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!

Week 11 – Quality second hand goods

In the interests of saving our elbows from future re-constructive surgery due to continuous hand mashing of hummus and pesto, we have been in the market for a blender. There are plenty of blenders advertised weekly through mailbox circulars, however, there are two issues with these. Firstly, there is the packaging that they generally come with which is unable to be diverted from the landfill and secondly there is the issue of their longevity – low prices are often the result of lower engineering quality. The second hand market solves both of these problems as well as having the pleasant spin off of getting a much better quality item than we could otherwise afford. I mentioned this issue in an article I was asked to write for a sustainable living magazine called ReNew. A few days after it was published we received an email from a reader named Ana, offering us her very good quality blender, which was used a few times for blending and since then for gathering dust. The only problem being she lives in Melbourne, so emails were sent far and wide and our good friend Mike came back offering to transport the blender on a business trip to Christchurch from Melbourne. Consequently, last night we became the adoptive parents of a very sturdy and good quality blender which I’m sure will adjust well to New Zealand life! It’s true that there are 180 blenders currently on Trademe, and also true that some of these might have been in Christchurch, however there is something fantastic about a person saying ‘I have this item which I’m not using and you will, therefore you have it and the knowledge that it is now in a more useful position is payment enough for me.’ I know it all feels very karma-esqe but this is the basis of an amazing program called Freecycle of which thousands are part of, an online network in which people offer items for free in the hope that redistributing goods results in a more efficient use of resources.Check out freecycle.org.

A new item was added to the bag this week. A few days ago, whilst struck with laryngitis I rented a DVD and stopped off at the supermarket to buy a bottle of wine. Wine bottles are recyclable and we’re saving the metal lids for a trip to the scrap metal dealer at the end of the year, unfortunately I didn’t notice the bottle I picked out had a plastic wrapping around the lid which is now the latest item for our rubbish bag…rubbish free moral is don’t shop when sick.