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 :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ten Ways to Reduce Household Waste

Our municipality just issued new recycling bins that are almost double the volume of our old recycling bins.  Each household receiving curbside recycling collection is entitled to one black box (stream 1, fibre products) and one blue box (stream 2 - food, beverage and liquid containers).  Essentially we can recycle paper beverage cartons (eg. milk cartons, tetra pack, paper cups), household paper, newspaper, catalogues, books, telephone books, paper egg cartons, boxboard and cardboard boxes in our black box.  We can recycle glass bottles and jars, aluminum and steel cans, aluminum foil containers, foil, plastic bottles, plastic tubs and jugs in our blue box.  Some containers cannot be placed in either box (eg. foil pouches, aluminum foil lined containers, frozen food packaging, wax paper boxboard, unmarked plastics and stryrofoam containers.  These are the containers to avoid buying foods in, in the first place.  There are rumours that the municipality may start charging for waste collection even though it is funded through property taxes.  What does this mean to the households with curbside waste and recycling collection?  The emphasis must be on reducing waste even if it can be recycled and waste that can't be recycled.  Focus on reducing kitchen waste and packaging.  Here are a few ways for reducing household waste.

  • books/magazines/newspapers - Simply don't bring them into your house.  Invest in an ebook reader to eliminate hardcopy books or borrow from the library.  Read newspapers online.
  • food containers - Eliminate as many food containers (eg. tin cans, glass bottles, glass jars, plastic tubs) as possible.  Opt to cook from scratch using fresh ingredients.  Stock your pantry with home canned foods (jars can be reused for years) and home dried foods stored in reusable containers.  Stock you freezers with bulk meat purchases and home frozen foods.  Avoid buying any frozen food in waxed boxboard (eg. fish sticks, ice cream) as that can't be recycled.  Buy a couple of reusable hot drink travel mugs and water bottles that will effectively eliminate these types of disposable and take-out containers.  Avoid take-out and fast food.
  • food waste -  Ideally you can get food waste down to a few bones each month after they have been used to make meat stocks, fruit pits and corn cobs.  Food waste other than dairy, meats and fatty foods can go into the compost BUT before you do that consider vegetable and fruit peelings can be dried then powdered as wonderful flavour enhancers for cooking.  Corn cobs can be dried then used in the fireplace.  They do burn hot though so don't overload it.  Save meat and poultry bones in the freezer until you have enough to make stock.  The stock can be home canned or frozen.  Install a garburator (food waste disposal) to take care of kitchen waste that cannot go into the compost.  Serve smaller portions to reduce scraps on plates and left overs.
  • packaging - Avoid any individually wrapped items and those with excessive packaging.  Cooking from scratch will eliminate a significant amount of packaging.  Avoid any packaging that cannot be recycled (eg. blister packs).  Avoid packaging period if at all possible (eg. buy bulk apples rather than apples packaged in bags).  Buy used
  • cleaners - Go natural for cleaning by using soap and water, baking soda, vinegar, household ammonia and rubbing alcohol.  Not only will you eliminate a lot of cleaning containers, you will free up a bit of cupboard space.
  • reuse -  If you make eco-friendly choices when shopping, a vast amount of packaging can be reused or repurposed.  Keep whatever you can out of your waste and recycle containers.  If you can reuse it, do so. 
  • disposables -  Avoid using anything disposable as that creates waste.  Most disposable items cannot be recycled and few can be reused.
  • yard waste - Yard waste is a hard one to reduce but it can be done.  Compost whatever you can.  Replace high maintenance plants that need a lot of trimming with low maintenance ones.  Use a mulching lawnmower to put nutrients back into your lawn without having to put bags of grass clippings to the curb. 
  • set a goal - Our goal for 2012 is to reduce our actual waste (eg. waste that goes to the landfill)  to one kitchen sized garbage bag for a month.  That helps to keep us conscious whenever we are buying anything.

Garden Gnome