Thursday, 28 May 2015

How We Compost

It occurred to me that after two and a half years of blogging here, I have never really talked about composting. This is amazing to me because, if I had to guess, I think that composting is responsible for diverting at least a third of our household waste. We compost our kitchen scraps, little bits of cardboard and paper too small for the recycling, wooden toothbrushes, tissues, the dust from the vacuum bin, and large quantities of pet hair. Composting is so crucial to waste reduction that I think I have just taken it for granted.

There are A LOT of different methods of composting, and I am not here to tell you which one is the best; I am no expert on the subject. Eight years ago or so I tried out a worm composting bin. The end result was a lot of dead worms and a bad-smelling bin. When we moved into our house, we set up one of those common black compost bins that you can buy at Home Depot.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Reducing Waste on Road Trips and Camping

My original hope for this post was that it would be titled "Waste-Free Camping". For today we'll have to settle for "Waste-Reduced".

As we've started to plan our summer camping trips, I was excited to see how much waste we could reduce with proper planning and preparation. On past road trips, we have tended to buy a lot of plastic-wrapped snacks at gas stations and fast-food meals; I was determined to improve this year.

We are heading out this weekend, so we headed to Superstore to tackle a big source of camping/road trip waste: snack foods.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Beyond the Blue Cart - London Drugs' Recycle Program

Did you know you can't just throw anything you want in your Blue Cart, in any way you want, and expect it to be recycled properly? In fact, if you want your recycling processed as successfully as possible, you should be following the city's guidelines, including bundling shredded paper and plastic bags in a clear bag, and never bundling anything else. If you'd like to understand why these guidelines exist, check out this video. I found that understanding how the sorting machines worked helped guide my understanding of what I could and could not put in my bin.

But what about the things that you can't put in your blue cart, but you have a feeling there is a better place for them than the landfill? Those are the sorts of things I've been encountering this month as I challenged myself to de-clutter 100 items from my house. It started easy enough, with old product manuals and items that could be donated, but I ended up with a pile I didn't know what to do with.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

DIY Dish Soap

Once upon a time I attempted to make dish soap at home. I was following the guidance of a Readers Digest recipe book which contained a dish soap recipe that required liquid soap. It also included a recipe for "liquid soap", which was made out of dissolved bar soap. The resulting dish soap was basically lather-less, impossibly thick, and took me over a year of glopping it onto a dishcloth to use up. My appetite for DIY dish soap was pretty low after that, and I settled on the refillable variety you can buy at Lukes Drug Mart.

However, with a stock pile of Dr. Bronner's and vinegar in my basement, and the Internet to help me, I thought I would give it another go.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Joys (and Realities) of Simplifying

When you're kicking off a new project, whether it's waste reduction or anything else, it's easy to get wrapped up in new ideas. Sometimes all you want to do is try out ONE MORE new recipe for DIY hand lotion, ONE MORE new recipe for DIY dish soap, or maybe you just want to try out ONE MORE type of store-bought dishwasher detergent in your search for the least-packaged/best-working variety you can buy.

The problem with that is that soon your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room are overflowing with half-used products. This is the place that we are at right now. I do feel like I've found what I like for most of the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry basics, but nevertheless my cupboards are overflowing with stuff.