One of our goals for this year has been to reduce the amount of rubbish we produce. When I talk about rubbish, I’m also referring to the recycling bin, even though we recycle anything we can, and use our paper waste for the chickens and garden. It’s not just to help us be more environmentally friendly; it’s to make things a bit easier for us too. We don’t get rubbish removal where we live, and if we can reduce the number of trips to the rubbish tip each year, that’s a good saving of money, time and resources for us. However, with everything these days packaged in plastic, it’s not easy to reduce your rubbish unless you create and grow everything yourself, which is something we are working towards for the future.
Buying fruit and vegetables can have minimal-to-none rubbish waste. Buying these in person at a grocers or supermarket, and taking them home in a box is one solution. For online shopping like we do, buying a box of veges and fruit is another way to reduce those pesky plastic bags too. The drawback of shopping that way is that you don’t get to personally choose the produce you’re purchasing. I often buy my fruit and vegetables in bulk; they come to us in those pesky flimsy plastic bags and we reuse the bags for rubbish bins or freezing foods. As long as we can reuse the plastic, we don’t mind so much. Still, it’d be better not to have those bags in the first place.
One of my pet hates is bread bags. Sure, you can refuse them, but how many of them do you really need? Our family goes through a loaf of bread per person per week. The best solution I have for this is to make our own bread. I enjoy making the bread and if I can do it daily that saves so much rubbish. But then, my homemade bread doesn’t fit into the children’s lunch boxes very well, so sandwiches need to be wrapped separately. Which means more rubbish! Solution? I’m looking for a vertical square bread tin that will fit into our top oven.
Then there’s meat trays or other meat packaging. We don’t buy much meat, just chicken and bacon really. Meat from the deli or butcher comes in plastic packaging that is thrown away. Meat from the supermarket comes in plastic trays, which we reuse for kids craft or growing seedlings. But again, how many do we need? Our aim is to just not buy meat anymore. If we can’t produce it, we shouldn’t eat it. Besides, we don’t know how horrible the animal’s life has been. But we all love bacon and we eat a chicken meal once a week. They are hard habits to break so it will take time. Finding local producers of pork, and growing our own meat chickens is a good option as well.
Tins, jars and drink bottles (I’m obsessed with drinking sparkling mineral water – a habit I should break) are easy to reuse for the garden and crafts, but it’d be better not to have them in the first place. Buying and growing whole foods instead of tinned foods and producing our own passatas and sauces would definitely reduce the waste of those items.
And tissues. When my days were frequented by tears I realised how many tissues I was using. We gave them to the chickens. The chickens would scratch them into the soil and we could take their scratched up, composted earth and give it to the garden. I’m not buying tissues anymore. I’ve got so much cotton fabric that I am going to make the family hankies. Hankies for everybody. And my grandmother’s hanky washing tip? Save the tiny ends of your bars of soap, add one or two to a big saucepan of boiling water and boil the hankies for ten minutes before washing them with the rest of your laundry. I think the same can be done with nappies, although I just soaked our cloth nappies in a nappy solution and washed them with the rest of the washing.
Clothes. I’m currently thinking about ways to recycle clothing that is not good enough for the op shop. We’ve got enough cleaning cloths. I love the idea of making bags, quilts and blankets out of old clothing but I’m not that motivated. I’m guessing that natural fibre clothing could be composted into the earth? Do you have any ideas? I’d love to hear them.