Rubbish Free Year Blog

Week 29 – Highlighters and Locks

Whenever I travel overseas I am always gripped by a yearning for marmite and Bluebird, green onion flavoured, chip sandwiches. Oddly, I very rarely eat this when home, particularly this year as we can’t buy the chips due to the packaging. Or, when tramping for a few days, thoughts often turn to any number of items I intend to consume once back in civilisation but that I rarely follow up on. This age old emotion of desiring that which you can’t have has kicked in on a few items as we attempt to live rubbish free. This year, for me, it is not having Nachos for dinner, (cheese, sour cream and chips are all problematic), but for Waveney, who is much less focused on her stomach, it is her yellow highlighter.

Waveney recently resumed her studies part time and is needing to read copious amounts of text, of which it is handy to highlight the important bits, making exam study much easier. The highlighter, however, was included in a box of items we don’t want to use this year for fear of them running out and creating rubbish throughout the year. The box was sealed at the start of the challenge and is being stored up in the roof. Underlining seems to make the page busier rather than simplifying an already difficult text, however, I guess this must have been what people did prior to highlighters. If anyone has any other suggestions we’d love to hear them.

Last Saturday we were out for the day and came home to discover that somebody had unsuccessfully tried to break into the house. They would have been sorely disappointed had they managed to get in, as a friend recently commented our house is very similar to his Nana’s, and he wasn’t referring to the structure or layout! Nonetheless, it was decided that we should add an additional lock to the back door in the form of a deadbolt. After nearly seven months you’d think we’d instantly think about the rubbish free options, however it wasn’t till we were heading out the door that it occurred to us. It seems that everything in hardware stores is covered in that thick plastic packaging that requires sissors, or an angle grinder, to get through. The solution was to wait an extra day and then wander down to the second hand building supplies yard. There I was able to choose the lock I needed and the chap only wanted $1, which he waived instead of having to give me change for a $20! All in all, the rubbish free alternative resulted in a cheaper and much more pleasant experience, as well as some community building as I got to know our local second hand dealer.

Week 28 – Rubbish bag update

Week 28 – rubbish bag contents

At the 12 week mark we blogged about the items we had in our bag up to that point, and now that we are past the half way mark it seemed timely for an update. Three months ago we had in our bag:

1. half a supermarket bag of paint chips from scraping and sanding our weatherboard house in preparation for painting,
2. approximately 50 cigarette butts found on the property after having it rented out to tenants,
3. a broken plastic peg,
4. plastic tags that are used to hold labels to new clothing,
5. an universal car petrol cap which was rejected at a recent WoF test,
6. plastic wrapping from around a wine bottle lid,
7. tape used by a florist in a bunch of flowers given to us,
8. a blown light bulb.

The universal car petrol cap found a new home when Waveney was giving a talk to a group of teenagers doing an environmental course. One of them asked for it as a souvenir, stating that she also intended to use it in a piece of art. It may well be lying under a teenagers bed now, but in my less cynical moments I hope that it is the centre piece of something beautiful. Anyway…that left us with seven items to which we’ve added another ten.

1. cellophane from a second bunch of flowers given to us,
2. two non-rechargeable batteries that accidentally came with Waveney’s new bike light,
3. cheese wrapper bought when we thought it was recyclable and then discovered it wasn’t,
4. hardened paint brush from painting sealant on a hearth we made for our logburner,
5. three small souvalaki plastic bags
6. pie wrapper blown onto our section from the street,
7. old plastic seedling container found half buried in the garden,
8. a plastic sleeve containing an invoice stuck onto a couriered package.
9. medication wrapping from antibiotics for our dog Jess,
10. dental floss

Rubbish used to ‘magically’ fill up our bin every week and I would wonder how on earth it all got there. This challenge has forced us to analyse which of yesterday’s decisions caused today’s rubbish – and once we had that thought process in place our rubbish radically reduced. But, after 28 weeks we still have 17 items which we haven’t been able to avoid purchasing, or been able to re-use, re-home, compost or recycle. So, despite all the vigilance, how did these pieces of rubbish slip under the radar? A third of it was unavoidable: found on the section or given to us. A another third was created intentionally: Jess’s medication, floss, light bulb, sanding the house, and tags on new clothes. And the final third could have been avoided with hindsight: cheese wrapper, souvalaki bags, wine seal (all mistakes), broken peg (we now only have wooden ones) and batteries in my new bike light (didn’t think to open it and check). Still, we are very happy with our half way point effort. All this rubbish has a much smaller physical presence than the list suggests. It all fits very comfortably in a shoe box, or (without the paint chips) is a large handful.

Week 27 – Past half way!

