If you ask Mike what annoys him the most about me then high on his list of things would be my struggle to be a good green girl. I have a habit of saving things in piles so they can be distributed to their proper place. These piles sometimes sit for weeks in front of the door, months on a shelf or years tucked in a back corner because I don’t know where or how to get rid of them in an environmentally sound way.
I can get rid of many items I no longer need in Grand Marais, MN. It’s an hour away but at least there is a recycling center for plastic, tin, aluminum, cardboard, phone books, paper and glass. There are also two budget shops in town that will accept a number of items including dishes, knick knacks, children’s toys and even clothing. Where I get stuck with the clothing is I don’t want someone to have to pay for my children’s clothes if I could get it to them for free. Hence the pile of boxes in front of the door.
Shoes are an item I cannot get rid of in Grand Marais. This is a problem because my kids grow out of them quickly and our lost and found box contains a number of good shoes. I have boxes of shoes that I can’t seem to remember to put into the car to bring them to a bigger city when I go.
We also have a difficult time getting rid of old computers, monitors, printers, etc. because there are only a couple of days out of the year the service is provided in Grand Marais. It usually is on a Saturday and we can never figure out how to get to town to dispose of them.
Then I have the other smaller piles of items I just don’t know where to go with. Bags full of dead batteries and old clothes that could be turned into rags or made into something else but aren’t quite good enough for the recycling center. DVD’s, old cases of CD’s and a number of other items wait for me to decide their final destination. During this waiting time they bug both Mike and me. Ugghhh.
If you have a solution to any of my problems then please let me know. Or if you want to pretend you’re a genie for a day then come on over and pick up a box or two and get them out of my sight. Not only will you make me happy but also Mike.
7 Ways to Precycle, Upcycle, and DIY Your Way to (Almost) Never Recycling Again
Cut your carbon footprint with these simple steps — and say goodbye to your recycling bin. By Blythe Copeland
Conventional green wisdom used to be that recycling was one of the best things you could do for the planet — you’d be keeping trash out of landfills, using items made from old materials, and trimming your waste all at once. But these days we know that recycling has its own footprint: It requires energy to breakdown and repurpose the original material, and the resulting product is often a blend of post-consumer and brand-new substances.
Make these seven small changes in your routine at home, at the grocery store, and at work and you’ll cut your consumption where it really matters — at the source.
1. Buy in bulk.
Choosing bulk-packaged versions
of your favorite foods often means you get more for your money — while throwing away less packaging. Bigger bags of snacks, liters of soda instead of cans, taller boxes of cereal, and canisters of hot chocolate all help you cut back on your trash (although obviously the key here is steering clear of individually-wrapped items
). Shopping the bulk bins at your local grocery store can also help you save, since you’re able to buy exactly the amount of nuts, ids, rice, or oats you need — and put a dent in the 80 million tons of packaging waste
that the U.S. produces each year.
2. Ditch disposables.
may be convenient, but the carbon footprint of all those paper plates, napkins, plastic cups, water bottles, sandwich bags, paper towels, and even coffee filters can add up. And in most cases, there’s a reusable alternative: cloth napkins, terrycloth bar towels, cotton sandwich bags, refillable bottles, ceramic plates. Stock your kitchen with durable, long-lasting gear and you’ll see a difference in your waste stream
Before you toss that spaghetti sauce jar, toilet paper roll, or cat food can, think about repurposing it: A good wash, a little fabric or paper, and a splash of creativity can turn your recyclables into pincushions
, desk organizers
, flatware, or holiday decorations. The end result? A customized piece that fits your home (and your green morals) without a big investment.
4. Think outside the kitchen
It’s easy to think about your waste stream in the kitchen
— that’s where most of your trash comes from, and since you see the recycling bin every time you toss another can or bottle into it, the reminders are always in your face. But implementing these practices throughout your house can have an even bigger impact: Choose bigger versions of your favorite shampoo and cosmetics; look for larger bars of soap instead of a 12-pack of smaller ones; find new toys for your kids
in little (or no) packaging instead of covered by three layers of hard plastic.
5. Stop getting junk mail.
One of the easiest ways to keep your recycling bin from overflowing is by tackling your paper waste at the source — and stopping it before it even gets into your home. (Most of us get an average of 41 pounds of junk mail
each year.) The Precycle junk mail reduction kit
lets you put a hold on ads, circulars, credit card applications, and all the other papers that go directly from your mailbox to your recycling bin. You can also contact the Direct Marketing Association and ask them to remove your name from their lists, or get in touch with Catalog Choice to cut back on the 59 catalogs that the average person gets annually. Other companies — including 41pounds.org and Green Dimes, will do the work for you (for a fee).
6. Read your magazines & newspapers online.
While we still believe there’s nothing like sitting down with a great magazine or flipping through the newspaper on a lazy Sunday morning, switch most of your reading to the Internet versions of your favorite publications
and you’ll find that your paper recycling bin is dramatically lighter. If you can’t give up the feel of newsprint, try sharing a subscription with your neighbor who works the night shift, or borrowing your mom’s cooking magazines after she’s finished instead of ordering your own subscription.
7. Make your own.
Every time you buy something you could make yourself you’re missing an opportunity to cut back on your consumption. From shampoo to spaghetti sauce, choosing pre-made versions means you’re getting (and recycling) more packaging every time you go to the store. Instead, try putting your own DIY spin on lip gloss
, skin care products
, dog treats
, fresh herbs
, takeout foods
, and more.