My Trash Can Is Less Full,
But My Family Is Growing!
It wasn’t a sudden change. Over the years, I just learned to do things differently, to wash out my cans and set them aside, save soda bottles, put scrap paper in a pile. At first it seemed like extra work in my busy life, but I understood why I was doing it. Now, I am proud of the fact that I take out my trash less often, even though we as a family are growing and buying more stuff.
I heard all the radio spots and TV ads talking about saving resources, and I read about how important environmental stewardship is as the earth carries more and more of our waste. Recycling makes sense, and in my profession we try to do things efficiently so it fit with my philosophy.
I can just picture all that it takes to unearth minerals, then process and form them into a can. Why repeat that when we can cut the process short by sending empty cans back?
When I Got My Blue Box
When I got my “blue box” from the city to hold my recycled trash, I honestly thought it was more interference in my life. Now they’re trying to tell me how to throw out my trash, I thought! I didn’t leap into action and begin a sorting process right away, but like a good role model I played my part.
I showed my family which items we needed to keep, and I put a poster on the refrigerator helping to explain the details. The ‘plastic codes’ were probably the toughest part, trying to figure out which was which. Sometimes we still throw plastic out because there’s no market for a certain type.
What I Realized About Our Success
I realized that, with my competitive nature, environmental stewardship can be a kind of game for both kids and adults. We take pride in how full our curbside box is on trash day, checking out the neighbors’ boxes. When we work as a team in the kitchen, we’ve added a new role to the dish washer and counter wiper: the recycling chief.
Anything that can go out in the recycling, does. It’s washed and crushed as appropriate to make more room. Meanwhile, the amount of trash we carry out is dwindling, and one of the kids got an ‘A’ for a science project on “the waste stream.”
Another part of our success is that we are thinking more consciously. We shop with an eye to the packaging, so that we can recycle it later. The less packaging there is the happier we are, in fact. In addition to thinking about where products come from and how much recycling saves, we also think about electricity and water use. Conserving resources saves on our bills, and also helped us learn how these resources come to us.
How Resources Are Obtained
How resources are obtained is part of the whole picture, and makes me more interested in saving energy and water. Electricity can be from the burning of lots of coal, for instance, or just a product of the river running through a generating station. Cleaning the water we use, after we use it and now sometimes even to recycle it, takes a lot of work!
We’re glad to do our share and keep our shower water from the treatment plant’s load. In our city, the water resources are a bit tight so we’re also helping to avoid more rules like lawn watering limits. It turns out that environmental stewardship is a win-win situation for our family.