Sustainability in our home!

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This is what our one bag of garbage per week looks like.  Most weeks.  Unless it’s spring cleaning time, in which case all bets are off.

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And this is our trash can.  We once went a month and a half without putting it out at the curb, just to see how long it would take.  We ended up filling it up with carpet scraps after that month and a half, because a nesting soon-to-be-daddy named Ben suddenly decided that we needed to re-carpet our sunroom.  Haha.

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Now, this is a photo of our recycling bin after one week. Unfortunately, in our neighborhood, recycling is only picked up every other week.  Which means that we occasionally borrow our neighbor’s recycling bins and throw our stuff in.  This idea of non-sorted recycling is fairly new to Boise and we LOVE it.  Just throw everything into the bin and put it on the curb.  Simple.

Now, you may have noticed that we don’t have any cans in our recycling bin.  This is because we put them all in our garage!  Yes, we are soda junkies in this household.  Mostly Ben, but I will admit that I can’t say no to a good cream soda. I really need to do something about my diet, it’s just . . . so . . . difficult . . .

At any rate.  Keeping our cans in the garage is a new development here.  Apparently, we can sell them back? I’m not entirely certain about that one, but I do know that we are pretty tight on money in this house and any place we can pinch a penny, we do so.

These are the trash cans that we have in our kitchen.  We used to have the white one for recycling and the blue for trash, but we were emptying our recycling bin multiple times per day, so we gave up on that idea and just made them both into recycling bins.  Much better.  These get emptied about once a day, maybe every other day.

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These are our compost buckets.  We keep these on the counter next to the stove and empty them in our large, outdoor compost pit about once a week.  Unless something smelly is in there, but unless we’ve dumped fruit, it’s generally odorless.  Or at least enough so that we don’t notice it.  I am not including a photo of our compost pile outside because it’s mostly frozen at the moment (weird Idaho weather this year) and not very attractive looking.  So imagine a giant hole in the ground filled with the contents of those buckets.  And leaves.  Lots of mulched leaves. If Ben were writing this article, he would probably go into a lengthy explanation of carbon and nitrates.  All I know is that he says those words a lot and they have something to do with yard work and composting.  But we split duties like this, so if you want to know more, leave a comment and I’ll have him reply.

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This is the last photo of how we try to stay sustainable around the house.  We have two trash cans every place that there is a trash can around our house–one for recycling and one for trash. It works alright, though it certainly seems to confuse guests.  Oh well.  We aren’t that social, anyway.

So, this is how we stay sustainable.  Or at least try to.  But we have several areas that could use a lot of improving! Did you notice that the majority of our trash seems to be paper products?  We both would like to move toward family cloth (I guess that’s the term for replacing toilet paper, paper towels and napkins with cloth wipes/handkerchiefs) but it seems like such a daunting goal to undertake.

Do any of you use family cloth?  How do you explain this to house guests?

Also, you may have noticed the recycle can from my bathroom has sanitary napkin wrappers in it.  I debated a long time before posting this photo, but I decided that since the majority of our readers are mothers, a period is nothing to shy away from.  I am looking for a way to nudge my menstruation into the sustainable category as well, but dh thinks that cloth pads sound disgusting.  And I don’t know anybody who has ever used them.  Also, they seem to have a very high start-up cost, and (as I before mentioned) money is very tight around here. So I’m trying to come up with some other options.

I would love to hear any comments that you, our readers have!  How do you stay sustainable?  What is the majority of your waste? Let me know!

Find more from Geneva and her sustainable household at www.themommydialogues.com.

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8 thoughts on “Sustainability in our home!”

  1. I started using the “Diva Cup” this last fall and I love it! I had to order mine from Amazon because even my health food store was out of stock and on backorder. There are two sizes (pre-baby/certain age and post baby/certain age) It was about $30 and the best choice I’ve ever made.

  2. That’s fantastic! I really want to start composting. It seems so much food gets put into the trash.

    We cloth diaper here so we use cloth wipes for my son. I also bought extra packs of the wipes and use them as tissues, face wipes for my son, and paper towels. The paper towels were the most difficult to replace (it was weird at first to dab cooked bacon or clean up really nasty kitchen messes with cloth) , but after a few weeks we got used to it. I don’t think I’ll replace the TP. We buy recycled TP and try to use as little as possible.

    People do seem confused at first about our cloth system, but they get over it. Most understand that we are a natural living family an that we’re trying to do our part. And if not, well, they are guests in our environmentally-friendly house and they don’t have to stay.

  3. I have been leaning towards trying the diva cup, and these comments might have totally swayed me. 🙂

    We have used cloth napkins for more than ten years. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a roll of paper towels/napkins in my adulthood, now that I think about it. Cloth napkins are super easy, you can usually find them on sale, an old they’re also easy to make. We have been cloth diapering and using cloth wipes since our toddler was about a month old. It took a week or so to establish a good rhythm with that, but it’s so second nature to me now.

  4. This post is so inspiring! I cannot believe how little trash your family produces. That is so atypical in our consumer-driven society.

    We are currently in an apartment with no recycling pick up (frustrating to say the least), so the nearest recycling center is a half hour away. We are doing the best we can! On another note, I would love to see a post from you about the ins and outs of composting. Can’t wait to hear more! 🙂

  5. Hi Geneva, I am just a regular person, and I use cloth pads that I sewed myself. With a bit of Googling you can find lots of patterns, and they are extremely easy. If you can use a sewing machine you can do it. They aren’t gross at all – in fact, they are so much softer than plastic-y pads and don’t stick to you. We also use cloth napkins (very easy), and old t-shirts cut up into “un-paper towels”. How many free t-shirts do we get each year, so last year instead of giving a pile to goodwill I decided to cut them up. If I can do it, you can do it! Hmm, you may have inspired me to write my own blog post about this. 🙂

  6. Totally recommend the Diva/Lunette cup too. I have family cloth that I use for #1. DH is not in to it. Easy to wash with cloth dipes 🙂

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