|One year on, and mission of only using one rubbish and one recycle bin achieved. Christmas tree with mostly home made decorations made from recycled paper in background.|
I was pretty sure that we wouldn't make our rubbish goal with a couple of months to go, but some gentle persuasion (jumping on rubbish) we managed to get all of our household and shed waste into the rubbish bin. Unfortunately it was so well compacted that only half came out when the bin was 'emptied'!
The recycle bin was less of a challenge, though it is twice the size of the rubbish bin. We reused a lot of the containers that we bought, and even asked for more from our neighbours when we were preserving. I'm sure that there is a limit to how many you can hold on to, but I'd still like to get some more of those oil cans to turn into drawers.
Here are some of the things that we did to reduce our waste:
- Old or underused clothing gets given to friends or sent to the Op-Shop if it's good enough, if not we cut them up and use them for once-off baby wipes which are then composted (not synthetics). Other old clothing material is used as rags before being thown in the bin or composted as appropriate.
- Underused toys or electronic gadgets are given to friends or sent to the Op-Shop if they are good enough. If not they are disassembled to recover anything useful (like screws) or recycle what we can before the rest is thrown out. I even unsoldered a circuit board from a broken toy organ today and recovered a number of LEDs, a switch, speaker and electronic bits & pieces. I wonder if I'll ever use them?
- Plastic bags and containers are washed and dried if they are good enough, so we can reuse them. Some are given away with excess produce to friends, most end up recycled or in the bin.
- Soap nuts were used for washing dishes and clothes. Bi-Carb, vinegar and 'Sard Wonder' soap for other cleaning.
- Our philosophy is to grow, make and use as much as we can ourselves, which avoids most waste all together.
- We try to swap or exchange with local friends who also grow
- We try to source what we can from local farms, buying in bulk (like wheat and olive oil).
- We buy bulk foods using our own containers where possible, and use the supermarket as a last resort (it is really handy at times).
|Many containers reused in the shed. Three old doors and offcuts used to make the working bench and shelves.|
|Particularly useful are the old oil tins that have their sides cut out of them, making fantastic drawers. Smaller tins are used to divided them up.|
|Some tin cans were kept in the shed for use later. I've found the sardine cans useful in the garden as beer traps for slugs and slaters.|
|An old paint tin used to store small metal scraps that will be recycled when I go to the transfer station next|
|Some extra beer bottles left over from my 40th that are yet to be cleaned and reused for preserving or brewing|
|Jars and beer bottles reused for preserving some of our boysenberry harvest. We made cordial, jam, sauces and just plain fruit.|
|Bottles reused for purchasing liquids in bulk and for storing Kunie's kombucha|
|Other jars and containers are washed and kept inside for storage or preserving|
|Paper, boxes and excess produce scraps are fed to the compost. Tasty produce and food scraps fed to chickens and worm farm.|
|Kai in the tree house serving up a imaginative meal of 'carrot and pumpkin soup with lollies', reusing broken toys, beer caps and old containers.|
UPDATE: 31st December 2011
I was contacted by a social worker in India recently with this question:
"We have no government/city waste management available here. We compost our food waste, burn our paper, reuse/recycle our plastic bottles...but we have nothing to do with wrappers (for potato chip bags, candy wrappers, etc.).
We don't have a lot of these items, but we want to know what to do with it. How we can bury it so that it has low impact on the soil."At the time I responded with:
"One thing that you may want to consider is looking at the properties of the material. The fact that it doesn't break down could be useful. Perhaps they could be twisted together and made into something else that is useful, a basket perhaps? Be creative and think outside the square...The question has stayed with me and I mentioned it to my builder mate Pete who suggested that the material might make good insulation. Crumpled up and stuffed into bags it could be used in the roof space or wall cavities. Then I realised that a lot of the chip and lolly wrappers these days have foil inside and I wondered about finding a way to stick the wrappers down onto a sheet of something flat (even sew them on some material) and use them like building foil to reflect heat.
Of course it would be better not to buy them in the first place."
They could also potentially be used to replace foil in conjunction with other waste plastic to replace the paper (for insulation) in the making of solar cookers like the tyre cooker from the video below.