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Reduce, Reuse and Recycle — The Road to a Waste-Free Home

By Larraine Roulston:

When we live in a world of instant gratification, it can be daunting to give up disposable “stuff.” Humans have a long history of discarding what they no longer need; however, it has been only during my lifetime that we have been carefully taught to become a disposable society. It has taken the form of manufactured cheap merchandise, over-packaged goods, disposable green hefty garbage bags and disregard for repair. Our mindset has been altered to accept that “it’s cheaper and easier to just throw it away.” Yes, it may be daunting, but certainly not impossible to change!

zero waste home

  • By recycling paper, metals, glass bottles and jars, plastics and e-waste, we now manufacture new products from existing resources. By composting yard trimmings and kitchen food scraps, we transform approximately 1/3 of what used to be classified as garbage now as nutrients for our soil. An excellent start.
  • To strive for zero waste within the home, it is necessary first to prioritize reducing, reusing and repurposing above recycling. To begin, give your home a “waste audit” by simply examining the contents inside your garbage cans. For each item discarded, think of an alternative. Do you see a toilet roll cylinder in your bathroom trash? Are disposable diapers creating odors? Did you find a paper coffee cup? The disposable cup, for example, has few options for reuse and repurpose: its inner liner makes it undesirable for both paper recycling and composting. In this instance, you can reduce; instead, lug a mug and don’t leave home without it!
  • Refrain from buying things you don’t really need.trash cans
  • Purchase quality clothes, appliances, tools, toys and furniture that will endure the test of time. If your tastes change or you no longer need these items, they will be in good condition to pass on to others.
  • Rent or share tools that you rarely use.
  • Do not select foods individually wrapped; rather, shop in bulk stores, if available, filling glass jars as opposed to plastic bags. You also may be able to find bulk purchases for items such as laundry detergent. Take your own reusable carrying bags.
  • Reuse Christmas wrapping or purchase fabrics to wrap gifts. Give gifts of entertainment. For seasonal holiday decorating, borrow from nature — branches, leaves, stones, etc. — and return them to the earth.
  • Donate worn or stained tablecloths and other linens to animal clinics for bedding. Soiled clothing can be cut up for quilts or used as rags for either yourself or for garage mechanics.
  • Stir children’s imaginations by encouraging them to repurpose odds and ends such as wine corks, interesting packaging, wire or copper cut-offs, old greeting cards, etc., into crafts.
  • Never let good food go to waste. Become creative with leftovers.
  • Reduce.  Reuse. Revamp. Resource. Recover. Reclaim. Repair. Rent. Repurpose. Rejuvenate. Restore. Recycle. Responsibility & Rethink. In the Zero Waste home, the future is R’s.

Related Links:


Larraine authors children’s adventure stories on composting at www.castlecompost.com 

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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