Week 25- snowballing

People keep saying snow is on the way for us Cantabrians, but all we are getting so far is rain. But there is a ‘snowball’ to comment on never the less. Over our 6 months of rubbish ducking, as we blog and answer comments, or meet people at various events we hear of more and more people embarking on their own rubbish challenges, (shout outs to Melanie and Carrie!). Perhaps it is hyperbole to speak of it as snowballing movement, but our actions have so far had more influence than we would have ever imagined. Last week we met a woman, Jules, from the Lyttelton Time Bank who is nothing short of a ‘fan’. She has been wanting to be rubbish free but has felt overwhelmed by the task of research, sourcing etc. When she found our website and found that the information was already all there – especially for Christchurch people – she decided to commit to one bag for the rest of the year. She has two boys, 7 and 5, so it will be really interesting to see how they go. Of course it will be heaps harder avoiding rubbish with kids, lucky for her the kids are really into the project too. Matthew and I will be ‘mentoring’ Julz, which means among other things, a tour of our rubbish free house and direct dialing privileges! In return she will credit us with ‘timebank‘ credits, which we can ‘spend’ on any service offered by other timebank members. I will get some more fruit and veg bags sewn I think, given how bad I am at sewing. What a great system!

In regards to the what-to-do-with-bones conversation one person commented that they burn theirs in their logburner! I bet Clean Air Canterbury wouldn’t want me to be promoting such a practice, but whose to say? It might be totally fine. Any scientists out there want to do an emissions test? There was also a very interesting comment from a hospital doctor responding to my rant on a restaurant using disposables, she writes:

I really admire what you two are doing but what ever you do don’t get sick or have a baby this year. I used to be appalled by the amount of rubbish created by take-aways (still am) but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the waste created by hospitals. The birth of one baby creates enough rubbish to fill a home skip. When I first started practising in the 90’s the only dispossible things used during surgery were our gloves, blades and swabs. Now almost everything is disposable except for a few instruments. Glass bottles and steal bowls have been replaced with plastic, linen sheets have been replaced with a horrible paper plastic sheet, even our gowns are often disposable. It’s cheaper apparently than paying people to clean up and the companies’ sales men convince hospital managers it’s more hygienic.

Unbelievable! What a can of worms. On a more positive note, the razor blade issue has resolved itself. I found the blades at the supermarket, but ensconced in plastic, and therefore out of my reach. I briefly considered emailing the Plastic-Free woman in California, who apparently solved the same problem by buying the blades bulk and now has some ridiculous amount. Read about her razor blade blog here. I thought she might be up for sending me some. (but then there’s the carbon foot print thing! arghh!) Meanwhile Janet, a reader of our blogroll, emailed us offering her blades. She inherited them from a farmer friend who passed away, because he was on a farm everything was bought in bulk and so she has had this huge stack of blades sitting around for years – decades actually. They fit my razor perfectly and we are delighted with the old fashioned packaging. Each one is wrapped in wax paper and slipped into a card pocket. Each pack of 5 is in a cardboard pack which is wrapped in cellophane. These would have originally been for individual sale. I am sure this brings back memories for some of you. By the way, cellophane is a natural product, that breaks down. If only manufactures thought of plastic free solutions these days, but as the doctor commented, things just don’t seem to be going in that direction. Yet.

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!