Last week was our half way mark in our rubbish free year. I just popped into the pharmacy to pick something up for a family member and was struck by how I wouldn’t be able to buy almost anything in the whole shop. And then I was stuck by how weird it is that living rubbish free has become ‘normal’ for us. Of course its not normal at all, odd that it feels that way. Odd that I just don’t need to buy, nor have any desire to buy things contained in plastic, or things that are themselves disposable or junky. We were aware that getting sick would be a major source of rubbish creation and so we have tried to keep ourselves fit, eating healthily, warm and non-stressed, believing that we would be unlucky to get ill if we looked after ourselves that carefully. And so far we haven’t been sick – apart from a cold, but it was easily dealt with with garlic, lemon and honey, lots of kiwifruit and oranges and lots of rest. When Jess got sick last week though, we didn’t muck around trying to find rubbish free alternatives, I am sure it would have been quite easy actually, but somehow it was different with her, I guess we didn’t know anything about how to deal with doggy stuff alternatively, and the track to the vet was well worn.

I guess the ‘event of the week’ if anyone could call it that, was the purchase of a rubbish free padlock. We had a combo one securing our garage and it stopped working, we suspect someone tried to break in. So the next day I raced down to the Wharehouse only to find their range entirely cocooned in plastic display cases hanging neatly, one by one, off hooks. This is pretty normal and we are used to trying multiple places before getting what we need, so next I headed to Smith City, found the same thing and then unsuccessfully tried a little locksmith stand in a mall. So then I put an ad on Freecycle (the web based free swap) but before someone could get back to me I happened to see a locksmith store and he had what I wanted: A padlock in a cardboard box. It wasn’t on display, he had to go out the back and dig around for it for about 2 minutes! What a lot of effort. Most people who hear what a palava we through ask why we don’t just dump the unwanted packaging with the retailer. I think that if we did do that it would still give a message, (that would hopefully get back to the manufacturers) but it would be a very different challenge. We could buy almost anything we wanted and not go to any effort to source alternatives; but we hope by choosing to be rubbish free at the point of sale, and by documenting it in our Rubbish Free Guide, we have forged a path for others to also be rubbish free comsumers.

By the way I have been experimenting with rubbish free herbal teas, try grated ginger root, honey and lemon. I make it in a pot and simply pour the contents through a sieve on its way to the cup. It is delicious, and must be very good for us too. If that sounds like hard work to you (which it really isn’t once you’ve done it couple of times) I think Twinings is the only brand with all recyclable packaging. Sometimes they look OK but have that plasticy foil inside… trick for young players.

Week 26 – Oral Health

Sometimes it feels a bit like we are locked in some epic struggle in our efforts to transform the bathroom into a rubbish free zone. We have won many battles: cleaning products, soap, shampoo and shaving to name a few, but the battle over oral health is still raging! This week I went to the dentist to have a filling replaced that had fallen out. During the course of the check up the dentist asked if there had been any major changes in my diet or the way I looked after my teeth as there were some tiny holes appearing on the side of my teeth. It was at that point that the assistant outed me as being one half of the couple doing the rubbish free year, and that she had heard that we were making our own toothpaste. In what felt remarkably like confession, I told all, and surprisingly did receive a type of absolution. My dentist was not too concerned with the homemade toothpaste pointing out that baking soda is still used in some brands of toothpaste, albeit a bit concerned with the overly abrasive nature of the salt. Her main issue was the lack of fluoride, which I’ve since discovered is quite a contentious issue. The blessing and curse of the internet becomes rapidly apparent when one tries to get to the bottom of these sorts of debates and after going back and forth I have decided to put my faith in my dentist and fluoride my teeth. I was able to buy from the pharmacy 100 fluoride tablets for $10 which I dissolve in water and swish about my mouth for two minutes each night. I’ll head back before the end of the challenge in six months and get an update on whether that has helped.

Toothpaste is only half the story though as the toothbrush saga is yet to reach a satisfactory conclusion. In other blogs we have mentioned some of the struggles but just to re-cap: When the challenge started we had new toothbrushes which lasted about three months and are now being used in the laundry for cleaning. Although this only equals four toothbrushes each over the year we are keen to be as close to zero as possible so the search started for a ‘landfill destined free’ toothbrush and packaging. Our initial attempt involved getting wooden toothbrushes from Brooks in Switzerland that are able to be put in the compost to break down. Unfortunately these came in solid number six plastic containers, were quite uncomfortable to use and having a straight handle it was difficult to reach the wisdom teeth. Next stop was Preserve toothbrushes from Boston, USA. They are made from recycled yoghurt containers, are really nice to use, clean well, and when finished with can be posted back to the manufacturer to be recycled into picnic tables. However, the obvious issue of carbon miles became even more obvious with the inclusion of a hand written note from the customer relations person at Preserve who suggested we buy local rather than having a single toothbrush shipped from Boston to New Zealand. Alternatively, we could buy in bulk in the same way we have for the dental floss and become distributors, however, this doesn’t really solve the carbon footprint issue. Ideally it would be great if the local market was able to support the local manufacture of such a toothbrush here – if you are involved in the manufacturing industry feel free to steal this idea!

