Waste Minimisation

Have you ever questioned how acceptable we find generating waste in our society? Most Councils have 240L wheelie bins collected weekly – which means we must find it perfectly OK for the average house to send 12,480L to landfill every year.

In our family, we don’t think that’s good enough, so have been slowly but steadily changing our habits and reducing our rubbish output. We’re now down to taking 3 weeks for our family of 4 to ‘fill’ our 3L mini-bin (upgraded from a standard bin to the mini-bin size in 2016) – that’s a metric cup per person per week.  In 2017 we also swapped from a plastic bin liner, to newspaper, and now in 2018 have decided to give a ‘naked bin’ (no liner) a go!

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The old kitchen bin on the right has been replaced with our new mini-bin.

Listen to Ella talking waste with Gillian O’Shaughnessy on ABC Radio Perth 24 May 2017.

It has been surprisingly easier than we thought to reduce our waste. Our major wins have been:

  • Buying in as large a quantity as possible, and then using your own reusable containers to create lunchbox size portions. We don’t have access to a bulk-foods store here in Katanning, but have still been able to make major gains by giving consideration to the products we choose at the supermarket.
  • BYO container. We use green shopping bags and mesh produce bags, bring our own reusable container to the butcher or deli counter, use a reusable container rather than cling-film etc.
  • Avoid double packaged items. Does the cereal really need a box over the plastic bag? A plastic tray inside the plastic wrap for the biscuits? The yoghurt container to have a cardboard sleeve over it? The sultana boxes to have a plastic shrink-wrap over them?
  • Refusing the ‘extras’. Do you really need a single use straw with that drink? A copy of your receipt? Junk mail? Serviettes? Plastic cutlery? Saying no at the source reduces the amount of rubbish you’re left to deal with.
  • Eating less processed and highly packaged foods, instead favouring fresh produce, basic staples and homegrown food. It’s healthier, cheaper and far less packaging!
  • Avoiding disposables. Hankies instead of tissues, cloth nappies and sanitary pads instead of disposables, washcloths instead of kitchen sponges…
  • Buying less things, of higher quality. There’s a lot of cheap / free stuff available, but they don’t last long before ending up in the bin.
  • Swapping out items such as plastic pegs, cotton tips, brushes for bamboo options which can be composted or used as kindling rather than sent to landfill.
  • Food scraps go to the worm farm or compost.
  • Find alternative uses for things we no longer need – such as donating to charity shops, to the school art room, or community recycling programs.
  • Borrowing instead of buying. We love the local Library and Toy Library!

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    A weeks rubbish for a family of three a few months into the challenge. We’re now a family of four, and producing even less rubbish – without the plastic bag!

We have been asked how we convince our older child that he doesn’t need the highly packaged and marketed-at-kids single serve ‘foods’ the supermarket is full of. By explaining to him to the reasons, setting good examples and reading great childrens books about the impact of litter eg ‘Taku and the Plastic Bag’ by Sharon Light, he is totally on board too.

War on Waste

In conjunction with the ABC TV “War on Waste” program, Katanning EcoHouse has been featured on a range of platforms including the War on Waste homepage, an ABC Online feature article and radio interviews on ABC South West / Great Southern (12 May 17), 6PR Perth (12 May 17), ABC Canberra (21 May 17) and ABC Perth (24 May 17).

Book Ella to visit your local group and pass on the tips to cutting waste in an engaging presentation, workshop or supermarket tour!

Next event – Denmark, for Plastic Free July

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