Cats, bins, snot and plastic

Late this spring I started properly monitoring how much my household sends to landfill, and what we send. I turned out that we were putting out a small bin bag per month – which for a household of three didn’t seem too bad. Our landfill waste was, for the greater part, un-recyclable plastic, so the bin bags were light and loosely packed and could have been compacted to take up little space. Sometimes we’d have to throw out a truly broken and useless item, but there weren’t many of those in any given month.

Then we took in a cat. Our bin use increased dramatically. As we live in a flat, cats have to be up for being indoors cats, and they have to use litter trays. This creates waste. However, what creates far more waste, is the non-recyclable sachets most cat food comes in. We can’t do tins because we haven’t got a fridge, and an open tin of cat food in a cool box in summer conditions is not going to work. One elderly cat with a small appetite does not get through a tin quickly. For a few months we were throwing away far more and far more often.

Eventually we found a food that the cat really likes and that creates less waste. Dry cat food of course comes in cardboard boxes. You can also get a sort of chewy and dry cat food in bags. It doesn’t go off in the way that fresh meat will, and doesn’t attract flies. We’d had an arrangement with our local crows about leftovers, but on the whole it’s better not to have an issue. One big bag creates far less waste than lots of little sachets.

With the cat food containers under control, and the contents of the litter tray leaving in the un-re-cycle-able bags some food stuffs come in, we’re fairly organised again.

I noticed during the same time frame that if the household all has colds, we create a lot more waste – entirely in the form of snotty tissues. I’m a bit more relaxed about those going to landfill as I think there’s less issue with those than plastic. I also note that at times when I’ve had an open fire or woodstove, tissues full of snotty disease have mostly been burned. I have no idea which outcome is the most problematic. And yes, I have tried fabric hankies, but they really do need boil washing and we really can produce a lot of snot…

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

11 responses to “Cats, bins, snot and plastic

  • juliebond

    There is a range of cat food which comes in one-meal-size tins. I think it’s one of the ‘Gourmet’ range. Probably it’s not great resourceswise but at least the packaging is all recyclable.

  • TPWard

    Good news and bad news about cats:
    There are non-clay litters based on plants which can be composted; their use also reduces clay mining and exposing cats to dust which may be carcinogenic. That’s the good.
    Cats are desert animals, evolved to get moisture from their prey. When they eat dry food – which they love like I love Snickers bars – they are in a chronic state of dehydration because they have a poor sense of thirst. It usually won’t kill one directly, but it taxes the immune system and leaves them vulnerable. That’s the bad.

    • Nimue Brown

      Yep, I’ve run into this before, but she drinks a lot, for a cat, and she was barely eating before we got her onto this. I think it’s one of those with no perfect solution, but we do what we can… Also, no garden, so I can’t compost – I’ve been able to do that in the past in other situations, but it’s not an option here.

  • Aspasía S. Bissas

    Wet food really is much better for cats. Kibble is the equivalent of a human living on hard tack–not very healthy. You can buy re-usable lids for cat food cans so that leftovers can be refrigerated (but maybe heat the food briefly to room temperature or slightly warmer as cold food isn’t very appetizing).

    There are many litter alternatives, but be aware your cat might not like them and will let you know by not using the box. Try writing to your local municipal waste department about starting an organics recycling/composting program. Ours take used cat litter, which really helps with waste. Thank you for taking in an elderly kitty. Cats might be a lot of work but they’re so worth it.

    • Nimue Brown

      She wasn’t actually eating the wet food, she’d lick the gravy off and leave the rest. Since we moved to the dry and chewy variety, she’s put on some weight and become much more active and lively, so, while I’m normally wary of a dry food diet for a cat, she seems much better on it. It’s not the lids for tins that’s an issue, its the not having any kind of refrigerator.

      • Aspasía S. Bissas

        Lol–one of our cats does the same thing (the other two will eat pretty much anything). He would eat nothing but kibble if we’d let him. That’s interesting about not having a fridge–do you find it helps you not waste food, or do you end up wasting more?

      • Nimue Brown

        we waste very little food because we have to be more alert to what we buy in the first place.

  • Aspasía S. Bissas

    It would be nice if more people were as careful at not wasting food.

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