Set Up a Home Compost and Recycle System
We’re six months into the home recycling system, with no garbage hauler coming to our house. Here’s what I’ve learned:
One of the problems with becoming more self-reliant is the amount of garbage we produce at our house. I’m on a mission to get rid of my garbage service by recycling and reducing waste. This will save me $312 per year. The goal is to recycle all of it, so that none needs to go to the landfill. Can I accomplish that?
Food Scraps: Yes! We have been extremely successful at kitchen scrap composting. In fact I have several systems set up to handle it. Now that warmer weather is here and we’re eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, it really is necessary to have these different systems in place.
I have set up some systems in the house to handle various items that we would normally send to the dump or have the hauler take to recycling.
Composting our kitchen scraps – my family is doing pretty good with this and I’m experimenting with different ways to turn it into compost for my yard. I’m planning on exploring worm and trench composting. For now it’s going in my DIY mini compost bin so I don’t have to go to the garden in the rain.
UPDATE: The mini compost bin handles some kitchen scraps and debris from the deck planters. I began a garbage can scrapper in the garden that is taking care of the kitchen scraps now. Worms and vermicomposting are still in the plans.
An in home recycle bin – I found that the key to this system is to make sure it is clearly marked so my family has no doubt about what goes into it. I took an old, under the sink garbage can and wrote the recycling rules on it.
There is a recycling depot in my town, so once the bin gets full I just need to go and dump it. The rules, for my center are pretty simple; all plastic, paper and metal goes together in the same same dumpster. No sorting necessary! Call your local garbage hauler and find out of there is a recycling depot near you and what the rules are. The depot is centrally located so I’m not spending any additional gas money going there.
UPDATE: We’re not throwing the material away, but it is proving harder to get to the recycle depot that I thought it would. Consequently, the recycling piles up in the laundry room.
PIX from June
The solution: Well, aside from getting another family member to do the deed for me, I guess I need a better reminder to take it weekly! I have definitely have recycling center blindness, so several reminders are planned…a weekly reminder in my online calendar and a BIG note on the back door.
A separate paper collection area – My home office has always had a paper recycling tub and shredder. I use a heavy duty paper box and keep it under the desk. I’m looking for ways to use the paper and keep it out of recycling. For now it’s going in my compost bin as “brown” materials, its being added to the woodstove as a fire starter and I’m saving some to make a big batch of homemade paper this summer.
UPDATE: This system is working great. I use the shredded paper in the kitchen scrap composter and find that I am always in need of shredded paper. Barely any of this is going to the recycling center (well, when I go anyway!)
A separate glass collection container – The only sorting I have to do at the depot is for glass. I like to use glass containers for craft items and for leftovers, so I reuse a lot of them in my house. The rest go to recycling. Yep: working good.
A small under the sink garbage can – This collects the plastic bags and paper that can’t be recycled. After one month on this system, I have the garbage narrowed down to one small grocery size bag a week. We are currently burning this and it is amazing how everything comes packaged in plastic these days! I am actively looking for ways to stop bringing this into our house.
UPDATE: Continuing to reduce the amount of plastic coming into our house. I purchased some small mesh bags with a drawstring top to take to the grocery with me. Now I don’t use plastic for produce. I also keep a supply of paper and cloth bags in my trunk. I expect reducing the amount of plastic coming into our house will be an ongoing battle.
Finally, pop and water bottles are worth money! Oregon has a .05 cent deposit on each pop and water bottle purchased. I have previously set these out to be collected by the garbage hauler – but no more! I used our old garbage can and made it the new “bottle collection area.” Now, once the can is full, I will take them to the store and reclaim the money. As a matter of fact, I should probably factor that into my yearly savings.
UPDATE: It was a good idea any way! I need to set up a the old garbage can again, it got used for composting yard debris and now the bottles are going into the recycling system, not back to the store. I know, I know…wasting money. Small steps I guess.
There a still a few items that I can’t recycle, compost or burn. My husband has permission to dump a small bag of garbage at his workplace each week. So far, it consists of items like butane lighters and ham bones.
UPDATE: I am pleased (and somewhat surprised) to say that we have not had to send many bags to the work garbage can. I would say only four bags in the last 6 months. I think that’s pretty good for a beginning recycling system.
Yes, I dumped my garbage service and saved $312 a year. It is certainly worth the effort and one we will continue to do. What about you, would you dump your garbage service to save $26 a month?
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