Locavores are Less Trashy

Trash and recycling pick-ups have been delayed for over a week throughout Oregon and SW Washington. That would have been a bigger problem before I started the locavore lifestyle. After two weeks, we have the trashcan just full – and that includes the leavings of a Christmas dinner and celebration for my extended family.

The only container overflowing is the can and bottle recycling, because Rich waits till it’s full to put it out and it was mostly full a week ago. He drinks canned soft drinks, while I do not. I stick with filtered water from the refrigerator, coffee, wine, and the occasional beer.

How did we make it through gift-giving without tons of trash? My sister, Verla, has always saved and reused Christmas wrap. In fact, hilarity ensued when she had wrapped a present to one person and tagged it, but the paper still had somebody else’s name in felt pen on the paper. Any large wrappings were carefully folded to go home with her to see another year’s gift-giving. My brother Randy gave mason jars of chocolate chip cookie mix, a lovely homemade idea. I gave cash in envelopes plus had a basket of Mary Kay cosmetics for everyone to choose from. Similarly, Mom had a bag of homemade potholders and pot scrubbers for everyone to choose from. Others like using reusable gift bags instead of wrap. We had very little packaging to recycle. Another fun idea is to wrap your gifts in a reusable scarf – furoshiki. I really should look for close-outs on Christmas-design scarves and do that in future years.

Back in Tualatin, we would fill a larger trashcan to overflowing each week, mostly due to styrofoam takeout meal containers from the Aloha Grill or Panda Express. I’ve reduced our waste stream considerably but cutting far back on takeout. In fact, one thing that keeps me from buying takeout is thinking about the darn containers. I wonder if it’s possible to bring my own reusable containers for takeout? Or order it eat-in and transfer it to my own containers so I don’t ask them to violate any health codes.

Back in Tualatin, the recycling and trash container were inconveniently stored next to the garage door, and the garage was down a hallway from the kitchen. Here, we have the trash and recycling conveniently located right next to the door from the garage to the kitchen. Now I never hesitate to collapse and recycle any cardboard packaging or junk mail. Convenience definitely helps me keep recyclables out of the trash.

I heard on NPR’s Planet Money podcast that the recession may wreak havoc with paper and cardboard recycling. China is the biggest buyer of our paper recycling, because they don’t have their own sources of fiber. They turn it into packaging to send stuff back to us. Since we American consumers aren’t buying much stuff any more, they don’t need our recycling to make packaging.

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