Recycling and Composting 101

I learned a whole lot yesterday about recycling and composting, and rather than expecting you to click on tons of links, I’ve been encouraged by Danne to write a real post. So here you go!

I read a bunch of accounts of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to apartment composting, and I decided I’m sort of going to wing it. I’m putting two lidded plastic containers (perhaps trashcans) on my back porch, and a small bin in the kitchen. I’ll put some holes in the bottom of the porch containers and rest them on slats in trays. Once the kitchen bin is full of scraps, I’ll dump it in the first porch bin. When that’s full, I’ll fill the second porch bin. I’ll turn the contents approximately once a week. Hopefully by the time the second bin is full, the first will be soil-ish. I’ll use some of the soil for my own plants and give the rest away to… someone.

A lot more can be composted than I originally realized. You can obviously add fruit and vegetable scraps, but you can also compost bread, pasta, beans, rice, paper towels, hair, nail clippings, q-tips (not the plastic ones), dryer lint, vacuum bag fillings… The list goes on. It is advised that you don’t add meat or dairy products unless you have a really successful compost pile going. These products attract pests and often cause unwanted odors. It is important to have “brown matter” in your compost as well as “green matter”. Green is the food garbage. Brown is sawdust, dead leaves, grass clippings, newspaper, cardboard. The ratio should be about 60/40 green to brown. Also, in order for the waste to break down efficiently, everything should be cut in little pieces. And so begins my adventure with composting! Wish me luck!

On to recycling! So many more items can be recycled than I ever knew. This month is about avoiding the consumption of items that prove wasteful, but also figuring out how to dispose of waste properly. I found solutions for some problem items: plastic bags, lids, and #5’s. Plastic grocery bags can be brought to a number of locations to be recycled, found here. You can bring other kinds of plastic bags too! These include:

  • Retail bags (hard plastic and string handles removed)
  • Paper towel and toilet paper plastic wrap
  • Plastic newspaper bags
  • Plastic dry cleaning bags
  • All clean, clear bags labeled with a #2 or #4
  • I read somewhere that you can include ziploc bags as long as you cut off the zipper part (that’s a different type of plastic).

Aveda is helping to build a new recycling program for rigid plastic lids and caps. So now you should save all of those water, gatorade, soda, peanut butter, mayonaise, ketchup, shampoo, lotion, and laundry detergent caps, and bring them to your neighborhood Aveda store. And! #5 plastics are rarely recycled by local recycling centers, but Preserve’s Gimme 5 program has placed bins for these hard-to-recycle but very common #5’s in various Whole Foods locations. You can even recycle old Brita filters, woop woop!

I read a fun list of things you can do with cardboard boxes instead of tossing them in the recycling bin. You can make a self-composting compost bin, build an armchair, build a house, make an egg incubator to hatch chicks, or plant column gardens (Make a column with cardboard, soil, and gravel, and plant leafy vegetable seeds in slits cut in the cardboard. Your veggies grow sideways out of the vertical surface instead of straight up from the ground. Awesome!).

Reading all of this information and watching the video on Green as a Thistle inspired me to put a full water bottle in our toilet tank to save on water each flush and sort all of our recycling according to the new things I found out. We now have separate spots for lids/caps and for #5 plastics. Oh, and I joined Freecycle!

Side note about deodorant: Tom’s of Maine’s deodorant package is composed entirely of #5 plastic so it’s recyclable (unlike most other deodorants whose dials are something that can’t be recycled). Deodorant is something I’m struggling with a bit because, let’s face it, I sweat a lot, so I prefer a strong antiperspirant. I have a big problem with putting those chemicals directly onto my skin every day though, so I switched to Tom’s. Tom’s just isn’t cutting it as far as odor resistance and sweat stopping go, though. The Green as a Thistle girl said coconut oil is a great deodorant, so I might give that a try. Why not, right?

Okay, that’s all of the information in my brain for now. Yay, no trash!

One last thought, please drink water and coffee out of reusable bottles and mugs. It’s really just silly not to.

3 thoughts on “Recycling and Composting 101

  1. Wow, amanda you rock. This is great, there’s a ton of useful stuff in here that I didn’t know before. ~~~~~ A+++++++ GREAT BLOGGER – Would Do BUSINESS AGAIN A++++ ~~~~~

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