Like Humphrey House and the other residents of Oak Park, we are also fortunate here in Morton Grove to have a recycling program that accepts virtually everything without our having to sort it all: office papers, newspapers, cardboard, chipboard, virtually all plastics including grocery bags, styrofoam containers, glass, cans (including the lid) — even aluminum foil if it’s not covered with food. Our huge 65-gallon recycling bin (provided by Groot, our waste management company) is overflowing every week whereas our garbage bin usually has no more than one bag full of waste. And the majority of that seems to be cat poop.
But it saddens me to see how many households don’t bother to recycle — including many who share our alley. It’s as easy to recycle here as it is to throw out your garbage, so to me, there’s just no excuse.
In addition to recycling the obvious things and composting, there are a number of other things we do to reduce waste or be more eco-friendly:
- Instead of throwing out window envelopes, we tear out the cellophane pane, which is not recyclable. It takes about two seconds to tear it out and recycle the rest of the envelope.
- Use cloth napkins
- Use microfiber cloths for cleaning
- Wash and reuse plastic food storage bags
- Use green cleaning and laundry products, like those made by Ecover, Seventh Generation and Method, for example
- Buy from the bulk grocery bin to avoid packaging and save money
I’ve been finding other ways to recycle or reduce too:
- Buying an antique dining table instead of buying new
- Driving over to the village’s Public Works department and hauling home free mulch
- Using newspaper as a weed barrier when we start to plant our garden (more on that when we actually start planting)
But there are definitely things I need to work on, especially:
- Remembering to bring reusable bags to the grocery store every single time I go. We try to keep them in the car, but we sometimes forget. To help with that, I ordered ChicoBags, which fold down to cell-phone size and can fit in my purse or pocket
- Unplugging electronics when not in use
- Switching to a non-clay based cat litter, like Swheat Scoop or World’s Best Cat Litter
These are just some of the things I thought of off the top of my head, and they are by no means the only things we do. I’d love to hear about some of things you do to reduce and reuse — I’m always open to more ideas and suggestions!