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Pioneers vs the Modern Homestead Trash  RSS feed

 
garden master
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I am not sure which is the best forum to put this.

I fully understand the 4R's. Three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. And the other 4thR: Rethink your every purchase in terms of zero-waste, considering how it will finally be disposed. Repair broken appliances, electronics and other items instead of tossing them into landfill trash. Repurpose or upcycle by transforming the old into new, usable objects.

I have a book written in the 1830 that says "Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it, however trifling that use may be."
I understand about composting and feeding leftovers to animals.  So food scraps and paper are not a problem.  We are not able to produce all our own food so cans and bottles are part of the problem.  Some cans can be used for planting things in.  Some jars can be reused to store leftovers.  But I don't have space to save them all and there is no recycling where I live.  Then we have feed sacks, that are made of plastic so what do we do with them?  I know some folks use them to put trash in but I don't want them attracting bugs in my house.  Occasionally something breaks and is thrown away. Occasionally there is a vinegar bottle to throw away or some such bottle.

Our pioneer ancestors knew how to do it.  They reused the flour and feed sacks that were made out of cloth.  They made bone broth out of their scrape bones then put the bones into the fire in their wood stoves.  Also back then their were people who made money collecting bones to sell for fertilizer. That book also says to sell bottles to the saloons to use for cider.

There is no trash service or recycling center, only the county dump which charges $20.00 for a large black trash bag of garbage and is too far away.  Also we have no charities or donation centers to donate unwanted items.
There must be other people in our same situation, so how do you handle this problem?  Especially the feed sacks ... I wish they sold feed in paper sacks.
 
pollinator
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We drive to the dump or distant recycling centers every few years.  Because we run a couple businesses from home, we buy office equipment which regularly breaks (as do most appliances these days).  Some recycling centers and office supply stores will take these.   We use feed sacks to store trash until a dump run.  Our area actually does have trash service but it is more expensive than the dump for the amount of trash we produce.  Our dump only charges $2 per large bag of trash.

I think the only solution for us is to try to reduce purchased inputs such as feed.  Though it is extremely challenging to raise one's own feed for animals, I think it is possible, and a worthy goal if one wants animals.  So in this case the feed sack trash problem might only last a couple years as one builds a robust enough system to feed the animals.  It might require reducing the number of animals to a minimum - for instance I can probably only realistically grow enough food for a handful of laying hens at this time.  I'm still feeding mine seeds from the store though, after a failed attempt to feed them from homegrown food.

One of our home businesses produces a lot of plastic trash, which I hate, so I'm hoping we can drop that biz entirely in the next few years.

I hate that our present society is built on throwing stuff away. 

I think not knowing what to do with modern trash might be an argument against moving to remote areas, unless one can figure out how to live as an actual pioneer and almost never buy anything.  I don't see how to live a modern life, with its waste,  in a remote area without modern services. 
 
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My dad puts glass and a couple rocks in a concrete mixer for a while to round the sharp edges off and then uses it as gravel in the driveway.

Plastic feed bags get used as soft pots to grow trees and tomatoes to sell.  Or as weed mat around trees. But I still buy most of my feed in paper bags and they get used as garden mulch, as does any plain cardboard

Most paper either ends up as mulch or fire starter.

But we still have way too much that ends up at the landfill. Ours is free (built into our property taxes) so there isn't a huge financial incentive for us to change, just our conscious.

 
Posts: 944
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RE: Poly Feed Bags

I'd find a place to store them and save up. You never know when you might decide you want to do some sort of earthbag construction.
 
Anne Miller
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Thanks for all the replies.  Great comments especially about the cement mixer.  DH wants one ... a guy thing?  I can't justify getting one if we don't need one.

We have four food plots that we plant with oats, rye and millet but we don't get enough rain to keep it growing and don't really want to haul water to them.  We buy deer corn and deer protein.  It comes in pretty bags that I thought would make pretty shopping bags to sell but I just don't have the energy to sell.  We flatten them then roll into a bundle until time to dispose of them.

