At the start of David Suzuki’s Queen of Green Coaching Module 1, I outlined the goals I set for our family. Being a Green Coach has been the kick in the butt I needed to tweak a few things in our household to keep our waste production to the bare minimum.
Here’s a follow up on the goals I set over two weeks ago:
Immediate goal: Cut down on toilet paper for nose blowing and… toilet activities.
After almost two weeks of using washable cloths (just pieces of flannel cut into squares) instead of toilet paper to blow my nose and go the the bathroom, my first trip into a public washroom had me realizing how much I don’t miss toilet paper! Of course, we leave the roll there for messier jobs and guests, but I’ve only had to change the roll once.
I have a small wetbag in the bathroom for soiled cloths, and I wash them with diapers or towels. (Putting them in a lingerie bag makes it easier.) When I audited our garbage can, it was chock full of toilet paper from nose blowing. Now there is zero tissue in the garbage and very little even being flushed.
Short-term goal: Put out trash only twice per month.
No tissue in the garbage cut down a lot on volume in our trash bin. My husband’s work roadtrip, from which he returned with a whole lot of fast-food containers, put a bit of a damper on my operation, but since we put no food waste, diapers or feminine hygiene products in the garbage, there’s no rush to take out stinky trash when garbage day rolls around. I think we’ll be able to continue putting trash out only twice a month. I put a bit of newspaper in the bottom of our two trash bins, but I don’t line them with a plastic bag.
Most effective steps taken: reusable hankies, composting every last drop of biodegradable matter (including dryer lint), buying fewer packaged foods.
Long-term goal: Reduce packaging and paper consumption enough to mean we only need to put our recycling bin out twice per month.
I set this as a long-term goal because I am still working out different solutions for reducing the amount of items we put in our recycling bin. Last week was the first time we were able to intentionally skip a week of recycling pick up, but we’re almost overflowing as the next pick up day approaches.
Most effective steps taken:
I’ve been meaning to do this for ages. I not-so-secretly love getting my PubliSac (a plastic bag full of the week’s flyers) on Tuesdays, but, let’s face it: I spend 10 minutes leafing through the flyers before they hit the recycling bin. I printed off the “no junk mail” logo and taped it to my mailbox. This has been the single, most effective step in reducing the mass in our recycling bin.
My local market sells milk and yogurt in jars that are returnable for refund (and then refilled). This is the absolute best system for avoiding plastic and avoiding an overflowing recycling bin. If it were just me, I might be able to afford this option. Unfortunately, our family of three simply drinks too much milk and eats too much yogurt to be paying double the price for these products in glass containers. I’m working on finding organic milk in the least wasteful milk packaging (bags) and I am also getting back on the yogurt-making train as part of Module 2, which focuses on food!
I’m putting aside a lot of my recyclables in the hopes of at least extending their useful life. I discovered that at Marché Jean-Talon (unfortunately, not in our immediate neighbourhood), there are vendors that sell eggs in bulk. We can probably only visit the market once a month, but when we do, I plan to bring the vendor our empty cartons so he can reuse them for his customers. (Otherwise he cuts up pieces of large egg crates and then wraps the eggs in twine and newspaper.) I am also saving all my shipping boxes (I order online a lot) to give to my father-in-law, who runs a mail-order business. As for yogurt containers and ice cream containers, I’m hoarding them for now, but know that they are handy as containers for dry goods or possibly for Cub art projects!
Instead of sending it immediately to recycling, I’m keeping a drawer of all paper products to use for many things: writing grocery lists (yup, I’m old-fashioned like that), scrap paper, for Cub to draw on and rip up to his heart’s content, etc. Although this paper will eventually hit the recycling bin, at least I’m avoiding buying note pads and drawing pads by reusing this paper. (I also print on the back of one-sided sheets.)
As you’ll see when I start sharing my goals for Module 2 on food, I’m trying to avoid canned goods as much as possible. This means I end up with lots of glass jars. We have been getting a bit short on glassware (someone in our family is a clumsy dish-doer) so I’ve put a few mason jars in with our glasses, and also use them with my Cuppow for smoothies. Since I’m buying more in bulk, I’m also using the empty jars to store dry goods.
Bulk-food-buying is much easier in BC, where I used to live, because the big chain stores have extensive self-service bulk bins. In Montreal, you have to go to specific bulk stores to find this. Since Cub’s indoor playground is next to the market housing one such bulk store, I’m making a point of getting as many dry goods as possible at Aliments Merci. Unfortunately you cannot bring back their plastic containers for refill, but there’s less packaging involved than most similar items bought in a grocery store. I have learned that at Aliments Merci, I can bring my own container to refill with peanut butter and my own bags for coffee beans: I’ll be doing both in the future!
Did you follow along with Module 1? How did it go?
Gotta pay the bills...