These People have no Garbage!


My roommate and I were watching  a news program on TV, and a couple with 2 kids were being shown how they   throw out—in the garbage, about $300  worth of food a month.  I couldn’t believe it.

I told my roommate, “We don’t even spend $300 on food a month.”

Of course, we eat very little mammal.  Maybe  several times a year.There are several reasons for this, which I won’t go into.  I admire vegetarians & totally  admire vegans, but , although I am getting closer, I am not there yet.    But this is not the total reason we average $80 a week on groceries—and that includes cleaning supplies,l office supplies, and toilet paper.

How do we do it? Well, remember, no kids. Kids are very expensive…and the idea they don’t  teach household budgeting in 7th & 8th grad math classes in the USA is  unconscionable. They should send kids out to price  diapers & baby formula. No joke.  But I digress…

I shop sales and buy  in season produce.  Gag me, but I do a lot of grocery shopping at Aldi’s.  I know they are cheaper because their employees are not unionized, but  they are 30% cheaper on  dairy, and at least 10–20% on many other items.  Bring cash or a debit card—& your own bags.  They are cheaper than Walmart—& I would only go to Walmart if they had something I absolutely could not find anywhere else.  Walmart has destroyed small town America.

We, in Chicago, are lucky to have specialty ‘green grocers’, and very close to  home are 2 that  provide phenomenal values on  produce.  Sometimes,  1/2  is spoiled, but even throwing it away, it is cheaper than a chain store…& that’s where we get into the  NO GARBAGE.  We compost.  

I had a pile by the  side of the house, & my  current tenants have a large bin.  We compost  everything we can.  &, we recycle.

In the early 1980’s, I, with several other concerned community members, founded  the first actual community based recycling center in Chicago:  Uptown Recycling Station.  I became involved because of the environmental conservation aspects of it, but other board members  joined on to create jobs for  southeast Asian immigrants.  I think, at the most, we created 4 jobs, but they were living wage jobs with health insurance.

We maintained the  recycling center, but  also got a van & collected ‘set outs’ of glass, metal, and paper, in the very high density neighborhood of Roger Park.  We probably had about 20% of the community  participating  then. Amazing, considering  the  ward was at least  70% rental apartments, &  people moved a lot.
We convinced the  city to  give us a ‘diversion (from the landfill) credit.’  That means  for every ton of stuff we  diverted from  the landfill, which the city would have had to pay to dispose, they paid us.  We were a very, ah, lean operation.

Now, about 30 years later, we finally—finally— got  blue bins for  what is called curb side collection, from the city.  I know people won’t take the time to separate their recyclables from their ‘wet waste’ unless they have kids, but we’re getting there!

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