It took me about a year to get a system that works for me.  I read about zero waste, recycling, etc to try to figure it out.  I handle it like I was going to recyle.  Cans are rinsed before putting in the kitchen trash.  Glass jars are washed and dried in case they are needed.  Paper and cardboard are placed in the office trash. I am glad we don't generate a lot of trash but could never do zero waste.

 
master steward
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One thing you can do with the waste that you can't reuse/compost/etc, is to bag it (preferably in smaller bags) and put it in fast food restaurant or gas station trashcans. My husband does this to save on dump trips. He's even done it with kitchen trashcan-sized bags, but that's more awkward, as he has to take the lid of the trash can. But, smaller bags of trash can just be put in the trashcan the normal way, just like when people empty their car's trash while driving. Drive up, open up trash can, put in trash, drive off. It's totally not the most um, ethical way to go about it, but it does save money if you have none. And, putting it in the trashcans of fast food restaurants at least makes puts a dent in the profit of the places that are bad for people and the environment's health.

As for feed bags, I get my feed through Scratch and Peck Organic Feeds, and it comes in paper sacks. I love those things for smothering weeds and starting new garden beds!

And, I have to say, WOW, $20 for one bag of trash at the dump . That's insane! We pay $20 for a whole car full of trash!
 
steward
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... WOW, $20 for one bag of trash at the dump


Yeah, insane.  But it is a double edged sword:
If it is too cheap, the city loses money on it...they should at least break even.
If it is too expensive, many people will just abandon it on the road, or wherever they can.
 
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I save the poly feed bags for future use. For a while, the feed supplier was get feed in bulk and I could bring the bags back to get refilled. Maybe talk to the supplier to see if that is possible.
Glass in the cement mixer..... Another option is putting it in a rock tumbler. The ones used to smooth rocks for jewelry and art work. smooth glass pieces have a lot of artistic uses.
 
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My husband and I live on a lot in a small city. Rather than putting out a garbage can weekly, which we consider wasteful both money and energy wise, we collect wrappers uncontaminated by foods in reusable garbage bags and store them in a shed. Glass bottles, cans etc. are saved for recycling, as are tree trimmings (mostly thorny) that we have no use for. These all go to the local landfill every 10 to 14 weeks, which incidentally happens to have a great view of valleys and mountains. We like that we can deposit metal items on the metal pile, wood trimming on the wood pile, and put recyclables in the shipping containers that are provided.

We currently pay $10 for a pickup truck load. In return, we can pick up a load of free mulch (we go back in after they've weighed us) since they chip up the wood trimmings people bring. Occasionally we find something to take home and extend its life (making sure the workers in their big equipment aren't watching as this practice is frowned upon - although all they're doing is burying the stuff). Items have included a wicker table, hardback chairs, a beautiful blanket that just needed washing, a giant white teddy bear in pristine condition, folding chairs that just needed a little repair etc... Another pastime is dumpster diving for lumber and windows, and gleaning fruit, which is abundant here some years.

Food scraps and some paper items are composted at home - we have no chickens as yet. Meat/fish scraps/containers are kept in a bag in the freezer and then periodically disposed of in the garbage can at our local store (most of these foodstuffs are purchased there to begin with) or during our landfill trip.

I do think about the ultimate end of containers and wrappings when we purchase items and try to minimize these. We use reusable shopping bags and reuse plastic bags and paper in multiple ways. However, we're definitely not anywhere near zero waste and are unlikely to be in the foreseeable future. I think it would be more doable if we were part of an intentional community where we could purchase and store items in bulk, and pool resources for things such as grinding/milling equipment, large storage bins, or a woodchipper, as well as have designated people expending their energy in certain areas instead of two people like us trying to do it all.
 
gardener
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We pay about twenty bucks for a weekly trash collection of a can about fifty gallons in size.  Our trash generation is less than that, so it's not really an issue for us.  However, we live in a poor rural area and the trash collection is optional, which means there's a hillbilly/redneck contingent that runs smelly burn barrels in their front yards and throws larger items in random places on their own property or along country roads.  On two occasions this summer after local power outages my dogs have brought back melted/fermented freezer contents that somebody must have dumped somewhere along the few hundred yards of our county road frontage.  Turns out my dogs really like fermented tilapia fillets!

Our local landfill is a WCA franchise and they charge by the pound for garbage taken to them; it's not expensive if you have a big enough load but there's about a forty dollar minimum which makes it impractical in most cases. 

