I’m an avid recycler and a little opinionated about it. I try not to offer unsolicited advice, but it makes me cringe a little every time I see someone throw something recyclable away. When the mountain man and I visit people whose communities don’t offer recycling, and who don’t recycle, we try to pack our recyclables with us to take them home to recycle. I just can’t throw it away!
I’ve been inspired to go a little greener, and to take the leap into the dark recesses of the bathroom. (If you’re just starting out with recycling, there are some tips at the bottom of the post!)
If you don’t want to read about how I’m going green in the bathroom, why don’t you CLICK ON OVER HERE.
Just do it.
I already do some “gross” stuff, like not flushing the toilet every time I go (you know, if it’s yellow, let it mellow) and I try to use natural cleaners and cloth cleaning rags. (ew gross, then you have to wash them!)
I frequently think about the fact that I throw away toilet paper tubes, toothpaste boxes, and shampoo bottles. I am an aggressive recycler, but these things end up in the trash because I don’t have a recycling bin in the bathroom, and I’m too lazy/preoccupied to carry it out to my recycling center in my kitchen. So I’m going to put a little recycling bin in my bathroom. I don’t think I’m quite green enough to try family cloth, although it seems like a good idea…
That wasn’t so gross, right?
Well if you’re still here, and you don’t want to hear more, why don’t you CHECK THIS OUT.
I think I am going to stop shampooing my hair.
This is green, not recycling. I haven’t bought shampoo since 2009, and now I’m out and I don’t think I’m going to buy more. I had a lot of partial bottles (that’s right – I would buy more before I needed more!) that I just used up, and then started using Dr. Bronner’s. But now I am going to try baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
OK, that one has some potential ickiness – here’s another.
I’ve started washing my face with oil. I’ve always had fairly dry skin, and lately it’s been so dry that I can put lotion on over lotion and it doesn’t help. I’m using a combination of castor and olive oil, and maybe I’ll add some almond essential oil. I love the smell of almond. Hey, maybe I’ll put some almond essential oil in my hair when I get out of the shower! Here’s my oil wash:
And here we go – it’s the biggie.
I’m going to try the Diva Cup. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but haven’t been totally convinced. I watched this video and the thing about it being like you’re not having a period – yeah, I can get behind that.
OK, I’m going to show you one so that you know how not-that-creepy it is.
It’s a little flexible cup. That’s all.
Since I’m still breastfeeding on demand I haven’t started menstruating yet, but I kind of can’t wait to try this out. I bought one online and it will be here before I can use it. I’ve always been terrified of toxic shock syndrome so this will eliminate that fear. I know it’s a little icky (yes, you have to take it out and then empty it and then wash it and then put it back) but I’m going to give it a shot. And you can do it all at home – for the most part I probably won’t have to empty it more than twice a day- when I get up and when I go to bed. So I won’t likely have to deal with it in a bathroom stall or someplace where the sink isn’t near the toilet or I’m not actually alone. Those situations could make it difficult. But the cup holds more than the entire average period!
OK, it’s over. You can open your eyes.
If you’re looking to go a little greener, (and aren’t ready to start with the “gross” stuff) I would recommend starting in the kitchen.
Set up a recycling center that works around how you will dump your recycling. In my community everything is picked up together in one bin besides glass. We have to drive our glass to a local fire station to be recycled. So we have a 3-bin system in our kitchen.
- One big cardboard Costco box collects glass until we have enough to justify a trip in the car. It’s usually every few months that the mountain man loads it all in the back of the truck and hauls it over. When we drop off the glass it has to be sorted, and generally I’m a fan of sorting as you go, but the mountain man sorts it when he’s putting it in the truck so we just dump all the glass in one bin in the kitchen.
- The other two bins are for our normal recyclables. Our recycling is picked up every-other week, and our giant grey bin is usually overflowing. We empty those two little trash cans of recycling once or twice a week. We just have two so that we can empty less frequently.
Because of our aggressive recycling, and because we compost and try to limit what we buy to minimize trash, and because we eat leftovers for every lunch and don’t buy much packaged food, we only generate one paper grocery bag of trash a week. Yay!
If your community doesn’t pick up recycling it can be really hard to get motivated to do it. I remember as a kid, before recycling was cool or popular, schlepping huge plastic bags full of milk jugs and newspapers and glass and cardboard boxes to my mom’s old volvo station wagon. We’d hoist them into the “way back” and drive them about 12 miles to take it all onto the military base to be recycled. Crazy! I don’t know why my mom did that when it was so inconvenient and not even trendy, but it was great. We had to go on base anyway for grocery shopping or to see my dad at work, so it was just a small inconvenience added to an already-required trip.
If your community doesn’t pick up, there’s probably a fire station or community center around town that has big recycling bins. Find it, and drive by to find out how they require things to be sorted. Then come home and start a bin system accordingly. Sort as you go, and you won’t have to sort in the rain standing in front of those bins!
When you’re recycling, keep all non-recyclables out of the bins. When there’s anything non-recyclable in a collection of materials, the entire batch is often sent to the landfill because it’s too expensive to sort things out.
Rinse anything that has food residue on it.
Leave bottle and jar lids off. The lids are often not recyclable, and if you put the lids back on you may find mold growing in your containers, which is gross and may make the material unrecyclable.
Every couple of months (or when your recycling center is overflowing) drive it over to the collection site.
And you’ll make way, way less trash. In communities that offer sizing options for trash cans at reduced prices, you may find yourself in a surprisingly small bin. When I was in college I nannied for a family that had a “micro” bin, which was a small rectangular black box with a lid that held about the contents of a paper grocery bag. I thought they were nuts! And now that’s about what we generate every week.
Toss junk mail, magazines, catalogs, paper and plastic packaging in the recycle bin right away. I sort and open my mail on the counter right above my bins, so things get tossed right in as I go through the pile of mail. I open boxes and packages there, too.
Another fantastic way to go a little greener and save some money is to pay bills electronically. Many utilities and businesses offer e-pay on their websites, and I can also pay any bill through my bank’s website. I can even pay my rent (which goes to a private homeowner, not a rental company or management agency) through my bank – I set up the homeowner as a payee, add his bank’s name, and the funds are transferred into his account. It can take some time to set it up, but once you do it’s all easy, and all there.
I also have eliminated paper statements from all my bills – credit cards, bank statements, car loans, cable and internet, phone bills – everything. If you set up automatic payments you don’t even have to think about them.
I only run the dishwasher and washing machine when they’re full.
I turn off the water while I’m brushing my teeth or shaving my legs.
There are a thousand little ways to go a little greener – and that’s really the goal, is to do little by little. Taking it all on at once is overwhelming, and requires too much change. Make a little change at a time, and once you are able to do that thing a little greener without thinking about it, add another.
Then you can start trying to minimize packaging when you’re shopping, and to buy used instead of new. Then cut out unnatural chemicals by making cleaning supplies – you can use baking soda, vinegar, even vodka.
Enjoy knowing that you’re doing a little something to keep things out of landfills, reduce your footprint and reduce the unnecessary drain on resources to create new items out of new plastic, glass, and paper. You aren’t bringing chemicals into your home and into your body.