Recently, my middle kid and I had a conversation about both our desires to move closer to Zero Waste in our personal household habits. I have been growing more and more frustrated with the increase of plastic packaging I’ve been seeing with grocery products I buy. And while Austin has a fairly large recycling stream for us to use with our waste that does not have to go into the landfill, I’ve never really acquainted myself with exactly what I can put in the blue bin and what I should not.
Let me back up a day or two before our conversation and point out that after our cleaning ladies left this week, I noticed that two bags of regular trash were put into that blue bin. I pulled them out and divided what I thought should go into recycling and what I knew shouldn’t. And made a note to spend some educational time with my team.
Just Throw It Away
So that was in the back of my mind, too, when Dorian and I had our chat about moving closer to Zero Waste. I’ve now had two full days of conscientiously trying to minimize what I have to through “away.” Where is that mythological place: away? It seems like I have been lulled into a trance by the phrase “throw it away.” And then I am scandalized by the condition of the seas, the photos of turtles with their necks caught in plastic rubbish, or a bird carcass with hundreds of bits of plastic in its digestive system.
Somehow, this trance has exonerated ME from having anything to do with this issue.
But that is not reality.
Every bit of rubbish I put into the landfill, or even into the recycling bin, has an impact on the environment. I’m not kidding myself here: every teeny, tiny bit.
So, what am I to do?
Here it is a nutshell: I am going to be ever so much more mindful about what I put into the trash, remembering that I have no mythological “away” in which it can go. I will educate myself and my team well about what my community recycles, and I will find ways to reclaim even the things they don’t recycle by finding someone who will.
After quick search online, I found TerraCycle, and I ordered a box from them (happy to pay for this life-saving service) called “small plastic” into which I will be putting my plastics that cannot locally recycled. This includes plastic film, food packaging like bags my organic kale came in, the plastic seal from the tops of my organic chicken packages, and yes, believe it or not, the NON-RECYCLABLE plastic packaging my organic bone broth was in.
And more than that — now that I am aware that these plastics are NOT recyclable in my local community — I am going to be shopping differently. There is no reason why I cannot purchase kale in the loose form and contain it in my own reusable, mesh veggie bags. I can purchase ground chicken from the butcher counter, and it will be wrapped in paper (It’s coated paper, so I have to figure out how to recycle that . . . hmmmmmm). I can also make my own bone broth, which will be even more nutritious and will have no packaging at all. I have Ball quart jars in which I can store my homemade bone broth.
So, this is just a beginning for me. I’m proud to show you my actual contribution to the landfill for the past two days. These items are not recyclable locally, and will not be able to go into my “small plastic” TerraCycle box.
And here are the items from the past two days which are being reserved for my TerraCycle box.
If this blog post gets you thinking, I recommend you check out some of the Zero Waste influencers on YouTube. Most of them are young, and they have GREAT content to inspire and inform us.