One Can A Month Challenge: Week 1

For those of you who haven’t clicked on the button to the right to find out about this, Enviromom’s writer has challenged people to limiting their household garbage output to one curbside can in the whole month. I think that Cameron and I, being just one adult and one child, shouldn’t have a problem with this. I’m relatively certain we already do that. But I’m looking at this as an opportunity to start the habit of reducing our waste even more.

Tuesday begins a new week of the challenge, one quarter of the way through. I’m treating this as an evaluation week – let’s see what I can improve on. For anyone keeping track, I’ve tossed more than usual this week thanks to a refrigerator cleanout – and we’re up to two grocery bags full from the kitchen, and one from the rest of the apartment.

I noticed too late that I tossed out a bunch of items that could have been recycled had I not been in a rush. A glass spaghetti sauce jar, a yogurt container, a plastic strawberry bin.

I ditched some food I’d bought with every intention of eating but never did, and some leftovers we didn’t finish. A large portion of this could have been composted. Waste reduction plan … if I buy food, I’ve got to use it! Also helpful with budget. Twit. And yeah, I’ve got to do better at compost contributions.

Plastics, darn them! I keep going shopping on my way home from work, when I don’t have my nice thick canvas shopping bags. So I bring home grocery bags. No more! I now have a thin nylon bag that folds into its own carry case – sure I’d prefer it if this were made from recycled goods, but what the hey. It’s small enough to fit inside any purse. I also bought lots of clothes on Monday, which since I didn’t bring my own bags meant a few plastic bags. Argh. Technically that wasn’t in July, and I’ll use the bags as garbage bags, but they’ll probably be a part of this month’s waste. I did however minimize the number of bags. Amazing how uncomfortable Banana Republic was at putting their clothing in a Jacob bag. Ecco Shoes were much more obliging and recycled the shoe boxes for me. MEC also has no problems, and their cashiers are likely to give you dirty looks if you insist on a bag anyway. The coffee shop closest to my work has a neat feature – compostable cold drink cups. They’re made with corn. Great, considering that I’m now an Italian crème soda addict.

Kitty litter. I use a type that is flushable, in theory. If I actually dealt with it on a daily basis I could flush it. But … I don’t. I’m a little concerned about the plumbing here. And a week’s worth of clumps doesn’t go down the drain too nicely. What’s that you say, I could compost it? That would involve much stinkiness, and the need for me setting up my own composter. Pretty certain the gals downstairs don’t want kitty pee and poo, even composted, fertilizing their veggies.

Diapers. Okay, we’re down to one, occasionally two, a day. I don’t see that reducing much any time soon, he’s back to waking up wet. Tempted to try G diapers, but the expense of the start kit is what is holding me back. If only I’d started using those before! More plausible is going back to buying 7th Generation ones. More ecofriendly than what I’ve been using lately at least. And no Disney characters on’em.

Other neat things:
I went a little nuts at Capers on one grocery trip. I chose to go there because I didn’t have my grocery bags with me, and at least they use paper bags with decent handles. They had a stainless steel lunch kit there, and a cutlery set too, made out of bamboo. The cutlery lives in my drawer at work. No more plastics for me! Now if I can only keep myself using the lunch tins. On Thursday I had a fantastic lunch. Salad with lots of colourful peppers, and cherry tomatoes, and chevre dressed with olive oil and lime juice went in the bottom section. The top had vanilla yogurt, fresh strawberries, yummy granola, and nuts. The one drawback so far to the containers … you can’t microwave them!

On the carbon footprint side of things, Cameron and I failed miserably this week. We flew to my Nana’s. It’s a short flight, but still, not so eco friendly. I just can’t see driving and taking the ferry, a total of roughly four hours travel, after work with a toddler.

One of the things mentioned by enviromom is kids art supplies. Cameron has one of those Ikea easel things, and you buy a huge roll of paper for it. He’s not yet doing much, in fact I do most of the drawing, so I’ve just been rolling it up below and saving it. When we’re through the roll, I’ll use the backs of those rolls. Then I’ll recycle the paper.

Goals for the coming week:

  • I’m hanging ONE small bag on the doorknob of the kitchen. One. Okay, it’s two, doubled, I don’t like leaks. With the exception of diapers, I intend to put all household garbage in there for one week. It may have the density of a neutrino star by the end of the week. How strong is grocery bag plastic anyway? I have done this before – the garbage strike of last year had its benefits, for a while I think everyone was garbage-volume conscious.
  • No plastic bags brought home.
  • No vegetable or fruit scraps in the garbage – compost’em!
  • No paper in the garbage, not one scrap.
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