Trimming my waste: Week 2 (upsizing the recycling) | the ReFab Diaries

Goals - Week 2:

  1. Really pay attention to how much I throw away #thereisnoaway
  2. Decrease landfill waste
  3. Notice how fast the recycling fills up
Stretch goal: Composting - achievable if I figure out a sensible solution for a single urban apartment dweller.

Week 2 is all about awareness. If you want to make yourself take a hard look at your trash, turn your large garbage can into your recycling bin and bring in a small waste bin for what you can't recycle or compost. How much are you sending to a landfill every week? How much of that is single-use or non-recyclable plastic? How much is food waste? I made this switch about 5 years ago and I promise... it's effective.

No, recycling isn't a magic bullet. And if you live in a city that does have a recycling program, you may question how effective it is. Or wonder if they're even recycling your carefully sorted recyclables. Well, to the best of their ability, they are. But we do a lot of things to mess up their efforts. For example:
  1. We put our recycling in plastic trash bags. This is such a problem, Chicago has finally banned it. Plastic bags get caught in the machines used to sort single-stream recycling.
  2. We put non-recyclables (like plastic grocery bags, napkins and paper towels) into our recycling and contaminate not just our own recycling but the whole batch. 
  3. We still think that #6 plastic is recyclable ("because it's a number in a little triangle!") so we put it in the recycling. Plastic #6 is clear polystyrene (styrofoam). If your bakery, salad bar or deli is still giving you food in this stuff, complain. And then boycott the place! Or bring in your own container.
When's the last time you checked your city's recycling guidelines? It's worth taking another look. You will probably be pleasantly surprised! Here are some resources for US residents:
  1. Recycle By City - the new kid on the block. An actual, super informative recycling website. If your city isn't listed yet, let them know
  2. Earth911 - a reliable, really comprehensive resource
  3. Check out your city or county's online resource. It may not be well organized or well designed, but it's still good to skim.
I've been looking into my composting options for the last year and I think I'm close to a solution that is both sensible and thrifty. Any of you composting out of an apartment? 

If you missed it, here's the post explaining the whole "trimming my waste" thing.

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