Saving time, money and the environment
Zero waste is not just about recycling and the 3-Rs. It embraces waste as a resource that creates jobs and new products. Increasingly, more North American cities are taking on the Zero Waste initiative. Many of these efforts are focused on composting, worm bins and promoting recycling by having more depots available and providing residential blue-box services.
The 3-Rs of recycling (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) are often mentioned, but the order in which they are implemented is not often discussed. For instance, even before recycling, a plastic peanut butter container can be reused for various storage means – numerous times, possibly indefinitely. There is another, rather unknown fourth “R” to consider: Refuse to buy the brand that has a container that cannot be reused or recycled, or that has unnecessary packaging.
Plastic container not only serve as a (otherwise costly) storage containers they also stay out of the recycling loop, saving more time and resources that would have gone into reprocessing the plastic. Eventually it might get broken and end up being recycled anyway, but in the meantime, the accumulated savings and benefits are undeniable.
Trash Talk is about implementing the Refuse, Reduce, Reuse tactics first – in that order –before even considering recycling, which is an excellent but costly industry. We encourage the raising of our collective voices to let the appropriate politicians know we want our money re-routed towards Zero Waste. More importantly, we need to start right where we are – at home. By taking matters into our own hands, we can reduce our own household costs, ease the burden that is upon the recycling industry and preserve our resources.
Recognizing the power of the consumer’s voice is the first step to restructuring your shopping habits. When purchasing, avoid disposable over packaged or individually packaged products, especially those that contain polystyrene foam. Reconsider when purchasing products made from virgin materials as opposed to recycled. You are sending a powerful message to manufacturers when their sales figures decrease. Not only are these bad for the environment but many contain hydrocarbons which leach in to the food and cause toxins which damage our bodies and worse yet our children’s bodies. It also raise the price of electricity by making freezers use extensive amounts of electricity with all those packages reducing the efficiency of the freezer and refrigerator
I recently went to buy some cooking wine and found they had switched to plastic bottles. Not good for the wine and not good for the environment. I took it back and got cooking wine that was in a glass bottle. .
Refusal to accept manufacturers’ standards is very important. Consider the automobile industry that has slowly released green energy (hydrogen fuel cell, solar or electric power) and hybrid cars (gas/electric) to their production lines in the last few years. The trend has really bloomed and we can expect to see many more improved variations available in the near future. You, the consumer, helped accomplish that.
Ensure that you are heard by writing your concerns or ideas to the editors of various publications, to governments and to manufacturers. Let the powers that be know you want reduced packaging that is designed for recycling. Ask for clean energy policies that lean toward reducing pollution. Remember, what all it boils down to is this: They work for you.
Purchasing Eco-certified products and bulk amounts are other sound environmental choices. Did you know that the average grocery store fruit or vegetable travels 800 miles before you purchase it? Frequenting local organic farms helps reduce this avoidable use of energy.
Keeping an eye on the second hand stores can actually make good “cents”. Older tools are often of higher quality than many newer ones now available in stores, so it is worth attaching a new handle to an old head. Bargain prices on nearly new clothes can be found at second hand clothing stores, many of which donate their proceeds to a worthy cause. Refusing to buy cheaper items that are not durable to the test of time will ultimately extend your shopping dollar and the life of the landfill.
Start by reducing the amount of waste packaging that comes with consumer goods. Choosing to buy large sizes of concentrated products is one way. By purchasing rolls of photo film in 36 rather than 12 exposures, you will reduce packaging alone by 66 percent (or use a digital camera!). Sometimes we buy turkey burger or “Veggie Burgers and I remove the boxes before putting them in the freezer to save room but basically we use fresh produce and buy meat and fish in bulk.
Strive to find goods that come in sturdy reusable containers. By buying in bulk, you avoid any packaging other than the occasional plastic bag, which is reusable (or take your own container, where permitted). All of these actions convince manufacturers to meet the consumer demands. They seem to hear money quite clearly! You can scrub your recycle bin that has been replaced by large recycle containers you can roll to the street. The former bin can be made into a bin for Farm market shopping days.
Reducing the waste that is destined for the landfill begins simply by asking a few questions before discarding an item and purchasing another. Can I donate this or reuse it in any way? Can it be repaired, recycled or composted?
Trash Talk is essentially about reusing items formally destined for the landfill or recycling depot. It is not about a quick fix solution; it is about changing consumers’ mindsets by providing ideas that inspire participation from the ground level. We hope to provide encouragement by showing you the direct effect these actions will bring. Here are some of our favorite assorted reuse ideas for some common items. As there are numerous things you can do with any one item, this is only scratching the surface of the concept of reusing. The only limits are your imagination and creativity.
Belts and Watch Bands
Caps and Corks
Computer and Audio Disks
Plastic Eggs Packaging
Pots and Pans
There is Hope
As a final note, we would like to point out that although it is a big task to change the thinking of such a mass of population, there is hope. The collective actions of many people are much more powerful than that of any one high-ranking politician. As the majority, we can force changes by making changes.
The material in this article is also found in the book Trash Talk ã by Dave and Lillian Brummet, published in 2004 by PublishAmerica LlLP, www.publishamerica.com
I use Glass to store staples such as macaroni, nuts, raisins, flour etc and also use glass in the refrigerator for Left-overs Glass can be recycled over and over to infinity. Consider these savings.
Think of it no insects walk through your flour in a glass jar they can’t get in.
- No odors penetrate glass
- Glass does not stain with tomatoes
- You see what is each container each time you go in the refrigerator. This prevents food from getting kicked to the back and going to waste which saves you money and reduces your having to clean out spoiled food.
- Glass is being made into beautiful tiles to be used for counters and back splash. Think of it there is blue glass, green glass, white glass the tiles are great
- I like the ones that are straight taking up less space.
- The odd shaped ones are great to store buttons, Bows I use in place of buttons on my kitchen towels They can even be used for nails and screws with the tops secured on the wall after you get what you want you just screw the jar into the secured top
Just refuse to use products that are not proper containers.