Feed a Need in Calgary

My husband and I decided it was time to clean out the house and get rid of a bunch of “stuff” that has been piling up over the year – an old couch, my grandmother’s table and chairs, 2 desks, lots of old dishes, bedding, etc.

The last thing we want to do is send these items to the dump. Most of them are still in reasonable shape. They just need a bit of cleaning up.

We called around and many charities only take items that are “like new” so that wouldn’t work. Then we stumbled on Feed a Need in Calgary. Their web site www.feedaneed.ca says, “Many families in our city can’t afford the simple necessities of life; beds, sofas, tables.  For them, furniture of any kind is little more than a dream.”

Perfect!

We called them up and they were more than happy to come out with there truck and pick up all our “stuff”. Because this is an organization run by volunteers and donations, we were happy to write them a cheque to help cover their costs as well.

Feed a Need gathers donated household items from people in their community and redistributing them to others. This is an excellent example of people helping people within a community and making a difference in the lives of others.

It is a great way to avoid taking “stuff” to the dump and help others at the same time!

Alternative to plastic bags

I have a confession to make. Even though I wrote about reducing the number of plastic bags we use, I have struggled with what to do when it comes to my dog. It’s very convenient to throw a plastic bag in my pocket when we go for a walk so I have something handy to pick up his poop.

I realized there had to be a better way to do this and was determined to find a solution.

I heard that our city had supplied biodegradable bags in the off leash areas, I started looking around to see if I could find similar bags for sale commercially. I did.

Community Natural Foods in Calgary sells ECOSAFE biodegradable bags for doggie litter, kitchen garbage and trash bags (www.degradableplastics.com).

Regular plastic bags take decades to break down. When you consider the number of bags you throw away in a year and multiply that times the number of people in your community (and beyond), it is a huge problem for landfills. Biodegradable bags, on the other hand, totally degrade and turn into a food source for microorganisms.

I will be using up all the plastic bags I have (reuse and recycle) and will do my best to eliminate as many plastic bags as possible (reduce) by using either paper bags or reusable bags I keep in the trunk of my car.

The ‘No Bag’ Resolution

Garbage day in our household has us rushing around the house collecting garbage from various rooms in order to get it out on the street before the garbage truck comes by. Only this past week was different.

After our usual running around collecting, my husband called out from the garage that there just wasn’t enough garbage to put it out on the street. We typically have 1 large green garbage bag of garbage each week but this week we had the equivalent of 2 small kitchen bags which only took up about a third of a large green garbage bag.

We actually reduced the amount of garbage in our household to the point where we didn’t have enough to put out on the street. We, by the way, are 2 adults, 1 teenager and a dog.

Here’s how we did it:

Shopping friendly

  • buying items that have minimal or no packaging
  • using cloth bags at all stores (except where raw meat is concerned – I’m a bit nervous about that one)
  • use whatever plastic bag we do collect for picking up dog waste

Recycling – everything and anything that can be recycled goes into cardboard boxes in our pantry and eventually to the Recycle Depot. That includes:

  • all paper products including cardboard, newspaper, advertising, stationary and packaging
  • all acceptable plastics and any lid
  • metal cans, lids and aluminum pie plates
  • all glass jars and bottles
  • other stuff such as egg cartons and batteries

HINT: For a handy list of what is accepted contact your local Recycle Depot

3. Composting

  • all vegetable, fruit and egg shell waste goes into a small closed bucket under our sink
  • once a week that waste goes into our composter in the back yard (more on composting soon)

One of our New Year’s resolutions this year is to find ways to have more and more “no bag” garbage days in our household. I challenge everyone to find it in their hearts to do the same this year. What a gift to the environment that would be!

HP Inkjet Recycling Program

If you use HP print cartridges in your printer, don’t throw used ones in the garbage.  HP has an environmental initiative that is free and convenient.

Check inside your HP inkjet print cartridge or LaserJet supply box for a postage-paid return and recycling envelope or label. They are provided free of charge in select HP boxes.

If your package doesn’t include the envelope or labels, you can go online and order the free postage-paid shipping materials, allowing you to easily send in your used inkjet cartridge or LaserJet supplies for recycling. To get started, go to http://h30248.www3.hp.com/recycle/supplies/ or type in “hp ink recycling” into Goggle search.

Chemical Free Dryer

I always find it alarming how much chemicals there are in the products we buy – chemicals that not only hurt us physically but hurt the environment as well.

I’ve been slowly replacing all my regular products with “chemical free” products and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well they work.  One example is fabric softeners and disposable dryer sheets (such as Bounce).

Did you know that most fabric softeners and disposable dryer sheets are made up of toxic chemicals, which gets transferred to your clothes? When I think about babies and children wearing these clothes and possibly putting them in their mouths, it is quite disturbing.

I’ve switched from disposable dryer sheets to a product called “Static Eliminator” which is reusable dryer sheets. They are 100% hypo-allergenic, environmentally friendly and work really well to reduce static and keep clothing soft. The best news is that they last for more than 500 loads, which means you save money too!

You can find our dryer sheets at any Home Hardware Store (called Natura Static Free Dryer Sheets)  or at your local health food store. If they don’t have them in stock, they should be able to order them in. Alternatively, visit the manufacturer’s web site for this at www.staticeliminator.ca and other environmentally friendly products.

Start Recycling – Paper!

Do you recycle? If not, this is a great time to get started. If you already do recycle, find one more paper product from the list below that you can add to your usual routine. Make it easy to do by placing an empty box in a convenient place (perhaps close to your garbage can) and start placing these paper products in the box.

  1. Newspaper – newspaper, non-glossy newsprint flyers, moving paper and packaging paper.
  2. Cardboard/Boxboard – corrugated cardboard and boxboard (e.g., cereal, detergent, and cracker boxes). Be sure to flatten boxes.
  3. White Office Paper – white paper, copier paper, computer paper, fax paper, lined loose leaf all with one coloured ink on white.
  4. Coloured Paper – coloured paper, soup can labels, envelopes, construction paper, sugar, flour and brown paper bags, wrapping paper, glossy junk mail, magazines, Sears catalogues.
  5. Phone books

Unplug!

Take a walk around your house and take note of how many items are plugged in. Are you using those items right now? What about when you are at work or on holidays? As long as electronic devices are plugged in they are using energy. Unplug them! Make it easy by plugging TVs and stereos into power bars and using the on/off switch.

What about black boxes that power phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and rechargeable tools? Unplug them, too! Plug in your electronic devices only when they need charging or when you want to use them.

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