The *traditional* approach around here is to save everything useful (including glass bottles and metal cans), burn everything that's burnable, compost and/or feed any food waste to chickens/hogs, and to maintain a small personal landfill for burn barrel ash and non-burnable trash that has no scrap metal value.  A responsible land owner will have a pit that gets buried as it fills up, people with a higher hillbilly factor just dump it all in a ravine or someplace out of site, and people who max out the hillbilly scale practice midnight dumping along county roads. 
 
Dan Boone
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I forgot to say: I'm scared to use the woven poly bags that our dogfood comes in.  They'd make a great earthbag wall that I could use to reflect heat and sunshine to make a microclimate for tender subtropical trees, but when they start to degrade I'll have colorful plastic strings everywhere.  It's not something I want to deal with.
 
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I have thought that they may some day have a diagnosis for someone like me who has a hard time throwing things away.  It takes a lot of energy sorting, delivering, and storing for purpose. One generation goes through the depression, the next WW II rationing, Now, Gross Consumption overkill. And I was never going to be my mother! I think I can save the world if I just work harder at not filling landfills.
At the end of the day (literally) I often see my neighbor going out to his burn dump where he also buries old treated poles and probably worse. Arizona dont regulate their red necks!
Thank you all out there concerned enough to do your best and report in. It get's real lonely out here. 
 
Posts: 512
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hey... the feedbags can be used for bag-gardening.
when you use them for earthbag-building, people say to plaster them asap. i think, this will prevent the degradation.

i saw a video where people in africa put old cans/tins into keyhole gardens (raised beds) to provide iron for the plants.

concerning glass (jars and bottles): just an idea... what about using them as habitat? like a pile of rocks. it would provide many spaces for small animals to live/breed in. but make sure to keep it covered, because sunlight can get concentrated and cause fire.
edit: ok, i read in another thread that glass jars left out in the rain will collect water and breed mosquitos. so maybe that s not the best option.
what about making a wall from bottles, jars and cob and place some kind of roof on it? some wasps or bees will like that. we had wasps filling holes in bricks with clay and nesting in them.
 
Jotham Bessey
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Susan Quinlan wrote:I have thought that they may some day have a diagnosis for someone like me who has a hard time throwing things away.  It takes a lot of energy sorting, delivering, and storing for purpose. One generation goes through the depression, the next WW II rationing, Now, Gross Consumption overkill. And I was never going to be my mother! I think I can save the world if I just work harder at not filling landfills.
At the end of the day (literally) I often see my neighbor going out to his burn dump where he also buries old treated poles and probably worse. Arizona dont regulate their red necks!
Thank you all out there concerned enough to do your best and report in. It get's real lonely out here. 



"Today I'm going to try and change the world" - Johnny Reid.
It's more than lonely, if it were not for the internet I'd believe I was all alone in the world for sure.
One person can't save the world but do you know about the important job that needed to be done?
"There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have."

As far as the Gross consumption overkill.... 2000 years ago it was a matter of personal survival to gather as much resources around you as you could. To insure the continuation of our species it was a good idea to have big families. then came improved health care and knowledge so survival went up. and the power of oil came along so gathering of resources was no longer necessary but oh so much easier to do! 200 years later and the only thing that changed it the human habits is the reduction in family size (which makes the gathering of resources less necessary). So now the stuff we gather.... you just have to wonder... "WHY?"

To save the world, all humans (aka. EVERYBODY) have to change their thinking to "Reduce, reuse, reclaim, repurpose, upcycle, and recycle"

Question: why is it frowned on to throw meat products in the compost?

 
Anne Miller
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Wow! All great comments! Thanks, everyone for contributing ideas.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Jotham Bessey wrote:Question: why is it frowned on to throw meat products in the compost?

Because it tends to attract undesirables [rats in particular] to your compost. It'll still break down quite well [especially in a roaring hot compost] but it's so much less hassle to toss meat scraps to a scavenger [such as poultry or pigs.]
 
pollinator
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I process meat through a hot compost pile with no problem. I just put either horse manure or fresh grass clippings above and below the meat. In actually, what I'm processing is flyblown roadkill, something too far rotted to feed to the chickens. But I've also composted entire adult sheep in a big compost pile. It works fine as long as the pile is active and hot. No smell.
 
