A Bin Full

A family effort. Photo credit: Rolf Siggard.

It’s come to the end of the year and although I have failed to keep to my new years resolution to post fortnightly on the blog, I have made a decent effort to curb my families’ waste. As a family of five (yes five, we added one final cherub to our clan recently) we have managed not to put out our 140 litreΒ bin for the whole year of 2015 until this week.

We tried our best at first to go zero waste however we had to compromise and balance cost and logistics so some products we forewent the zerowaste option for the next best option either reusable or recyclable. Non reusable or domestically recyclable packaging from items such as cheese and toilet paper as well as packaging bought into our home from friends and relatives was put aside throughout the year for soft plastic recycling at a local drop off.

The inside of our bin.

Surveying our waste the bulk consisted of:

  • broken toys
  • school shoes
  • pill packets
  • weed mat
  • damp remover devices
  • containers
  • broken glass/ceramics

Learning from experience this year we will make make sure to put aside some money for a decent pair of school shoes and continue to replace plastic homewares with second hand quality goods. Some of our waste was the result of decluttering the home so going into the new year with a relatively clean slate will hopefully help us reduce our waste further for 2016.

We avoid buying plastic toys however with gifts from friends and family it is hard to avoid without sounding like the plastic police. With Christmas recently our eight year old received from us presents that aligned with the ‘need, wear, read, want’ philosophy, two of which were second hand. Our children may not be able to grasp the bigger picture of waste however caring for the environment and putting waste in the correct bin will at least be normal behaviour.

Our waste reduction values are supported at our daughters ‘Wastewise’ school, pictured is a display she made in class.

Going into the new year we will continue our waste-less lifestyle. There are areas for improvement such as reducing our domestic recycling. Cans, tetra packs and berry punnets are typically in our recycling bin. Purchasing a pressure cooker to cook pulses, making our own oat/rice milk instead of buying it and perhaps living next to a strawberry farm (the kids love their berries this time of year) would be helpful!

I know mine and my families’ efforts are not going to save the world alone, governments hold the key to making significant change. I have learnt leading by example together with education is the best approach to waste reduction at a local level.

Here are my family’s top tips to reduce waste:

  • compost food scraps
  • avoid single use packaging
  • use reusable shopping bags
  • buy second hand
  • recycle correctly
  • buy from bulk bins using own bags/containers
  • take your own container to the butcher
  • grow your own fruit and vegetables
  • join a community garden
  • eat real food
  • cook at home
  • bake or make something you would usually buy
  • use vinegar and baking soda for cleaning
  • use cloth wipes and cloth nappies

I began this blog on a whim, not really knowing what I was doing, or having a proper understanding of what I thought I was doing. Looking through my posts I can see my understanding of sustainability grow alongside a passion for creating, making and growing things by hand. I have been lucky to have been supported during this time by the Auckland Waste Minimisation network of amazing people who have given me some great opportunities over the past year. A big thank you to my waste colleagues who I have “worked” with over the past year, thanks for making my journey so enjoyable and rewarding.

Happy New Year! xo



9 thoughts on “A Bin Full”

  1. Kia ora Candace. Awesome achievement, thanks for sharing. You are a fabulous role model for us all. Just one wee thing on your blog – your red top rubbish bin is actually 140 litres not 240. (The recycling bins are 240 litres.) So you have put out even less than you thought! Looking forward to catching up on various projects this year.
    Zoe x


  2. Hi there, I am finding your story inspiring and your blog fascinating. I am trying to get blogging myself, and looking at writing my first blog post on green bloggers! I am interested by what you say about being supported by the Auckland Waste Minimisation network of amazing people who have given me some great opportunities over the past year. I was wondering if you could please tell me more about that? Thanks, Hannah


    1. Hi Hannah. Thanks for reading, I look forward to reading your blog!
      The Auckland Waste Minimisation Network are people from council, business, industry, community groups and social enterprise who are all connected through their efforts to reduce waste. I have picked up some work contracts from this network of people. Also at a community level I educate people on waste minimisation through food, gardening and DIY by hosting/facilitating/coordinating workshops and events – sometimes they are affiliated with other waste min groups, who are really supportive and encouraging. Hope this answers your question. πŸ™‚


  3. I recently found your blog and have to say thank you for sharing all that you have – it is very inspiring. I have always considered myself ‘green’ but I recently took a long hard look at my life/habits and I can see that there is a lot more I could be doing. I also have 3 young kids and I really hope that we can set a good example and bring them up to value our environment. We have very recently committed to avoiding most single-use plastic (there a few things that we may continue to buy) and we are going to ask relatives to contribute to extracurricular activities for our kids birthdays. Honestly, one of things that has stressed me out most about trying to minimise waste is when we get given heaps of junky toys and cheap clothing at birthdays! I then feel like I can’t buy the products that I really want to support because we already have enough. Hopefully that will change πŸ™‚ Thanks again for a fab blog

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and for your encouraging comments. There are things that are hard to avoid and being practical about our efforts is imperative. Toys are a hard one, we set an example at home by not buying them ourselves (junky plastic ones) but sometimes they get in through well meaning friends and family. All the best on your waste reduction efforts πŸ™‚


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