Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Burn

 We decided to give a trial run to not having a garbage pick up at our house anymore.  Being in rural America, choices are very limited on who will come out here in the boondocks at pick it up and the company that offered doesn’t keep their end of the bargain (we pay them for weekly and are lucky to get every other week).    So I sat the kids down and had a lesson in all things politically correct regarding the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) and then added rural America’s 4th concept: burning trash.  We had already been giving table scraps to the chickens, dog, and cats and the boys knew, from school, the basics of recycling other stuff.  So we set up an area on the back porch and an area in the laundry room for reducing our trash.  We will be recycling paper, glass, aluminum, steel (tin), cardboard, and food scraps.   We will be burning dirty cardboard and paper (pizza boxes, kleenex, paper plates, food wrappers, “bathroom” stuff, bottle lids, etc).  Things that might be used again will be put in our reuse drawer (glass jars, plastic containers, pringles cans, etc) Things that cannot be put in any of these categories we will bag up and will pay our local landfill to drop if off there. 

 While figuring out how we were going to manage all this,   I fell upon www.eartheasy.com and they have some truly easy concepts on composting and recycling and all other things worthy of tree huggers!!! lol  I printed out their instructions for a compost bin, a basic 2x 4 frame that is staked direct to the ground and has no floor.  They also have a list of compostable things and what category they are in (carbon or nitrogen etc) with suggestions (actually easy sounding to me) to actually get the thing working.  Things like: keep a plastice cover on to encourage heat and to deter animals.  And: put kitchen scraps on and cover them with your pile of leaves/grass that are kept separate from the actual compost pile specifically for the purpose of covering the kitchen scraps to make things less appetizing to the curious creature looking for a meal.  Now, truly I am no radical tree hugger, so don’t go thinking I’ve jumped my political fence or anything!!!! LOL (God forbid- LOL)  I just cannot stand the waste that we Americans go through even in a day’s time!!!  That above website gives some awful statistics like how much energy one pop can equals and how many water bottles are in the landfills etc.  The other day I was talking to mom about rice pudding, of all things.  She wanted to know if I made mine from leftover cooked rice or raw.  I said that I used the leftovers and said, “why else would someone make rice pudding if not to use up leftovers?”  She was so excited that, if I had said this in a church, I swear I would have heard an “amen”.  She said I had truly been raised right! LOL  So many people see their leftovers as exactly what they were the first time around (food, containers, the news, etc) and if we would look at things a little more open minded we would have some wonderful dinners (technically made from garbage because most leftovers end up there), some great bug jars, drop cloths for the kids art projects, and some wonderful “tupperware” that when taken to the neighbors, nobody cares if it makes it back home or not.  If each container that cannot be recycled were used just one more time, that would cut the garbage in half!!!!  And when that same container gets too nasty to use again, I can burn it without guilt, knowing that I am burning one container and not 2,3,4, or 5 containers (the number of times a cottage cheese container might make it through the sink and reused without cracking).  Radicals might disagree with my burning but I know that my idea is still better than just sending it all to the landfill, which is what is done more often than not by the general population.

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6 Comments

Filed under Home tips, Personal Growth

6 responses to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Burn

  1. Congratulations for attempting the three Rs and a B. I must admit that even though I do not living a rural setting, I still burn some of the things that I cannot recycle. Like cardboard, which my trash company does not take. I’ll take the perfectly good boxes to my local UPS store so that they can reuse them, but everything else goes in the fireplace. I hope you’ll check out my blog postings on composting, which might help you get yours up and running:

    http://suddenlyfrugal.blogspot.com/2007/09/composting-isnt-bunch-of-garbage.html

    Good luck.

    Leah

  2. ruralmomof3

    Thanks, Leah! I made a quick pass through peak of your site and encourage people to visit you often. Looks like a lot of good information! Keep up the good work! I look at my conservation/frugality as doing the right thing. I know many people see it more radically than that. Our grandparents saved everything from old shirts to patch bed sheets to mesh potato bags for gathering wild mushrooms in so that the “seed” would fall out of the bag as one walked, to using reusable canning and freezing containers. They didn’t do this because of any “eco-friendly” politics or global warming scares- they did this because (besides the great depression) there was just no good reason to let all that go to waste!!! What’s that ole’ saying? Waste not, want not!! It still holds true. Thanks for the encouragement!!!

