Back to the Scales

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Some years ago I weighed our rubbish each week for a period of time.  The quantity was small but I cannot even remember the approximate weights.

I have decided to make a start on this again and redouble our efforts to reduce our small amount of waste that goes to landfill even further.

This is the contents of our kitchen bin for approximately 2 weeks.

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Not all of it is identifiable but there are 2 cheese wrappers, packaging from a parcel we received, an old sponge (left by housesitters 6 months ago), a mouldy ziplock bag which was beyond being salvaged, a small mayonnaise bottle and a butter wrapper (Aldi have changed to foil wrappers – not happy so I will be voting with my feet and buying butter elsewhere in future).  The rest is mostly plastic packaging of one sort and another – mostly one off items from Christmas gifts/catering.  The silver star looks like something from a child’s toy which has been left here – so not strictly our waste but it does have to be discarded.

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Here it is – all packaged up.  I put most of the small bits compacted into the ziplock bag.  I always try to contain any small, lightweight rubbish as the last thing I want is for it to drift out of the collection truck or the landfill site and end up in a watercourse.

The next step was to put it all in the parcel post bag and weigh it.

152g or 5 and 3/8 ounces for my non-metric friends.

Once I had done this I put the rubbish in the bin, except for the post bag which I have saved for next week’s rubbish.

From now on I will weigh and post about the rubbish each Friday so that we have a weekly total for comparison.  It will vary from week to week as some things are only discarded rarely but my hope is that we will continue to generate very little waste.

Plastic is definitely the major culprit when it comes to items going to landfill.  The challenge is to look for feasible alternatives and investigate any recycling options for those items which I do not currently recycle.

Do you generate much waste?  Are you looking for ways to reduce your use of single-use plastic items?  I would love to hear your stories so that we can encourage each other.

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.