Week 53 – All wrapped up

img_0681.jpgThis is our last official duty of our rubbish free year, to report on our rubbish free party and to do the final telly of whats in our bag.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. Blob of paint from paint spill.  5% of weight.  Reason: plastic polymer, can’t be recycled.
  5. 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…
  6. One ball of dental floss.  Reason:  deemed necessary.
  7. One light bulb that blew. Reason: weren’t committed enough to live with the rhythms of nature.
  8. 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.
  9. Jess’s expired dog tag.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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
  13. Wrapping etc from a couple of bunches of flowers given to us.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. The wrapping from a mini-DVD tape. Reason:  needed it for consulting work. Hoping to work out ways around that one in future.
  19. 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.
  20. One plastic clothing label tag. Reason:  wouldn’t have bought it but didn’t spy the plastic in time.
  21. 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.
  22. 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).
  23. One broken plastic peg. Reason: should have had wooden pegs that can be composted or burned if broken, we switched after this peg broke.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Two non recyclable batteries.  Reason:  bought inadvertently with a bike light, dead in a few months time.
  27. 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. img_0858.jpg

25 thoughts on “Week 53 – All wrapped up

  1. Awesome work guys… I wonder if that guy who said he was going to create a bag of rubbish every day is still going as strong as you are. Very inspiring stuff.


  2. Congratulations to you both. The year has gone by quickly and we return for our annual visit in July. Glad you will continue with the new site. Will continue to check in from time to time. Say Hi to your folks from us.

    Malcolm and Waveney


  3. Hi there
    well done you guys, i’ve been watching all year. I am getting better at not creating rubbish, unfortunately my flatmates completely dwarf (as in a negative way) any reduction i manage!

    1 comment – you mention yogurt containers…I’m surprised you are not Easi-Yo converts? I reduce my recycling by 50 odd yogurt containers a year by making a litre of this per week. Reduce has to be better than recycle, right? In general when you had options to recycle, did you still look at ways to avoid buying the recyclable packaging first?


    We totally agree about the reduce rather than recycle call, and have certainly noticed a reduction in our recycling amount as well. Also we really like the idea of refuse before reducing, reusing and then recycling.


  4. Great job guys. I am totally inspired by the way you labeled everything in your house and got people to walk around and check out how you are living. I feel like they probably realized it was a lot easier if they saw how everything worked. I had to laugh at the gift of chips. We’ve had a few gifts like that ourselves – it’s hard to say no when it was an innocent mistake. . . .

    Anyway, congratulations. It’ll be interesting to see what things you really keep up with and what things you go back to for convenience etc.Thanks for inspiring.


  5. Congratulations Matthew and Waveney. We are so proud of how you hosted and made everyone so welcome at your party. You certainly are a fabulous example and challenge for us to follow. Will be interested to see what develops out of your rubbish free year. Smiles KC & G


  6. Hi guys,
    You are very inspiring! Well done… will continue to try reducing our rubbish.
    Linked to your blogroll from our Pictonmarlborough directory some time ago, so hope other folk will check out your site too.
    Awesome stuff,


  7. Fantastic, I have followed you throughout the year, gleaned some good ideas and love the progress of your efforts.


  8. I’m curious – if you own your own home – in that case – did you get a refund on the rates?

    A portion of rates goes for rubbish disposal,so if you only generated 2kg, shouldn’t you get a refund?

    Just curious.

    That is a great point Chris! No we didn’t get any refund on our rates. We ended up giving our bags away to a kohunga reo that had run out of bags.


  9. WOW, way impressive. You put us to shame. I manufacture natural fiber clothing and my husband is a mechanic. We live and run our businesses on solar. compost, recycle, reuse etc. We, until I read your story, were proud that we fill only 2-3 garbage cans a month between home and 2 businesses and 3 recycle bins but obviously we could do a lot more. The hardest parts for sure are when family comes to visit and brings stuff over and packaging for parts coming into the mechanics shop. You two rock!


  10. New Zealand is awesomely beautiful. It was the first place we saw cows used as “mowers” in a municipal park – Brilliant! The only “mountains” here on Long Island, NY, USA are the landfills. I applaud your efforts and hope you generate lots of publicity. But then, I’m part of the family that “brings stuff over” to Tara Lynn AKA Earth Bitch in Vermont – we don’t dare bring her anything in plastic bags! By the way, save the CD. It can be used as an emergency signaling mirror or a coaster. Dad of the Earth Bitch


  11. Great job! I generate about grocery bag of trash a week I think, so I’m going to have to work a lot harder and go through your blog for tips.

    We also need to push hard for government to regulate packaging, which needs to be minimized and easily recyclable.


  12. Tip for wooden pegs:
    Dip them in an enviro-friendly wood oil or wax to extend their life, ie if you forget to take the pegs in at night or during those unexpected rain showers. NB: Check the type of oil/wax you are using first that it doesn’t leave stains on your clothing.

    PS: If you take the pegs inside when not in use they also last longer.


  13. Great job! There are many naysayers that don’t believe you did this. BUT I know it is possible. I haven’t gotten my trash down as low as you, but I am not far from it. If everyone would JUST do a little bit to reduce what goes into landfills, it would make a BIG difference.


  14. How very interesting! I have really been working to reduce our trash but haven’t gotten down nearly that far. You are very inspiring!
    As far as the yogurt is concerned, have you ever tried making your own? It is really quite simple and then you can reuse the same things over and over.


  15. Hey,
    Well Done !!
    I Don’t Think I Could Of Managed What You Did.
    I Am Studing This Rubbish And Recycling Topic At School And Ill Be Sure To Tell Of You’re Story Next Lesson !!
    Big Thumbs Up To You!! (:


  16. You guys are wonderful! I discovered your blog early on in your adventure and was truly impressed. As someone concerned about our environment it opened my eyes to a whole lot more. First and foremost to how much we accept as public and accept as “norm”. So much rubbish produced in a normal day is totally unnecesary. I do blame producers but how great would it be if people took a collective stand?!

    I spoke to many people of your endeavours and have held you in the back of my mind since. I did lose track of your progress but thrilled to return now and know you succeeded. Yes, inspirational. Thank you so much.


  17. Nice work guys!!!
    I found your wedsite when I was researching for my school speech
    and I think you’ve done realy well!!!


  18. I’ve been following the Green family in Gloucestershire, UK with their zero waste efforts. Congratulations on all you have done. I did notice at least one item that they would have rehomed though …. the CD/DVD. We have a company in the UK that takes used disks and makes them into clocks.

    Also curious about the angle grinder remains. They sound as though they should be metal …. where they?

    Just going to explore the rest of your site now 🙂

    Thanks for the congrats. With regards to the angle grinder disks, they seemed to be some type of mixed material, possibly with metal as well. Cheers.


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