Less Garbage In My Life

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I once read about a movement to bring your own chopsticks when eating out for Japanese to minimize throw-away sticks in landfills. That seemed more than absurd. Plus, I’m fairly sure bamboo proliferates at a staggering rate. Regardless, I must commend the thoughtfulness of these eco-conscious sushi lovers. Environmental responsibility is something I could stand to elevate in myself.

So, when Waste Management, our garbage company in Los Angeles, advertised a new program (new to me?) where we can trade-in our 96-gallon trashcan for a 35-gallon one all while saving 20% on annual garbage pick-up costs, I enrolled.

In theory, my household, which consists of two people and an elderly cat, should not produce 96-gallons of garbage per week. But sometimes, shamefully, we do. Between food wrappers and home office trash and Q-tips and contact lens cases, it adds up.

We are already recyclers, though admittedly not the most aware recyclers. Waste Management sent us a reminder of what can be/can’t be recycled and it was a touch surprising. I did not know empty aerosol cans and plastic bags made the recycling cut. Now, I’m erring on the side of recycling when it comes to plastic lined cans and plastic coated milk containers. I figure if metal, paper and plastic are all eligible, perhaps a mash up is too.

If it weren’t for the raccoon infestation in my neighborhood, and more specifically my yard, I’d be much keener on composting. The magic of having an organic trash heap transforming back into rich fertilizer with the help of hungry worms is highly appealing. But, even when I allow myself to think of that briefly, the fantasy turns into a nightmare of food waste strewn all over my yard and pool at the hands of masked bandits.

So, taking into account my strengths and limitations, here are the steps I’m planning to take:

• Recycle: all paper and paper products (paper towel, junk mail, magazines, and office trash), food packaging, shipping boxes, clear/green/brown glass, all cans, detergent containers.
• Return: Hangers to the dry cleaner; used coffee pods to Nespresso.
• Collect: Medicine, electronics, paint cans and batteries for safe disposal days.
• Shop smarter: bring my own bags more consistently, consider packaging when purchasing.

As I deflect away from my garbage bin, and save a few bucks at the same time, perhaps the real gain will be my heightened awareness. Next stop Prius? Realistically, no. But, I will certainly give pause to the decisions that will gobble up space from my 35-gallons. Because, literally and figuratively, having less garbage in my life is a worthy ambition.

For more information on Waste Management’s Super Saver program, click here

What are you doing to reduce waste? I’d love to hear your great ideas.

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