Waste-Less Wednesday

So many blogs have a “thing” for Wednesdays: Wordless Wednesday being the most popular I’ve seen. After reading a lot about garbage and waste and gleaning lately, I’ve decided to create “Waste-Less Wednesday” where I look at ways of reducing our household waste.

Today I’m thinking about paper waste. I feel like I’ve always got bits of paper going out the door–mostly to the recycling bin, but that doesn’t clear my conscience, because how much of that actually gets recycled? And when I think about the amount of energy required to recycle it, it doesn’t quite seem like the free ride we’ve been told it is.

Some of our sources of paper waste include:

– food packaging like cereal boxes

– art paper from our daughter’s projects

– old bills

– store receipts

– packaging from new things we buy (pretty rare in this house, except at birthday/xmas time)

– flyers and junk mail

Of all of those, the last one might be the easiest to take care of, with a simple note on our mail box. For reasons beyond even myself, I’ve never indicated my displeasure with flyers. They come in with their “amazing deals” and “this weekend only” sales and take up far too much of our time, money and landfill.

Actually, if truth be told, I secretly enjoy a couple of them, particularly the Canadian Tire flyer. There’s something so nostalgic about leafing through the new Canadian Tire catalogue while eating a bowl of cereal.

But no more! Today I will put a little note on my mailbox that reads “No Flyers Please–We’re Saving Trees”. And then, when I see my neighbours’ boxes stuffed with the CT savings of the week, I’ll look mine up online.

An abundance of plastic containers

astroSince we eat a lot of yogurt, and I have not been successful in getting myself to make my own, or to consistently buy the wonderful organic stuff in re-usable glass jars, we are usually overrun with 750 ml plastic yogurt containers.  Given that I am a saver of stuff, and given that they are not recyclable here in Ottawa (update: I just found out they ARE recyclable here–thanks MomRedefined! Maybe just not in my apartment building?  Or maybe I read an outdated flyer? Not sure, but this might solve my problem!), I tend to save these in a drawer in the kitchen for keeping leftovers in, etc.

However, I am quickly realizing that these yogurt containers are not the thrifty boon I often think they are, and the reason is clear: they are not.  That is, you can’t see inside them!  Even if I dig out a transparent lid, it is still pretty easy to ignore whatever is lurking inside.  Whenever I keep a bit of soup or pasta sauce or what-have-you inside, it inevitably gets unearthed months later with blue and black mould, smelling something awful.

I’ve slowly been realizing that these containers are a black hole in my trying-not-to-waste-food universe.  So is there any reason to keep them?  Sometimes I get my grind-your-own peanut butter in them rather than pay the 45¢ for a new container each time (and you don’t even have to tell them “I brought the container from home”!).  But what else can they be used for?  A few random thoughts:

– single-use craft applications, like mixing paint or paste in

– hiding goodies I don’t want my toddler to see, like cookies.  These won’t get wasted anyway 🙂

– picking berries, as long as berries aren’t stored in them

– avoid them in the first place (I know, I know!)

– save them to bring to Sudbury and recycle them there

Does anyone else have the same problem?  What do you do about your opaque plastic containers?