Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Binimum: The first two months

Principle 6: Produce no waste

While the principle of producing no waste is great in theory, it's very difficult in practice. We are giving it a pretty good go with the Binimum exercise, trying to only fill one rubbish bin and one recycle bin for the whole year. So lets see how our family of four have fared over the first two months...

Our first load of household recycling and rubbish for the bin. Tins in the foreground to be reused in the shed for storage containers.
I think that it's a pretty good effort so far, surprising in fact -when we began this exercise I was very sceptical, no I'm not so sure : )
The rubbish that we have created in the house is contained within the plastic shopping bag. It contains mainly plastic bags from food packaging, along with some broken toys, a halogen light bulb and other odds and ends. The recycling contains about five wine bottles, a few jars with missing lids, a lot of milk cartons (neatly folded up) and a few plastic fruit / meat containers (brought by guests). I'm planning to reuse the tins for storage containers in the shed, but there is only so many you can use before the excess ends up in recycling.
What you can't see is the few disposable nappies, a broken mixing bowl, and broken glass that was put into the bin / recycling straight away. I've also got a bit of stuff in the shed that needs to get thrown out, including a 20lt plastic drum that broke and offcuts from building projects - I'm not sure whether this should be included in our exercise or not. Perhaps I'll keep these separate for now and see whether there is room for them at the end of the year.

How we've done it so far:
  • All suitable food scraps are kept for our new chickens (too young to lay), and if not eaten during the day, fed to the worms or composted. All other scraps, paper and cardboard is either composted or burnt. We've stopped buying the Saturday newspaper, being too difficult to deal with and unnecessary - haven't missed it at all.
  • We are growing a considerable amount of our own food now, with a bumper harvest of wild cherry plums and pears along with a few apples from the original fruit trees on site. We have harvested silver beet (chard), a few pumpkins and beetroots, beans, lettuce, chillies, herbs, chives, potatoes, tomatoes, peas, leeks, zucchini, cucumbers, basil and broad beans. I have began to grow vegies from seed after being given a large variety of seed from friends that are now ex-box vegie scheme growers (too hard work).
  • We have been given and traded produce with local friends, including eggs, honey, fruit, vegies, raw goat and cows milk along with some meat (chicken). I minded a neighbours property which included the tasks of milking goats (new to me), and looking after their dogs, cat, chickens, guinea fowl and sheep in exchange for milk and produce from the garden - along with a great thank-you meal for the family. Then there was the kangaroo...
  • We have bought most of grains, nuts and oil in bulk quantities - reducing plastic and giving us useful containers and bags. Unfortunately we don't have access to a local bulk food supplier, so we do need to venture into the stupermarket for some bulk supplies - so we can't refill containers. We recently visited the Nut Man, hidden away in Shepparton (75km north), who sold us a 25kg bag of local wheat (we mill our own flour and make bread) along with other bulk nuts and grains. Most of the products are from Australian sources and there was some organic food available. Unfortunately most of the stock is pre-packed, so you can't re-use your own containers. Theres a store in the main street of Euroa (55km north) that might be more suited to our needs called Fare Enough.
  • We are keen to get a regular supply of fresh raw milk from a local source - it's so much better tasting, and better for you (must be consumed soon after milking). Cardboard milk cartons (definitely not plastic) are one of our main contributors to the recycle bin. I have heard that the waxed cartons make excellent fire starters, and I have also been using some for protecting seedlings. They do seem to break down with time in the garden, so could probably be composted without any issues.
  • We don't buy much in the way of processed foods. The main things that we buy from the stupermarket is chocolate, coffee, tea, sugar (mainly for preserving), oats, pasta, oil, milk, cheese, tinned and 'fresh' seafood (currently the only source in town).
  • We have also bought fresh produce from a small company from Shepparton called fruit2yourdoor, ordering online free delivery. Some of the produce is grown at the farm where the business is located, but it's hard to tell where most of it is from (food miles). It's also all conventionally grown, so you've got to take that into account, but is reasonably priced. What I did like about the service was that they didn't pack the produce into bags (after asking them) and also took the boxes back to reuse them.
  • We got a sodastream for Christmas, so we make our own soda water to which we have been adding home made cordial (we wouldn't use their syrups). We have been drinking home brewed beer and alcoholic ginger beer, and even bought a bottle of wine (once). Friends occasionally bringing wine or fine beer to enjoy (perhaps they feel sorry for us?). The stubbies are used for preserving (tomatoes along with wild cherry plum cordial and puree) while I have yet to find a good use for the wine bottles. Some friends even take their bottles home with them, after considering our experiment (we didn't ask them too!) - it's interesting to see how people respond to our initiative.
  • We wash our nappies, although we do use disposables on city missions (enviro ones when available - from Israel - how ridiculous!).
Some items that I am concerned about what to do with:
  • worn-out clothing made from non-natural materials (wool and cotton clothing is being composted)
  • cheap nasty plastic toys (tools, gadgets, electronics etc) that break
  • computer equipment (and other electronic stuff) that is no longer being used
  • light globes and batteries
  • polestryrene
  • plastic, plastic and more plastic...
It's becoming increasingly obvious that we need to stop buying this stuff, not accept it as gifts, or give the stuff we can away before it breaks (handing the problem over to someone else!). Plastic is best avoided where possible.

All in all I'm feeling confident that we can achieve our goal for household waste and recycling for the year, but I'm not so sure about workshop waste (I love to tinker). I sure that we can reduce our waste and recycling further as we get into the swing of things - living a more healthy and rewarding life to boot.

Two months worth of recycling

Two months worth of household rubbish

1 comment:

Aer Conditionat said...

Well, I guess you’re doing very well so far. I mean, it’s great that you are trying to do this exercise and see if you manage to have one recycle bin and one rubbish bin by the end of the year. But for me it’s a bit too much to even consider doing this. I guess it’s a lot of effort and you have to think of how you could reuse different stuff. I don’t know what to say about the things you are concerned about how you might reuse them. Good luck!

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