Sunday, September 8, 2013

Where change started… becoming eco friendly

If this blog is about telling our story… we should actually tell our story. The difficult part is figuring out where to begin. But, as clichĂ©s go, perhaps we should start at the beginning.

We are kids of the ‘80s. Anyone who as there with us knows that the late ‘80s & early ‘90s saw an explosion of Save the Planet, Reduce / Reuse / Recycle, & other eco minded initiatives. They even had an animated series (Remember Captain Planet?). I remember when we started recycling. Mom would carefully separate paper from tin cans from plastic. And then there were the aluminum cans. We got money for those!

Thus, our journey began. When James & I moved into our first place, I kept a bin of recyclables to take over to Mom’s since the apartment complex didn’t have a collection site. I did the same when we moved into our second place. Then, when we bought the house, oh glory!, we had (and still have) our own recycling service.

But we thought we could do more. So I saved the glass (which the services didn’t take) & drove it to the collection site. Scrap metal was the same. But it still wasn’t enough.

At that point, we put another “R” into practice: Reuse. My dad has always been a saver & a scrapper. Most of anything he fixed had a hodge podge of bolts or screws he had saved. And we learned well. Anything that can be parted out & repurposed, is. At first, we pitched the big stuff & kept the bolts, screws, etc. But we got bolder after one or two “holy cow xxxx is Perfect for that!” events. We have our limits, because we don’t want to be swimming in junk (the opposite of simplifying), but bolts are Useful. And screws. And old boards… Ahem. Now we always look twice at something before scrapping it. We have ended up with some really cool yard art that could have easily been relegated to the trash heap. But we looked again & were rewarded for our creativity. Something neat that cost $0. Two points, Schneider family.

Then we turned our attention to reducing. I grew up buying “family size” aka bulk, so that wasn’t a hard habit to establish. Other things, like bottled water, simply required that we pay attention. We recycled, so it was ok that we drank 1 – 3 bottles a day, right? Our recycle bin (the big one on wheels) was overflowing weekly – not really helping the planet. So we switched to a Brita pitcher. Wow. Then we stopped buying boxed meals & canned veggies (switched to bulk frozen). Wow again. And then we got a garden compost pail. All veggie bits, egg shells, coffee grounds, & tea bags go to the composter, not the trash. Holy shit. We went from a semi full trash can (also the big one on wheels) to 1 bag of kitchen trash every few weeks and one half to mostly full recycle bin every other week.

Can we do more? No doubt. How? Whenever we take a further step, we make sure the others have firmly established themselves as habits first. New step, learning curve, habit. Repeat.

It is easy to get caught up in trying to save the world & then crashing in defeat. Start with your own corner of it. It will save your sanity. If your corner of the world is bright & clean, others will want theirs to be too.


  1. Love this! It's amazing how much less trash we have now that we recycle so much more than "just the cans." When I go somewhere with little man and ask where to throw a dirty diaper (yes I know disposable aren't good by any sense of the word, I'm no saint!) anyway, I was floored at how many people said, "Oh just throw it in our indoor trash. It gets taken out every other day anyway." "REALLY?" I think? How? And then I remember how much more we spent on garbage bags and how quickly we went through them before recycling. I think that is finally becoming a habit for this household. Even little man loves to throw stuff in recycling (but the trashy is icky!) I suppose it's time we take a look at what else we can do. We do buy less boxed goods than we used to, but I bet we could do better there too! We try to save/repair, but we could be better at it. Looks like I have something to talk to the hubs about sometime in the near future (when an opportunity arises, which can't take long I'm sure!) I'm loving your posts, Schneider family!!

    1. It's amazing what we see when we have changed our own habits! It just takes small steps, one at a time. Thank you for your support & for doing your part in your corner of the world.