Things have settled down a bit in our household so we were able to do a thorough audit of our waste from the month of January, which we will use to evaluate and make some decisions for our waste-less year ahead.
Starting top left clockwise.
Pill packets and nasal spray bottle, expired credit card and gift cards, kinesio tape, ear buds and plasters, stringy, spongy, and sticky stuff, plastic bottle rims and seals, loom bands, semi melted top off my grater (oops), clothes pegs, broken bathroom tap piece ($300 plumbing emergency on a Saturday morning), clothing tags, plastic rim from a tub of coconut oil, broken toys, butter and cream cheese wrapping.
Due to a course of antibiotics, hayfever and an injury that required anti-inflammatories we produced more medical waste than normal. The eight year old got her ears pierced so we needed some ear buds, which we borrowed from a friend before purchasing compostable bamboo buds. We buy fabric plasters that come in a long roll which you cut as opposed to individually wrapped plasters.
Replace plastic clothes pegs with wooden ones.
Unsalted butter is preferred but I can do with salted butter that comes wrapped in paper.
Left corner clockwise.
Berry punnets, ice cream containers, honey container, cream bottles, scrap books, junkmail, receipts, scrap paper, food+bathroom+laundry+medicine packets, olive oil, movie popcorn tub, tetra packs.
Berry punnets, tetra packs and cans make up a significant portion of our recycling. Despite growing strawberries at home and making a trip to The Strawberry Farm in Mangere to stock up package free, it still wasn’t enough for my kids’ insatiable appetite for fresh berries especially blueberries which were the majority of the punnets.
Investigate more options for ‘pick your own’ berries and buy in large quantities, freezing the excess. We have been considering getting a chest freezer and this would be a another good reason to do so.
Buy dried pulses (lentils, chickpeas, etc) in bulk instead of in cans, buying a pressure cooker may be good option.
Investigate making our own plant milk, a cursory search shows making nut and oat milk to be simple and non time consuming.
Soft Plastic Recycling
Top left clockwise.
Incense packet, syringe packet, plastic filler from courier delivery, sweet packets, tofu packet, banana wrapper tape, ice cream seal lid, courier package invoice envelope, teabag packet, 2 cheese packets, 5 tempeh packets, toilet paper wrapper.
Tempeh packets made up a significant portion of our soft plastic which led us on a tempeh journey. We contacted Tonzu and had no luck with requesting it package free although Tofu may be a possibility. We then did some research and found a small scale manufacturer in Grey Lynn who learnt their craft in Indonesia, they also use plastic bags to seal the tempeh before fermentation and advised this is the norm for modern commercial production. Traditionally tempeh was fermented in banana leaves, but I guess commercially using banana leaves would not be practical.
A six pack of toilet paper that comes in paper packaging is easily available, however it is three times the price we pay for 18 rolls. We are not about to break the bank to prove a point.
I had found a local store that has bulk black tea however I didn’t particularly like the taste. So I have gone back to using teabags (which I compost), we buy a pack of 200 to last us and save packaging.
Remember to request no excess packaging or filler when ordering online.
Investigate unpackaged tofu at asian supermarkets as an alternative to tempeh, however part of the reason we choose Tonzu tempeh and tofu is we have greater trust in the source and like the values of the company.
Continue to investigate toilet roll alternatives, at this point though we believe we have investigated almost all options including commercial suppliers, and nothing that is not plastic wrapped is cost effective.
Countdown has cling wrapped cheese for sale in varying weights, we tried to approach them previously regarding getting cheese cut to order in our own containers and didn’t get very far but we will try again this year.
Overall we think we did pretty well for the month. As a family of five on a single modest income, cost, logistics and practicality still inform our approach to zero waste, so this audit would be fairly indicative of our monthly waste going forward in 2016.