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Living Less Unsustainably: Keeping Gatherings Green

trash can
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"My wife and I work hard to reduce consumption and waste when visitors are staying with us, but still assure that our guests feel comfortable, and not too burdened by the reduce, reuse, recycle mentality that pervades our household."

Hi Residents, and visitors,

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

Being nice to your guests, friends, and family is important. But often, nice guys finish last when it comes to the environment.

My wife and I work hard to reduce consumption and waste when visitors are staying with us, but still assure that our guests feel comfortable, and not too burdened by the reduce, reuse, recycle mentality that pervades our household. If we're too accommodating when company comes, food gets wasted, recyclable containers get tossed, and more gasoline than necessary gets burned. If I'm too aggressive, only I can really relax.

Many of our visitors are intrigued, confused, or annoyed by our once a month 32 gallon garbage pick-up. It's an educational opportunity for those who are interested about what to buy, or not buy, and how to throw out what can't be reduced, reused, or recycled in a way that it doesn't stink after 30 days in the can. I'll save you the experimentation - even the trash should be clean and dry. People from other states or countries are especially likely not to know what can and cannot be recycled here.

Of course it's not just guests who fall off the sustainability wagon when they are away from home. I have friends who would never throw away a newspaper at home, but while on a trip, their trash is half full of things that are easily recycled. The earth never gets a vacation from us - if it can't be recycled on your trip, bring it home where it can be.

Having people from other places in your home provides a great opportunity to exchange ideas about sustainability and recycling. We can all use more information and ideas.

So, is it impolite to ask people to avoid excess packaging, and unrecyclable containers, or does sharing your values and concerns show them how much you care - about them, and the planet?

John Fischer is a Master Gardener and Master Recycler and the host of KLCC's Good Gardening and Living Less Unsustainably.