I’ve gone back and forth on this extensively and I’ve decided that I’m going to take the leap. It’s a really small leap, more of crossing over a thin line in the sand.
In my new digs, I’ve got relatively few waste options. Sewer is septic and there’s no municipal trash collection. I’ve got a big bin picked up weekly by a small local company. They provide fantastic service but they’re just too small to have a comprehensive recycling program.
So I sort. Right now, here’s what that looks like:
- Non-animal food scraps get composted. Banana peels and coffee grounds (with the paper filter) are the bulk of this but it includes parts of vegetables I don’t eat like onion skins and celery leaves.
- A large portion of the cardboard and paper waste I generate can be burned. I’m not running an energy conversion stove for heat or steam but I do like me a campfire and some chopped and tied delivery boxes make a great replacement for fake firewood.
- Glass will mulched. I like beer, it’s better in bottles, I don’t have a pool (yet) and I have lots of landscaping needs. Mixed glass mulch is very easy to produce and I believe it will work better than rock across the board.
- Metal will be melted and poured. I also like Diet Coke. I inherited lots of empty used beer cans with the property. There will be a foundry and I’ll be able to make lots of things out of use metal.
- Inked or clay paper and cardboard are transcycled. Also in this category is anything made out of metal, glass or plastic that I believe may have a use. I’ve already used some styrofoam for insulation. If it looks like someone went through the trouble of forming it into a shape, I can probably re-use it in the same or similar shape. This is sometimes a difficult decision involving cost of storage (until re-use) and meeting a material and shape to a new need. I’m still working on the mental step of always looking for a transcycling opportunity before using virgin material.
- Excess material, scrap, dross, food waste, etc. is trashed. There’s not much that can be done with leftovers of spoiled chicken or metal shavings. These go to the dump where they’re managed appropriately by professionals.
I want to keep the last category (landfill trash) as small as possible for two reasons. First, it’s the least friendly category for the planet. Second, it costs me money to get rid of that. Ignoring the first (it speaks for itself), I’ve got the regular pick-up option or I can take items to the dump on demand. I’d like to find ways to eliminate the pick-up option and reduce my total landfill trash production to one or two bags a month that I can take to the dump.
Plastic all goes to the trash right now. It’s generally bulky even though it’s light. I get charged mostly on size (unless it exceeds a very generous weight threshold). If I can eliminate or reduce plastic in the trash, I can probably meet my goal straight off.
I’m going to have to learn how to do this.