  3. beccaknight

    Thanks for your comments on my blog, http://www.beccaknight.com. I used to work in Appalachia where lots of people burn their garbage. I worry, though, that it’s not as environmentally friendly as you might think. Burning garbage releases a lot of toxic chemicals into the air which causes pollution and may be harmful for your health. I don’t know a lot about it, but the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website has a lot of good info: http://proteus.pca.state.mn.us/oea/reduce/burnbarrel.cfm. Keep up the good blogging!
    -Becca

  4. ruralmomof3

    Thanks for the info, Becca. I am aware that burning is not the perfect way to go but as you read we are doing all that we can to reduce. Our whole point in this trial is to see if we can go without the garbage man. It would not make good financial sense to cancel our garbage pick up and then turn around and pay more money to take our burnable trash and our garbage garbage to the landfill. If every person did what they could, just what their family knew they could do, the impact would be huge. Each person does not have to be completely green or follow the three R’s exactly as the political propaganda describes them to make a difference. I am so proud of you for doing all that you can and I am also proud of my own family for doing all that we can. Example: our household garbage used to be a minimum of 1 kitchen size garbage bag a day!!! Now that we are doing the 3 R’s (since Saturday), we have taken one bag out for burning! 1 vs 4, now that is making a difference!!! Like I said in my original blog- reusing every #5 plastic container just once before getting rid of it would cut the #5 garbage in half, but technically, all those cottage cheese containers can be used several times before they crack if they are washed by hand. Again, Becca- I am proud of you for doing all you can! Keep that dryer turned off as much as you can!!! I’ll do the same!!!

  5. ruralmomof3

    Update on our 3 R’s trial run. It’s been over a month now and we have been doing pretty good! We officially cancelled our garbage and will get our last pick up at the end of March. My honey-do list is still waiting but he will get to it, eventually- I need 55 gallon barrels with lids to store recyclables in so that we don’t have to go to the recycling station as often and because the only place that takes glass is 25 miles away – it would be completely silly to travel there every week. My garbage can that is for garbage that cannot be recycled or burned is not even 1/4 full (13 gallon size)!! The boys have made 3 small cans: pop tabs, Box Tops for Education, and dead batteries that we have in the window sill by our recycling bin. We have slightly changed our paper/cardboard system. I will be using corrugated cardboard and newspaper in the garden for mulch so this stuff is being kept separate from the other paper products. We also have been saving plastic containers to use for seed starting . When I have another minute I will post my ideas for how I plan to do that gardening stuff.

    If we all do what we can- we can help the environment and can do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. We do not have to be perfect recyclers. If all you can do, is pop cans and water bottles- then you do pop cans and water bottles and do it to the best of your family’s ability!!! I am proud of you! (IPOY)

  6. ruralmomof3

    Another month has gone by and we still have not filled the 13 gallon garbage can of stuff that cannot be recycled, reused, or burned!! We now have 2 really large garbage cans with hinged lids for plastic and glass. The tin will go in my husbands scrap bin that a friend hauls to the local iron/metal scrap yard. We will get paid by the pound for bringing this stuff in!! The aluminum will get stored separately from the tin and taken there as well. Aluminum is worth more than steel/tin, as well as copper- not much is copper in household garbage though! LOL

    It’s now warm enough that our chickens have begun scratching outside which means that our compost pile is a mess!! My honey-do list now has “build fenced in pen for chickens” as a top a priority!! They will have to be penned up before we can plant the garden as they will scratch up every single seed and seedling we put in the ground!! We did rake the compost back up and covered it with last years leaves. This will keep the interest to a minimum until we can get them penned up. A friend suggested that we pen up the garden instead of the chickens. This is a great suggestion! However, I plan to plant tomatoes in the asparagus patch separate from the rest of the garden. Plus, my husband uses the farm tractor to work the soil the first time and a fence would definately be in his way! So the chickens will get an indoor/outdoor coop and we will hand deliver the scraps they like best right to their door!

    So far this “no garbage pick up” lifestyle is working out just fine!! A big thank you to whoever it was who put this blog article on facebook’s Lil Green Patch! My stats are up and I’m soooooo excited!!!!!

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