Our first two weeks of Waste Free Me - What we've learnt so far.
- How tasty humble pie is. (Bee learnt this.)
- Waste weigh in number one. How much waste we are currently producing.
- The 'too hard' basket. What’s in it so far.
The last two weeks have proven very educational, with the question "Where to begin?" looming large. Nic and I were left feeling a little (over?)whelmed, I don’t mind admitting. It’s a learning curve, right? For the first few days, our bench top was scattered with rubbish. A bewildered Nic was leaving wrappers on the bench tops as he no longer knew where to put anything. I found myself washing cling wrap and snap lock bags and wondering, should I add them to the clotheslines along with our drying clothes?
This was all on top of the legacy of my travel lifestyle, which includes multiple junk drawers and clutter-boxes that have been moved from place to place until I ‘have the time to sort them’. Yeah. Righto. The irony is that I live out of a backpack frequently and have always prized owning minimal possessions. Where did all this stuff come from? How did it accumulate so quickly?! Even items we both assumed belonged to the other. “Honey, where do you want your thingy?” “Isn't that your thingy?” “Umm...No...”
I knew we had to bring order to our wastefulness, so I got to thinking. We needed some kind of storage intermediary for items we weren't too sure of… some kind of transfer station to keep clean, uncategorised items off the bench top while we mulled over their disposal or re-purpose. My first thought was, "we can go and buy an old cupboard and turn it into a fabulous recycle station." Hah, what a stroke of genius! Upcycle something! I excitedly shared my plan with Nic and prepared to borrow a trailer to go rustle up an old cupboard. Nic looked at me, thought for a moment and said "You know, we have cupboards and things in the shed that you could use."
I didn't really believe him. Plus, I had my heart set on hunting down a quaint little second hand beauty. I reluctantly followed Nic to the shed, but not without protest. "Yeah but, I don't think we really have what we need for this specific purpose...blah, blah, yap, yap, yap." And there, wouldn't you know, at the back of the man-cave covered in cobwebs and dust, was the perfect little cupboard for the project.
Lesson one in waste freeing me
Before looking elsewhere, first look around your home for a solution. You'll be surprised at what you might have right under your cluttered little nose!
Thank you for my humble pie, darling, it tasted quite sweet in the end.
After finishing my humble pie, we cheerfully lugged our heavy, soon-to-be-transfer-station up the back stairs. Can't you see the cheer in Nic's face.
My final concern? It was painted black, which doesn’t match the rest of our warm cheery home. Repainting sounded a bit time consuming, so we came up with this idea...
What do you think?
It seemed the quickest way to put it to use. A lick of blackboard paint, some large tiles placed on top and a bit of doodling time was all it took. We then cut up cardboard boxes to make compartments for inside.
Installed snugly on the back veranda, we got to organising all the random bits that usually get tossed away without thought. Pretty soon it became clear that this is TOTALLY DO-ABLE! We broke it down like this:
Recycling: Paper, hard plastics and metal tins etc., the usual suspects for recycling, still had a home in the regular recycling bin. Easy. No change of habit.
Food waste: Any vegetable or citrus peelings, cooked scraps and paper towel soaked in oils are all heading into the chicken pen. Vegetable matter goes to the worm farm too. Easy enough if you have chooks, compost or a worm farm. If you don’t, look out for when we cover the alternatives for food waste.
Soft plastics: Cling wrap, packaging and faux-foil (e.g. chip packets which look like foil, but aren’t actually foil). Okay, this stumped us for a while. But we have come up with a fantastic use for your cling wrap, packaging and faux-foil. So cling to your cling wrap and stay tuned for an exciting article on ‘what to with your do with your soft plastics’.
Kitty Litter: Meet Midnight tha Cat. He is an indoor only kitty, and as punishment for that, we must deal with daily kitty presents. We’ve previously used wonderful clumping clay. Heavy, huge piles of clumping clay that seriously bumped up our waste kgs every week. We have begun to experiment with composting and worm farms hoping to break it down into a safe garden product.
Everything Else: Batteries, old medication packs, old tubes of cosmetic goop, bits of plastic mixed with glue, all that random stuff we accumulate is currently going into the transfer station.
Waste Weigh In No. 1
The average Australian throws away 25kgs of waste per fortnight. For our household of two, this gives us a 50kg benchmark to work with each fortnight.
Total household waste recorded this fortnight was 29.53 kgs with 12.68kg of this usually going to landfill.
7.35 kg Food waste.
9.5 kg Recycling - Glass, paper and metals.
780 gm Soft plastic packaging.
11.9 kg Kitty litter.
In The 'Too Hard' Basket
Styrofoam: Trays and packaging of styrofoam are hiding among us and they move with great stealth. Unopened boxes are packaging traps waiting to spring puffy little fluff balls of non recyclable confetti in your face. Or massive wedges of white, inedible cake. Styrofoam can apparently be recycled in China, if anyone wants to get it to China. But it is currently in the hard basket for us.
Dental floss: Bro, do you even floss? We sure don’t want to compromise dental health but what to do with all this string? Help, help, help!
Gaffa Tape: It hurts that gaffa tape is in the hard basket. I LOVE gaffa tape. It fixes everything ever. But then it becomes useless waste! Save the gaffa please. What do we do?!
Bones: Normally, bones from stock or bones from a roast chicken get tossed away. I am sure something can be done with them but for now they will go the chooks to get picked clean and then just tumble around underfoot or get buried when we turn the earth. But no more roast chicken. I just can’t bear to see my chickens pecking at a chicken bone. Solutions anyone?
Kitty Litter: Switching from clay to recycled paper pellets and attempting to compost it has made a massive difference to our waste, but this is still in an experiment phase. Any ideas here would be most appreciated, as we are truly in the shit if we can’t figure this one out.
If you know what to do with these items or have suggestions for us, please comments below!
We have so much more to share with you, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on the 'too hard' basket.
And as promised, look out for a special post on soft plastics very, very soon.
Nic & Bee