Week 3 trash pick up

I got home last night to see that my hubby dutifully put out the recycling and the trash (Thursday is our second trash pick-up for the week).

I was a little confused though. I couldn’t think of what trash there could possibly be. We just put out the trash on Monday, and all we had racked up so far this week were a few k-cups (not completely eliminated yet), and other odds and ends (banana peel, yogurt cups, blister packs for sinus meds). The bag barely had anything in it.

After thanking Steve for wrangling the recyclables and putting everything out on the curb on a snowy night, I had to ask, “what’s in the trash?”

Styrofoam packaging. We purchased a humidifier a couple of months ago, and we had kept the box in case we needed to return it. Since it was recycle day the box needed to go out. He was left with the styrofoam block packaging.

So we’ll add a little less than a pound of trash to my rubbish diet total for week 3.

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Why I’m afraid to compost

I don’t know why I’m afraid of composting.  It’s not necessarily the act of composting itself, I think it is more of the thought of composting and what that entails.

Separating my food waste from my other trash is a no brainer.  I know there are so many benefits to composting, so I don’t need to be sold on the idea.  I have space.  A whole backyard, in fact.  So that’s not an issue.  I really have no excuse NOT to.  It is more that the thought of compost leads me to the thought of gardening and growing things, which is really the underlying cause of my fear.

I guess you could say I have a bit of a ‘brown thumb’. I have about a 50-50 houseplant success rate – half of the plants, including cacti, that I have brought into my house have lived (only one at the demise of the cats, I have myself to thank for killing off the rest.)  I tried growing some herbs and tomatoes one summer in pots outside.  That didn’t work.

But hey, why should I let that stop me?  As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  I just need to get over my silly fear of gardening failure and get to learning about backyard composting. With anything else, practice makes perfect, right?  I better get to it.

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Can I reduce food waste?

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The clear answer is yes, I can reduce food waste. What is not so clear is how.

Meal planning and buying only what we need will help. I’ve been doing better at that. We have recently bought in on a ‘winter share’ from a local farm. We get a bounty of seasonal, locally grown produce once a month. While I’m still not too sure what to do with all the daikon radishes we keep getting, I’ve been using up just about everything else. Experimenting with new dishes and failing has led to a little bit more food waste, but it is prepping me for when the every other week summer share starts in May (I’m anticipating canning/jarring to be in my future…)

I also have an irregular schedule, so being able to plan to cook on weekends, create individual portions, and make good use of the freezer helps. I have yet to master this and end up creating some food waste as a result.

That’s all about reduction, the first step. Maximizing leftovers I count in the reduction category even though you could argue that is reuse. Reuse could also include making stocks from veg trimmings and meat bones.

Then what to do with the rest? We have a garbage disposal, which eliminates use of the bin for some stuff. And the next alternative would be compost. For some reason this relatively easy thing seems daunting to me. I’ll definitely need to get over my compost issues if I want to continue to slim my bin.

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The Rubbish Diet Weigh In – Week 3

Here we are, week 3 of The Rubbish Diet. Today I put out one bag of trash weighing about 8 lbs. Are my bins any slimmer than when I started? Kind of.

By weight I’m not putting out any less, although I’ve targeted specific contents to keep out of the trash. Last week I stopped using paper towels, and reduced my k-cup usage. I’ve tried to bring in less packaging via purchases, and discovered I can recycle nearly all of my plastic bags in my area.

It still isn’t enough. The focus of Week 3 of The Rubbish Diet is food waste. I definitely need help here. I’ll be looking at ways to reduce food waste and start learning more about how I can compost the rest. Wish me luck – I’m going to need it!

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Ongoing coffee trials

Oh goodness. Epic fail as I tried out the Keurig make-your-own filter instead of the k-cups.  I may have the wrong grind or was doing something wrong, but there was water spewing everywhere.  A quick internet search indicates this is a common problem and that a little plastic washer can fix the problem.  There’s also another type of 1-cup filter that uses little paper filters, which looks like easier clean-up and could potentially be composted.  Might be a better option.

Ah the balance between convenience and less waste.  Until we get that figured out I think I’ll use a coffee press. 

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Typical NYC trash

This is what urban residential trash and recycling looks like in NYC.  It’s piled high on the sidewalk in front of the building (this happens to be a large high-rise apartment building in mid-town Manhattan).

Typically residents are responsible for taking their trash and recyclables to a central trash room on each floor.  Building personnel collects the stuff from the trash rooms, bags it and takes it to a central storage area in the building (or sometimes there are trash chutes).  On garbage day they take it all outside and put it on the curb.

In NYC, residential trash and recyclables are picked up by Department of Sanitation (DSNY) trucks on a route. Trash is picked up by one truck and a split truck picks up recyclables (paper/cardboard on one side and glass/metal/plastic on the other side).  Citations can be issued if materials aren’t properly sorted.

Part of the reason there is no charge for trash pick-up is due to multi-unit residences.  No one has figured out yet how to install a pay as you throw program (or there’s been so much push back over the years that no one has bothered to go there – “fughettaboutit” as they say.)  There’s also the issue of pests. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of cockroaches and rats (most of which are probably true.)  More frequent pick-ups make for fewer unwanted visitors.  I used to live in NYC apartments and you find out pretty quick that it is best not to let trash sit around longer than it needs to.

I now live in an area of NYC that is mostly single family homes.  So we take out our own trash and get twice a week service, and it’s still free.  The only incentive I have for doing the right thing is, well, my conscience.

This week I already put out two bags of trash.  I’m happy to report that today is the second pick-up day of the week and we are NOT putting anything out (yay us!)

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Paper towels be gone!

I stowed the paper towel dispenser in the basement (despite much grumbling from the hubby). We will now use dishrags in place of paper towels.  I also replaced the paper napkins with cloth napkins.

It should be noted that I did not purchase these reusable items.  I simply took them out of the cupboard and moved their disposable counterparts out of reach.

When I was keeping my trash diary last year, I didn’t realize just how many paper towels, paper napkins and tissues I used on a daily basis. So when I started The Rubbish Diet last week it came as no surprise to find them still filling up my bin.  While it won’t take much weight out of my trash bins, these items are definitely disposable products I can easily do away with.

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