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Tree-Hugger Tuesday – Loads of crap!

March 7, 2012

Waste worker strikes are great ways to make our waste visible... image from

Yeah, I know it’s not Tuesday. I know Tuesday was yesterday. I have my reasons. Apologies to Tuesday.


Been awhile for the Tree-Huggers! Sorry about that – a bit distracted! Well, to get back into it, I thought I’d start out by talking trash.

More specifically, my trash.

See, in a previous Tree-Hugger post, I happened to mention that I take out about 3-4 (typically 3) normal-sized bags of trash a year. I mean this for serious, and I mean “normal sized“: my town “taxes” trash by requiring you to buy specific trash bags. So it’s 3-4 of those, not some gonzo-sized bag, and they’re not bursting (who wants to guess if my state can afford fancy-pants trash bags that can handle being overstuffed?).

As a result of this statement, Miss Thoughts called me a saint. Who, me?

While Thoughtsy is pretty awesome and we all want to take her words as gospel, I’m not actually a saint. In fact, I don’t think reducing my loads of crap to a couple bags even a miracle. It’s not even that difficult.

So. How do I do it? Simple:

  1. Reduce & Reuse: I’ve already discussed the importance of this in a previous Tree-Hugger, but I’d like to re-iterate the importance of reusing. A friend of mine dated a dude who was insanely wealthy, but he hated washing dishes (and dishwashers apparently?). He had not dishes, simply cabinets and drawers full of plastic cutlery and paper plates. Such a despicable lifestyle would be a deal breaker for me. I tend avoid such disposable items kinda like they’re a plague. Instead, I use cloth napkins,  washable scrubby dishcloths for washing dishes, and cloth for cleaning and floors. I bring my own bags AND plastic bags (for the bins/produce if I actually purchase some) to the store, I rinse out ziploc bags, and I am never without a reusable water bottle and/or coffee mug. I’m bringing back the handkerchief. Do I feel a lil silly sometimes? Sure. Do I care? No. Simply replacing disposables with things that can be reused instead of thrown away can be HUGE to diminishing your loads of crap. PLUS! It can save you money!

    A lil sidenote on re-using food (hear me out, mmkay): throw vegetable and meat “trash” (cores, trimmings, stalks, bones) in the freezer. When you’ve reached a, er, critical mass, use it to make stock! Simply toss into a large pot, add water, salt, pepper and any other species – and simmer!

  2. Recycle: I’ve argued before, recycling should be your last-ditch effort after reducing and reusing. However, making sure to recycle definitely cuts down the waste you put curbside. If you’re not sure what you can recycle, ask your town or at your work what they will take and when. Funny…most of my recycling is glass bottles of the wine variety…

  3. Cut down on packaging: Next time you go to a grocery store, take a minute to check out how things are packaged. Note how we really really like to put things in a bag, or many bags, and then in box. Or maybe a box first, then wrap it in plastic, then put it in a bag, in another box. Or whatever. Doesn’t really matter the order, or the amount, or the reasoning behind it – buy that item, and all that crap ends up in your trash. To avoid (and to actually eat healthier!) I recommend the following: a) shop around the perimeter of a store as much as possible, and b) shop the bulk bins (using, of course, the plastic bags you’ve brought with you). Doing this will not only automatically cut down on excess packaging in one fell swoop, it will also eliminate a lot of processed crap from your cart at check-out!

  4. Compost: I need an entire post just on this and how to do it (maybe next month!) but composting is another biggie in cutting down waste – because it turns your waste into something positive. I create a whole crap-load of compost, but it’s no longer waste – it’s food for my flowers in the summer. Moroever, it actually re-generates food for me: last year, my compost grew me several tomato bushes, peppers, butternut squash, a pumpkin, and a gigantic sunflower. I did not water it, tend it – I only fed it my compost!

  5. Eat locally: This may seem to be less intuitive, but eating locally (e.g farmer’s markets, farm stands) cuts down your waste drastically. Why? It’s rarely anything beyond minimally packaged, and you can, more often than not, bring your own re-used plastic bags to farmer’s markets. Thus, you end up with awesome, whole foods without any new packaging – the waste of which goes into the compost! Some ideas on how to do this can be found in this post, even though it’s about the holidays.

That’s it. That is all I do to achieve Crap Saint status. Not all that difficult, and can actually improve your diet and save you money. Being green is, once again, good for you too!

