A Load of Garbage on My Mind - Eco Challenge

Garbage has been on my mind for some time.

It really got me thinking when I saw the Gardening Australia presenter Josh Byrne talking about how in permaculture there is a belief that nothing should leave the block. It got me thinking. If I didn't have a garbage man come and take my rubbish "away" what would my property look like ? Where would I store all the rice cracker wrappers, drink bottles and used glad wrap. What would the pile look like after one year ? How about after 13 years ? I am embarrassed to think that every plastic bag I have ever used it sitting a couple of kilometres out of town in a big pile. Add to that the plastics of every person in my street, and every person in my little town. Whoa!

Slowly but surely I have been reducing the plastic input. It is still no-where near enough, but I began with the shopping bags and it really raised my awareness. Now I am conscious of what I throw into the garbage bin and it has started to affect what I purchase. Mind you, If i want something I still get it, particularly if I am not organised with an alternative.

Since coming home from holidays and digesting the trillion thoughts I had swirling around my brain I really feel the need to embrace the idea of 'nothing leaving the block'. Today I set up a little garbage system under the sink. I removed all the cleaning products that had been hiding under there and made some space for a garbage sorting system. I have the garbage bin, which now has no plastic bin liner, a recycle box, a compost box and a chook food box. I try and equally distribute scraps between the chooks and the compost because we badly need to build up good soils.

I have been tearing up paper and putting it into the compost bin. It breaks down really well. I love that it returns to the earth. Then, I pick up a piece of plastic and continually harp on to hubbie about how I cannot do a thing with it. I can't bury it, I can't put it in the compost, feed it to the chooks or any other thing except place it in the bin to be taken "away" ( to the spot out of town where my pile is growing by the day)

The more I embrace the idea of nothing leaving the block, the more my passion will assist me in making wise grocery purchases

One thing that will really help is the idea of only consuming things that were around in my Grandmothers' day. It seems that these items are not packaged, or are packaged in paper. Things like flour, sugar, butter are all in paper and I can avoid packaging on fruit, veg and meat.

So tonight the garbage bin goes out, full of plastic. Little by little as I work through this transitional period I hope that it will go out less and less. My first goal will be to get to the point where I only put the garbage bin out once a month. That seems so difficult from where I sit at the moment, but I think before too long it will be as natural an act as baking bread. Considering that my Grandmother didn't have a rubbish collection, I think the least I can do is make a conscious effort to do my best!


Anonymous said...

I'll be watching for your updates on this with interest as it's something close to my heart too. It seems so much harder these days, even when you do watch your packaging. One of the things that really annoys me, even though it is recyclable, is all the paper that comes from school, through the mail etc. I'd really like to do something about this but don't really know what. I pay good money every year for exercise books for the kids at school and yet each year many of these come home with only a few pages used and at the same time a huge stack of printed sheets come home as well. Most of the sheets are pointless time fillers at best. I wonder if the teachers notice that any notes I need to send to them are on the back of the cut up sheets that they have sent home to me.

Off my soapbox now, looking forward to following this with you.

cheers Kate

Tania said...

This is something I am going to think about more too. Thankyou for reminding me about it.

I did notice today that my garbage bin was rather empty but the recycle bins are full so I must be doing something right.


CAM said...

We've dubbed this the 'Zero Waste' challenge in our house. I've also been struggling to shop smarter as often the little things creep in there (cling wrap is one of these). I've started using a lot of stuff in craft with my kids (also conatcting your local kindy about donating clean materials as they often have a shortage and have to buy it - yep BUY inner rolls from paper towel!!) and in my landscape design...as edging, weed matting etc. Paper is something I deal with fairly well as I got a $30 shredder and shred stuff that is printed on both sides for the guinea pigs/chooks. This then eventually ends up as mulch on the compost etc. If it has one blank side we rip it in half for scrap paper and then do the above when used or I stick it together to make poster sized blank on one side drawing sheets for my little one (this is how I fought the paperwork from school). I use orange bags (you know the orange net ones?) for putting my fruit and vege in instead of plastic bags and I also sew them into sort of dish loofahs lol We've almost achieved the point where we are not throwing out anything in the normal garbage bin, only recyclable stuff...but still working on it. Good luck with the challenge...it is an exciting one!

jimmycrackedcorn said...