Jotham Bessey
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:

Jotham Bessey wrote:Question: why is it frowned on to throw meat products in the compost?

Because it tends to attract undesirables [rats in particular] to your compost. It'll still break down quite well [especially in a roaring hot compost] but it's so much less hassle to toss meat scraps to a scavenger [such as poultry or pigs.]



I thought so. I don't have to worry about that cause if one more rodent shows up in this locale no one would notice anyway.
 
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I just saw a really cool video (
  ) and was reminded of this thread.  The guy uses old bottles to knap arrowheads.  Obviously not a zero waste solution for bottles, since it creates a lot of chips and shards, but I thought it was a really cool way of upcycling.  He also uses an old toilet for knapping, too.
 
pollinator
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Given the high costs of disposal you have being described,let me share a few things I have seen.

First there are the trash rocks by Thinkenstein:
http://www.gdiy.com/projects/trash-rocks-eliminate-unrecyclable-trash/index.php?lang=en

Thinkenstein lives in Puerto Rico , I believe, but wherever it is,trash and recycling service is not really an option.
He uses fishnets and cement to sequester trash and build structures.

The other solution that came to mind I first saw documented in a Picasa album, by Jon and Flip Anderson.It's not showing up on Picasa anymore(I think Picasa is defunct).
It was a project that involved using a rocket stove to melt plastic to a slump point and then press it into roof tiles.

The best documents I  could find were at this inactive Facebook profile.

https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=666041593433421&id=106744602696459&set=a.666035063434074.1073741826.106744602696459&source=54

Evidently, if you control the heat carefully, the plastic melts without off gassing or burning.
 
Anne Miller
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I had heard of knapping with glass but I am really afraid of broken glass causing more damage than good.

I had heard of melting plastic bottles, etc. into bricks so roofing tiles is along those lines.  I don't really have a need for bricks or roof tiles.

And the trash rocks is a great concept, too bad someone doesn't turn that into a business selling landscape rocks.  And the bricks and roof tiles.

I guess the cities that use a service that does recycling may make a dent in their trash output.  I heard some big cities are banning the plastic bags that businesses use.
 
Dan Boone
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Anne Miller wrote:I had heard of melting plastic bottles, etc. into bricks so roofing tiles is along those lines.  I don't really have a need for bricks or roof tiles.



My instant reaction to this is "OMG, I could use an infinite supply of cinder-block-sized bricks to build garden edgings, raised beds, and tree protection structures."

Of course making them from plastics raises other issues to be considered, including fuel sources, process emissions, and product stability.  All of these have implications for zero-waste thinking, also possibly good solutions, so it's complicated.
 
Jotham Bessey
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For garden edging one could fill plastic bottles with clay or any heavy soil, and use as is.
Could also use cement if you want rock hard consistency
 
Dan Boone
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Jotham Bessey wrote:For garden edging one could fill plastic bottles with clay or any heavy soil, and use as is.



That wouldn't meet my specific needs, because thinner plastic containers tend to break down in the elements into hard-to-manage fragments that still have to be picked back up and put back into my waste stream.  After four years or so of container gardening I'm already managing a fairly heavy stream of degraded plastic fragments, though it's decreasing as I manage to acquire more durable containers -- I source metal or wooden containers, or very heavy-duty plastics, whenever the gods of scrounging and garage sales permit. 

Generalizing,  in my climate at least the out-of-doors re-use of consumer-grade plastic containers to remove them from the waste stream is a delaying tactic at best.  It's fine if you don't mind picking up and managing a ton of little plastic bits a few years down the line, but I'm about out of patience with doing that. 
 
William Bronson
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Elsewhere on this site someone posted about using baled tires as building blocks.
If you could bale plastic in the same way , it could be coated like a trash rock.
Actually, if the plastic trash is packed into the plastic feed bags, I think they could be coated with cement in a similar way as to the trash rocks.
Only good for non load bearing walls.
Ecologically it requires the use of cement,which has negative implications,but so do some if the other disposal methods.
Economically, you can get a lot if cement for the cost of disposing of one bag of trash.
 
