Long before we were ever considering doing a rubbish free year, I was discussing with my grandmother her experiences of raising five children whilst living on a large farm on which my grandfather was a worker. I was reminded of this conversation recently when we received an email from a 70 year old woman, Anna, who wished to pass on some tips ‘from life 50 years ago’. Both woman gave golden advice. My grandmother explained that the grocer used to come via the farm once a month and she would generally only need to purchase about 12 items – things like floor polish, baking soda, flour and sugar. Of course being on a farm is slightly easier than living an urban lifestyle where butchering a sheep in the garage probably wouldn’t go down too well with the council, however, Anna and my grandmother both had advice that might be applicable to our lifestyle. For example, we are keen to try adding a small amount of sand to a mixture of baking soda and vinegar which apparently makes a heavy cleaning product similar to Jiff. Slightly less appealing is saving all the fat from lamb, pork and beef and using it to make soap! According to Anna this soap also works well as shampoo, followed by rinsing the hair with a teaspoon of vinegar, (or lemon juice if blond), dissolved in a cup of water resulting in lovely shiny hair. I also noticed that both women have more specific knowledge about where compost is best directed than we do, ie. what should go to the chooks, what gets added to a pile, what is buried directly into trenches in the vege garden and what gets placed around the foot of plants. As I said before I believe this sort of knowledge to be golden and well worthy of passing down the generations.
Welcome to our first blog.
When we first decided to commit to a year of living without creating any rubbish I assumed the going would get tough when we started, but the last couple of months have been so full of a myriad of little preparations that I find myself hoping that living rubbish free will be less work than getting ready for it. The barrier is much bigger than we imagined. Preparations have consumed time and forced creative thought as we leap (or lurch?!) from our existing system of doing things to a new way, but hopefully in a years time, we can be working comfortably from a new ‘operating system’.
The following 2 blogs overview of the preparations we have made so far, this one is about ways to ‘re-home’ with rubbish, the second one is about alternatives to products that can’t be recycled.
After doing a few “zero waste” google searches, I have learned that there are some people and communities out there who have found ways to re-home 100% of their rubbish. (e.g. this youtube clip of a zero waste apartment building http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=tOsoXpasexU) This means plastic packaging, gladwrap, styrofoam, toothpaste tubes etc can all be used and recycled. In New Zealand the best I have heard of is Xtreme Waste in the Raglan area who divert 75% of rubbish from the landfill. Obviously the more research we do in this area the easier our year will be. All links, thoughts and comments would be really appreciated, as we are very new to all of this and I know there is a lot of information out there. The following is has widespead relevance, but is particularly relevant to Christchurch readers
- Paper and cardboard: reuse, recycle, compost
- Organic matter: compost, bury (eg dog poo, hair, fingernail clippings), feed to dog (dairy produce, meat etc that would attract mice if left in the compost) and chickens, return excess bones to butcher (they have a bone collection service where the bones are used to create other products), burn (we have a logburner which is great for excess green matter when it dries), mulch… I am sure this list will grow.
- Plastic: reuse (a lot of what we throw is useful, e.g good containers, but we get overwhelmed with the sheer volume, so the trick will be to buy these things more often than we need their containers), recycle (we can do 1’s and 2’s in Christchurch) What else could we do with it A lot of work has gone into finding places that we can shop, and comparing prices etc. Finding toilet paper that comes in paper packaging for example. Checking out the alternatives to toothpaste in a plastic tube etc.
- Glass: reuse, recycle. Broken glass: I am not sure yet but I am sure there will be somewhere that will take it
- Metals: reuse, recycle. I am not sure what our curbside recycling will take just yet, but I intend to take the rest to a scrap metal dealer.
- Textiles: mend things, clothing bins, rag bins (I have heard of these but haven’t sourced one in Christchurch yet),
- Composite materials (eg computer, jug, old couch): Things that still work can be given to places like the City Mission and New Harvest Trust (two excellent Christchurch charities). Otherwise: Take apart and deal with as above, sell on Trade Me (there are plenty of people out there who want these sorts of things, I guess they are good at fixing things), find places that take specific things, eg Molten Media (a Christchurch community trust) take computers and related gear.
Note: For Christchurch readers check out this link: <http://www.cyberplace.org.nz/environment/recycle.html> It has great information on how and where to recycle particular things. (It is a bit old though, anyone got a better link?) Among other things, it mentions Creative Junk, which is a genius Early Childhood Resource Centre. To shop there you must first join up (about $10) and then its fill a bag for some insubstantial sum, about$3. They sell (bright, shiny, fluffy) industrial off cuts that would otherwise be rubbish and welcome new supplies of reuseable materials from anyone. Wonderful place for creative minds. They are now at 254 Port Hills Road, Hillsborough, phone 376 6292 for opening times and more info.