Continuing on from last week’s medical waste theme, this week our lovely 12yr old dog, Jess, needed a visit to the vet due to a skin infection The vet suggested a course of antibiotics. Unfortunately, the tablets come in a foil and plastic composite, so to show our commitment to being rubbish free we had her put down to avoid the waste…no, no, just joking…Jess has lost her status as rubbish free dog but remains very much alive with a cleared up skin infection and the packaging has been added to our collection.

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 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 23 – All around the world

One of the statements I am never quite sure how to take, when talking to people about our rubbish free challenge, is “…you guys just seem so normal.” Without getting into a psychoanalytic discussion of ‘what is normal’, we have intuitively felt that we are relatively normal, a feeling that has been reinforced recently with a large number of international connections being made with other ‘normal’ people trying to reduce their rubbish footprint. It began with being contacted by Karen in the UK who has a website www.therubbishdiet.co.uk From her I learnt that we are ‘garbloggers’, and that there are many such people in the world. I’m not sure who decides, but there is a list of the top ten at takepart.com. She wrote a blog highlighting some garbloggers and we subsequently have connected with a few of them. A woman that I found particularly interesting is in Oakland, California and can be found at www.fakeplasticfish.com. She is trying to reduce the amount of plastic she consumes and what I particularly liked about her is that she has made a long term commitment to do so. She has not gone down the road of ‘no plastic for a year challenge’ or similar, rather she simply tries everyday to remove more plastic from her life. Her site has some great suggestions for plastic free alternative products.

I was keen to find out what she does about oral hygiene. Although a relatively low contributer to the rubbish bag, we are keen to get our landfill waste as close to zero as possible so everything is under scrutiny. We still have not found a great solution to toothbrushes, having ordered a wooden one with natural fibre bristles that is compostable, but with it arriving in a sturdy plastic container. From the fakeplasticfish site I found that she is using Preserve toothbrushes which are made out of recycled yoghurt containers in the States. When you have finished with the brush you send it back in a postage paid envelope for it to be recycled into picnic tables. I’ve ordered one and look forward to seeing what it is like. Although it appears that there is no way of getting around nylon dental floss, there is an alternative to the 700 million plastic floss containers discarded each year. We have discovered ‘Gentle Floss’ which is contained in a cleverly designed cardboard box which is recyclable when finished, and in addition the floss is ‘vegan waxed’ as opposed to waxed with beeswax. We have been given permission to distribute the product in New Zealand so now have a page on our website which you can check out if interested. Who would have thought this challenge would have led to us being distributors as well!

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 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.

Week 18 – Recycling regroup

When we began our rubbish free challenge we tried to clarify as much as possible exactly what we are able to recycle through the kerbside collection scheme – a task that proved to be quite difficult. We spoke to various people at the city council and ultimately received an invitation to visit the city recycling plant five weeks into our challenge. For those first five weeks we worked on the understanding that we could only recycle glass, cans, paper, number 1 and 2 plastic and supermarket plastic bags. At the plant we were encouraged to continue with this and saw first hand how cleaning containers and leaving the lids off greatly affected the quality and weight of what goes into a shipping container. Then we were also told that other plastic ‘bag’ like materials were also recyclable (carry bags, bread bags, gladwrap, cheese packaging etc, see blog week 5). This suddenly made our challenge a whole lot easier, but because we had already sewn cotton bags for fruit and vege etc and were already in the habit of making bread, we didn’t change a lot… initially. Over the last couple of months we’ve bought more and more bread, a pack of bacon and a long awaited block of cheese (when a friend who had been making cheese for us discovered, at the end of a two month process, that it had gone rancid).

Last week, however, the fair weather ended. A gentleman from the recycling marketing division called to say we had been misinformed and that the only bags they accept for recycling are supermarket bags. Apparently other types of plastic bags can contaminate the plastic they sell and jeopardise their overseas markets for it. We are of course very keen to follow the official party line when it comes to recycling, and so will go with this proclamation. I’ll have to call my unpredictable cheese making mate and urge him to get back on the horse.

But this story has an interesting twist in the tail. Yesterday we learned of a Christchurch man, Matthew Darby, who has developed a machine that can recycle any type of plastic into shipping pallets. The process involves warming the plastic so that it can be molded, whilst not heating it so much that gases are produced (www.rangeindustries.com). The irony is he can’t get enough recycled plastic – because it all gets shipped off overseas. Both Mr Darby and the city’s recycling plant want our discarded plastic to turn into profit. One picks up from the kerbside, but the other is locally based and takes everything. Hmmmm decisions, decisions. It seems so weird that there is actually competition for our plastic ‘rubbish’ and we have choices as to who to bless it with! However, we have decided to continue the challenge using the kerbside recycling service as our preference has always been to reduce and reuse rather than to buy whatever we wanted just because we could recycle it.