What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Let's Talk Garbage

Both Earth Hour and Earth Day are quickly approaching, serving as a reminder that everyone needs to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. One of the biggest changes we've made towards and eco-friendly lifestyle is how we view garbage. Here's a few things we do:

  • reduce - We are very conscious of excess packaging. If we have a choice between an over packaged product and one with less packaging the less packaged product wins out. We have virtually eliminated foods packaged in cans by about 85% simply by home canning and using fresh in season produce. We've greatly reduced a lot of food packaging by not buying pre-packaged food, choosing to make our own less-expensive, homemade convenience mixes stored in glass mason jars. We buy used when possible which further reduces packaging and we only buy what we need. In short we don't using shopping as a form of entertainment.
  • recycle - Most people equate recycling with mainly packaging and containers. In particular we try to reduce what goes to the recycle bin by not getting the container or packaging in the first place. We see recycling as much more than that. Everything from clothing to household goods to building materials can be recycled. We buy used and anything we no longer need is donated to local charities that help those less fortunate as well as resell the donations to raise funds for their charities. Recently in addition to resale stores three new recycling resources have come to light - Freecycle, Kijji and Craig's List. Freecycle works on the premise that if you have something you don't want someone else will so you offer that item for free to keep it out of the landfill. Craig's List and Kijji are free online sources where you can post an ad to either give away or sell items you don't want.
  • reduced kitchen waste - My theory is that every part of kitchen waste you toss costs money so my first goal is reducing this wastage. Some peels can be left on the fruit or vegetable while those removed can be dried down and powdered to be added to soups and stews. Bones are saved to make stocks then passed onto friends who have a large dog. I'm constantly looking for ways to reducing kitchen food waste.
  • compost - As with most home gardeners we compost. Vegetable scraps that were used for making stock end up in the compost. Certain compostable foods like coffee grounds and egg shells are quite desirable in the garden before they break down for pest control. Compost forms a cycle in which kitchen waste makes free soil ammendment which in turns provides the necessary soil and nutritional ingredients for growing healthy fruits and vegetables. Vermicomposting is on my to do list for the new house which will help with the composting during the winter months.
  • garburator - We had a garburator in our last two houses, none here but will be intalling one at the new house. A garburator is not as eco-friendly as composting since waste put through it ends up at the municiple treatment plant and it uses electricity. However it is a viable option in locations where composting is not possible and compostable material is not picked up at curbside.
  • clothing - We aren't huge clothes shoppers and definitely don't shop the clothing trends. We buy good quality clothing that lasts for years sometimes. Any clothing we no longer make use of is donated. Quite often I will take a piece of clothing we no longer use and turn the material into something else. Some of the things I've made include cushions, draft stops from pyjama or pant legs, shopping bags, doll clothes, rag rugs, patch work and even used swatch of favourite clothing in scrapbooking.
  • small appliances - When it comes to small appliances my theory is less is more. When an appliance needs to be replaced we either donate the working one or put the non-working one beside the garbage to be picked up but with a good space in between when people scouting the neighbourhood the night before garbage pick-up will take it.
  • other household items - We either donate or sell depending on the item. We seldom have much in this area to get rid of which is a good thing.
  • actual garbage - Ideally we aim for as little as possible. I think we do pretty good but still would like to reduce it further. Actual garbage includes food packaging that can't be recycled, clothing well beyond any usefulness, some fats and meat scraps, chicken bones that the dogs can't have, used vacuum sealer bags, butcher's wrap, paint cans/empty caulk tubes, and those typed of things.

Garden Gnome


ANDY PAGE said...

If you happen to live near any of the Great A&P family of banner supermarkets, be sure to sign up online for their zavers clipless coupon program. That way you can receive your own free Elizabeth Haub Foundation reusable bag in celebration of Earth Day 2010.


Garden Gnome said...

Hi Andy and thanks for visiting. Thanks for sharing this great Earth Day 2010 freebie too. It's wonderful that the Great A&P family of banner supermarkets is getting involved in Earth Day. I hope to see more stores getting involved.