Parenting Seminars

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sustainable Strategies in a Small Town

We have to change our systems.  We have been here in small town Colorado for 2 weeks and we are twitching with disgust with all the garbage we have to throw out.  This region of small towns does not have the recycling and yard waste solutions that big city Seattle does.  Maybe there aren't enough people to support it.  Maybe they haven't made it a priority.  Maybe all the steps of the system hasn't been created in the area.  I'm not sure yet. We discovered that in a town of 6000 people there are 3 garbage companies available.  That seems inefficient but I haven't dug into that just yet. 

In Seattle, there is a weekly yard waste pick up that includes ALL food waste.  Yes, all those fruit and veggie scraps, the eggs shells and coffee grinds, but also the leftover chicken teriyaki or your breakfast cereal gets scraped into the bin.  We all had some sort of small compost container in our kitchens to collect as we cooked.  And for the recycling, there is so much that gets recycled that we had barely one bag of garbage each week. 

But now that we're here...the guilt is setting in with bags of food scraps and the minimum of recycling happening.  It looks like we'll be adding a weekly or monthly trip to a recycling center to handle some of the stuff that our garbage company won't take.  Like printed cardboard!  Are you kidding me?  They would have to ship it to New Mexico.  Well...that doesn't seem to make sense, does it?  So not only are we thinking differently about the packages we are purchasing but we are thinking more seriously about a compost system at our house.  We won't be able to compost the proteins in a basic yard system, but all those veggie and fruit scraps will work just fine for part of the season at least.  And eventually we'll get ourselves some chickens again which will definitely love the scraps.  Worms are on order as well. 

As for the car, well...we are definitely walking and riding our bikes a lot right now.  I think I've been in the car 2 times since we got here.  But my husband got a job in a nearby town so he'll be commuting about 15 miles round trip each day.  That's not bad.  In the off season, we'll be using the car as much as Seattle I expect.  And most people here run up the valley to the big town for shopping A LOT.  There's a Walmart, Target, bigger grocery stores, etc.  I don't like seeing that as an easy errand.  In fact, last week I planned a trip there one afternoon with 3 stops in mind.  I was exhausted at the end and was happy to be back in the small town.  I really don't like shopping.  I don't like parking lots, stop lights, 4 lanes of traffic.  I've been enjoying the lack of those things so that 10 mile trip to the "big town" will probably remain a once every couple of weeks or once a month event.

Water usage is also an issue in this space.  There is no dishwasher so I am running the water for a long time waiting for warm enough water.  So far, I've been filling water pitchers while I wait for the water temperature to get hot.  Then I put the pitchers in the refrigerator for drinking throughout the day.  Although I'm washing enough dishes that even this isn't taking care of all the extra going down the drain.  I may start heating water on the stove to wash dishes.  The shower is also like a fire hose and the toilet is an old school, full tank as well.  Both could use an upgrade just to minimize the waste of water.  I keep seeing dollars going down the drain.  The shower pressure is so high that water collects at my feet because it can't drain fast enough.  

On the other hand, our food bills are going up because we aren't able to get our bulk stuff like we used to at Costco.  We really tailored our eating around some of those items and they just don't make sense on a small scale.  So it looks like our eating will change a bit.  Speaking of that, we are ready to test Lucy on her food intolerances again.  She has chosen eggs for the first week.  So we'll see how that goes.  I'll keep you posted.  I'm not particularly excited about it as I'd rather us live with this healthy, balanced kid we've had for the past couple months.  But I know she needs this and we need to know what foods are giving her the worst symptoms so we're going to give it a go.


minoru said...

totally hear you on the garbage/recycling bit. it's terrible here in chicago, and the market is certainly big enough! it's just not on top of everyone's mind. not just at our home, but at work, in public places... it's sad - maybe rahm will do something about it (doubt that).

Si Issler said...

Living in Rapid City, SD is a challenge when it comes to recycling, too. They did just start recycling INcity limits, but not all businesses do it for varying reasons. The recycle facility is top of the line and awesome, but you just have to get your stuff THERE, instead of trucks coming to get it for you. There's lots of work to be done here. I'll keep you posted.