Posts tagged Composting

How Much Trash Do You Produce in a Day

After reading the article from the AARP Bulletin, which I posted yesterday about generating 50 tons of trash by the time we are 70, I decided today to see how much trash I generate in a day. I have been amazed.

For breakfast, I finished off the last of a large bag of raisins. The raisin bag isn’t recyclable, so I put it in the trash. Luckily, I compost the coffee filter and the grounds from my morning coffee.

While dressing, I put the plastic dry cleaner bag in a bag to take to Publix for recycling. The wire hangers I’ll take back to the dry cleaner. The safety pins I keep and reuse. Any paper generated from the dry cleaning goes into the paper recycling bin.

I needed a new roll of toilet paper. I recycled the cardboard tubes and the paper wrapping around the new roll of Scotts Tissue. No, the used toilet paper is flushed away. I’m crazy, but not that crazy.

Before lunch, I discarded a CD at work. Is there anything we can do with CD-ROMs? At lunch, I used three paper towels (something I have eliminated at home) which added to the trash. Parts of the tomato I was eating was thrown away. At home, I would have put the inedible parts into the compost.

I also trashed the tea bag that I used at work, while at home this would have gone into the compost bin. We can’t compost at work because our office in an office building. It’s a miracle that some office paper is collected and recycled. When I suggested setting up plastic and aluminum bins for recycling, I was rejected. Personally I use my own cup, dinnerware and flatware at the office. I refuse to use the styrofoam offered by my employer.

Through the afternoon, I added to the trash bin gum and an apple core (again, something I would add to the compost heap at home). After a trip to the ladies room at work, I realized that every trip there added two paper towels (as well as that unusable toilet paper) to the trash heap today.

After working late, at home I found a mound of mail, both junk and necessary. Fortunately, all is paper, and all will go into the recycling bin.

While preparing dinner, any vegetable scraps went into the plastic tub for the compost pile. We don’t eat meat, so we don’t have fats and bones to discard.

I throw away and accumulate less “trash” at home. I’m not sure if I collected 4.5 lbs. of trash today, but I realize now that I generate more trash that I thought. I’ll be traveling Friday through Sunday. It’s very hard to be green while flying and staying in a hotel. Everything is disposable.

I suspect that the 50 tons may be underestimated, since more disposeable items are available now. Someone born in 1980 will definitely produce more trash than someone born in 1940. In 1940, there were no disposable diapers. Unfortunately that person born in 1940 might wind up in disposable diapers afterall.

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How This Blog Has Changed Me

This month marks the first anniversary of this blog, The Earth Is Not a Trash Can. Previously blog attempts ended much sooner in failure. I became bored, or no one was reading my comments (probably because I was bored).

This blog has had almost 13,000 hits in its eleven months and few days. In the blogosphere, this is minimal. For me, it’s awesome (sorry George Bush, I overuse this adjective, too). Folks from all over the world have read the blog. To quote my husband, whose idea the blog was, “the internet creates a true democracy where everyone can openly have an exchange of ideas.”

Here are ways the blog has changed my life and behavior:

  • I became moderately active for the first time in the local mayoral and councilman races last summer when I discovered that the property where lots of trash is dumped in my area belonged to one of the council candidate’s father-in-law. While I didn’t influence the outcome of the race, I definitely drew attention to the dump sites.
  • The government of Metro Nashville posted two No Littering signs near the dump sites, which has deterred additional trash there.
  • As a result of this blog, the winner in the council race, Bo Mitchell, asked me to be the area commissioner on the Metro Beautification Environmental Commission. Our area hadn’t had a commissioner in years, and I am honored to serve my council district in this capacity.
  • I organized two (very small) trash pick ups for the Great American Clean Up in May 2008 as a result of my involvement on the MBEC. Next year, I hope to organize more trash pick ups during the Great American Clean Up.
  • We have started a compost pile for our food scraps, lint (we have a lot), dog hair, grass clippings, etc. It’s not “cooking” yet, but it’s full of healthy earthworms.
  • I’ve eliminated paper towels and paper napkins. We use cloth towels because it’s less destructive to the environment.
  • I gave up drinking bottled water regularly. I try to take my Sigg water bottle with me (although it leaked and destroyed my Canon digital camera).
  • I take my own dinnerware and flatware to the office for my lunch. Most days I bring lunch from home and rarely buy a take out salad or sandwich.
  • I bought a car that gets 40 miles to the gallon, and I ride the bus during the summer months as often as possible.
  • We have purchased a weekly basket from a CSA (community supported agriculture) this summer. We receive locally grown organic produce from late April until November. On Wednesdays, I drive about a mile from my office to pick up the produce, which is so fresh. I’ve eaten more organic greens in the last six weeks than I have my entire life.

I know I’ve influenced others to slowly change their behaviors, and I have realized that I can change and do more to protect the environment. I’m not always perfect, as those plastic bags still amazingly accumulate, but I have made a difference.

Let us know how you’ve changed in the past year to help the environment. While I’ll continue to show the amount and variety of litter that I find, I’ll continue to pick up roadside trash until people learn not to litter.

Thanks for reading this year.

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Great American Clean Up

While I’ll be participating in some Great American Clean Up roadside projects later, I’ve started two personal projects around the house.

Composting is the first project I started last month. I rarely use my garbage disposal now, as vegetable and fruit scraps are added to the composter I bought at cost through Metro Public Works. The compost isn’t “cooking” yet, but I spotted my first earthworms in it when I added some food stuffs yesterday. Dryer lint and dog hair can be added to the compost mix, too. We have plenty of lint and dog hair. I occasionally add toilet paper rolls, too. By composting, I use less electricity; I have less garbage, as tea and coffee grounds can be composted; and I reduce recycling toilet paper rolls.

My second project concerns the natural area behind our fence. Years ago, when we built a privacy fence around the backyard for the dog, we left a small hilly area with some cedar trees open. Over the years, we’ve piled tree and shrub clippings, Christmas trees and Halloween pumpkins there for the wildlife. Tonight, I started a small rock wall to attract salamanders, frogs, toads, lizards and snakes. There was a large rabbit out tonight, who lives in the area. I also found rollypollies (does anyone know what these really are?) and earthworms around the rocks.

Unfortunately, litter from Newsom Station Road washes down the hill to my natural area. Here’s some of the litter I cleaned up:

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And here’s the beginnning of the rock wall:

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Composting My Garbage

While I have always recycled and been frugal with my resources, I have become more so as I get older. I tried composting for the first time last summer in an open pit area in the backyard, but the food stuffs didn’t “compost”. They just sat there. Recently I learned that the Public Works Department of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County sells composters at cost to individuals. To schools and other non-profit groups, the composters are free.

I purchased one on Tuesday, but haven’t put it together yet. I bought a 60-gallon composter, made of recycled plastic, and a thermometer for $50. That’s not a bad deal considering that most of the ones I saw for purchase on the internet were a few hundred dollars. If the rain, snow and/or ice abates this weekend, I plan to set it up in our backyard. I’m saving my foodstuffs and lint, plus a co-worker will bring me five gallons of horse manure to get me started. The latter caused my husband a little shock.

If you live in the Nashville, Tennessee area (you don’t have to live in Davidson County), here is the link to purchase a composter. I’m excited that I can put my dryer lint and dog hair in the composter. That reduces my trash output to the landfill. I can also add cardboard toilet paper rollers, which will reduce what I take to the recycling center.

Composting has been one thing I have undertaken during the Great American Clean Up.

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