Week 20 – Good Old Plastic

We have just had two busy rubbish-free-weeks. Since the rules on what plastic we can recycle have tightened up, we have gone back to making bread and last night we had burritos – with beans we soaked and with tortillas I made from scratch (dry beans, flour etc bought from Bin Inn). If you followed our earlier blogs you’ll know that the tortillas have been a long time coming as I had been previously failing in the rolling out process. Last night’s burritos, while a tasty meal, were still ‘unique’ looking.

I went to the butcher with a container for the first time too. He is a great butcher and uses only brown paper and grease proof paper whenever possible, but for wetter stuff like mince he usually uses a plastic bag (which we had been washing, drying and recycling). So this time I asked him to put it in the container. He didn’t seem to find it odd, which was a relief because it felt odd! When I got home and went to freeze the mince I suddenly wasn’t sure how to do it. I usually divide it up into smaller amounts and put it in seperate plastic bags. Plastic keeps it fresh and doesn’t wick out the moisture when it defrosts. As it was I just used plastic in the end as we still have so much of it in the house. I thought – what on earth did people do before plastic? – and then I thought what a non-premise that is. So much has changed, its just not comparable. Before plastic there was a general store at the end of my street and I would have bought meat fresh everyday. The older people in our street also tell me that a mobile fish monger (just like Mr Whippy) used to come around every night too. Who would need plastic then? Apparently you just used to go out there with a dinner plate and he would put it straight on.

This week’s rubbish includes three small plastic bags from takeaway souvalaki. I guess we weren’t vigilant enough, we saw him initially wrap it in foil and we saw him put it in a brown paper bag and hand it to us… but we missed that in between those two layers he’d put a little plastic bag to stop moisture seeping. Incidentally the plastic bag was really needed, so I don’t know what that says. Maybe we should have eaten it there or taken our own plastic bag? Next time we can use the bags from this time.

We also acquired about a teaspoon full of clipped wire ends when an electrician from Meridian came to fit us with one of those new automatic meter reading devices. When I saw the scale of what he was doing it did cross my mind that we would be left with arm loads of waste but miraculously everything went back together. Next week I think I will continue on the theme of the difficultly of living without plastic because right now I am a bit stuck on how to live without it.

Day One

Firstly thank you to everyone for all your helpful and encouraging comments. Its been amazing for us to feel so supported, you all rock. Today is finally February the first. First official day of our challenge. We are both freaked out – despite all the preparations and trials – today seems like the bar just got raised to twice the height. Still I guess all the last minute running around is over now, ready or not. Our last rubbishfull week certainly has been a busy one. Last weekend we went through the whole house and section like forensic rubbish detectives and found heaps of rubbish hiding everywhere. The most frustrating thing to throw was definitely scrappy bits of wood. I was sure they must have some use but because they were either painted or treated we couldn’t burn, compost or mulch them. Made me think about what we do to wood.

I also finally got up the courage to visit the scrap metal dealer with my box of questions. I had been putting off the visit because I thought I had a pretty good chance of being laughed out of town. I think that even if I stood on one those big industrial weighers the needle wouldn’t move, let alone if I weighed a paperclip and wrapping from camembert cheese. So I somewhat defensively explained myself to the guy who politely explained that he would take anything that was metal because he was a scrap metal dealer. Even this? (drawing pin), or this (tinfoil), or these (metal toothpaste tube, disprin foil packet, rusty nails, pen cartridge). Yup. I ended up feeling like $2 shop customer after 20 price checks. He said I wouldn’t get much for it though. Nice guy. He added that if I did come back and someone else ‘laughed me out of town’ to tell them that Kelly said it was OK. I’ll do that. I think I’ll take down a year’s worth at the end of the challenge, no point going more often.

Yesterday saw a flurry of shopping, we wanted to do it while we could still dump the packaging! I bought socks and rubber gloves, which I have decided I can’t do without. I have decided to put one pair inside the other, that way no matter how many nicks the outside pair get the inside pair should stay new and leak free for ages… maybe a year. Also swallowed the cost of 10 rechargeable batteries ($50). Then this morning we went through the whole house with a box and put in everything that would be rubbish when it was used up. We have sealed the box up and put it in a cupboard, to be used if absolutely needed. It contains stacks of bathroom stuff, especially medicines and lotions, dental floss, also glue sticks, twink, tennis balls (which the dog chews). Our dental floss hasn’t arrived from the States yet so I will try a couple of the suggestions from the comments. unsuccesful tortillas

After all was done we walked next door and gave our rubbish bag to our neighbour. They agreed to keep it until the kerbside collection in 3 days time, that way we can’t be tempted to sneak anything in. It was slightly alarming how much rubbish we created/found last week, more than what we have said we will create for the whole of this coming year! In the midst of all of this we are still cooking ‘rubbish free’ every night. I have now tried twice to make my own tortillas (so we can have burritos). Turns out there’s a real art to rolling something the size of a golf ball to a nice 20cm circle.