Landfills. They are one of the biggest environmental problems in our world. Yet no one seems to talk about them. We hear reduce, reuse, recycle. But what we mean is, don’t buy items that you will just throw in the landfill. If you buy something, try to reuse or repurpose it so it doesn’t take up more landfill space. And if possible, recycle it so it doesn’t use up more landfill space. The problem with the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” is that it is so concise that people have forgotten (or don’t know) what happens if we don’t reduce, reuse, recycle.
As our population continues to blossom out of control, we have less and less park space, open space, etc. We also need more room for larger landfills. Landfills emit methane. So you don’t want to live near or, heaven forbid, on one (they do bury them). So I will be writing a series of posts about how to avoid adding to this very serious problem. There are so many simple ways to do this. I will divide them up by category. Today’s topic…
Serving platters, silverware, dishes and so forth
When you need new stuff for your kitchen, consider getting it from your local second hand store. A dinner party is much more fun if every guest has a different china plate and fork and so forth. This will not only be potentially more cost effective, but also will reduce your stress level. No need to worry if someone will break a dish, they don’t match anyway! Having funky serving platters is more fun than having matching ones.
And when you feel your kitchen items are worn out, give them to the thrift store or to anyone going to college. College students are always in need of household goods.
Plastic does not last. Only some containers are safe from emitting toxins. Keeping track of exactly what is safe can be exhausting. Overall, I’d say, the less plastic, the better. There are glass food containers that can be used to store food instead. While it is possible for them to break, they are pretty solid and are actually difficult to break.
Some plastic is recycleable, but not all and not by all facilities. Again, it’s exhausting. Overall, to reduce waste, buy better made products made from glass, cast iron, metal, pyrex, etc.
If you want info on plastic safety, here’s a quick article: http://www.popsci.com/earthtalk/article/2008-08/how-safe-tupperware
Mason jars are a huge fad right now. People go out and spend lots of money on them. But we are given free jars every day. When you buy salsa, pasta sauce, jam – they come in glass jars. If you are looking for glass jars to use as gifts, now you have some, for free! If you need storage for various goods, like crayons, rubber stamps, small toys….use a pasta jar. If you are running out of food storage containers, use an empty pasta jar. Yes, it is a bit odd to store leftover chicken in a pasta jar, but you get used to it and it’s free! No need to buy more storage containers if the grocery store is giving them to you for free.
This has been growing in popularity for quite some time. In fact, it’s been covered so many times I’m just going to post a few links to help you out, if you haven’t already started down this path.
For all your most basic (and some more advanced) info, visit: http://www.howtocompost.org/
In Los Angeles, the city will give you a free composting bin. So check out your local area to see if you can get one for free too.
There are mini compost bins that you can put under your sink and empty every day. They stop the odor from leaving the bin. They are cheap. You don’t even have to have a full compost bin. Just use this and dump it into your “green” trash can. Seriously, if everyone did this, it would have a huge impact on landfill space. (Food waste takes up about 14% of all landfill space.) http://homeguides.sfgate.com/much-waste-can-save-composting-78547.html
Of course, recycling is key in reducing landfill space. Every town has their own rules on what can and cannot be recycled. Contact your local facility for details. But in general: http://www.wm.com/thinkgreen/what-can-i-recycle.jsp
Here’s where I think we get forgetful. Are you placing aluminum foil or plastic wrap over a bowl instead of using a proper storage container and lid? Are you using disposable plates, silverware, napkins instead of reusable ones? How do you pack your lunch? Using plastic baggies that are thrown away after a use or two is a huge waste.
Recipes often call for using parchment paper to keep surfaces clean. There is no need for such waste. Make sure the surface is clean before using and then clean it after use! People 100 years from now will thank you!
There are so many options available. Any time that you find yourself holding something in your kitchen that must be tossed out after one use, try to find another way of conducting that activity.