Zero Waste Week…the Halfway Point

Zero Waste Week…the Halfway Point

I’m halfway through my Zero Waste Week challenge, and things have been going pretty waste-free, although I must confess – some waste has managed to sneak in!

Things went well on Tuesday. I received my second thermal paper BPA-lined eftpos receipt (to tell if a receipt is printed on thermal paper, you can rub a coin or your fingernail on the paper – if it darkens then it is thermal paper). Much smaller than the Post Office one, but still waste.

receipt 2

No more waste came until Tuesday night, when one of our bamboo toothbrushes died. The thing with bamboo toothbrushes is that they decide when they’re fit for the bin, by releasing all of their bristles into your mouth. Yuck. Loose bristles are not pleasant. Once the bristles start falling out there’s no way I’m going to continue using it. Seriously, it’s that bad. Usually the toothbrush would end up in the bin – ironic as it’s meant to be environmentally friendly. Thing is, I can’t compost it because of the plastic bristles. What I could do is chop the head off and try to compost the handle. Alternatively, I’m trying to soak the brush to see if I can loosen the rest of the bristles, so I can separate them and save on waste.

The old toothbrush on the left, and a new one
The old toothbrush on the left, and a new one
Soaking to see if I can loosen the bristles and compost the wooden part.
Soaking to see if I can loosen the bristles and compost the wooden part.

Wednesday came, and we received our toilet roll order – all 48 rolls of it! The box will get reused, and the paper and rolls get added to the wormfarm.Toilet RollI should probably add that my zero waste week does not extend to toilet paper. I’m still using regular toilet paper in all its single-use disposable glory! Even if it isn’t being sent to landfill, technically it’s waste as it’s going into the toilet, but reusable cloths are not happening in this house any time soon. Even if I was up for it (and I’m not), there is no way I’d convince my boyfriend!

I wonder if I had a compost bin whether I could/would compost my toilet paper?

We also received our first mail of the week – a letter with a label for changing the address on my boyfriend’s drivers license. In the past I’d recycle it, but now I’m going to feed it to the worms. What I’m wondering is what should happen to the cellophane window on the envelope?

post

There seems to be some debate about whether the windows break down in a worm farm. According to this discussion, some do, and some don’t. In the interest of Zero Waste Week I’m going to give it a go.

We invited our neighbour over for dinner on Wednesday, and of course I cooked. I made everything from scratch: dahl, aloo gobi, coconut rice (I’m stlll trying to perfect a DIY coconut milk recipe) and parathas. As I’ve said many times, I buy everything in bulk, but for some reason we had a bag of wholemeal flour, and I finished it off.

parathas
empty flour bag

(I must have had it for a while, because I notice it was technically out-of-date: ah well!) So what did I do with it? Shredded it up into strips, to make wormfarm bedding! These guys have to have somewhere to rest in between all this extra eating I’m making them do!

worm bedding

Whilst cooking, I had to send my boyfriend out for last minute ingredients. As well as the things I requested (he took some old bags to use) he also bought some milk, and some completely illegal and unrequested chocolate licorice managed to sneak its way in. Not waste, but definitely a waste of money! That white bag cost almost $4!

Wed Shopping

We try to buy our milk from Sunnydale, a local dairy that accept the glass bottles back for refilling. Sadly, they can’t take the lids back. Our local store used to stock this but has recently stopped. They sell a different brand of milk in glass which doesn’t operate a bottle-return policy. If it’s an emergency, we buy this one. Well, my boyfriend does. I make my own nut milk which is always plastic and waste-free!

Luckily, Sunnydale use the same glass bottles as the other dairy, so we sneakily take them back to Sunnydale for reusing. Unfortunately this other brand uses a nasty plastic sticker which we have to peel off in order to take the bottle back (Sunnydale request you keep their labels on). So once the milk is finished, we will be left with a plastic sticker and a metal lid.

I did think about asking our neighbour not to bring anything (because I was worried about the waste!) but in the end I decided not to…and he came to the door with a bottle of red wine! We rarely drink wine at home these days (Glen drinks the occasional beer and I have a really exciting waste-free beer story to share in my next post!) but it is nice to share a bottle with friends. Much better than bringing a box of individually wrapped additive-filled confectionery!

Friend for Dinner

I could have demanded he take the bottle home with him to help make my Zero Waste Challenge look more successful (I bet he would have thought that was weird – as neighbours we share the same bin system!) but I decided that would be cheating. So the wine bottle and lid is our first big waste item.

As the week rolls to an end we have another challenge coming up – we have a friend coming to stay on Friday for a few weeks. (We’ve got a spare room now so we might as well make the most of it!) Not that the friend will be challenging – the challenge will be sticking to the Zero Waste Week rule with an extra (jetlagged) person in the house!

But you know me, I like a challenge, and I’m feeling confident! Looking forward to the end of the week!

