of my sorter is probably 2/3 eggshells, produce scraps and coffee grounds. In fact, I just bought these really cool "plastic" trash bags that are 100% biodegradable (compostable). WIN!

Don't let your trash bag add to the landfill: Pick these up for $5.99 at Smith's.

Though we have a great recycling system in place in this country, Americans still struggle with creating excess waste. The whole purpose of recycling is to cut down on this, yet the Sierra Club says we as individuals recycle less than a quarter of the average 7 pounds of waste we throw out every day. In Switzerland, each bag of waste one sets out on the curb has a pricetag; you pay per trash bag, while recycling is free. What an incentivizing system!

So, some easy ways to cut down on your waste, and up your recycling practice: Buy a waste sorter (IKEA has some great ones for cheap) or make your own from plastic bins or cloth receptacles or hampers. That makes the decision easy when you go to throw something away (it's no more effort to toss in the right bin than the left). Line your bins with paper bags or these compostable ones, or don't line them at all (just make sure to clean them every once in awhile). Try to buy items that are recyclable or compostable, if you know you'll be throwing them away (disposable wipes, hygiene items). More and more companies are creating products with this in mind, so you can find eco-friendly packaging and waste-conscious products at pretty much any store.

Now, my goal for 2013 is to start my own composting system. That will pair nicely with our garden, also coming soon. :)

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