Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trash by any Other Name Smells as Sour

Key idea: If you aren't recycling, WHY NOT?

My Dad told me something very interesting last week. He throws out about six bags of trash a year. Only six! That really benefits him because the trash pickup in his area is done by paying per bag. So, he spends about $12 a year to take care of what he can't compost, burn in his woodstove, or recycle. Can you say the same about your trash output?

I find it disturbing the names of some trash companies. There are at least five of them that growl their way through my development once or twice a week. We have the ever-present Waste Management (do I need someone to manage it for me?), the new Evergreen Waste Solutions (using green and solution, of which garbage dumps are neither) and others who are a bit less ostentatious about what they do.

Do you ever think about what goes in your trash can? Isn't there a good chance it contains stuff you could be recycling (the styrofoam tray from the chicken that you were too squeamish to rinse?), food items that could be composted or put down the disposal, or paper that can be disposed of elsewhere? What about stuff that you simply don't have to throw out? Donate used electronics to the thrift store, look up how to recycle cardboard on or find a clever way to use those old socks with holes (dust rags, sock puppets, etc.).

Here's some sobering data about how the United States compares to the rest of the world in trash production, er, "waste generation." For those of us unaccustomed to the metric system, 760kg equals 1,672 pounds per person...or more than 3/4 of a ton of trash every year. That's sick.

So, in conclusion, let me give you a pat on the back for putting your soda bottles and aluminum cans in the recycle bin. But, don't just stop there--first evaluate what you've got and then recycle, compost, reuse or flat out eliminate buying something that you will end up throwing away. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Supermarket Loyalty Cards

I stumbled across this article a few weeks ago. It seems to fly in the face of everything that hard-core bargain hunting coupon ladies are all about. It tells you not to sign up for customer loyalty cards.

In a very roundabout way, the article suggests you don't rely on that card to get you all the deals you need. But you knew that already. Just like you knew many of the tips from my previous post on grocery shopping. Loyalty cards and coupons are sticky wickets when you are a brand-loyal consumer. I'll admit that I only want Heinz ketchup and I don't care if the other brand is a dollar less because it tastes weird. So, I choose to wait to stock up on Heinz when it goes on sale ('cause I've never seen a coupon for Heinz ketchup). However it's no surprise that when I buy one brand of pasta at the store, I'll get a coupon for a competing brand.

Once again, I have to compliment my favorite store, Target, for their wonderful checkout coupons for the stuff I actually buy. I will more than gladly take that $1.50 coupon for the coffee I buy every few weeks. Even better that I can combine the store coupon with the manufacturer's coupon. Target has the best price on it anyway. Not to mention their awesome credit card that automatically gives you 5% off your purchase.

Anyway, I can't say that loyalty cards, checkout coupons and store credit cards are all bad. You just have to know how to work them in your favor, and be glad to put more than a few in the recycling.

What do you think? How many stores do you visit in an average week to get the best savings, and do you have their card?