by Tammy Taylor
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Recycling, it’s quite the catch-phrase these days and of course it’s an important way to help protect the environment. But what about PREcycling? Precycling can be defined as making purchasing decisions that will delay or reduce the need to recycle or dispose of waste. Repurposing items to another use is a good example of precycling. I’ve been able to reduce all kinds of landfill-bound trash by repurposing items. I’ve eliminated spray bottles previously filled with cleaners going to the landfill by refilling those spray bottles with my own cleaners made from a mix of either soap/water or vinegar/water.
And reducing your use of disposables is another example of precycling. For instance I no longer use disposable plastic razors, opting instead for a steel safety razor and real honest-to-goodness double-edged blades. Initially I was afraid to make the switch, thinking that I’d need those 4-5 blades with the strip of protective aloe to be able to shave smoothly without cutting myself. But my hate for plastic trumped my fear so I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised. (kinda makes me want to kick myself for not doing it years ago) Not only is is substantially less expensive but an environmentally friendly choice as well.
Another way I’ve been able to reduce landfill trash is that I make my own laundry detergent so those bulky containers are eliminated. I also make my own yogurt so those containers are eliminated as well. But even if you don’t have the time or inclination to make this stuff yourself (but trust me, it’s EASY!) you can still make a big impact by being mindful of the things you DON’T buy. Look at the packaging of things you shop for and shun those that are over-packaged whether or not the packaging can be recycled. Those beautiful bell peppers are on sale, but they’re sitting on a styrofoam tray and entombed in multiple layers of plastic wrap. PASS. I’ve passed up over-packaged produce, items for our home and even toys for my grandbabies in favor of less-packaged options. And I often buy used so there’s NO packaging involved. SCORE!
Another huge improvement in reducing our landfill waste stream is using our composter. I purchased this *compost tumbler a few years ago and so much goes into this composter instead of the trash can. Living in the country we are on a septic system and cannot use a garbage disposal so much of the things that are compostable went into the trash instead. What a waste! (yes, pun intended. LOL) Those veggie peels and apple cores are now turned into black gold for my veggie garden, and the landfill-bound load is further reduced.
What about junk mail? We’re pretty adamant about removing unwanted junk mail from clogging our mailbox. The law requires that if you OPT OUT of a company’s promotional offers that company must discontinue sending junk mail to you. Oftentimes I’ll send them an OPT OUT email and bcc myself so I have record of having sent it. When I receive a second mailing from them I’ll “reply-all” to that email and in bold print write SECOND REQUEST – PLEASE RESPOND. They’re able to see that I’m tracking my opt-out requests and in almost 100% of the cases this puts an end to it. You can also opt out of almost all marketing by visiting the website www.dmachoice.org They place your information on a delete file made available to all direct marketers. It costs $1 but it was one of the best dollars I ever spent since it was a one-stop shop and brought the junkmail volume down immediately – I tackled the remaining trickle myself and now a piece of junk mail in our mailbox is rare. When it does happen I simply make email contact with that company and request to be removed from any future marketing mailings.
By using these tactics and by recycling those things that we can we’ve reduced what is sent to the landfill from our home enough that we use only a bathroom-sized waste basket as our main household trashcan. We don’t buy trash bags, the can is lined with whatever appropriate-sized plastic bags work themselves into our home whether it’s the bag from a large family-sized container of cereal or the occasional plastic shopping bag that someone brought something to us in (we don’t accept plastic shopping bags when we shop). This small trashcan only needs to be emptied about once every couple of weeks and I feel pretty good about that!
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