Harvest Time

zero landfill squareOver the weekend, I volunteered at the final day of this year’s Zero Landfill project in Louisville. This was what they call the Harvest – when people are invited to come and take home as much of the donated materials as they want/need. As I welcomed and brainstormed with visitors about what they might do with the scads of gorgeous donations, I gradually accumulated a good-sized pile of my own, that I’m now seeking space for in our already stuffed silos.

My lineage on my father’s side traces back through multiple generations of farm families in southern Indiana. I think of those folks often, as I squirrel away every last tidbit of material, for projects far into the future. I’m harvesting every useful part – separating the fabric from the heavy cardboard binding; trimming the edges of the fabric with pinking shears, so they’ll resist fraying; saving the trimmings to be added to my compost pile; removing the heavy braided cord from the cardboard and setting it aside to use as handles for gift bags; storing the heavy cardboard to use as display boards for school projects. It is remarkably satisfying, finding a use for every last bit.

My other project this weekend was to create mini recycling cans for our two bathrooms. I don’t have a problem separating the recyclables from the rest of the trash, when emptying the small bins from around the house. To me, it’s just another form of harvesting. But when the men in my house tackle this chore, squeamishness or absent-mindedness leads to a lot of recyclables ending up in the trash. So, I’m trying something new, starting with our bathrooms.

20141013_185939I read about these divided trash cans, so you can use one side for trash and the other for recycling. But they aren’t cheap and I’m a little fuzzy on how those work. How could you dump out the contents of one side without stuff spilling out of the other side? Wouldn’t I just end up reaching in each side to empty it?

Instead, I’m trying the two can system. Well, technically it’s a can and box system. To help my boys differentiate between the trash can and the recycling bin, I wrapped a tall, narrow shipping box in some of the wallpaper samples I brought home from the Zero Landfill Harvest. Covering the box should make it sturdier and definitely makes it more attractive than just sticking a plain cardboard box in the corner.

I’m sure most people know about recycling empty toilet paper rolls, plus the cardboard packaging from products like soap and toothpaste. But, did you know that most of the plastic bottles in your bathroom – shampoo, lotion, and mouthwash bottles, just to name a few – are made from #1 and #2 plastics, both of which are widely recyclable?! And the plastic packaging from things like toilet paper and cotton balls, you can recycle those in the same places you take your plastic grocery bags.

With the handkerchief revolution in full swing at our house, there may be nothing left to throw away in the bathroom.

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