You may have read my post, Our Plastic Free, Zero Waste Family Home, where I summarise how we eliminate single-use plastic and waste from our lives, and are wondering “how much single-use plastic and waste does that actually translate into over a period of time?” Or perhaps you read my post,  9 Reasons We’re Keeping Our Landfill In Jars In 2016, and have been waiting for a progress update. Or, maybe you’re just really curious about how much recycling we have because of our limited access to bulk foods and other products. So given we’re six months into the year I thought now would be a great time for our family to inspect the contents of our landfill jars and find some answers to our reuse and recycling questions. I want to share this with you because I know that sometimes you just want to know what “zero waste” looks like and to know what’s possible if you were to make changes too. Plus, you might know how I can reduce our landfill further, so please share if you do.

Before we delve into the depths of my family’s waste, it might pay to read:

3 Guidelines for Successful Plastic Free and Zero Waste Living

Your Guide To Living Zero Waste Without Bulk Stores, and

Raising Zero Waste Heroes, if you haven’t already.

These articles explain our approach to reducing waste and a bit about our parenting style.

A Look In Our Jars

On the first of January each member of my family agreed to keep their landfill and plastic waste in their own jar. Last night we emptied the jars and sorted the contents for each person. I avoided saying anything to see what insights the kids had. I watched them mentally process and compare the items between the jars, and after a while I congratulated them for doing exceptionally well. They both pointed out the large pile of lolly wrappers which mostly came from friends’ birthday parties, as did a few other items. It was interesting to see them trying to remember where each item came from. The discussion then turned to which of these items might still be able to be diverted from landfill through reuse or recycling.

Six months of plastic and waste from Tammy and Shannon's jars
Six months of plastic and waste from Tammy and Shannon’s jars.
Six months of plastic and waste from Ainsley (5y.o) and Alby's (7y.o) jars.
Six months of plastic and waste from Ainsley (5y.o) and Alby’s (7y.o.) jars.
Receipts, plastic windows and stickers from the food shopping for the whole family.
Unavoidable thermal receipts, plastic windows, and stickers from food shopping for the family. Also included, the waste from dog worm and flea treatments. Not show are the dog and chicken feed bags which can be recycled at REDCycle.

Let’s go through the items I think we can divert from landfill:

Toothpaste tubes: I know we could avoid the tube by making our own toothpaste but we have decided not to do this at this stage. I will ensure our toothpaste tubes go to the Terracycle Oral Care Recycling Program.

Australia Post Parcel bag: I forgot to ask for other packaging, so now that I have this I will utilise the Mailing Satchel Recycling Program.

Light globe: I think this can go to the Morwell or Wonthaggi Transfer Stations.

Cereal box liners, silver biscuit bags, confectionary packets, pasta box windows, pet food bags: I will drop these off at a REDCycle location when I head toward Melbourne. There are no REDCycle locations in Gippsland.  Check this list to see what other soft plastics are recyclable (remembering that this is a last resort).

Thongs (otherwise known as flip-flops): I googled instructions on how to fix thongs and found heaps of ideas to try! The paper clip method seems to be doing the trick.

Straws, contact lens cases, clothing hangers, and other rigid plastics numbered 1-7: You will need to find out if these are recycled in your area. I’ve just done this by referring to the information on my Council’s website and have discovered I can take these to my local transfer station.

Thermal paper receipts: I have not included these in my paper recycling because the BPA residues they are coated with will contaminate recycled paper. I have been told by a local council staff member that thermal paper can be recycled but I want to investigate this some more.

Broken rubber handle bar grips: Any suggestions? Can rubber be recycled?

A Look In Our Recycling Tub

I often say that our weekly recycling fits in a regular sized bucket. But again, you might be wondering what that actually looks like, so here are some photos of our weekly recyclable materials over a period of three weeks. It doesn’t change much, we always have toilet paper packaging and pasta boxes, then a small amount of other paper (usually from school) and cardboard, and usually a can or jar. Sometimes there are other things like foil if we have bought chocolate, or Shannon’s deodorant can, but this is pretty much what it looks like each week.

