Cindy’s Weekly Wisdom
I love New year’s resolutions, don’t you? Ok, most people really don’t love them, but I do. Because of them, I have (finally!) learned how to use chopsticks, and I (finally!) had a charity party that I’d been intending to have for 4 or 5 years.
And I have one for you this year: Less trash.
It makes me crazy to drive through my neighborhood and see people’s trash cans literally bursting out the top with trash. The City of Austin provides a choice of 3 cart sizes: 32 gallons, 64 gallons, and 96 gallons; each is more expensive than the size before it, although even the largest can is only $30 a month. Trash pick up is weekly. Most people have the middle size can. This is the one I often see stuffed to the top and more.
(For full disclosure: Everyone also has a 96 gallon recycling bin, which is picked up every two weeks. Any amount of yard waste can be put out weekly as long as it is in large paper sacks or trash cans that can be dumped. Yard waste may not be set out in plastic bags. The city has a fantastic program for recycling solid sewage waste and yard trimmings to produce compost, which is used at city-own buildings and parks and is also sold to the public.)
My family of four people and five animals produces a single bag of trash a week. One. Even when the children were little and wore disposable diapers, we only had two bags of trash a week.
How do we do this when others are brimming over? Frankly, I often ask myself how they could possibly have that much trash. It seems impossible to me, although obviously it’s not.
Here’s how I mange it: a place for everything and everything in its place.
I have a trash can in the kitchen, plus a little one in Dan’s office, each girls’ room, and in all four bathrooms. Except for the kitchen trash, the other ones only need to be emptied once a month or so. I have two recycling bins in the kitchen, one in Dan’s office, and one at the end of the hallway by all our bedrooms. I have a tiny compost bucket in the kitchen. I have a plastic bag recycling area in the pantry; metal recycling tub (small) under the kitchen sink; and a box for Styrofoam in the garage.
Yes, that’s a lot of containers, and yes, I do live in a fairly large house, but I did the same when I lived in smaller places.
All the food cans and bottles go into one of the bins in the kitchen. Paper recycling goes into the bin in the office. The basket at the end of the hall is for miscellaneous recycling generated in the bathrooms and bedrooms. The metal bin under the sink is for aluminum foil or any recyclable but non-can metal. Food scraps are dealt with in a number of ways: the compost bin is that last option. I feed leftovers from our plate to the dogs. The guinea pig gets vegetable and fruit trimmings. Fruit that the guinea pig doesn’t eat goes outside to feed the squirrels. (My 9 year old especially loves squirrels, so ours are well cared for.) In the end, only things like egg shells, banana peels, and tea bags end up in the compost bin. Even the cats’ litter is composted: I buy compressed pine pellets for their box and put the used litter in with the yard waste when it needs to be emptied. Since I know this waste will be mixed with sewage and yard trimmings, I don’t worry that there may be some cat feces remaining. The guinea pig’s pine shavings are dumped directly into the garden as mulch.
In addition, things you’re decluttering need a place to go so that they launch into their new life in the best way possible – a gift to a friend, a trip to the thrift store, sold on Ebay. One of the advantages of thing-a-day decluttering is that you have time to make wise choices. Reader Annabelle just packed up from Germany to come back to the US and said it was a breeze due to decluttering in advance, even though the movers came early. Like her, you don’t want to be in a panic at the last minute. That’s when waste occurs.
And remember, I’ve only talked about ways of diminimishing your trash by recycling. There’s a whole other side to this coin: Bringing less into your home. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
With anything you want to succeed with, you have to 1) have a plan and 2) a way of executing that plan. If you don’t have a convenient place to put your recycling, then it won’t get recycled. If you’ve got some recycling that has to be taken to the recycling center and can’t be put in your curb-side bin, then you need a place to store it. This is my New Year’s challenge to you: Can you cut down on your trash by 1/3? By 1/2? I bet you can. Let’s all take a deep breath and say our 2012 mantra together: Less.
Today’s Declutter Item
This is a classic example of if you keep stretchy things for too long unused they will perish. This piece of elastic tubing was something I had to exercise with when I was having back spasms which in turned caused me neck problems. Fortunately I haven’t suffered from that problem for some time now so it is now only good for the trash.
Something I Am Grateful For Today
The pest man has been, the car is serviced, dinner dates are sorted, towels are washed. Things are coming together nicely around here. Hopefully that means that by Sunday all I will have to do is cook, eat, drink and be merry.
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast