Garbage In, Garbage Out

Here is the how I throw thing out:

I recycle: plastic containers and glass (the plastic containers with their lids on but not the glass containers), tin cans, styrofoam, cardboard cans with their metal lids, plastic bags but only the ones from stores, and not the bags that milk bags come in which are completely identical but for some reason unacceptable. That's okay, I save them for cat litter. Also plastic bags must be recycled in bunches, not one by one. Further I save the bags without holes in them to contain regular garbage and compost, which means that I have three separate streams into which plastic bags can possibly go. Also recyclable are newspapers, magazines, and regular paper but not paper that the girls have glued random crap onto, nor stickers (too sticky, they gum up the recycling works).

Speaking of compost, that's the City of Toronto compost which accepts all the usual vegetable matter as well as any other food (except gum), paper plates and napkins (but not paper cups from coffee shops), diapers, kleenex and paper towels, tea bags, cat litter and dog poo but not cotton balls, q-tips, or hair and fingernail clippings. (Because that would be gross.)

Outside, there's yard waste, which is weeds and leaves and twigs and stuff but not grass clippings.

Then there's the stuff which isn't garbage yet, the clothes and toys and furniture and housewares we don't need. Some of that I'm saving for the school's fundraising garage sale, some of it goes into the Goodwill bag for when Andy does a Goodwill run, and some of the toys I'm saving for that mythical day when I sort out all their pieces and find their manuals and take them to the consignment store.

Finally, as a last resort, there's regular garbage: anything that doesn't fit into the above categories, mainly rejected plastic bags and other plastic packaging, and broken things.

I hate throwing things out because it's complicated. It's hard to believe that fifty years ago people just threw everything away in one container. How simple! Which is exactly why it's dangerous — it can't be that easy to get rid of things. You have to be mindful of whether your trash still has value, as a source of energy or materials, or to someone else in its current form. And when I'm feeling sorry for myself because it's so hard to throw something out I remind myself that I wouldn't have this problem if I didn't bring that thing into my house in the first place.