What Secrets Lurk Within Your Trash?

by Helpful Hannah

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Does your trash contain pizza cardboard with the remnants of a meal attached? Is it spotted with half empty cosmetics containers and items used once and discarded? Does your trash sit on the curb in a "top of the line," nicely scented, drawstring plastic bag? Or is your household following a continuing campaign to "reduce, reuse and recycle," getting maximum use for minimum cost and, as a consequence, producing little waste?

Peeking within the household trash can be an eye opening experience. Adults, as well as children, settle into wasteful habits that are repeated without thinking. You may learn that your teenager is crumpling dozens of sheets of clean paper and pitching them into a waste basket as a break from his studies. Any soft ball tossed into a straw basket would provide the same release while preserving the paper supply for homework. A bottle of hand lotion may have been discarded with enough lotion clinging inside to last for another week. All that is needed is the habit of standing the nearly empty bottle upended for retrieval of the remaining contents. Has a fist full of paper towels been used to wipe up a minor spill? A cloth rag is more efficient and can be simply tossed in the washer for recycling. Did you notice discarded aluminum foil or plastic food storage bags that could have been washed with the evening's dishes and reused?

If you find the litter of fast food, pizza and take out packaging, perhaps it is time to develop a repertoire of "quickie" menus that "time pressed" adults and teens could use to pull together a more wholesome meal. Discarded food may signal a need to incorporate leftovers into another meal. For example, one leftover pizza slice, packed in a lunch sack and reheated at noon, provides a tasty sandwich substitute. Half of a cup of last evening's peas will add color and nutrition to this evening's tuna casserole.

Ditched bottles and cans from sweetened drinks may signal thirsts better quenched by healthier, chilled tap water.

In many communities, recyclables (such as number one and number two plastics, plastic bags, newspapers, magazines and "tin" cans) can be dropped off at recycling stations at no charge. Even the bags used for collecting our trash can be ones we have reused. Paper grocery bags make fine kitchen trash liners while the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag can have a second life lining the bedroom and bathroom waste basket. A large, twenty-five or fifty pound, dog food bag can hold the household trash within its leak resistant layers for disposal.

Your peek under the trash can lid can "shock" you with areas of potential savings. Savings that can put money in your pocket, reduce your "personal cost-of-living" and benefit our environment by reducing waste. And to think that all this potential discovery awaits us, as we lift the trash can lid!

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