Week 2 Report: One Can A Month

Well that week wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be. For anyone just arriving, I’m talking about Enviromom’s One Can A Month Challenge. It’s not too late to join in, in fact you can start any time. The idea is that we create far too much waste, and a big part of the three Rs is Reduce. As the title suggests, the challenge is to reduce your family’s waste to one can a month.

The big success I think was paper. To the best of my knowledge, no paper went in the trash.

My one grocery bag goal for the week? Was more like three, but that was counting much more food scraps than I would’ve liked, and diapers.

Wait a minute, you say. Food scraps? Don’t you compost? Yep. While I’ve been diligently contributing all week to my compost collection bin, I’d not taken it out in a week and a half. Which means that on Sunday … you guessed it. Egg to adult of fruit flies at 25 Celcius is just over a week, even shorter if it’s a bit warmer. Rotting food is warm. I saw a few fruit flies weaving around, newly eclosed from the look of them. Ohdear. I had a handful of scraps, opened up the container, and my timing was just perfect. HORDES of the things, clinging, orienting, getting set to swarm! All surfaces inside were black with the things. I slammed the lid shut only allowing a couple hundred to escape and got it outside immediately, but haven’t yet dealt with it. Yuck. That’s the part that hate about composting. One of two, actually. The reason I don’t take it out often is that I hate hate hate taking the lid off the composter, as it’s generally filled with swarms of fruit and other flies.

But I’ve had some successes.

For one week straight I brought my lunch to work instead of buying it there, using my to-go ware. That’s got to save some packaging and other waste.

I didn’t succeed with the plastic bags but also didn’t outright fail. On two occasions I brought them home, with a total reduction of roughly fifty percent. I need some suggestions though on coping without the bags for garbage collection, kitty litter collection, and setting aside refundable returnables on the curb (the effort of taking them to the depot isn’t worth the small change I’d get for me, but others live off it. I consider this better than giving change to the people sleeping in doorways on the busy streets).

I’ve switched to a pine pellet kitty litter on a trial basis. We’ll see how it goes. In theory, it doesn’t clump, the kitty pee breaks down the pellets into sawdust which sifts to the bottom. The theory is that poop can be put in the toilet. I found that the wheat clumps clogged the toilet, so we’ll see about this method.

Four loads of laundry. One was whites, and I needed them white, so hot water. The other three were cold water. But not a single load went in the dryer.
I’ve been merrily tossing all plastics and “recyclables” into the blue bin on the basis that “someone once told me all this was recyclable.” Well, that person was wrong, and so was I. We have a very progressive collection here, but not that progressive. So, on Wednesday night as I prepare my recycling trying to get it all into the bin (I’d been saving it up, aka forgetting which night to set it out) I’ll sort through it. Tetrapac boxes apparently are no-nos, at least in the blue boxes. Apparently the depots take them. Now I need to figure out if there’s a deposit on them – if there is, then the nice folk who pick up for the refunds will take them. I think there are a few in there, but I’ll now choose to buy in a different container. Only plastics 1, 2, 4, and 5 are taken. Time for me to learn which is which.

I’ve introduced Cameron to green cleaning. He desperately wanted to clean using my Method squirt bottle. Not good stuff for wee fingers to get into, I don’t care what they say about it. So I fished a nearly identical bottle out of the storage room where I’d been holding onto it for just this purpose. A good rinsing, then it was ready. I filled it with water and vinegar, handed it to him along with a cloth (made from a ripped-up nth-hand receiving blanket) and simple instructions. “Squirt, wipe, clean! See? Now you can help me!”

Now you might be thinking, Melanie, not all of this is garbage reduction. How is laundry relevant? Sorting your recyclables? I’m patting myself on the back for doing the ‘right’ thing, and it fits here. This month to me isn’t just about reducing my garbage. It’s being aware of waste. Wasted energy in terms of producing packaging, unused food, transporting food and goods (most of what I bought was BC or Washington grown, some California, a little from further away), and yes, power.

My goals for this week:

  • Continued reduction of garbage
  • Clean out the compost bin, resume using it, and EMPTY it BEFORE fruit flies strike again
  • A second reduction of plastic bag accumulation … aiming for zero
  • Sort through recycling. Now … this might lead to an increase in garbage, as garbage that I thought was recyclable will now go into this week’s load. But I count it as a good thing, after all, if the wrong type goes in and it’s not caught, that spoils a whole lot of would-be recycled material.
  • Find out about BPA and Rubbermaid, Bitra water filter jugs, plastic juice jugs, milk jugs. I think it’s only in recyclable #7s. Yes it’s relevant, as it’ll affect my purchase choices in the future.
  • I need something to collect garbage and kitty litter in, and my plastic bag supply is dwindling. So … I’ll need to bring home groceries in paper bags at some point. I do remember Mom using paper I think. Maybe without food waste it won’t be too messy? Suggestions?
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