This is a very admirable goal and it is something that has been weighing on my mind for the last year or so as well. I'm actively trying to change my habits too.

I just hope that I don't ever go as far as some bloggers. I'm talking about the ones who eventually get to the point where they are upset about throwing away the plastic sealing wrap on the top of a bottle of maple syrup they were given as a gift.

Ladybird World Mother said...

As ever I loved reading your writing! that is such a good thing to have in mind as we buy our groceries... nothing should leave the block... I have bought a paper shredder, (its plastic, ouch) but will use it and put paper shredded into chicken hut and into compost. And really try hard with that plastic thing. thanks for this... its good to have a focus.

Emma said...

Once again you have written an inspiring post.

We aim to only ever fill half of our bins each week but we have really gotton off track these holidays.

I would love to hear about how you are reducing your plastic waste and what substitutes you are using. Glad wrap has been our main challenge here.


A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

only have a small bin providedby coucil here collected fortnightly so thinking more about how we wrap things ect became a concieous thing for us too.
I saw a blog too that had ideas like reusing alfoil that you can wipeclean and using cloth bags for fruit and veg storage and beaded crocheted cloths for jugs and the like...It is all that our Grandmas would've done.
It seems "progress" has come at a cost and many are returning to our roots

Almost Mrs Average said...

Popped over from Ladybird World Mother's blog - I wish you well with this. A year ago I signed up for a Zero Waste Week challenge which turned out to be the most amazing life-changing experience. The challenge inspired my waste-reducing blog and then I discovered so many different people who were also blogging about all sorts of ways of slimming their rubbish. You may also be interested in The Book of Rubbish Ideas, by Tracey Smith, a UK author but still relevant all across the world. Good luck. I'll be following your progress with much interest :-D

Michelle said...

Great post and something that I think about on a very frequent basis. In my area there is all out war going on at the moment between the residents who believe we need 2bins and the residents(like me) who believe we only need one bin.

I currently throw out 1 bag of rubbish each week for 3 adults but it is my recyclables which are just out of control. I have way too many plastic bottles and meat trays, paper and cardboard, glass jars and tins. It is virtually impossible to buy meat anywhere around here that is not over packaged in either styrofoam or plastic trays! I am still trying to work out how to get around this.
Another problem is softdrink and juice bottles and sometimes aluminium cans. I personally could live without any of these items but hubby and son might object quite loudly. LOL

This is one of my goals for 2009 to reduce the amount I throw out, both in terms of rubbish and recyclables. With my 2 compost bins and worm farm(soon to be 2)I never have any trouble disposing of kitchen scraps I just need to get the non perishable rubbish under control.
Cheers, Michelle.

CAM said...

For Michelle who was having difficulty with meat trays....our butcher does not use them....sometimes it is a case of shopping local and going to the butcher instead of buying meat at the supermarket. This helps with the shopping miles too as butchers often buy from the closest markets.

xo.sorcha.ox said...

I'd like to see the supermarkets remove the plastic "freezer" bags they have in the fruit and veg section. It's hard not to automatically reach for them when they are *right* *there*, and then you need one for each type of fruit and/or veg because they'll get confused at the checkout otherwise. Can you imagine how many of these bags we throw out every year? It's scary. At least with a plastic tub or container I can put it in recycling - I cant do that with a plastic bag!

MrsMultiTasker said...

Michelle, you could buy one of those old school Soda Stream machines (even better if it is second hand) and the glass bottles, then you never have to buy soft drink again and throw out the plastic!
I have started taking plastic bags that I already have to the supermarket to put fruit and veg in and then putting that in a basket. Obviously it will be better when I have planted some vegies so I can get away with buying less.
I remember going to Nan's house as a kid and opening the laundry cupboards to find heaps of old yoghurt and icecream containers and the like, which she never threw away. She used them in the garden and for leftovers etc. I really should have a chat to my Nan about what she used to do back in the day!!

Anonymous said...

I have a set of net bags which I take to the fruit and vegie shop. They are home made, have a drawstring, and are nice bright colours. They breathe well, and mean that I don't need to bring any of those plastic fruit bags home. I carry them in my purse, in one of those small organza bags you get for wedding, or party favours. I can fit 5 or 6 of them in there. I also gave sets of these as Christmas presents to all of my children's teachers last year (10 in all).

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