Re-evaluating the kitchen trash can

How many months ago was it that I drug the kitchen trash can into the laundry room and did a victory lap?

Oh. September. Huh.

It was my hope that, having the garbage can so far out of sight — a mere 18 feet or whatever from the kitchen, whatever, details are boring — that it would help us lower our trash output. Or at least make Eric and the girls think about what they were about to toss.

And that sort of worked. I would go through the can and take out what could be recycled — mostly things like cereal liners because apparently no one in this household believes me when I say they can be put with the bread bags — and it did seem to work.

Nope, your eyes do not deceive you. Unfortunately.


(Why is there always a “but”?)

Two kitties found us (they’re both in time out right now for fighting, the jerks) and the kitchen-turned-laundry trash can became Eric’s bin of choice for cleaning out the litter boxes. And I’m in no position to complain about that, because I don’t have to do it. But going through the can now to separate the true garbage from the not garbage was suddenly way less appealing.

When I discovered that Eric had a contraband garbage sack under the kitchen sink, I was fairly horrified. We’re THIS CLOSE to being at Month 11 of a zero waste project. What the WHAT!?

But then it occurred to me that maybe he was on to something. The amount of trash we produce is holding steady — because we don’t buy much that can’t be reused, composted or recycled — but my ability to pick through it was non-existent thanks to the aforementioned kitty litter.

Bear’s kind of excited, though.

And, I mean, kitties. Pearl has actually started to trust us (Reader’s Digest version for new readers: We’re her fourth house so she’s got some trust issues) and Bear just loves us too much. And we are, quite frankly, attached to both. Waste be damned.

We had a small bin that used to be in the bathroom — I think? — of one of our other houses (which is really saying something, the fact that it’s still around, since we’ve been in this house for 14 years) that Eric cleaned out and put under the kitchen sink on Sunday.

Pros: I can pick through this can for anything that gets tossed that shouldn’t be in there. (Eventually they’ve got to believe me on the cereal liners, right?)

Cons: I feel like we’re backsliding.

Abby says that’s stupid because it’s not like suddenly more trash is going to appear in the house just because there’s a can under the kitchen sink now. I know she’s right, but it feels a little … well, like a failure. I know we’ve done so much on the zero waste front — I mean, where we are right now and where we were this time last year, it’s amazing how far we’ve come — but I kind of wish we could be one of those “trash fits into a quart jar” kinds of families RIGHT NOW.

We’re just not going to be, at least not at this point. We will definitely keep working towards lowering our waste after the project is over, so maybe someday we will.

Waste so far this week: Cheese wrapper, band thing that goes around lettuce, and what appears to be part of a granola bar wrapper. (Um, Johanna?) The big plastic bag is what Eric has lined the bin with. I’m not even sure where he got it — I thought we were out.

How far can you go on the zero waste front in a small town and with a family? Pretty far, it turns out. But not to zero.

I’m trying to be good with that.

Next up: Bag ban in action, a boil water emergency and whatever occurs to me over the weekend. 😉