I will never fit a year’s worth of rubbish in a small jar but I manage reasonably well at this ‘zero waste’ gig, mainly because we don’t actually buy a lot of stuff. However, some things are unavoidable. After much discussion and debate we recently purchased a new suitcase for our upcoming overseas trip. You can see it here.
We bought the case online and of course there was the inevitable packaging. All things considered, it was not unreasonable to ensure that the case arrived in perfect condition. A large cardboard box which will be flattened and added to the pile which we use as weed mat under mulched areas of the garden and a large, lightweight plastic bag which I have carefully folded and put away. This is sure to be used at some time in the future.
Finally, there was this piece of thin foam sheeting.
This is not recyclable in any shape or form so it can only be destined for the rubbish bin. Although it will still end up in landfill, I decided that it could have one more use before ending up there.
I cut it into two pieces and stitched them up to create these bags.
They will be used as rubbish bags for the relatively small amount of household rubbish which we produce before tossing the bag and its contents into the large rubbish collection bin. Based on past experience I expect that each of these will hold about 4 – 6 week’s worth of rubbish.
It is not an ideal solution but one in which I feel that I have made the best of the situation with which I was presented.
But back to the online shopping and packaging. I regularly hear people complaining about the packaging they receive when shopping online and their attempts to change they way things are shipped. We do not shop extensively online but it does have advantages. We live in a semi-rural area and saved an enormous amount of time and fuel driving long distances to locate an appropriate suitcase. Secondly, the packaging I received is probably the same packaging which any retail outlet would receive when ordering from the supplier. I am sure that the shop would not have made any effort to re-purpose the various pieces of packaging materials as I have and best I could hope for is that the cardboard may have been recycled. Therefore, even though I have added to my personal landfill tally I feel that I have done the best that I could. What do you think?
Onya Yvonne. We live in a Regional area and find Online Shopping saves time and money and fuel. Our Council recently reorganised the Waste/Recycling/Green Waste Collections and I find I can reuse items (like your foam for the 2 bags) and I recycle as much as I can so we have much less actual waste than in the past when I basically didn’t think about it.
If used wisely, I think online shopping can be very effective for those of us in regional and rural areas.
Well done on using the Council collections to your advantage.
I think you have certainly done the best you could in the circumstances. And I am glad you mentioned the fact that the store would have the same packaging but would not give it a second life as you have done. I have read blogs where people mention that they leave the packaging in the store so it doesn’t impact on their zero waste lifestyle but it is still going in someone’s bin. I own a business and get very frustrated with the packaging that I have to deal with, and it is expensive to send to landfill. We still get lots of freight damage so the packaging is definitely necessary and I do recycle where I can. I spend over an hour a week cutting up soft plastics so I can recycle them. And I can only hope it ends up actually being recycled. Packaging is necessary but being careful where you spend and what you buy as you have done is crucial to making a difference. I have a long way to go but most of my friends and my husband think I am “a crazy greenie” which I take as a compliment and hope that they will take some of my ideas on board one day.
Thanks, Julie. It is interesting to hear a business perspective on the issue of packaging. I applaud you for your efforts to recycle what you can.
It makes me cranky when I see/hear people gloating over their tiny jar of rubbish because they are not taking into account to waste/packaging from their purchases that they don’t see. For example, buying dry goods from bulk bins is not without waste – the goods don’t get to the shop without being contained in bags/boxes before being decanted into the bins. I buy from these stores and it is definitely preferable as there is less packaging per kg of goods but it does still exist.
Brilliant Yvonne! I have saved some of the same sort of thin packaging for wrapping our interstate Christmas gifts this year, plus our ever present shredded paper to make things extra safe. I use recycled boxes for the interstate gifting, but this will reduce after 2017. Buying stuff online does generate its own set of recycling challenges, but as you say, it’s offset by the fuel/greenhouse gas savings. If the packaging is utilised again, then I feel satisfied.
Good point on reusing the packaging material for your own parcels.