Sunday, September 25, 2011

No Impact Week: Day Two - Waste

Day two of my No Impact Week challenge focused on waste: what waste do I create and was it really needed? Day one, on Sunday, was all about trying to reduce consumption, trying to avoid filling your life with unecessary stuff.

On the first day, I had to collect all the waste I created. On the Monday I looked in the bag and categorised things into: items I used for more than ten minutes and items I used for less than ten minutes. A lot of it were wrappers, tissues and food. So really, a lot of it is for less than ten minutes. Oops!

I normally use hankerchiefs (yes, I'm rather old fashioned that way) and this week I have a cold. I tend to change habits when with a cold and go all out and use the Aloe Vera tissues in order to avoid a sore, scratchy nose. Not that I'm proud of it.

To reduce waste, I can proudly say that this is the first month I've used a menstrual cup instead of tampons. The brand I have is Lunette. I'm still getting used to it, but it's ok. The cups last for years, so although a big upfront cost (about $70 I think, although cheaper online) they pay for themselves as tampons are expensive.

The No Impact Week challenged me with two questions: what went into my special waste bag? Why was it hard or easy to make waste? During the challenge week, I've carried around a plastic bag and collected my waste wherever I go: at work, in public, at restaurants. I opted to eat lunch at the cafe rather than take away, as it cuts down packaging waste. I noticed most restaurants only provide paper serviettes. A pity. I collect very few plastic shopping bags and don't use plastic bags for vegetables: I buy them nude. I've started washing the plastic bags for reuse (as they do in Cuba) and set aside ripped bags that I'll take back to the supermarket for recycling (I've never done this).

My Fregie collection: for when buying nude vegetables
I'm big on recycling: I try and recycle the maximum including items often forgotten in the bathroom. So my challenge is reducing waste. This week was the first time I ordered fruit toast from the local cafe and got them to put it into my plastic container. No paper bag needed! I always go there with my own mug, and get a discount for my environmental efforts. One of the shops at the Camberwell Fresh Food Market sells nuts, grains and dried fuit in bulk, so this week I bought red lentils in my plastic container. Not so hard after all! Buying a whole set of Decor plastic containers is high on my agenda so that I can buy food free of packaging. I can probably buy it cheaper that way, too, as bulk goods are normally discounted. I'll end up with higher nutrition from unprocessed foods plus lower packaging waste. Yay! I've always thought I should take my own container to cafes, but this week is what pushed me to finally do it.

Container for lentils: no bag!
The amount of food waste I put in the garbage disturbs me: I'm used to a worm farm or compost bin for all the scraps and peelings. I don't have one at the moment, which means I don't get to use the wonderful nutrients on my plants. I'm in two minds whether I should fix this, as I move house in three months. At least by using the peelings for making stock I reuse waste, although I can't recycle it. By making more meals from scatch, this will help reduce my packaging waste, too. I already cook my own meals rather than buy prepared meals. I could go back to basics even more e.g. pastry and stock (I nearly used up last weeks stock with a lovely potato and leek soup). Both I can keep frozen.
Betty: my shopping companion of 9 years
The No Impact Week challenge on waste has definitely made me consider all the wrapping I throw out. I think I will be able to use my own containers at more shops and cafes in the future.

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