Anne Miller
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I have really enjoyed everyone's comments.    While ready other permies thread I found some solutions that might be beneficial to others that I thought I would share.  These are some neat ideas.

Recycled-Arts-Crafts

Recycled-Art-Post-Consumer-Arts

upcycled-glass-bottles

Melting-glass-bottles-stepping-stones

glass-bottles-jars-roofing
 
Jotham Bessey
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Fiberglass insulation works by trapping thousands of dead air pockets, the fibers themselves have no insulation value. I am thinking one could shred plastic, put it in a bag and use it for insulation.
 
William Bronson
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You could,but it would be highly flamable.worse than paper,in my opinion.
Not sure if boric acid would be an adequate fire proofing compound.
 
Tobias Ber
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hmm.... what about melting plastic and dipping wooden poles into it? the part that goes into the ground/earth

or melting plastic, putting it into a mold to create bricks. these could be used to lift wooden structures above the ground to prevent them from moisture.

i ve repaired a plastic rainbarrel by soldering cracks with a low-power (10watts) soldering iron and using strips of same plastic. also i used it to secure a plastic funnel to my self-built urine-diverter for the toilet.

perhaps you could waterproof/repair roofs with plastic foils and a hot air gun.

you can use plastic as a hot-glue
 
Jotham Bessey
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I think coating underground portions would create a place to hold water in the wood, however, coating tool handles would be a good idea!
Mixing melted plastic with sand might be a good way to make bricks.
 
pollinator
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Something to note, the 1800's had a lot less issues with wasteful packaging and had no plastic trash.

Back in the day most homesteads had their own dump. Archeologists and historians in fact love to rummage through these to learn about the people of the eras.

My land is still new to me, but I am working on figuring out where I should locate a dump on it. With 40 acres I have plenty of space, but still don't have access to all parts easily. A dump should be easily to drive up to but still out of the way to not be an eye sore. You should try and set it up with some organization. Storing possibly useful items in one area while having true wastes stored in some sort of pit that can occasionally have a layer pushed over to cover it.

Biggest thing I would say is try and keep as much plastics off your property as possible. Plastics just hang around. Also watch out for heavy metals and chemicals getting into your water. But essentially the best thing you could do is figure out some sort of waste disposal on your own property. You still might need to remove some materials, like chemicals and plastics, but this would lower your trips to a public dump.
 
Jotham Bessey
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An organized dump, AKA boneyard, will enable you to store everything that comes on your property long term. If it is organized, when you have a project you can look over your dump to see if there is anything there that you could use. Which is what I should do, I cleaned up this place cause it was left in the mess, but some of the things I got rid of I wish I hadn't, trouble was, it was constantly in the way.
 
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R Scott wrote:
But we still have way too much that ends up at the landfill. Ours is free (built into our property taxes) so there isn't a huge financial incentive for us to change, just our conscious.



I comfort myself about landfills, remembering that oil is being pumped up and used regardless, and putting it back in the ground as plastic is better than it being burned as fuel.
 
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On the feed bag issue - perhaps rather than bringing bags of feed back to your place, you could take a barrel with you to the feed store.  Dump the feed in and leave the bag there. Of course, the real problem is not how to dispose of the plastic bags, but that plastic bags are being made to begin with.  Once they're made, someone has to deal with eventual disposal.

When you go thinking about heating plastics, remember there are quite a number of varieties, with varying responses to being heated.  I'm not comfortable with melting plastic, in my experience if you heat plastic, it offgasses, so not a path I would take.

Regarding those old pioneers - while they made tremendous use of everything, they were not nearly as concerned about environmentally friendly trash disposal as we are today.  Probably part of where some of our modern problem attitudes come from.
 
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I have been stockpiling my plastic feed bags for about a year. I have a earthbag passive solar greenhouse project in mind for them. We have a couple pet PBP's that get most of our scraps but the chickens (which were gifted to us by someone who had to move right after they started laying) get any scraps that are of porcine origin. The chickens also get any leftover fat as the piggies are pets and we aren't trying to fatten them.
 
Anne Miller
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It has been over two years since I started this thread.  I feel I have come a long way since then.  We currently generate about 1 large black trash bag that we take to the dump about every 1.5 or 2 months.  This is mostly stuff generated by my husband.  Like the paper and plastic wrapper off things like batteries, tools and alot more.  And his pepsi bottles.

