Away is Always Somewhere
I remember loading up my brother’s truck every year in the early summer, heaping it full of the pine needles that had blanketed our yard since late fall. Done with their sleep under the snow, the dry, long needles were a fire hazard and an eyesore. We’d drive over half an hour to the middle of the desert where a giant stinking hole in the ground awaited us. Unloading the bed of the truck as quickly as possible, we held our breath to escape the stench of thousands of people’s waste. Part of me was deeply afraid I’d slip and be sucked under the black trash bags, the discarded couches and ancient TVs, broken tables, rotted food, plastic bottles, cans and bag after bag of dirty diapers.
Although landfills have come a long way from the dump I visited as a teen, my vivid memories of all of that waste left a lasting impression: throwing something away means it only goes away from me. It still ends up somewhere.
This is one of the reasons why in our home we try our best to do things that will minimize what goes to the landfill. Most of what we do is fairly ordinary and can be implemented in any home or business. To name a few:
First and foremost, we take meticulous care of everything so it can be passed on to someone else to use even when we are done with it.
We recycle plastic, cardboard, paper, glass, aluminum. We have a worm bin for our food waste, and our yard waste goes into the green waste bin provided by our city. We recycle our Christmas tree. We separate our electronic waste and have it disposed of properly.
We use reusable lunch containers and reusable bottles instead of plastic water bottles.
Old towels have become cleaning rags and we try to avoid using paper towels as much as possible.
We prefer wooden toys for the kids, but for those that light up and play music, we use rechargeable batteries.
Cloth napkins… yes, even with the kids we use cloth napkins.
In the comments, please add to this list and discuss other ways to reduce, reuse or recycle.