Five person family — one bag of garbage

SetoutI was out walking with my kids the evening before our waste collection day and my 6 year old commented that a neighbour down the street had A LOT of garbage.

It’s funny what kids notice!

I decided against speculating what was in their garbage and instead talked with my kids about what goes in the Blue Box and GreenCart, and the importance of respecting the environment.

I notice that homes with multiple bags of garbage at the curb usually do not have a GreenCart.

I have a big family by today’s standards — two adults, three small kids (1, 4 and 6) and a cat.  Each week we produce two Blue Boxes, one GreenCart, and one partial bag of garbage (so one garbage can, every other week). We are not an anomaly by any stretch, as most of my neighbours seem to follow a similar pattern (some with more recycling perhaps — we just don’t consume that much disposable packaging). There’s one thing us “one-baggers” have in common: we always place out a Blue Box and GreenCart.

That’s the secret — we always recycle and compost!

Being that I work in the waste management industry, it is expected that I embrace waste reduction — but it really isn’t hard. I have been recycling since I was a kid (teaching my parents when the Blue Box was first introduced over 25 years ago). I make choices when I shop, choosing items with less packaging and packaging that’s recyclable. I also explain to my kids why I am choosing one product over another.

Now it is just habit — a good one!

My kids are starting to get it — they know their yogurt container gets a quick rinse before they put it in the Blue Box and any food they don’t finish goes in the GreenCart to be turned into dirt (compost). I think it helps that they have the same programs in their school.

We’ve also organized our home to make sorting waste easier — see if something inspires you to make a change in your home:

Kitchen  – A sorting system for recycling, organics and garbage is a must.  For many kitchens the easiest place would be under the sink, but there are other solutions (simple, inexpensive waste bins, a sliding waste drawer, a multi-compartment waste can, etc.).  Find something that works for your space. The main gathering place for waste is in my kitchen. I recognized long ago that I needed a collection container for recycling under my sink. I settled on simple white waste bins under one half of my sink and I placed my Kitchen Catcher in front.  Since most of our kitchen waste is organics and recycling we only needed a small garbage container. When the bins are full, we empty them into the Blue Box or GreenCart which we keep in the garage.

Bathroom – Having a way of collecting organics (usually facial tissues) along with garbage in the bathroom is helpful. In the bathroom, I put a paper bag in the waste basket to collect facial tissues (that I often just dump into the GreenCart and reuse) and any garbage item just fits in the waste basket beside the paper bag (really not hard or time consuming). I don’t have a lot of recycling in my bathroom and just bring empty shampoo bottles and toothpaste boxes to the kitchen. 

Laundry Room – We have a small container to collect lint and tissues which we empty into the GreenCart each week.

Bedrooms – I do not have waste bins in the bedroom, although as my kids grow I may have to re-evaluate and place a recycling bin in their rooms for paper.

If every household can recycle and compost in each room of their home, they’ll have a lot less garbage. What are some tips that your family uses to reduce waste?

About Nicole Levie

As a Waste Management Program Coordinator, I have the opportunity to work on various projects such as the Waste Management Guide & Collection Calendar, coordinating Special Waste Drop-off Days and enhancing recycling in apartment buildings. I enjoy the opportunity to work with people who want to do the right thing by reducing their waste and those who just need a nudge in the right direction.
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