Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Economics of Down Trashing

Recently, reviewing all our household expenses, I realised that our garbage can rates can be noticably reduced by contracting for a smaller garbage can.
Since we never filled the default-sized 32-gallon can, I down-ordered the 20 gallon "mini-can" for a $5 savings per month. This will never make us wealthy but every bit helps - plus, it adds a little urgency to properly sorting our trash. Because we have cats and therefore kitty litter, we have an unfortunate minimum amount of trash to haul, but my goal is to make it to the 12-gallon micro-can to minimize our costs.
This experience reinforces things I should already know:
  • If it saves you money, you'll find a way to create less garbage
  • It's worth taking the time to check all your expenses, now and then, to spot new opportunities.
I was reminded of this while reading this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge:
"Write about 3-5 items which are recyclable but which many people toss out. For example, the plastic safety wrap around the neck of a mouthwash bottle is recyclable but often overlooked and tossed."
I, personally, had no idea that that bit of plastic was recyclable. However, that blogpost was full of useful little tips about things I had never noticed, e.g.
"...tak[e] the paper used to individually wrapped rolls of recycled toilet paper and using it in place of paper towel to clean the bathroom (sink, mirror, etc). It's just a piece of paper that usually went directly into the recycling bin, now it gets a second life. It's also very sturdy. Doesn't shred or lint."
This common-sense suggestion appealed to both my sense of frugality and my sense of responsibilty to future generations. But together, these overcame my reluctance to look into The Forbidden Zone of the Bathroom Wastebasket -a strange place rarely visited and potentially loaded with scary items.

I hitched up my courage and took me a look. Here's what I found:
Compostable:
  • Q-tips (the cotton-and-paper kind)
  • Cotton pads for moisturizer
  • Floss
  • Lump of soap and hair that collect in the drain (we never use soaps with toxins in them; that just seems silly!)



    Recyclable:
  • Mouthwash bottle wrap
  • Old mouthwash bottle
  • Pain reliever box & insert 
Trash:
  • Everything else, I guess. 
Residential bathrooms tend to be too small to justify separate bins for compost/recycling/trash, but on the other hand, the volume of waste is small enough to allow handsorting when tossing.

2 comments:

Small Footprints said...

Floss? Wow ... never thought of that one! Brilliant! I love that you're downsizing your trash can!

By the way ... stop in tomorrow ... your suggested challenge is going up in lights. :)

Kris said...

I never thought of composting q-tips! Great suggestion. Now I just need to get off my butt and create a composting bed/bin and being using it.