I do contribute cans that food comes in. All my glass jars are reused.

The big item these days are plastic containers that peanuts come in.  My husband really likes peanuts.  I was getting them in cardboard cartons from Planters, then Sam's Club changed to their brand in plastic containers.

I have learned to fully use all food scrap, like making bone broth with them and feeding them to the door.  For a while I was giving them to the wildlife.

All coffee grounds and egg shells go into the garden.

We do burn our paper and cardboard so the we don't have to haul them to the dump.  We only do this after a rain and it all burn within a few minutes.  It is not as much as grilling a steak.

Here are some fun pictures I found giving ideas of what can be done with cans and bottles:


Tin Man Bird Feeder




Tin Can Wind Chimes




Plastic Bottle Scarecrow




 
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Anne: are the Sam's Club peanuts in these containers now? 

Those are great for reuse, I drag them home from the recycle bins all the time. They fit on shelves nicely, are easy to pick up, and hold a lot of nails! Those are some of my favorite type!

and, rereading this thread, Dan Boone's comment about making cinder block sized landscaping bricks REALLY appeals to my weird little world... I may be doing that one! I hate seeing waste, can do things like make bricks easy, and have been trying to figure out what I'd like to do for a few areas that need about 12 inch high dirt retaining walls by the driveway.

And somewhere in this thread there was talk of feed bag reuse, my feed comes in the heavy paper bags, great for weed suppression!

Anne: sounds like you are doing it all well! I hate waste... Formidable Vegetable has a song about waste, that uses the word "disgrace" and to me it is. It's simply a disgrace what gets wasted in this society. I harvest the waste stream for my own ends, but there's SO MUCH of it. It horrifies me. I sing this while I dumpster dive, and think what a horrible disgrace it is to the world that this is considered normal. UGH.
 
Anne Miller
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Pearl, that's pretty close,  mine have a black top and red label. I hate to throw them away because they are square.  I've got flour, cornmeal, and cookies in them.  I have plastic juice containers (64 oz) full of rice, beans and instant potatoes. I like the juice containers for those because they pour easier than the square ones. So now I have a whole shelf in the laundry room full of empties.

We were thrilled when our feed store started carrying deer protein in paper bags.  Though when the pellets started jamming the feeder shoots we had to go back to using the brand with the plastic bags. Deer can't eat if the food will not come out.
 
Dan Boone
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Pearl Sutton wrote:and, rereading this thread, Dan Boone's comment about making cinder block sized landscaping bricks REALLY appeals to my weird little world... I may be doing that one! I hate seeing waste, can do things like make bricks easy, and have been trying to figure out what I'd like to do for a few areas that need about 12 inch high dirt retaining walls by the driveway.



Oh, if you do, please be sure to share pictures and let us know what you learn about the practicalities of your process!  I would be excited to hear about this and see photos.

I have not tried it yet.  As usual, I have more ideas than time or ambition.

I feel I should point out that on the Paul Wheaton eco scale he puts "contemplating zero waste" and "eliminating 95% of toxic gick" on roughly the same level.  I won't speak for him (in fact I already know we differ) but it's fair to say there are two different ways to look at the "melt a bunch of soft/fragile plastic into a hard/useful structural brick" notion.  My own view is that if you can find a way to do it for a reasonable amount of hassle, with a reasonable amount of energy expenditure, while liberating no unreasonable amount of pollution, you've reduced the erodible "threat surfaces" of all that yucky plastic waste, replacing it with one solid durable useful object that will have a (relative) tiny surface area from which to shed toxins and much less opportunity to break down into forty zillion tiny pieces in your garden soil or somebody else's landfill, river, or ocean. 

But you will still have a (presumably roughly cubical) object made out of toxic gick that sits in your yard shedding some small-but-measurable-by-science amount of toxins into your environment.  I suspect that Paul wouldn't want that at wheaton labs, where he's striving for a very high eco level and would, I think, much prefer the plastic never come onto the property in the first place.  My own ethics suggest that if it's a choice between this, and sending plastics for which I am otherwise responsible "away" (when, truly, there is no "away") that I ought to suck it up and do it.  But maybe the edge of the driveway is indeed better than around my edibles.  And, full acknowledgment, the dilemma does raise the question of why am I responsible for all these plastics?  (Like many in this thread, the answer is partly lifestyle choices that are difficult to unmake, and partly the other people in our lives who are fine with plastics.)
 
