Green Tip #29 – “No Such Thing as Garbage Anymore”


by Barbara Roberts


When recycling became “a thing” in the 1970s after the first Earth Day, I was smitten by the idea that trash could be organized! I’m sure that was partially due to my career as a librarian and the need for order, but I thought it was such fun to separate things out for waste pick-up. At that time, recycling was just cans and glass. Recycling has come a long way since then and so has the word “garbage”, a term which doesn’t mean much to me anymore. But the word “landfill” is more descriptive and rather frightening. Things put in landfills never disappear and that gives me pause.


A new goal of mine is to not put out my gray landfill container for pickup more than once a month. It is the smallest container I own and I try not to fill it, doing my best to recycle and compost. But I have been learning that to accomplish that I need to change some habits. So much of what does end up in my gray landfill bin are plastics that are not 1, 2, or 5 recyclable. For example, I make a point of purchasing recycled paper napkins and toilet paper, yet they are wrapped in plastic that can’t be recycled! Frustrating.


So in order to accomplish my almost zero landfill goal, here are some things I am doing to reduce what I put in my gray bin:


  1. only purchasing paper products in recyclable paper wrappers (
  2. putting a small compost pail in each bathroom for tissues, lint, hair
  3. only purchasing dairy products in recyclable cartons or glass
  4. getting take-out in containers that are recyclable and not coated with wax
  5. stop buying products in plastic containers and refill the containers I already own instead
  6. try to stop using the plastic produce bags at the grocery store; use paper bags or washable produce bags


I’m finding that this is not an easy task I have given myself. But it feels good to think that I might have a small, positive impact on our earth – one habit chance at a time.