Week 24 – half hour use, half millennia disuse

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A friend of mine living in Las Vegas, (who I have to say hasn’t previously showed much sign of environmental sensitivities – we must be getting under his skin), sent me this picture the other day. The photo is of the rubbish created from a sit down meal at a restaurant. Styrofoam trays and cups, a plastic bag (presumably to get the meal from the kitchen to the table) and several small plastic sauce pottles. No doubt it is cheaper for this restaurant to buy disposables than to employ staff to do dishes. It happens here too, especially at cheaper places like food courts and of course fast food chains have been doing it since before I can remember. I often muse on how economics is the dominant ‘philosophy’ of our age, and how something can make no sense at all on social or environmental fronts but will be considered clever if it gives a player a competitive edge. Like USA and EU swapping millions of tonnes of almonds each year, EU almonds go to the States and Californian almonds go back to EU. This makes no sense, neither does over fishing or using Styrofoam for a half hour use and half a millennia disuse. There are many ways of challenging this destructive way of being, some more effective than others. Essentially this year Matthew and I are attempting to communicate something in a language well understood: money. Companies produce what sells well. If we buy the most ethical product then it will make economic sense for companies to produce the most most ethical product.

Anyway! That was a bit of a rant! Thanks to all the people who gave us their dog food recipes, but the suggestion we most liked was buying dog food from Bin Inn. I have always marveled at how we can cook for half an hour, eat for 10 mins and wash dishes for another 10… meanwhile the dog’s dinner took 2 seconds to scoop, 30 seconds to eat and she leaves the bowl cleaner than when she started. It just seems a shame to complicate this beautiful routine. Jess wolfed down the new food last night so I guess thumbs up (paws up) for her. There was also quite a bit of discussion about what I should do with my underarm hair! Quite an odd thing to be discussed for me really, but so be it. While I am very happy with my ‘new’ old fashioned razor I do need new blades. I looked around unsuccessfully for blades, tried a couple of barbers etc. Finally someone said that I could buy them in a supermarket. How ironic. I assumed they were a rare novelty. Good news anyway.

Heather of Avondale, Auckland asked about how we dispose of bones. We do eat meat but have relatively little issue with bones. This is because 90% of the meat we eat is red and most of that is stewing cuts and mince -without bones. If there are bones we put them in our organic bone destruction unit (Jess). Chicken and fish bones (which choke dogs) are put in our long term compost system. This is basically a hole in the corner of our back yard, which once full will be left for 5 or so years. It also has fur, hair, fingernail clippings and dog poo. Hope this helps. Apparently butchers used to take bones back off their customers because they sold their bones to a bone collection service. I believe this situation has now reversed, with butchers having to pay to have the bones collected. I assume the bones are still used for useful purposes, maybe you could even give the butcher money to take your bones – although I suspect they might look at you funny. Heather’s question, which was through the NZ Herald blog site, made me realise that if you have been following our year through the Herald, either printed or online you may not realise that we have a very comprehensive website: http://www.rubbishfree.co.nz. One of the features of the site is our Rubbish Free Guide. In it we have detailed all of the things we have done / are doing to be rubbish free. The site is also searchable. This enables people who have specific interests to easily see all on the site that relates.

Finally (this has been a long blog…) we are delighted to announce that Bin Inn is now sponsoring us to be doing what we were doing anyway. We have been thinking over the months what a good little advert we were for Bin Inn (this blog is again case in point) and so we approached them, hoping that they would agree. Happily they did. Thanks Bin Inn! Its great to be working with you.

Week 22 – Raiders of the Well-Hidden Ark.

Well its been a rubbishy couple of weeks for us, unfortunately. We discovered that the dog food bag – that we especially switched to because we thought it was sturdy paper with a wax lining – actually has a plastic lining. Does anyone know of a good solution for dog food? If forced to I guess we would look into making our own, I’ve seen people do it before – throw away grades of meat with cooked rice I think. Seems like more hassle than its worth though. We also had a couple of things blow onto the section and a couple of items arrive in the mail. One was a package from a company that knew we were rubbish free but wrapped the item up in packaging tape and slapped a big plastic courier pocket thing on it. We are now half way through our challenge and all our rubbish still fits in the shoe box – its getting pretty tight in there now though. Oh we also had a close call with a couple of couches we have ended up with. We took them to the dump and were in the process of leaving them in the rehoming section (in Christchurch anything useable goes to city run ‘Super Sheds’ which are giant second hand stores – excellent service) when the guy came out and said – “Sorry, can’t take anything with rips in them, you’ll have to take those through to the dump.” Whoops. They were good enough for us! We just put throws over them. We did think about dumping them since we were there, but then it dawned on us that that would be breaking the rules of our challenge. We totally forgot! So we have taken them back home and hopefully will be able to rehome them via trade me or freecycle.

We are still struggling to wean ourselves off plastic… at the start of the year we went through the house and put all the slow cycle rubbish stuff in a box, and then taped the box up and stashed it at the back of our highest cupboard. By slow cycle I mean stuff that will become rubbish eventually, like a twink pen, but isn’t technically rubbish until its used up. So in theory I could use twink this year so long as it doesn’t run out before the year is up. Grey rule bending stuff! This is why we hid the box so well, because we didn’t really want to play the game that way. However, there has been some raiding going on. Once for twink, a couple of times for the glue stick, but repeatedly for my plastic disposable razor. I wax my legs, which is all rubbish free (the tub is #2), but haven’t been able to / wanted to wax my under arms. Ugh! I actually even tried scissors! I don’t recommend that technique either. I have been on the look out for an epilady on Trademe, but upon reading up about them, it seems they all rip the hair out at the root just like waxing. This last month the disposable plastic razor showed signs of blunting, which meant I really had to solve this problem. Luckily for me I had been telling a few of my friends about the dilemma and a last weekend a friend turned up with a mint stainless steel razor, her sister spied it for me while in an antique store (thanks Nell!). It uses the old razor blade system. I remember my dad’s blades, sharp and dangerous, sitting in the bathroom cupboard. I am sure the blades will still be for sale somewhere, but it will require a bit of a hunt around as I haven’t seen them for years.

Since we went down to one blog every fortnight it seems that there is always too much to say and not enough space to say it. I think this is partly due to the rules changing back to no bread bags, cheese packets etc, which makes it much more of an interesting challenge. So we are reverting back to weekly blogs, and Matthew and I will probably alternate writing them. Keep up the good work everyone. We constantly hear how our rubbish free efforts are encouraging others to start recycling, composting or switching to the butcher etc, its awesome to see our small effort have an impact!