Family slashes garbage output

During Garbage Free February, Melody Schmitke and her family threw out a quarter of the amount of garbage that they typically do in one month.

Melody Schmitke of Red Deer hopes to keep her garbage bin empty through the month of February. She and her family are participating in the Garbage Free February.

Melody Schmitke of Red Deer hopes to keep her garbage bin empty through the month of February. She and her family are participating in the Garbage Free February.

During Garbage Free February, Melody Schmitke and her family threw out a quarter of the amount of garbage that they typically do in one month.

The married mother of two said they accumulated enough garbage in 28 days to fill only one 37-litre bag.

The Red Deer family usually throws out enough to fill four bags every month.

“I’m pretty happy with that,” said Schmitke, who has now participated in the ReThink Red Deer challenge three times in an effort to scale back her family’s waste.

This year was her best performance yet.

The majority of the garbage that they did toss came from products and food that they had purchased prior to February, Schmitke said.

The most significant reduction in household trash came from cooking meals from scratch instead of buying packaged food.

It took more time, Schmitke admitted, but she was willing to “sacrifice” a few hours of TV each week to instead make fresh cookies, bread and even tortillas for burritos.

And the only place any scraps were tossed was in one of Schmitke’s two backyard compost bins.

Wasting less was just one benefit. The other was taste.

“It tastes so much better,” she said of fresh food.

“My husband was like, ‘This is great.’ ”

Another way she limited garbage was by going to Big Bend Market in south Red Deer, where the butcher would package Schmitke’s order in her own containers instead of wrapping it.

“I think a lot of the changes I will end up keeping,” Schmitke said.

“We ate so much healthier. It’s better for the environment.

“And, even in my own personal life I’ve created a lot of awareness with people.”

ptrotter@bprda.wpengine.com