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Good Gardening

Living Less Unsustainably: Small Garbage Cans

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John Fischer
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The stuff we buy, wear out, and throw away is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the pacific northwest. Manufacturing, transporting, and disposing of consumer goods- shoes, bedding, toasters, televisions and the like- generates 40 to 50 percent of our emissions.

Fortunately, your local garbage company can help you reduce the waste you generate- and they will pay you to do it.  One 32 gallon roll cart per month along with bi-weekly recycling costs less than seven and a half dollars a month in Eugene.  The 90-gallon weekly cart is almost $53.

If you have space for only 32 gallons- a gallon of waste a day, you think twice when you purchase products, and you think three times before you throw something away. The huge carts begs to be filled, and often contain things that could be recycled, donated, repaired, composted or repurposed.

If you buy a durable product- not the cheapest one, it will last, and if it breaks, it can probably be repaired. The monetary cost may be close to buying a new product, but the true costs to the environment of repair are always less.  And you won't have packaging to dispose of.

If you don't have a place to compost, for less than five dollars a month, you can get food scraps and yard debris picked up bi-weekly too.  Compostable organics are the biggest percentage of the waste stream, and people are paying an extra forty dollars a month to put them in the wrong place- the landfill where they generate methane; a super potent greenhouse gas.

Use the $500 you save every year on waste removal to buy better quality items, and repair things you were going to throw in the big bin. Only Eugene offers monthly pick-up. Other cities have only made it to bi-weekly --- so far.

I'm John Fischer with KLCC's Living Less Unsustainably.