This house has no trash can. The reason is that the trash can is an enabler that allows me to make my trash someone else’s problem. Trash does not just disappear. But the trash can allows us to consume as if it does.
Today no trash leaves our land, and we are forced to find creative ways to deal with our waste. But all of this didn’t just happen overnight. When we first got serious about looking at and reducing our trash output, we came across the idea of an eco-brick. An eco-brick is just a plastic bottle that you stuff with trash and then build things with. We thought this was a great idea so I got myself some plastic bottles, I even got a stick so I could really pack down my trash and fill it up a lot in one bottle. I set up my new eco-brick stuffing station right next to my trash can. I told everyone I lived with that this is the new way we are going to deal with our plastic waste.
But I have to admit something, at the end of each week, I would go through and look and realize that we weren’t producing any less trash. And that about half of the trash was not getting stuffed, and that’s when I realized, if there is a trash can nearby, it is too easy to use and make your trash someone else’s problem. And that’s when I realized I needed to Ban the Can. So how can you ban the can? It really comes down to the “5 R’s”.
First, Refuse. If you know that you don’t have a trash can, you’ll be more likely to refuse trash when it is offered to you the second “R” is to Reduce. By not having the easy out that is the trash can, you are forcing yourself to deal with each individual piece of trash. This naturally will force us to reduce the amount of trash that we are putting out.
Eco-Bricks are a perfect example of the 3rd “R”, Reuse. To make an eco-brick we reuse the plastic water bottle, and then once it is full, we use the eco-bricks to build raised garden beds, benches, or other types of creative building projects. But reuse doesn’t just apply to eco-bricks.You can reuse everything in creative ways before it finally enters the waste stream.
The 4th “R” is Repair. By stitching up old clothes or patching up your bike tires, repairing allows us to extend the useful lifetime of any item.
The 5th “R” is Recycle. A great example of recycling is making compost, which allows us to convert cardboard, paper, kitchen scraps, and yard waste into rich garden fertilizer. So that sums up the “5 R’s”. Which are a great guideline towards helping us Ban the Can? But again, this is a slow process, if all of this sounds kind of scary or crazy to you, maybe try it in small steps Maybe get rid of half of your trash cans or try participating in only 1 or 2 trash pickups per month.