22 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2012 9:09 am

    Best thing I ever decided to do was throw out all the “I want you back” notes I’ve received from my ex-girlfriends. Even if it only cleared 2 pieces of paper out of my apartment.

  2. March 7, 2012 9:10 am

    Also…that was me. Not “anonymous”

    • March 7, 2012 9:22 am

      Ha ha! Anonymous indeed. Guess you don’t care if those exes find out you threw away their notes… 😀

  3. March 7, 2012 10:34 am

    A great post, and I am going to join the ranks of those who think you’re saintly for how little trash you produce. I thought we were doing well, but we still make much more trash than you do.

    Let me ask you about your stock. I found this tidbit a while back and have been trying to follow it, and what I’ve learned is that it has ruined the flavor of my stock. Using only trimmings for the vegetable portion gives the stock a strong onion-skin flavor. I’m thinking I’m going to take all my ziplock baggies full of trimmings out of my freezers and compost them. What is your secret to turning trim into something good?

    • March 7, 2012 10:48 am

      I haven’t attempted a vegetable stock recently, so usually they have meat bones and scraps involved. That may make the difference, but clearly not sure. I also usually add *some* fresh veggies from the market – like halved or quartered onions stuck with whole cloves, garlic, or fennel – as well as dried or fresh herbs. Also, think about things you might not always put in. I’ve added dried chillis and ginger trimmings before, too…

      I have no idea if that’ll solve the issue… I will try some veggie stock the next time ’round…

      • March 7, 2012 12:22 pm

        I haven’t tried to make an all-vegetable stock from my trimmings, but added it to my meat bones. Usually I’ve got chicken and beef stocks on hand, lamb sometimes, and I’m going to make some pork stock now that I have bones. Typically I would just add some onion, carrot, celery (root), parsley, and very little else to season. So what I was saving were scrapings from the vegetables I would put in stock (carrot, parsnip, celeriac), stems of herbs, the papery parts of any kind of onion or garlic, washed leek greens… that kind of thing. I thought I was playing it safe, but I still got an off flavor. I think I’m going to just go back to using the whole vegetables (onions with the skins, etc) in my stock pot, and not saving trimmings.

      • March 7, 2012 6:05 pm

        Here’s a good basic stock recipe that I have used from time to time.

      • March 7, 2012 10:36 pm

        Hmmm… yeah. I don’t make enough stock (it’s just me eating!) to have any further advice… I do also put in onion skins and other trimmings… :-/

  4. March 7, 2012 5:57 pm

    I, once again, am in lock step with you on this issue. Although I’m coming from a purely economic standpoint.

    I do try to re-use, re-purpose, and recycle. Every time something goes in the trash it could be dollars flying out the window.

    I make stock, making the maximum of kitchen bits. Cardboard, paper and plastics are

    • March 7, 2012 6:03 pm

      Sorry was trying to type on my phone GRRRR.

      As I was saying I try to re-purpose as much as I can. I have a stock of re-usable cloth bags I go shopping with. In fact most stores charge as much as 10 cents per plastic bag here now. So it’s a penny saved and a penny earned.

      Long gone are the days of toss it out and consider it gone.

    • March 7, 2012 10:37 pm

      Agreed, Bob. And you make the great point that all this is good for the wallet too. Thanks for being awesome, as always! 😀

  5. March 7, 2012 11:45 pm

    If someone ever calls you “trashy,” you could totally prove them wrong.

    • March 8, 2012 9:45 am

      Now there’s a benefit I hadn’t thought of before! 😀

  6. March 8, 2012 7:53 am

    I still say you’re a “Saint.”

    I’ve been using a reusable water bottle for a couple years now, but I’m now the proud owner of a reusable grocery bag. I stole it from Kiefer.

    • March 8, 2012 10:01 am

      Yes!! I say Kiefer gave it to you, he just doesn’t know it yet.

  7. April 3, 2012 10:22 am

    Wow. I’m blown away by how little you throw out. Well done!

    My household is very strict about recycling, composting and using as little as possible, but there’s always room for improvement.

    • April 3, 2012 2:13 pm

      There is always room for improvement – I haven’t bought my Diva Cup yet! 😀

      We should, of course, take time to celebrate the things we do – and allow for our guilty pleasures when we need them (I have a lead foot! I know I should drive slower to conserve gas, I just can’t seem to!)

  8. July 22, 2012 5:09 pm

    I love it! We’re doing all these things as well. And it’s so darn easy, that’s what gets me! Thanks for being a saint and giving a crap! Much blog love to you!


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