For earth day – Trash cans big and small

One thing I had completely forgotten about my mom’s house – how small her trash can is. I live in suburbia, so have the usual 13 gallon trash can which fills up many times a week, even daily sometimes. But my mom has a small one – maybe even less that 4 gallons.

So given our recent green consiousness, I was thinking – why and how does she manage with creating so little trash, when I, guiltilty do more daily environmental damage. And its not just my mom, but every usual household. Though if you quiz them on environmental consiousness, they will probably know much less. So I decided to observe in some depth.

The first difference I think is in attitude. The US is a land of plenty and you feel that in many ways, and it gets incorporated into your life. You start thinking big. Big portions, supersized drinks, huge armchairs, enormous strollers, massive minivans…..you get my point. So a large trash can seems nothing out of the ordinary.

But India, teeming with more than a billion people, has space at a premium. Plus, all levels of society and all standards of living mingle freely and are not curtailed in isolated subdivisions. So you feel the pinch still and waste is anathema. So I think the biggest difference is in mindset – conserve – squeeze out the last penny.

But there are other more practical tips I noticed too. Simple, yet effective.

  1. She recycles everything, using almost everything at least twice. Mind you this is at home recycling – thinking of reusing everything at home before banishing it to the bin. And I mean everything, including that little plastic bag inside cereal boxes to keep the cereal fresh. Maybe it can be used to pickup scraps or some such second life use.
  2. There is a minimum of processed food. I love processed food here, but the more I read the more harmful that is with all the chemicals etc. And the trash it creates in my home (all those mac n cheese boxes) are quite significant
  3. She buys mostly fresh fruits and veggies and dal or rice etc in jute or brown paper bags. I cant think of anything I can do about that here, except request paper bags at the checkout counter.
  4. She carries her own bags to the markets – though this is quickly moving out in India – many shops provide plastic bags. But worth following here. Some places like whole food supports it.
  5. She keeps her trash can small – psychological, but I think the fact that creating more trash would mean more trips for her to the trash chute helps keep it down.

What do you all think? There must be more things but I thought this was worth writing about.

 And this is what Mahi had to say about 2009 earth day.

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1 Comment

  1. sree12

    Its the same way in my house in India too

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