Pearl Sutton
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Dan Boone wrote:

Pearl Sutton wrote:and, rereading this thread, Dan Boone's comment about making cinder block sized landscaping bricks REALLY appeals to my weird little world... I may be doing that one! I hate seeing waste, can do things like make bricks easy, and have been trying to figure out what I'd like to do for a few areas that need about 12 inch high dirt retaining walls by the driveway.


Oh, if you do, please be sure to share pictures and let us know what you learn about the practicalities of your process!  I would be excited to hear about this and see photos.
I have not tried it yet.  As usual, I have more ideas than time or ambition.

If I do, I'll tell you how it worked :) I too have more ideas than energy, but that is just a cool idea.

I feel I should point out that on the Paul Wheaton eco scale he puts "contemplating zero waste" and "eliminating 95% of toxic gick" on roughly the same level.  I won't speak for him (in fact I already know we differ) but it's fair to say there are two different ways to look at the "melt a bunch of soft/fragile plastic into a hard/useful structural brick" notion.  My own view is that if you can find a way to do it for a reasonable amount of hassle, with a reasonable amount of energy expenditure, while liberating no unreasonable amount of pollution, you've reduced the erodible "threat surfaces" of all that yucky plastic waste, replacing it with one solid durable useful object that will have a (relative) tiny surface area from which to shed toxins and much less opportunity to break down into forty zillion tiny pieces in your garden soil or somebody else's landfill, river, or ocean. 

But you will still have a (presumably roughly cubical) object made out of toxic gick that sits in your yard shedding some small-but-measurable-by-science amount of toxins into your environment.


Yeah, that is an issue, and that might make it so when I have energy to do this, I don't. Or I may have found a better option in the free stuff that comes my way category. I'm told the land here reliably produces two crops of rocks a year, so I may end up doing something with rocks. Or bricks or blocks if any show up. or melted glass. But if that little dirt edge doesn't get restrained with something solid, I'm going to end up having to use machinery to level it periodically, and that is a bad option in my eyes. Anything that can be done right needs to be. And some kind of edging is required, I have no energy to keep messing with it for years. I'd honestly prefer bricks or rocks.

  My own ethics suggest that if it's a choice between this, and sending plastics for which I am otherwise responsible "away" (when, truly, there is no "away") that I ought to suck it up and do it.  But maybe the edge of the driveway is indeed better than around my edibles.


I doubt I'd put bricks like that around my edibles. That's not likely at ALL. But the cars, trucks, and tractors are already going by there, it's already not food space in my eyes. And there IS no "away." which is really the problem in the world.

the dilemma does raise the question of why am I responsible for all these plastics?


Oh, I'm NOT!!! I'd be getting the plastic out of the recycle bins. I buy VERY little in plastic. However, getting any out of the waste stream might be good. It sickens me to see what gets thrown out.
Like I said, it's an interesting idea, and I need something there to retain dirt. I'm tossing it in my back pocket, if I don't end up with something I prefer, it might be a viable alternative :) And the waste I see sickens me.

At risk of being rude to Paul, sorry, no insult intended, he is not a physically small, health challenged female doing it basically alone (with 80 year old mom) on a low budget. We have different things we are willing to/required to tolerate to make our lives work. And different parameters of what it needs to do when it's done. One of mine is the driveway has to be smooth enough for a non-powered wheelchair. That means no dirt drifts across it. His is no toxic gick, and that's high on mine, but I HAVE to be able to access my land, even if my health crashes again. And I don't think that's high on his needs/expectations list. I'm hoping I never need it. But I'd be a fool to not design for it. If I do need it, I will not be able to change it at that point. My health has been horrifying since 1996, I'm currently doing well, by my standards, not using my canes often etc. But I also know how fast that can change, and has changed in the past.

I'm hoping bricks show up! Weird things do show up in my world. I hunt them down and drag them home! Anyone got bricks they'd bring me? :)
 
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