Friday, February 2, 2007

Friday morning garbage round-up

It's garbage day again. This week we have nothing in the recycling bins. We have one tall kitchen bag full of garbage. The garbage is mainly used tissues, plastic food wrapping, and a couple of plastic food bags. It's nice, particularly when I know a few simple changes could reduce the garbage level even more. I know I could replace the tissues with cloth, for example (though the tissues were all used by my son, who refused the soft cloth I offered him and insists on using each tissue no more than once). So that leaves plastic food wrapping, i.e., the stuff that food comes wrapped in, not the kind people sometimes buy in a box to wrap their food in. I've had trouble thinking of anything to do with most of this, and it can't be recycled. Plastic bags, of course, have the potential for reuse. I am saving most plastic bags, and throwing them out only when they are falling apart. Many are the biodegradable produce bags from my local natural grocery.

I have also been throwing away chip bags, though, and a fr(ECO)logue commenter noted that these could be reused to hold other food. Of course they could, and if I am really supposed to be saving anything I can conceivably reuse I should be keeping them. Especially those that are heavier and not slimy-greasy. I think I have not done this because I already have so many plastic bags to reuse. An overabundance of resources and not enough stuff to do with them. This means I have to get more creative. Or cheat and get more food to store in them.

Overall, though, great victories on the garbage front. Meanwhile, my paper and other reuse piles and bags collect in the laundry room and garage. I have only succeeded in minor bits of reuse so far. On Sunday I began organizing the piles a bit to try to create a more manageable system. I planned to gather some tools for reuse on Monday (to make paper and to create some things from the glass beer and soda bottles we are accumulating). Then my son got very sick and I've been basically couch-bound taking care of him. Maybe next week...

While chip bags and plastic wrap pose my main garbage dilemma, drink containers are the main reuse pile issue. I haven't tried to make paper yet, but this seems like a relatively simple solution for the paper piles. But bags of glass beer and soda bottles, and, this week, orange juice cartons are accumulating, with no obvious simple in-house solution.

Except, of course, not to buy them. I don't need chips, or beer, or soda, and I could squeeze orange juice from actual oranges if I wanted to. In fact, it is more often my husband who buys the chips and drinks. I could ask him not to. I could refuse to drink from the containers. But this is side-stepping the larger issue. Of course reduction is a great option, and every bit of reduction helps, but mine is not the only household bringing in glass or plastic drink containers and chip bags, and I am not about to convince a few million people to give up their wine and coke. And Cheetos. So the question becomes, are we doing the best we can to reduce the impact of drink and snack containers on the environment?

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