25 September 2008

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot (compost)!

Did you know that vermicomposting (using worms to compost your kitchen scraps) can cut down your household waste by approximately 40%? And that red wriggler worms (the special ones you buy for v-composting) will eat 1/2 of their weight in organic waste in 24-48 hours? At the end of the process, you end up with beautiful, nutrient-rich castings (poop) you can use in your garden! And the best part? You can compost year-round!

Local (Ontario) source for vermicomposting equipment and worms:

1. Buy 100% recycled paper products, whether for toilet paper, paper towels, or printer paper. The quality difference is negligible but the amount of trees saved when buying 100% recycled vs 30% is HUGE!

2. Switch from disposable products to cloth: paper towels to cloth napkins is easy, affordable, and earth-friendly. Carry some with you so when you dine out you'll have soft, clean cloth napkins! How many paper napkins or paper towels would you save a day?

3. Do you cloth diaper and cloth wipe your infant? Consider switching to "family cloth", use cloth wipes for your own toileting needs...or at least for #1, if you're squeamish. Trust me, once you try it you won't go back to paper! (I know someone who makes cloth wipes, if you ask her nicely)

4. Recycle all paper, cardboard, metal, glass, and plastic (according to your recycling depot capabilities). How many bags of waste are you putting to the curb each week? Try to cut that in half by recycling everything you can. Did you know you can recycle used tin foil? You can also re-use it!

5. Reduce the amount of waste you have: when you buy something, consider the packaging. Try to buy products that have little or no packaging that will end up in the landfill. Don't buy items that have packaging that you can't recycle.

6. Reduce your heating/cooling use: in the winter, keep your house a little cooler and put on a sweater instead. Wrap your hot water tank in a blanket to conserve heat. Seal your windows and around pipes, electrical outlets, and around doors to protect against drafts and heat loss. Shut that door! Come in and out of the house quickly. Shut the door to any rooms you don't use and close the heating vent: don't heat a room you don't use.

7. Use cloth grocery/shopping bags! Some stores offer incentives for shoppers who use cloth bags. The bags are inexpensive and reusable, buy a few or 5 and keep them in your car or by the door so you remember them. Plastic bags take a million years (or so) to break down. Please don't use plastic bags! If you get plastic bags, use them a few times before getting rid of them, or re-purpose them. Many stores collect plastic bags for recycling, there is no reason you should throw them out.

8. Fix your broken items instead of buying new ones! Get rid of wasteful consumerist attitudes and fix that broken tv/computer/worn out shoe! There are people out there who have NOTHING! Don't chuck out your cell phone simply because there's a newer one on the market that you like more!

9. Donate any unwanted items: post them on Freecycle or Kijiji, give them away, have a yard sale, put them to the curb with a "Free" sign stuck to them, take them to Valu Village, a shelter, Salvation Army, or consignment shop. Someone will take your "junk" and make it his treasure!

10. Turn off the lights! Use CFL bulbs, and turn the lights off when you're not in the room.

11. Unplug any electronic item when it's not in use. Don't just turn it off, unplug it!

12. Use cloth diapers! 5 MILLION disposable diapers go into landfills EVERY DAY in Canada. That's 5 million human waste-filled bundles that seep into our ground water and soil. Antibiotics, viruses, and diseases, wrapped into plastic and chemicals and tossed into the garbage. Cloth diapers are less expensive, easy to use, and safer for your baby. Be nice to the environment, your baby, and your wallet, all at the same time.

We each can make a difference. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. Remember, every little bit helps.

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