I’ve been participating in the Walmart/Seventh Generation Sustainability Challenge for the last several weeks. I’ve tried to make my home more sustainable by using less electricity and improving the quality of the air in my home.
My next goal was to reduce the amount of waste the Frugal Upstate Household sends to the landfill by improve our family’s recycling habits. I chose this as a goal because Walmart’s commitment to reducing waste-between 2008-2009 Walmart redirected 57% of it’s waste, and has a stated goal of 0 waste by 2025! Pretty lofty stuff. Walmart also has an electronics recycling /trade in program-I found out if I wanted to trade in my iPhone I could get $82 for it! Seventh Generation is also very big on recycling-their products come in bottles made with 90% post consumer recycled materials.
All in all-there was just no way I could skip recycling on this challenge!
I felt pretty confident going into this challenge. Recycling had become an interest of mine a few years ago. I am not fanatical about it, but we do turn in cans & bottles for deposit, recycle paper, glass, metal and some plastic containers*. I am careful not to throw batteries in the trash (I have a huge container of dead batteries), don’t throw out CF bulbs and compost vegetable scraps & garden waste.
So what can I improve?
I don’t like to throw batteries in the trash, as they contain mercury which can leak out and enter the ground water (although not as much as they used to). This is not a good thing.
I have been collecting batteries for over two years-now I just needed to find out where I could actually bring those batteries to have them recycled. The county waste management site was spectacularly unhelpful-the “next scheduled hazardous waste pick up day” listed was in 2009. Hubs said that Lowes had a drop box, so I carted them all the way in there (30 min away) to find out that corporate had put a kibosh on that program. Thankfully the very nice young man I spoke to told me that Wegmans (a NY grocery chain) accepts batteries for recycling. After calling to confirm, I was able to take in my 2 years accumulation of batteries.
Why does that have to be so hard?
We fill up a huge bin full of paper to be recycled ever two weeks-but still, a lot winds up in the trash. Especially in the office. I don’t know why, but we’ve never had a recycle bin in the office specifically for the scrap paper in there.
I went upstairs and dug around in the closet where I keep any excess boxes, bins or baskets and found one that would easily fit a sheet of copy paper. Then I simply turned the wastebasket next to the desk and set the basket down.
Tada, paper recycling bin. Why did that take me 2 years to do?
I garden, so I already compost. This spring Yankee Bill made me two big compost bins out of old pallets (picked up free with permission from the local Dollar General). I am very good in the summer about sending all vegetable waste out to the compost bin. I even remember to empty the paper shredder from the office into there, and have Princess dump her guinea pig cage bedding as well.
But there are so many more things you can compost (check out 163 things you can compost). I decided to be more vigilant. So what did I compost this week?
- Coffee & filter from my Keurig K-cups (that was a pain)
- An old cotton sock of Buddy’s that had a hole in it
- Dryer lint
- The contents of my bagless vacuum after vacuuming up dog hair
- Dog hair after brushing the dog
- Used Tissues
- Leaves that fell off an indoor plan
I have found that the easiest way to get me to compost is to have a bucket right outside the kitchen door on the back porch that I can toss stuff into without much hassle. I will continue to compost my vacuum contents and dryer lint (even though it takes a few extra steps) but I don’t know if the time spent unpeeling each of those little Keurig cups is worth it. It’s messy. . .
My biggest future goal is to try to continue composting in the winter. I just don’t want to trek out to the compost pile at the back of our lot when it is nasty out. . . maybe one of the kids would like to make a couple of dollars a week doing that. . .
So-what items do you compost? What things are just too much trouble to bother composting, and why?
My last weekly goal (which I’ve been working on since this Monday)-reducing my use of fossil fuels. Tune in Friday for a video blog to learn about that goal & get a challenge wrap up!