Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trashy Eye Opener

Over the Thanksgiving holiday Husband and I had some house guests, his brother, wife, and their (almost) 4 year old son.  They stayed with us for a week.  They've stayed with us before and we always offer and never mind. We have the room and since they live out of state it's always good to be able to see them.

This year was a bit of an eye opener though. I'm not talking about having a 4 year old around either, we'll be there before we know it.  I'm taking about waste.  Over the last couple of years I've slowly been making changes in our household so as to reduce waste, waste of all kinds.  These changes have turned into habits for us and we don't even think twice about it.  That is, until this past week.

The monthly challenge on Reduce Footprints was to reduce the electricity usage this month.  Perhaps that is why I was very aware every time lights were left on and devices plugged in.  I noticed that a laptop was plugged in and charging almost the entire time.  Yikes!  I only plug mine in when I need to charge the battery, which isn't daily or even every other day.   We also left the router and modem on the entire week.  Ok, most people do this.  We don't. We're in the habit of turning the router off when we aren't using wireless and unplugging both at night and not plugging them in until they are needed again.  I also noticed lights being left on and the tv being left on when nobody was around to use them.  I think these are ones that really bothered me.  Why leave a light on if you aren't in the room?

The other thing I noticed was the amount of trash and recycling.  In a normal week we fill the recycle bin about half way.  It was full this week and I had more to add to it.  Yes, I'm glad all of that was kept out of the trash but, wow, that is still a lot of "waste".    The trash? Oh my!  Normally we have 1 bag of trash per week, it's not even a full bag normally.  With having the holiday at our house I knew there would be more waste and figured two bags, that's pretty normal.  Oh no..we had two trash cans full.  FULL!  How does that happen?  I don't even know what was all in the trash.  I know some of the waste was due to having a child around.  There were a lot of single serving containers for drinks and snacks.  These were recycled when they could be, but not all of it was recyclable.  But that shouldn't have caused us to have so much waste this week.  Should I even mention how it can take us months to go through a roll of paper towels, but in one week almost an entire roll was used? Yikes!

There was also one incident at dinner.  Husband and I were getting containers together for his parents to take leftovers home and his Mom kept telling us to put it in a ziplock bag.  I ignored this as much as I could but she didn't let up so finally I commented that using ziplock bags would be wasteful.  I prefer to just give them containers they can then return to us at a later time.

This was really an eye-opener for me.  The things Husband and I do to be more eco-friendly and to keep waste at a minimum have become habits for us. I still slowly add in more things as I come across them and I think adding things in slowly has helped us become as eco-friendly as we are. None of what we do seems out of the ordinary or like it causes us too much work etc.  It's all so natural for us.  It also showed me just how different our household is from others.  I would imagine the things I noticed are normal for a lot of households.  That's really scary.  

I don't want this to seem like I'm complaining about having house guests either.  I will readily offer our house for their next stay in STL.  I just find this very fascinating. It almost feels like my own person science experiment. somehow get them to slowly change their ways..that's the challenge.

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