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:
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.
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.
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!