Downsizing my trash bin

Over the past 18 months I’ve been making small adjustments to how I do things at home with the aim to reduce the amount of trash that our household produces overall. Part of this involves improving our recycling efficiency too. Our YOLO Compost Tumbler is a direct result of our search to do even better; to recycle our organic waste by composting it. This small bin is now the trash can for our weekly household waste – and we’re very proud not to fill it by the time trash collection day comes around.

The large trash bin on the left was our general trash bin. More than one-and-a-bit bags were filled each week. We usually had to empty the bin before it was filled because the trash got smelly as the organic waste rotted. We improved our systems for separating trash – plastic, glass, metal and paper – with labelled and accessible bins and saw a reduction in the volume of our trash.

We had the middle bin for well over a year but noticed that the plastic bin liner bag actually made up a greater volume of the trash than the waste itself. We’ve now downsized to this small bin for our general trash. The middle-sized bin has now been repurposed as our glass/metal bin. We’re a family of four.

Using our YOLO Compost Tumbler at home has made a huge difference. It replaced a smelly old bin that we were using and we also compost far more than we did before – including things like tea bags, coffee grounds, egg cartons and the content from our vacuum cleaner. Next week I’ll empty my 5th shell in seven months.

Now that we’ve greatly reduced our general trash through better waste separation and composting, I’m focusing more on how I can ‘Refuse’ more waste material (primarily packaging) to prevent it coming into my home. ‘Refuse’ is the first of the 5Rs of waste reduction (‘Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot’).

Filling my glass bottles with milk from local milk suppliers in town has eliminated 2-litre milk bottles from my waste. I also save around R2.50/litre. I was pretty chuffed with myself earlier this week when I handed my homemade muslin bag to the lady at the bakery counter and asked her to put my rolls into it with the price sticker on the outside. That’s one less plastic bag in my plastic recycling bin.

Making these lifestyle changes takes time; both developing new habits yourself and getting family members into new routines too. As I progress with refusing, reducing and reusing waste, I look forward to downsizing my recycling bins too.

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