Nothing Matches…….

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……..but at least it is tidy.  The workshop area contains a mish-mash of storage cupboards and shelving.  It does not look particularly pretty but is effective.

Yesterday was the last day of our long weekend and GMan decided to continue his goal of clearing up downstairs.  On Saturday he had swept and water-blasted the open concreted area under the house so yesterday he turned his attention to the workshop area.  I do not have any ‘before’ photos but here are a few shots of the end result.

The dismantled cupboards in the right-hand photo are from our old kitchen (renovated 7 years ago) which were repurposed as temporary storage.  They are now destined to be rubbish as the chipboard is all breaking up and we simply no longer need them.  GMan will cut them into smaller pieces and gradually dispose of them via our regular rubbish collection.

Cupboards and shelves were re-arranged.  Worn-out or useless rubbish were discarded.  Items no longer required were listed on Facebook Buy/Swap/Sell sites.  Bits of wood were cut up for firewood.

The area is by no means decluttered completely but we have got rid of some stuff, made sure similar items are stored together and generally know what we have.

As always, it is a work in progress but it feels good to have taken another step towards keeping only those things that we really need.

Clear The Clutter

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I have spent several years gradually decluttering in an effort to simplify my life.  I am not sure what the end point of this journey looks like, or even whether there is a destination.  Since I have most areas in my house fairly clear and streamlined,  I am certainly at the point where it is easy to recognise potential clutter before it becomes entrenched.

It is important to identify things before they become clutter.  An example is a plastic water jug that was in our refrigerator.  It had obviously developed a hairline crack because I discovered a pool of water on the shelf where it was standing.  Until yesterday this was a perfectly functional item in our kitchen, today it will not hold water which is what I use it for.  So, I have thrown it in the garbage.  Some people would suggest that it could be used to store/display non-liquid items or be refashioned into something else.  I am all for minimising the amount of stuff that goes to landfill, however, I do not need this jug for any other purpose other than holding water, so out it goes.

Do I need another plastic water jug?  I am trying to use more glass and less plastic in the kitchen so my plan is to look for a suitable glass jug.  It is not desperately urgent so I may check out the op shops when I have time.

My sewing room is one area where I still have quite a bit of ‘stuff’.  I am gradually working through it so tonight I did a little more.  Just before Christmas it was a bit of a mad flurry to get the sewing table (folding) cleared so that I could fit bedding for 4 children in this room.  I have previously resisted stashing things away without sorting them properly but as time was limited I carefully folded the remaining fabric and half-finished projects into 2 lidded boxes.  I put the boxes in the wardrobe but as soon as Christmas was over and the table re-instated I brought the boxes out and placed them on the table as a reminder to me that I had to sort through the contents.

2013-01-06 01There are several garments which I had bought from the op shop last year with a view to using the fabric for my patchwork.  I had begun unpicking this blouse which was in the box so I decided to finish that job.

2013-01-06 02Here is the material that I have for use in my patchwork project.

2013-01-06 03The buttons have been salvaged and are now in my button collection.

2013-01-06 04The scraps of fabric have been discarded.

2013-01-06 05I now have 1 less thing in my ‘to do’ pile.  Here are another couple of garments which are the next things I plan to deconstruct and use for patchwork.

2013-01-06 06By having the things confined in a box I can easily see that I am making progress in clearing them out.

Do you have a particular room or type of items that present a decluttering challenge to you?

Community Service

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This morning when I took the rubbish bins up to the roadside this is the scene that greeted me.

2012-12-05 01We live on a quiet, semi-rural road and our driveway is opposite a minor road junction.  The rubbish truck does not go down the side road so each rubbish collection day the bins from the side road and a few surrounding properties are lined up on the verge near our driveway.

This morning one bin was open and several items were scattered around.  I am not sure how this happened but I know that with the automated collection of the ‘wheelie’ bins the remnants would be left behind.  I grabbed a bag, collected up the loose items and put them in the bin.  This ensured that we were not left with a mess on the verge.

2012-12-05 02Here is the same scene a few minutes later.  It is a small but worthwhile job and keeps the area clean and tidy.  Much better than whinging about the rubbish lying on the footpath.

Back to the Bin

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Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment on my post about the kitchen bin.  Today I remembered to chop up some of the bacon scraps and put them out for the chickens.  I have not checked to see if they ate them but if they do I will gradually give them the rest over a period of time and that will be another thing that will not go in the bin.

When I next emptied my kitchen bin I took a couple of photos of the contents which I would like to share with you.

2012-08-08 01 This is what 2 weeks worth of rubbish looks like.  There are 2 adults in the household.  I placed it next to a dinner plate so you can get an idea of the size.

2012-08-08 02Here it is on the scales.  It weighed 411g.

So, what was in the rubbish bag for the week?  An empty toothpaste tube, a foil sheet from medications, a plastic bag from the carrots, plastic packaging from a block of cheese, packaging from razor blades, plastic bag from frozen peas and elastic from several pairs of worn-out underpants.  There were other items that I have not identified as well.

Next time I do this I will be a bit more specific about exactly what it contains.

Obviously our rubbish varies from week to week as some thing are only discarded a couple of times a year.  It is a worthwhile exercise to check what you are discarding each week as a way of considering whether you can change habits to reduce the amount of waste.

