The party went well. Rubbish aside the biggest worry we had on the day was actually the weather! The forecast was for a gale force southerly and we knew it was going to be a very tight squeeze inside the house. But amazingly the southerly was late and never amounted to much. We had loads of everything, including ice and from what I could tell the dipping bowl (in lieu of serviettes) worked really well. Everyone seemed to enjoy our rubbish free food and drink. The glasses, saucers etc were all no hassles – mostly because we decided to hire a couple of student friends who were kept busy in the kitchen. In all the preparation for the party only one piece of rubbish was created, this was a piece of gladwrap wrapped around a round of cheese from the farmers market. I had thought their cheese rounds were plastic free but this was not the case. The party itself was also entirely rubbish free apart from one rather amusing incident; a relative (who shall remain nameless) brought a packet of chips! Was this a moment’s slip up or was it a complete failure to understand what we have been doing all year? I wonder if its a good example of people not recognising rubbish unless its screwed up and empty.
We had put lots of little signs around our house and yard so that curious guests could wander through and see all our rubbish free ways. People seemed to enjoy going through and opening cupboards etc to find wooden scrubbing brushes, homemade toothpaste and all our various bags and containers for shopping. Some were enjoying it so much they didn’t even notice when a particular sign instructed them to lift the lid of our pit. But once opened I am sure most found the contents of dog poo, fish bones and hair quite sobering. It is odd having people look at all that type of stuff, but then it awesome seeing people get ideas about what they could do. We also had our rubbish on display! In total, here are all the things we accumulated:
- One bag of paint chips from when the house was scraped and sanded ready for painting. 47% of total weight. Reason: toxic, must go to landfill.
- Over a 100 bits of scrappy plastic blown on to our section, unearthed by the chickens or given to us by way of gifts or mail. 18% of weight and approximately 80-90% of the items accumulated. Reason: thought a Campbell Live reporter was bound to find out about it if we started throwing rubbish over the back fence, so we recycled what we could and kept the rest.
- Broken car parts from when the car was fixed, (radiator hose and leads). 21% of weight. Reason: didn’t go for horse and cart. (Yes we did bike, but bikes can still generate rubbish if unlucky)
- Blob of paint from paint spill. 5% of weight. Reason: plastic polymer, can’t be recycled.
- One scratched DVD from Campbell Live. They nicely were trying to give us a copy of our story, but it wasn’t to be. Reason: No one knows anything…
- One ball of dental floss. Reason: deemed necessary.
- One light bulb that blew. Reason: weren’t committed enough to live with the rhythms of nature.
- A little bag of bits of scrappy foam, single serve milk, old cigarette lighter etc, about 20 items. Reason: gathered from our new boat, bought unseen on Trade Me.
- Jess’s expired dog tag.
- Plastic liner from a 20 kg bag of dog food. Reason we thought this brand used thick waxed paper, but when it was empty we realised it had the plastic liner. After this we bought dog food from Bin Inn.
- Plastic liner from two cement bags. Reason: We couldn’t source cement without it and needed it for a couple of D.I.Y projects.
- The bristles from the paint brush used to seal the poxy resin on the polished concrete hearth we installed. Reason: tried to salvage but that stuff set like concrete. Recycled the wood and metal from the brush
- Wrapping etc from a couple of bunches of flowers given to us.
- Clearwater Yoghurt container and lid. Reason: Yoghurt was very difficult to find in a recyclable container. This company are great because they take their containers back to be reused as pots for plants (or something like that). Unfortunately this container was smashed when dropped.
- One pair of rubber gloves. Reason: Something to do with Matthew. I, Waveney, had been successfully using them all year with out any problems, and Matthew used them for the first time last month and left them in the sun and they melted.
- One Air New Zealand baggage tag. Reason: We actually flew more than this but the tags look just like paper and it took us a while to realise it was non-recyclable paper and plastic composite.
- Packaging from our Canon digital camera and our Airport (wireless Internet). Reason: really really wanted both of these things new so bought them. In the case of the Airport the packaging was done well, really minimal. In the case of the camera, we had just bought a Sony camera for a 21st present and we noted at the time how good the packaging was and then when we went to buy our camera we assumed that the Canon camera would be a similar deal, but we actually got slammed with quite a bit of non-recyclable plastic.
- The wrapping from a mini-DVD tape. Reason: needed it for consulting work. Hoping to work out ways around that one in future.
- Ten or so little plastic clothing I shaped tags and tiny hangers (like the ones for socks). Reason: when it came down to it, we just weren’t that into buying all clothes second hand to avoid them. Having said that we did try hard to avoid as many as possible.
- One plastic clothing label tag. Reason: wouldn’t have bought it but didn’t spy the plastic in time.
- 3 wristbands from gigs/events. Reason: Never knew in advance if it was going to a stamp, waxed paper or plastic, so just had to go with it.
- One used angle grinder disk thing (hmm Matthew should be writing this, I don’t even really know what this thing was used for actually).
- One broken plastic peg. Reason: should have had wooden pegs that can be composted or burned if broken, we switched after this peg broke.
- One cheap and nasty plastic pen knife. Reason: somehow missed being purged when we swept through the house getting rid of ‘potential’ rubbish, sure enough it broke.
- One plastic top from an alloy drink bottle that started to leak. Reason: the bottle was taken to the scrap metal dealer but the plastic was non-recyclable.
- Two non recyclable batteries. Reason: bought inadvertently with a bike light, dead in a few months time.
- Last but not least, one plastic seal from a wine bottle. The only item of rubbish generated by grocery shopping. Reason: Matthew bought it when he was sick and wasn’t thinking – there are plenty of bottles of wine to choose from that don’t use plastic.
And thats it! A year’s rubbish. Ironically we wont be throwing it out any time soon as it has become such a point of interest for people to see. Its slightly less than 2kg and fits easily into a supermarket shopping bag. Thank you again to everyone who have been following our experiment, it was your encouragement and interest that spurred us along on the valley of plastic packaged isles. Good luck with your own rubbish reducing adventures. If you get stuck on anything check out our website and you are always welcome to contact us. Its currently rubbishfreeyear.co.nz and will be changing in a few weeks to rubbishfree.com. We will still blog, but this is our last week in the Green Pages of the New Zealand Herald.