More trash talkin’

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Welcome to our month long buy less plan! Read here to get caught up on what’s going on.

Day: 24

Product: For several days this month I focused on things that were literally just trash. I know it sounds silly but sometimes we need encouragement to have and create less trash.

A lot of things that don’t start off as trash end up there as well.

These things are like anything you would find in a dollar store. You might buy a cheap plastic serving bowl there but only use it a handful of times and then try to lift it from the edge with too many oranges in it. (That, sadly, happened to me. The plastic split right down the side.)

Anything else you don’t have the capacity to care for properly can end up as trash before its time. For my boys it’s CDs. They love them and actually listen to them every single night as they go to bed, they just don’t care well for them. (I’ve discovered that it’s wise to rip CDs to my computer before giving them to the kids. That way when it starts skipping creepily in the night, I can just burn a new one to give them. I don’t know when boys are able to keep CDs without scratching them.)

Do you know you actually benefit from being conscious and limiting how much you throw away? This time I’m not talking about the wasted money on buying or bringing junk into your home in the first place. I mean it costs money to throw things away!

In my city charges are added to every city water bill for every extra bin you have. There are homes in my area which consistently put out two carts every week of trash. In fact, when we moved into this house there were two bins and it took me several months to realized that we were getting charged for that second one!

My city also recycles. It’s not the best city, by far, but they do offer it. I am happy to report that when I had them come retrieve the extra garbage bin I had them bring another recycle bin. Recycle bins do NOT cost any more to have and we do our best to fill those up. Conversely, when our one trash bin gets picked up it is less than half full. I don’t know how other families fill two every week.

Even if you don’t have curbside garbage service, you should limit your trash creation. In fact, you probably realize this more than those of us who do because you are much more aware that if you create trash it needs to go somewhere and you have to deal with it.

Here’s how we can limit our trash:

Reduce- This is covered in every post I’ve given this month. Limit the amount you bring in. Don’t buy it. Don’t get it. Don’t take it in. Find a way to live with less. It’s not difficult to make small changes and small changes add up.

Reuse- This one is actually my personal favorite. A lot gets said about the other two popular R’s but this one is the fun one. It’s hard to teach though. It just comes down to looking at an item that is naturally labeled as trash and then rethinking it. It can be as simple as using the bread bag to wrap the sandwich in when you’ve used the last two slices to make your kid his sandwich for school.

I was tickled pink with Chopped did several episodes on food waste. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s a reality show that gives chef contestants special ingredients that they must use to make delicious on-the-fly dishes. For a few episodes they gave ingredients like coffee grounds, orange peels, and bacon grease. For those of us not ready for such extreme food salvage challenges, just learn to make soup. Almost any leftover can be incorporated into soup. If you make soup once a week you can use up leftovers.

FIXING THINGS also falls into this category. By all means, do not throw away that pair of pants just because the button came off. Care for your things. If you spent precious money on it, you have an obligation to care for it. If you really can’t handle a fix-it project at least donate it somewhere. Somewhere there may be someone willing to fix it and use it properly instead of it collecting in a landfill.

On the topic of donating realize that this is another way to reuse. Don’t just collect items in your house because they may have some value to you someday. If you are not using it now, it’s a waste and you’ve just effectively made your house into a landfill. Don’t let your home become the sad island of misfit toys. Find a new home for those things so they can be appreciated now.

Side rant: Please just don’t donate only junk. I know I am saying that many things have worth after many people normally would feel they would. I know that poor people are much more appreciative of your coat with the broken zipper than you would be. Just think how it would be to be poor and have to fix every zipper on every coat you ever got.

Think of it this way: if you are rich enough to donate a box of food just because the arbitrary date on it says it’s past its prime, you are rich enough to also donate some higher quality food as well.

Better yet. Eat the food yourself, even the outdated stuff, and donate money instead. Organizations can do much better with cash to buy from cheap sources than trying to shuffle, organize, and deal out the items you gave them.

Recycle- If they can take it and remake it into something else, let them. Paper, glass, metal, plastic, batteries, ink cartridges, electronics, etc.

Rot- I threw this one is for the fun of it. Normally it’s the three r’s but every once in awhile I hear this fourth one. Rot is really a superhero version of recycle. If you take your food and paper waste and compost it you get more earth! Buying and consuming things all takes away from the Earth and this one actually adds back to it. It’s super nifty.

Mr. WW actually built a prototype of a waste digester once. It was SUPER, super nifty. It turned compostable waste into both earth AND energy (specifically collecting methane gas.)

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Here the oldest learning from our own learning experience of the methane digester.

What happened to it? Well, it got trashed because we thought the collection process wasn’t working. However when it was pulled apart for recycling,  we realized one of the spots wasn’t sealed like we thought it was so it probably was working.

The friends we were visiting in another country we were working on it for decided they’d rather have Mr. WW build them a pool table instead anyhow. Which is cool because supporting relationships trumps even recycling. It was a cool pool table and I hear they still love it.

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Some preliminary pool table testing. 

Reason to buy less: No one likes a show off.

Suggestion: Beware of ‘free’.

“Hey, stop.” You might be saying. “You told us that yesterday.”

But I’m not talking about free things; I’m talking about ‘free’ things. The word ‘free’ is thrown around a lot. Rarely does it mean that something is really free.

“Buy one get one free” does not mean free. It means, “you must buy two to get 50% off.”

“Free samples in the mail” does not mean free. It means, “small, crappy version of a product in exchange for your mailing information we can sell to others.”

“Free rewards” does not mean free. It means, “Use our product/service many, many times over to earn these rewards.”

“Call in the next 5 minutes and get free shipping” is not free. It means, “We’ve done the math. We can’t hook a customer that takes any time to think, so we’ve covered all our costs in the main charges so we can rush customers without experiencing loss.”

“2 more free in every package” is not free. It means “Our package size is larger/we’ve made our product smaller but with more servings so that you will get excited and buy it.”

“Free soda with adult buffet” is not free. It means, “Fill up on soda so you don’t have room for the questionable meatloaf that costs more.”

“Free trial” does not mean free. It means… wait that one does mean free. It means “Thanks for letting us trick you into a super long, complicated, near impossible contract to get out of. Have a free month of what you will soon be begging us to take away.”

Okay, I’m a little cynical. May I remind you all that I am debt free including any mortgages and we even bought our last property with cash? Cynicism can be very helpful.

Just don’t dare let the word ‘free’ talk you into anything.

If you weren’t going to get it in the first place, don’t get it with the word ‘free’ attached.

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