1 week of recycling2nd week recycling3rd week recycling

After several months, I take my recyclable materials to a nearby transfer station because we live in an area that does not have kerbside collection. Recycling is really easy to manage when there isn’t much of it!

I hope this look into our waste receptacles has helped in some way. The amount of waste is far less than the average person puts out to the kerb each week and I am really proud of my family’s efforts. Go team Logan!


20 thoughts

  1. Tammy you and your family continue to be a source of inspiration and delight.
    I love the terraCycle recycling link !

    FYI, we bought a heavy duty cross-cut paper shredder a few years back and process all paper and cardboard through it. About every 2 weeks we add it to our compost bins as the dry carbon component.
    What I noticed is along with the hair clipping from our dogs, the worms love nesting in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s very kind of you Lee. I have a little paper shredder and I find it’s easy to become addicted to using it! It was given to me many years ago when I was into paper making, but I still find it really useful. I put my shredded paper in the chicken nest boxes, then into the compost. Glad to know your worms love it, hopefully mine do too (it’s been a while since I looked closely at mine 😁).


  2. What a great effort!! It is easier when you have the family on board. I think I have seen light globe recycling at Bunnings Warragul but you might want to double check! I have also seen thongs remade into crocheted slipper soles!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great job your family is doing. Where I live (in the US), we can’t recycle our pizza boxes (or anything paper) if they have grease (or other food waste) on them unfortunately. I try separate the grease spots and recycle the clean portions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the way you have created an option for your children to understand the consequences of our choices. The fact that you do this in a nonjudgmental way means that they are able to develop their own ‘moral compass’, rather than simply taking on a practice because they were told it is the right thing. I also really appreciate the link to terracycle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ruth. You totally get my approach with my kids. I always come across people complaining about how other people they live with are not zero waste and it sounds like they are telling them what to do a lot. If mindful consumption came across as deprivation to my kids they would probably only grow up hating the idea, which is the opposite of what I want! I’m thinking long term and there are actually more powerful ways to influence people, like simply being the change you want to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I would just like to say thank you. You are actively contributing and helping others contribute to a better future for our children. It is a wonderful thing.
    I thought I had a reasonably light footprint, but when I read your blog (which I love and am inspired by), I look at my shopping trolley and bin with shame.
    But little by little, changes are creeping in, and not just in our house. I love that the baker is making a comment that lots of people have been asking for their bread in cloth bags.
    You are the change.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you Justine! I love hearing the comments from businesses too. It’s all proof that our individual actions can make a difference in time. Please don’t look at your own efforts in shame, I’m sure you do a marvellous job and you probably do wonderful, sustainable things in other areas of your life too. All the best Tammy


  6. Tammy thanks for the Terracycle link. For me toothpaste tubes are unavoidable ..I have very sensitive teeth. Also I run a business from home and have always been concerned about the express satchels that arrive at my place. So happy that both the toothpaste tubes etc and post bags can be recycled. Will join up today. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love your work, Tammy, and thanks for helping to spread the word about the REDcycle Program – even though we’re not operating in Gippsland as yet. I just thought your readers might be interested in knowing that anyone who can’t get to one of the 630 REDcycle drop off points around the country can post their plastic to us, if they like. The address is:
    38 Chelmsford Street
    Williamstown North
    VIC 3016
    Australia Post Parcel bags can also be recycled via our program.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have just finished fixing some thongs with sugru. Our dog chewed the knobbly round part on the underside of my husband’s new thong, he was not a happy camper. I know that sugru comes in a plastic sachet thingo, but I feel that as I am fixing rather than replacing then the plastic is ok-ish, the better choice. I have fixed quite a few things with sugru, fridge drawer, old wet weather gear, a shoe, other things I can’t remember!

    I am inspired by your blog and instagram, so please keep blogging for ever!

    It’s the last day of plastic free July. The best part of this month was seeing other people buying veggies in reusable produce bags!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I will post a pic of the fixed thong on Instagram and tag you.

        I am on a fixing binge; I ordered parts online and fixed the dryer, stick mixer and blender. And I just bought a second hand freezer and slow cooker. And wgac tells me I have a nice bum – things couldn’t be better!!

        Liked by 1 person

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