June 24, 2010

Six Month Tally

Until six months ago, Scott still took the trash out Sunday evenings.

He would slip into his shoes late at night, and rain or shine, would run the 36 steps down to our curb to set the can out for pick up. Even if all it contained was a couple of band-aids. I could never figure out whether he was doing it out of habit, to retain a sense of "normalcy", or to simply make a point of using the service that we cannot (yet) cancel (our local hauler has trash pick up bundled with recycling and city composting).
But one rainy Sunday evening this last January, as Scott was once again heading down the dark path to the curb, he stumbled upon a mature buck. A godsend. Scott turned around, came back into the house and decided that this whole "taking out trash" business was too dangerous ;). That's also when we decided that it would be fun to see how long it would take us to fill the 20 gallon can. Our "can" has been the paper towel section of a vintage holder since.

Here is our 6 month tally.
It might seem much for those who thought that we were perfect, just as it might not seem much for those who did not think a handful of waste possible. I personally think that our level of waste is frustrating, but it is a challenge that calls for further action:

Food related items:
- 8 beer caps from a twelve pack that a friend brought: In times of financial instability, how can a man refuse the gift of beer? ;)
- 13 white wine plastic wrappers: We still have not found a decent refillable white wine and it is really hard to discern plastic from foil until you open the bottle. It should be indicated on the label.
- 2 cheese wax/crusts.
- 1 heat-damaged gasket of a jar bought at the thrift store: I had no idea the gasket was baked on until I opened the jar at home, had to force it open and had to scrape it with a knife.
- 2 top ends of Starbucks Single packets: From my visiting mother-in-law who must have taken the rest of the 2 packets with her to dispose elsewhere.
- 4 snack wrappers and 3 bubble gums given to my kids without my knowledge: Those probably are the most irritating to me. The Fiber One bar contained 23 ingredients, including high maltose corn syrup. Ugh. The Teddy Grahams contained 19 ingredients, including partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and high fructose corn syrup. Double Ugh. As for bubble gums, they are simply plastic. Triple Ugh. I do not yet blame my eight and ten year-old children for succumbing to temptation and accepting the empty calories. For now, I blame the ignorant adults who buy and feed harmful and wasteful junk not only to their children but also to others.

Plan of Action
- Educate friends and family further about our lifestyle and eating habits.
- Educate the kids further about healthy foods.
- Send emails to winemakers to adopt foil and cork, or glass tops (screw tops are BPA lined)
- Take our friends to Beerworks to refill their bottles ;)

Clothing related items:
- 18 plastic price tag holders: I can't remember the origin for eight of these.
- 2 disintegrated foam shoulder pads from a used coat.
- 2 feet of synthetic thread from an unravelling curtain.
- 6 labels removed for their itchiness: Don't you love the feel of tagless clothing?

Plan of Action:
- Propose a plastic free price tag to the thrift stores that have them.
- Apply glue to the edges of my unraveling curtain.
- Email or write to clothing manufacturers to adopt label-free clothing.

Bathroom related items:
- 8 band-aids: Like I said before, my younger son had a love for band-aids, but we're out, so we won't find those in our trash anymore.
- 2 individual plastic/aluminum wrappers from over-the-counter medication, bought a couple of years ago: A remainder of our once, unconscious purchasing.
- 1 toothbrush replacement head from Terradent: We have 2 left.
- 4 disposable eye drop tubes: Scott took our older son to the ophthalmologist and forgot to refuse...
- 1 packet of petroleum jelly: Again, given to Scott by a doctor, he forgot to refuse.
- 5 plastic cap wrappers: One from hydrogen peroxide, one from eye drops, one from contact lens solution, the three others I don't know.

Plan of Action:
- Email or write to manufacturers to replace plastic cap wrappers with paper or cardboard wrappers or simply bypass them and adopt a sealing cap.
- Remind Scott to refuse at a doctor's visit.
- Purchase compostable toothbrushes.

Miscellaneous Items:
- 1 expired credit card.
- 1 Best Buy gift card.
- 1 expired french version of the Green Card.
- 4 ski lift tickets.
- 7 irrigation system pieces.
- 1 broken rubber band.
- 1 broken pen: the last plastic and disposable one in the house!
- bits of plastic tape from a parcel.
- 1 sticker stamps sheet.
- 1 plastic wrapper of a snowboard pad.
- 1/2 plastic spoon found on the property while landscaping.
- The wrapper of a tiny Lego set, bought by Grandma for my younger son. Somehow the small sets are not fully recyclable, like the bigger ones.
- The plastic wrapper of twine, bought 6 years ago: It's amazing how much purchasing decisions can haunt you for years.

Plan of Action:
- Contact the credit card company about using recyclable cards.
- Contact the ski resort about using a rechargeable and recyclable card instead for their lift tickets.
- Contact Lego about the non-recyclable wrapper in their small sets.
- Find package-free twine.

What's not included:
- The 6 art/schoolwork pieces, laminated by the teachers: We left them at school, and explained to the teachers that parents should have the right to choose whether or not they want to make a completely recyclable/compostable piece of paper, eternal by encompassing it in plastic.
- The candy wrappers from the Valentine's Day classroom celebration: We took them to the school principal to show her how much trash was generated per head in our kids classrooms.
- The few items that I have sent back to manufacturers with a letter of explanation, such as a broken pump to Dermalogica, toothbrushes to Radius, and a contact lens case to Complete.
- The pesky plastic wine corks, the occasional fruit or veggie stickers and the broken drinking glasses, three of which I collect for future art pieces.

What's in your bin?