Thursday, April 17, 2008

Earth Day Goal: Inconspicuous Consumption

A few years ago I read about a lady that is so careful about her consumption that she generates no garbage: everything is either composted, reused, recycled, or avoided in the first place, which I call precycling. I'm nowhere near her level of accomplishment, but I do have a moment of smugness on garbage day in my single-family home neighborhood.
My husband and I generate about a half garbage bag a week, along with a fairly full bin of paper (we subscribe to two newspapers - we are still attached to print media). I still cringe when trashing #5 containers, but have not figured out a way to avoid them.
I can gauge our trashing visually - it's about 1/3 of what our neighbors put out. Given the totally terrifying info in The Story of Stuff, that for every pound of trash we end users generate, 70 pounds of waste is generated in the manufacturing process, each person's part is considerable. Household changes together can hugely impact the system.
Here's my tiny eco-triumph of the week. We use one 13 gallon kitchen garbage bag a week. I went to buy some and found myself spending about 5 minutes, staring at the dozen or so options, looking for the ones with the least packaging and the lightest weight. The average bag seemed to be .9 ml. Heavy-Duty is 1.2 ml. They are all in boxes. Then I found them! Shoppers Value .4 ml bags. Cheaper, less packaging (they're in a roll in a slim plastic bag), and less than half the plastic! Yippee!
The point here is: once we start paying attention to the details, there are ~so~ many ways to be resource thrifty.
Please share your strategies. None are too insignificant to make a difference!

Image from Challenge & Fun


Unknown said...

Minimizing garbage production is quite the challenge, but I, too, share your satisfaction. After I separate recyclable and compostable - there is little else left. I also wrote about the Story of Stuff in my own blog: Quite the powerful piece.

Trasie said...

I work at a drop-in seniors centre where there are a lot of avid bakers, so I have them bring in egg cartons. Every couple of weeks (when I'm in that area of town for another meeting) I drop off what I've collected at the food bank's warehouse, who then use them to distribute eggs to their clients.

Betsy Teutsch said...

That's great! Reusing saves even more energy than recycling, since it takes energy to recycle and recreate.
And some of the cardboard egg cartons are themselves made of recycled cardboard.

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, phd said...

my parents have never, to my knowlede, used a plastic garbage bag in their lives(and this is way before people were concerned with the environment. they did it out of simplicity and frugality) To this day, my dad puts all his garbage out in the brown paper bags he gets free from the supermarket.
as far as I can tell, that is even better as no plastic gets used and they have never spent a dime on garbage