Guest post by by Lia Mack, www.TheGreenMamas.com
We all have a very hard time throwing away anything, since it’s final destination is a landfill, inevitably polluting our water, air, and land. We breath the air. We drink the water. We grow food in the land. Why on Earth would we want to pollute it?!??! So I’ve been doing something about it on a personal level – at least I have been moving in that direction for some time now. I’m trying to be trash free.
Yep, that’s right! Totally and utterly trash free.
What exactly does that mean, you say? Well, that means you leave nothing out for the trash man on Monday or any other day. You compost everything you can, reuse, recycle, or just don’t buy it (aka: reduce consumption). It’s pretty simple on the surface. However, when you take on the challenge, it gets a bit more complicated.
. We’ve been born and raised in a not so green way: to throw it away if it’s broken, if we don’t want it anymore, or want a new one.
. You go out to eat, you take home your food – in Styrofoam or plastic containers, usually wrapped in another plastic bag.
. We’re all religious about the 3 R’s in the kitchen, but what about about the waste basket in the bathrooms, laundry room, garage, car?
. We have guests over and they don’t take heed to our cute little signs above our recycle and trash containers and toss out everything.
Ok, so you see where I’m going with this. If you want to join in on the Trash Free Challenge, it’s a full-time commitment. You can’t just use the “I’ll do it next time” routine. You have to commit mind, body, pocket book, and spirit to the cause.
Are you game?
Jump in and join the “Go Trash Free” challenge!! Here are some ways to help you stay on your game. And remember, no trash means nothing to the landfill. You can recycle ’till your heart turns, well, green. But no trash. No toss. No more!
* DIY Green Style – You’re already in the habit of bringing your cloth bags to the farmer’s market and grocery store, decreasing the need and waste of plastic bags. But what about other shopping ventures? What about when you go out to eat and have leftovers? Do you really want to deal with the Styrofoam take out box? Why not bring your own reusable containers for food leftovers to the restaurant. You’ll be out to eat with other greenies, so you won’t have to worry about looking like the crunchy hippie you are…you’ll fit right in ;)
* Compost everything! – I have a little sign above my – now empty – garbage can in the kitchen. It reads “No veggie scraps. No egg shells. No fruit peels. These go in the compost bin! Thanks, Management :)” Don’t toss out that soon-to-be black gold for your garden. Make sure everyone in your home is on board with this one. And if that means being a compost-police for a while ’till they get the hang of it, so be it. Why would you want put that in a plastic bag to stink up the house anyway? Get a kitchen counter top compost bin, fill it up with all your kitchen scraps (minus the meat, bones, and dairy products) and toss it on your compost heap every few days. Trust me, it doesn’t stink at all in comparison to when you put food scraps into the trash.
* Remember the 3 R’s – When you’re out shopping, before adding something to your cart, ask yourself, “Can this be recycled? Can it be reused? Do I already have something like it?” The bottom line for all purchases should be: if it doesn’t fit in the 3 R’s, you really need to rethink the item. Chances are, with a little ingenuity and creativity you can find another way to satisfy your need, want, just gotta have it!!! Yes, we were born into this compulsive consuming society, but if you are going to be trash free, you have to “be the change you wish to see in the world”. Go Gandhi!
* Be Creative – There are some things that don’t fit nicely into the 3 R’s, compost, and not buying categories. Donate used computer parts, cars, clothing and more. After making stock with leftover bones, should you put the bones in a plastic bag and leave it out for the garbage man? Heck no! Make bone ash makes a great soil amendment for the garden. Maybe you have another great idea to share? Anything to keep the plastic bags from piling up in a landfill, the better!
One question you’ll eventually end up asking yourself is this: are there certain things that just HAVE to be trashed? We have been sold on this theory, but I just don’t buy it anymore! Honestly, we are a smart mean green thinking machine! I think we can find alternatives to all of these items that we’ve been told we must throw away. I think that’s where the NO TRASH challenge comes into play.
Are you ready?!
Start with a week. Next week. Go Trash Free! After a successful week, add another week. Then another. Once you get the hang of it, be daring. Go for a whole month. Let me know how long you can make it and what you couldn’t NOT toss. What are some of the great alternatives you have come up with? Did you find the secret? Can you share it with the rest of us?!
I think this is a great thing for us to do. Why do we need to add to the landfill system? Our ancestors – yep, I’m pulling out the oldies – made it just fine without trashing our Mother Earth. Now we’re destroying it for our children and our children’s children.
Make the commitment. Test yourself. See how far YOU can make it. Be green! Be trash free :)
Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009