Week 28 – Rubbish bag update

Week 28 – rubbish bag contents

At the 12 week mark we blogged about the items we had in our bag up to that point, and now that we are past the half way mark it seemed timely for an update. Three months ago we had in our bag:

1. half a supermarket bag of paint chips from scraping and sanding our weatherboard house in preparation for painting,
2. approximately 50 cigarette butts found on the property after having it rented out to tenants,
3. a broken plastic peg,
4. plastic tags that are used to hold labels to new clothing,
5. an universal car petrol cap which was rejected at a recent WoF test,
6. plastic wrapping from around a wine bottle lid,
7. tape used by a florist in a bunch of flowers given to us,
8. a blown light bulb.

The universal car petrol cap found a new home when Waveney was giving a talk to a group of teenagers doing an environmental course. One of them asked for it as a souvenir, stating that she also intended to use it in a piece of art. It may well be lying under a teenagers bed now, but in my less cynical moments I hope that it is the centre piece of something beautiful. Anyway…that left us with seven items to which we’ve added another ten.

1. cellophane from a second bunch of flowers given to us,
2. two non-rechargeable batteries that accidentally came with Waveney’s new bike light,
3. cheese wrapper bought when we thought it was recyclable and then discovered it wasn’t,
4. hardened paint brush from painting sealant on a hearth we made for our logburner,
5. three small souvalaki plastic bags
6. pie wrapper blown onto our section from the street,
7. old plastic seedling container found half buried in the garden,
8. a plastic sleeve containing an invoice stuck onto a couriered package.
9. medication wrapping from antibiotics for our dog Jess,
10. dental floss

Rubbish used to ‘magically’ fill up our bin every week and I would wonder how on earth it all got there. This challenge has forced us to analyse which of yesterday’s decisions caused today’s rubbish – and once we had that thought process in place our rubbish radically reduced. But, after 28 weeks we still have 17 items which we haven’t been able to avoid purchasing, or been able to re-use, re-home, compost or recycle. So, despite all the vigilance, how did these pieces of rubbish slip under the radar? A third of it was unavoidable: found on the section or given to us. A another third was created intentionally: Jess’s medication, floss, light bulb, sanding the house, and tags on new clothes. And the final third could have been avoided with hindsight: cheese wrapper, souvalaki bags, wine seal (all mistakes), broken peg (we now only have wooden ones) and batteries in my new bike light (didn’t think to open it and check). Still, we are very happy with our half way point effort. All this rubbish has a much smaller physical presence than the list suggests. It all fits very comfortably in a shoe box, or (without the paint chips) is a large handful.

7 thoughts on “Week 28 – Rubbish bag update

  1. heya. glad to see you made it half way and haven’t caved yet! keep up the good work! As for the hardened paintbrush, I’m pretty sure you can soften it by dipping/soaking it in turps. My mum used to do that to get the varnish of her brushes when she used to paint rocks.


  2. can you rehome the cellophane, by reusing it? Or does that not count?

    If we had a legitimate use for it then there would be no problem. However, unfortunately the cellophane has torn really easily and is now in a few straggly bits which aren’t much good for anything.


  3. You guys are mightily awesome 🙂 My flatmate and I have vowed to bring our own containers, chopsticks/forks and mugs with us to food places after a failed atempt at finding a takeaway curry place without excess packaging! Thanks for inspiring me in the first place.
    Here’s a quote you might like:
    “Live more simply, so that others may simply live.” – Gandhi


  4. wohoo, recharging simple batteries is the best way to risk a medium to big disaster.
    Great that you take responsibility for taking stuff that was given to you and not just avoid to not count it in. It makes me think what people give each other – often it is more about the wrapping today then the item given. Years ago I started to wrap things in newspaper, birthday gifts or gifts I brought to a housewarming etc. Later on I wrapped them into something useful, a tea towel was a favorite. Nowadays I really don’t do gifts anymore, what do people need? I bake something and take it or I bring flowers or veggies from the garden. Or honey mead or beer which I make. No more money spent on gifts people don’t need after a short while anyway!


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