My city (Halifax) has an excellent program for garbage pick-up, recycling and composting. They say that 60% of all solid waste is diverted from landfills through the program. The basics are:
- Residences have garbage pickup every 2 weeks. All food waste is treated separately.
- All residences are given a kitchen composting container and a large bin for outdoors. When your indoor container is full, you transfer the waste to the outdoor container, which the city empties every 2 weeks. Of course, you can also compost your own food and yard waste on your own property.
- The recycling program accepts all paper, cardboard, container plastics, plastic bags and film plastic, glass and metal containers. They are picked up at curbside every week.
- There are free drop-off points for household hazardous wastes and electronics.
I am always trying to reduce trash at our house. We usually take the compost to curbside every 2 weeks, recycling every 2 weeks and put out 1 bag of garbage every 4 weeks. In the warmer weather, we have our own yard waste pile for grass clippings and leaves, either mulched or not. Stubborn things like shrub branches, that take a long time to decompose, can be picked up by the city.
I gave myself a challenge for February to examine all of our garbage and see if we were, in fact, separating everything properly. I would also check to see if there were any kinds of garbage we could eliminate.
Here is what we had for the first two weeks of February. In the interest of keeping you as a reader, I have not photographed anything yucky! (You can click the first photo to go into slideshow mode, if you like.)
This is 2-4 weeks’ worth of stuff depending on our last pick-up. Based on today’s sort-out, I would like to find a bulk source for Swiss-process decaf coffee, and switch over to loose tea. I will pass on the cheap bags of onions and buy them loose instead. We get a ludicrous amount of paper delivered to our door, such as flyers and community newspapers. I will try to find a phone number to opt out. We gave up using paper towel last month (switching over to rags) and so far it hasn’t been a problem. I realize that almost all recyclables can be used as crafts materials but I don’t currently have any crafty scavengers around to use them!
Here’s what I have not photographed:
- Dental floss
- Broom sweepings
- Dryer lint
- Cat litter
- Disposable vacuum cleaner bag
Visitors to our house are surprised by the amount of garbage sorting we do, and it does take a while to learn the system. But I am very happy with my city, HRM, for providing this program, and I am happy to participate: keeping in mind, of course, that Reduce is the first of the Reduce/Reuse/Recycle trio!
How do you fare with your household trash “system”?