01 September 2010

Cut Back to a Fortnightly Garbage Pick Up


I'd like to be able to say it's a beautiful spring day, but it's not. It is cold, wet and miserable. I think today is the saddest day we've had since winter began. There's a little breeze, just enough to blow the drizzle into your face as you walk, so the water dribbles down under your collar.  And the rain isn't heavy enough to stay indoors, instead it's just heavy enough to make the roads slippery and walking unpleasant.

So, instead of working in the greenhouse as I'd planned, I am sitting, wrapped up in a rug, working on other things.

There's a pot of pumpkin soup on the stove and a quiche in the oven. Both will go down well for tea tonight.  Neither are on my menu plan but the pumpkin needed to be used up and for some reason I had a surplus of eggs, cream and mushrooms in the fridge. They had to be used up. I hate waste and have a constant battle to cut down on the amount of garbage we have.

My aim is to get down to one bin a fortnight by the end of the year. This week it was only just over half full, so I could have waited until next week but we have Father's Day on Sunday and then Tom's birthday on Thursday so there will be more garbage than usual.

Thankfully we don't use a lot of things with huge amounts of packaging. We don't have styro foam trays because we buy our meat and poultry in bulk.  We don't use a lot of tinned foods so cans and tins are kept to a minimum too.  And because we use green bags for groceries and I carry my trusty string bag with me for other shopping we don't have a lot of plastic grocery bags. I usually have to buy plastic bags if I need one unless I save the odd veggie bag. Using my recyclable veggie bags I don't even have those anymore.

We reuse or recycle as much of our household rubbish as we can. All milk and soft drink bottles (not the lids, they don't recycle) are flattened and put into the recycle bin. Veggie peelings, food scraps, the vacuum cleaner dust and shredded newspapers are put into the Bokashi bucket or the outside compost bin. Papers are shredded and used as mulch, put into the compost or made into fire lighters and if we've done all those things and still have paper then it goes into the recycle bin. Magazines are taken to my favourite op shop and if we ever get large cartons then I drop them at the local recycling depot. They don't charge for paper drop-offs

Cans are opened at each end and flattened to recycle. Glass jars and their lids are washed, have the label taken off and put away for summer and autumn preserving and jam making. I haven't bought jars in years since I saw Isabel Webb, author of  5 Minute Bottling, demonstrate microwave preserving and realised they can be reused safely.  AJ was a baby in the pram so that's at least 18 years ago and a lot of bottles reused and recycled.

Wayne even recycles the ashes from the fire. They get dug into fallow garden beds, used to clean the glass on the fire door and sprinkled in the compost heap.

We haven't always been so conscious of the amount of rubbish we add to landfill, but I think that until a few short years ago most of us thought it was only "hippies" or anyone living an "alternative lifestyle" that cared, and even then we thought they were slightly odd and eccentric.

It wasn't the green movement or even a burning desire to be kinder and more caring of our environment that brought about a change in our thinking. Instead it was finding ourselves jobless, with two and a bit children (Hannah was on her way) and barely enough money to pay the mortgage and buy food.

That's when I became conscious of how much of everything, not just money, we wasted and how that impacted on our lifestyle.  The food alone we wasted kept our grocery bill at around $100 a week, twice what I had to spend on food (remember, this was 16 years ago and $100 a week was a fairly luxurious grocery budget) - something had to change and change quickly.

Well the change wasn't overnight, it took a few months, but bit by bit we trimmed our spending and as a result we trimmed waste.

The realisation that living like Cheapskates was also "green" came as a pleasant surprise. And ever since I've been on a mission to save money and be less wasteful, hence my goal to halve our rubbish output.

The garbage truck has just been so I can run out and bring the bin in. And maybe next week I won't put it out after all.

1 comment:

  1. I am in NZ at the moment & find the Council black bags expensive ($2.40) each from the Supermarkets here. I find that I can use Supermarket free plastic bags in my kitchen container for rubbish (which does not go down the garbage gobbler). Full bags are tied tightly, inserted into the black (paid for bag!), twist the 'neck' & secure with a strong peg to prevent odours emitting. Instead of putting out the Council bag every week I can get at least 3 tightly packed bags into 1 collection bag thus saving me approx $7 - $8 with only the 1 collection, every 2nd or 3rd week. Best of all, no smell emanates from the bags. My husband was a 'non-believer' & scornful, until I proved the system to him. Now he is a 'convert' of a big saving on black rubbish bags!

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