The Kitchen Bin

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Tonight’s post is in response to a question posed by Jean in the comments of my post a couple of days ago about Zero Waste.  She asked about alternatives to using plastic to line a kitchen bin.

I have read about using newspaper to make an origami-style bin liner and one day I might do that.  In the meantime, I find that despite my best efforts, I always seem to have plenty of plastic bags for the purpose.

I line my small kitchen bin with whatever plastic bag comes to hand.  I do not knowingly bring any extra plastic bags into the house but some is simply unavoidable at this stage.  Any bag that looks as though it would be useful for this purpose is saved. I keep them in a ziplock bag in the laundry cupboard.

For example, I buy frozen peas so I carefully slit the top of the bag and then use that in the bin.  Often, it does not tuck neatly over the edge but I am prepared to accept that.  I use a rubber band to tie it off before throwing in the bin.  If I get any plastic bags in packaging of items such as small appliances these are kept for the bin as well.  They usually have a few air holes to avoid accidental suffocation but that is not a problem as my waste is usually just confined a small number of non-recyclable items which need to be contained rather than necessarily sealed in plastic.

I do not put any meat scraps in my kitchen bin. I generally buy meat that has no waste eg: skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets, premium mince etc.  The exception is bacon as I trim the fat off it. I put the meat scraps in a bag in the freezer and occasionally add them to a kitchen rubbish bag immediately prior to putting the garbage out for collection.

Anything which can be composted is collected in the compost bucket  – this includes all fruit and vegetable scraps as well as eggshells and butter wrappers.

Finally, here are the bins in a pull-out drawer in my kitchen.  Each bucket lifts out for easy disposal and cleaning.  On the left is the small one I line with my rubbish bag and on the right is the recycling.

I will do another post soon and examine exactly what rubbish we have for a week.

Let me know how you manage your various waste streams.  Have you made a conscious effort to reduce the amount of rubbish you send to landfill?

End of Life

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Despite all the mending and repairs, there comes a time when things reach the end of their life.  This pair of The Duke’s trousers is a perfect example.

2012-05-24 01I have previously posted about patching them and while the patches have survived there is yet another worn patch lower down the leg.  These are not accidental rips – the fabric is simply wearing out and they are getting quite thin in numerous places.  Therefore, it has ceased to be worthwhile mending them any longer.

My initial thought was to throw them in the bin but then I realised that as well as being mindful when we are purchasing items we should also be responsible for them at the end of their useful life.  Many garments are cut up for rags or tying up plants in the garden but these are suitable for neither.2012-05-24 03

I decided to remove the zip and button for possible future re-use and decided that since these trousers are cotton they could go in the compost.

2012-05-24 02So that the fabric would mix with the rest of the compost I cut the trousers into strips and here it is ready to become part of the garden.

2012-05-24 04This is my seam ripper which is identical to the one that I broke while removing the zip from the trousers.  I am not sure why I had two of these but now there is only one.  The broken one went in the rubbish bin.

Rubbish Revealed and Reviewed

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Many aspects of organisation and sustainability could probably fall into the ‘sexy’ category.  They are fun, presentable and generally OK for public discussion.

But underpinning all of this is rubbish.  The stuff that gets shoved into garbage bags bought specifically for the purpose, then dropped into the ubiquitous ‘wheelie’ bin and dragged to the kerbside.  A truck lumbers past, the automatic arm grabs the bin and upends it into the depths of the truck.  We are relieved of the detritus of our lives for the week and will do it all over again next week.

It is time to get down and dirty.  This photograph shows the bag of rubbish for 10 days from our 2 adult household.  267 grams of waste for 10 days – that is less than 15 grams per person each day.  It is not zero waste and I am not sure that I will achieve that anytime soon but I do work hard to keep our waste to an absolute minimum.

Here are the contents of the bag.  Let’s examine what is in it.  You will probably have a hard time identifying some of the items so I will help you out.

2 pasta packets – I refilled the jar containing pasta in the pantry.  I am using up my stock but I will be making my own pasta with my pasta machine once the existing supplies are used up.

Foil tablet sheet – there is one each month from essential medications.

Foil pack from cat medication – one every 3 months from worm/flea treatment for the cat.

Non-recyclable lids – I always recycle any plastic bottles but as far as I am aware the lids are not  suitable for recycling.  I must check and see if this is still the case.

2 pairs of broken glasses – these are a one-off thanks to The Duke getting rid of some clutter.  I send any OK glasses to be re-used in Third World countries but ones that have broken are no use to anyone.  Check with your local optometrist for information about the recycling program.

Silver foil wrap – this is what was removed from the balloon topiary stands when I recovered them last week.  The new covering is recycled brown paper made from carry bags.  The bows are scraps of fabric from a recycled dress.

The rubbish bag is packaging from a parcel I received.  This will be sealed with a rubber band before I put it in the bin.

There are also assorted other small bits which I cannot easily identify but by now you get the picture – very little goes to landfill from our home.

We only put our bin out every few weeks or if there is something that would be unpleasant to leave for any length of time.  This means that most weeks the truck does not need to stop outside our property.  This saves fuel and the noise of the constant starting and stopping.  Consider putting out your bin only when required rather than every week through habit.

TO BE CONTINUED – There are so many other things I want to say about rubbish but I will save it for another day later in the week.  In the meantime I would love to hear you thoughts about rubbish and how you deal with it.