Reduce Your Garbage to Just One Can per Year!
Celebrating Earth Day: One can of garbage a year? Here’s how!
Metro Recycling Information hotline specialist Betty Shelley and her husband, Jon, have put a major dent in their household waste. With simple changes over time, they’ve reduced their garbage to a level less than one 32-gallon can a year. Here’s how they did it.
· Started recycling in 1972.
· Experienced an aha! moment while enrolled in a Master Recycler class in 1992, wondering, “When garbage is thrown away, where does it go?”
· Took a course on voluntary simplicity in 1992, learning the connection between consumption and its impacts.
· With a course on sustainable living, discovered that the world would need six planets’ worth of resources if everyone on Earth consumed as much as the average American.
· Switched to cloth napkins and eventually eliminated other paper and disposable single-use products.
· Began composting yard debris, buying a small chipper to process fir tree debris on their property. Also started composting kitchen scraps such as vegetable peels, tea bags and more.
· Made an effort to (1) recycle materials that weren’t accepted curbside and (2) avoid items that couldn’t be recycled at all.
· Dropped garbage collection service to one can a month, then to on-call service, followed by two cans annually and, finally, one can per year.
Enjoying the benefits:
· Reduced their costs, thanks to lower garbage bills.
· Saved time and money on yard work and watering after replacing the lawn with mostly Northwest native plants.
· Felt more in control when shopping, reusing bags from home instead of accepting new ones at the checkout stand each time they visited a store.
“Once you start reducing your household garbage,” says Betty, who loves to cook, travel and entertain friends, “it can become like a game. You get on a roll finding new ways to avoid waste.”
Here are tips from Betty and Jon:
· Opt for buying products in bulk, and store them in reusable containers.
· Share or exchange items with friends to avoid purchasing excess products.
· Explore new uses for old items. When Betty and Jon took down their fence, they recut the wood, building a compost corral and a screen in the garden. The old pier posts from their deck were flipped over for use as pathway stepping stones.
· Before buying an item, consider what you’ll do with it when you’re done.
· Choose products and practices that support sustainability – focusing on quality over quantity, for example, and repairing rather than tossing.
Want more ideas for going green on Earth Day or any day? Call Metro Recycling Information at 503-234-3000 or click here.
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