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 litre 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.
Surveying our waste the bulk consisted of:
- broken toys
- school shoes
- pill packets
- weed mat
- damp remover devices
- 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.
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