18 Responses to Zero Waste Week…the Halfway Point

  1. I agree, gifts are hard to dictate! Though my close friends know me well enough to always ask ‘which bin?’ which i love!! And they usually also bring wine. Actually in a zero waste way, I took leftover cheese from my church’s event (way surplus), and then had wine and cheese, assuming (rightly) others would bring wine and hosted away! Perfect!

    I would go the no TP way. It’s like babies and nappies. I also had to bin paper in Greece, and found that our bin seldom stunk no matter what the TP had on it. But you’re right, my BF would also never be on board!! But I’m not opposed.

    I buy tetrapak milk, long life lactose free. So that’s in recycling, as is our wine. I’m also not ‘up to’ the zero waste meat. When I lived alone, and near a butcher, I did it, but now with the BF and once a week shopping – well there’s only so much I want to fight over (or take on all on my own). So I’m very proud of your licorice buying partner!

    • Yes, and this was the first time we’d invited the neighbour round…and he doesn’t know much about our waste-free and green living ways! I could have told him not to bring anything, or asked him to take it away, but it was a nice gesture (and a nice bottle of wine!) . Maybe next time we’ll say don’t bring anything!

      Yep, that’s true, in many places the plumbing can’t cope with paper, and it’s an easy habit to get into. If it was just me I probably would try it – but I’d still need paper for guests. It’s not just me though, so it won’t happen!

      I wish I could find refillable wine! I was saying to Glen, I wonder if we could buy a wine barrel! Not sure where we’d put it though! Probably not super practical.

      He loves it when I send him off to the bulk buy stores; he always comes back with some sneaky treat. When we go together I have a list and bring the number of bags I need, and he looks so crestfallen when he realises he can’t stock up on wasabi peas or gummy raspberries or whatever it is that week!

  2. Wow! what an enlightening post… something to chew on :)
    I can’t even think how that would be possible for me without a garden for first, it is something I’ll have to let sit & slowly process.
    Looking forward to more tips on this subject!

  3. If you lived closer you could give me the empty bottle so I could use it in my wall I am going to build, I need lots :) Your doing so well

  4. On the matter of plastic windows from envelopes…
    A long time ago (maybe 15 years or so) when I first seriously started composting, I shredded all paperwork, including plastic window envelopes and added them to the compost pile and wormeries. The following year I kept discovering bits of shredded plastic windows in the flower beds and veggie plots so I stopped and ripped out the little piece of plastic before shredding. But…still to this day you can find the remnants of shredded plastic windows when weeding the garden – it doesn’t seem to biodegrade.

    • There seemed to be a consensus that some break down and others don’t. I’ll stick it in the worm farm whole and see if it’s still there in a few months! At least that way I can pick it out if it is : )

  5. So interesting about the plastic windows in envelopes – I’ve wondered about that but hadn’t got around to researching. My recycling company has not addressed it in their rules so I’ve continued to put them in the bin. PS my brother makes home-brew wine and reuses bottles that way, by refilling them. But, I think he uses a plastic bin in the process, not sure what the substitute would be.

    • I always put the windows in the bin with the rest of the envelopes. The sooner we all move to electronic mail the better!

      I’m trying to persuade my boyfriend to take up home-brewing to eliminate waste! He’s thinking about it. A friend does it and tells me that a lot of ingredients come in plastic packs, and you have to use a plastic barrel, but overall there is far less waste. And probably a lot more fun : )

  6. That stinks about the milk bottles. Why would they bother making them glass if you can’t return them? Glass bottled milk is why I go half an hour away to Whole Foods. :-/ Glad they generally seem to be in stock…

    I’d be interested if you did come up with a DIY coconut milk recipe, that’s always been something I’ve been unable to find packaged in any way besides an aluminum can.

    • Well at least I can smuggle them back to the other guys – hopefully they profit (by saving buying their own packaging) out of the first company’s laziness!

      I’m working on it. I have one that tastes okay, but I don’t want okay, I want perfect! : )

  7. Good Work Lindsay :) Though I would love to do the zero waste thingy, with an infant it is pretty hard as whenever someone comes to visit they either bring plastic toys or chocolates. Have tried telling them not to bring but they do not understand it. But I am trying to atleast avoid organic matter getting into the landfill by composting it and making my own soaps, cleaners and detergents avoiding chemicals getting in our water. And since we cook almost 99% of our food at home from scratch, we avoid a lot of packaged waste. But seriously, good on you :)

    • Oooh, that would make me so cross! I bet people think you’re being polite, telling them not to bring things!

      Not having children definitely makes thing easier. Although I think some people use it as a convenient excuse! So it’s great that you still do everything you can and put all the excuse-makers to shame!

  8. While your not exactly at zero waste, I’m really impressed at how close you are. Mail is a big one for us. We have drastically reduced the amount of mail we get by unsubscribing from most of the junk mail, but it still seems to trickle in.

    • Thanks! Having just moved house we’re getting a bit of extra mail at the moment, but at least we don’t get junk mail since we put a sticker on the mail box. well, a few people have ignored the sticker, but it’s so much better.

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