Week Two – Dinner for Eight

Despite having three degrees and numerous post-grad quals behind us, Waveney and I are still struggling to understand the rudimentary basics of how cyberspace works, and have now, sub-consciously at least, retreated into a wonderful world of internet ignorance. Because psychotherapy has yet to free us from this state, we have relied heavily on two very good friends to help us create our website, leading us to throw a dinner party to thank these wonderful saviours – Geoff and Fi – and also to celebrate the start of Rubbish Free Year.

The idea of a rubbish free dinner party wasn’t actually that frightening. However, the anxiety levels were raised slightly with the realisation that not only did it need to be rubbish free, but also gluten, yeast, dairy and potato free, in order to cater for the dietary requirements of our guests who are also predisposed to a fish eating, vegetarian state of mind. Rubbish Free Year so far, has been sending us down a path of simplicity, with many of the solutions to problems actually being quite simple, the obvious example being to reduce buying things that create waste in the first place. Therefore, this was the approach we took to the dinner party. Cucumber mixed with mint, and tomatoes mixed with basil, made two salads from ingredients found within our garden. Wild rice with various nuts met the carb needs of the meal and for the central dish we went to the fish monger who wrapped a whole salmon in paper (without any cellotape holding it down) which we stuffed with lemons and garlic and cooked in foil (our scrap metal dealer takes foil once cleaned) for 30mins. So all in all the evening was very successful.

This week we received good news on two fronts – cheese and cleanliness. A friend has contacted us and in return for us supplying the milk and some loaves of bread, he is going to make us a block of cheese – gotta love bartering and we’re looking forward to lasagna! Also we received some amazing 100% natural handmade soap this week from Kathryn Bellamy. She is a soap maker from Masterton and her packaging is brilliant – brown paper with string. The soap looks and smells beautiful, Kathryn is contactable at alchemist@goddess.co.nz.

Planning the challenge

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.

Re-homing Rubbish

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&gt; 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.