Over the past few weeks, we have been sorting our trash into recycling bins instead of paying a trash service to haul off the trash each week. Living in the rural areas, trash service can become expensive. The company that hauled our trash had raised it's rates twice in less than a year. After reading about a family who recycled 100% of their trash, we took a hard look at the trash we had coming into our home. We realised that we could recycle all of our trash also. We were paying money each month to have the trash hauled off when we could be taking it to a recycling center and getting paid for at least a portion of the trash instead!
The first step we took was diong a search to find a recycling center that would accept all of our recycle catagories. We found one through the searchable database at Earth 911.org. The center we chose is a reasonable distance from home and convenient in that it is near a store we can buy our supplies from.
The next step was to have some bins in a convenient location in the kitchen. Along one wall, we have a row of 5 large plastic totes. The totes are labeled for plastics, paper, aluminum, tin, and glass. We rinse out all food containers before tossing them into their bin to prevent insects and odors.
We have found that after a month of sorting, there is no trash left that cannot be recycled. There is the occassional odd item that we have set aside in a small bag, such as light bulbs, that we will ask the center about when we go. If they don't accept the light bulbs, they have a dumpster there that we can toss them in.
Items such as clothing or other useable things can be donated to others through Freecycle or a local charity. This allows you to clear out the clutter and no longer needed things from your home and while helping others at the same time.
There have been changes that we have made to make the recycling work. To save of the space needed to store the recycleables unti we make our monthly trip to the center, we are very conscience of the packaging our purchases come in. Little things like the brand of tofu I buy makes a difference. One brand sells the tofu in little plastic trays with a sheet of thin plastic that you remove to open the container. Sold next to this tofu is another brand, marked at the same price, that packages their tofu shrink wrapped similar to blocks of cheese. I now buy the brand that is shrink wrapped unless I have a specific need for the tray. Over the winter, I will likely buy the tof in the trays to provide me with little containers to start my garden seeds in. Once I am finished with them, they will be recycled.
Another consideration that we made was in the area of diapers and feminine products. While they are said to be recycleable, most centers do not accept them. We have been cloth diapering our little ones from the very beginning but have kept disposibles on hand in case there is a need for them. Now, we no longer store the disposibles. I make sure that if we take the little ones out, we have plenty of cloth diapers with us. As for the feminine products, I have been using cloth Momma pads for a couple of years now. Only on rare occassions have I used the disposible types, not out of necessity but out of convenience at times when I am away from home. Now, I simply take enough cloth ones to last until I get back home. Celtic Cloths has a free pattern for making your own wet bags.
It is amazing when we consider that 100% of the trash we toss out is recycleable. Through recycling we have been able to save the money we would have spent on trash service. I find that it takes no more effort to sort the trash than it did to simply toss it out. My only regret is in not doing this sooner!