packaging, landfill guilt and sweet music

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Collecting all of my kitchen wrappers and packaging for a whole week eh?

On the one hand the idea captivated me, and on the other hand the idea utterly repelled me. Why? Not because I felt our family was particularly overly enthusiastic with tossing out of household garbage. On the contrary, I tried to be incredibly mindful of how much came in and out. However combine our seemingly smallish amount, combined with your smallish amount and their smallish amount, and suddenly that sort of smallish amount was not so damn small at all. All getting joined together and going in as a huge fetid mess into land fill.

Even if everyone was like minded and was particularly mindful of all the packaging that they used,  monitoring all that was entered into the household; on a global scale the sheer amount we are talking, I find that frightening. Hideously frightening.

A few weeks ago I had felt a pang of guilt when my boy wanted to take for recess a small chocolate bar left over from a party. My pang of guilt had meant there would be a wrapper in his lunch box. His first wrapper in nearly three years of school and one year of pre-school. Several weeks later and his school had a “waste free day”. No wrappers to be taken in at all on that particular day of the year*. My pang of guilt seemed laughable.

Looking at all the plastic packaging on bread recently, I was appalled adding up in my head how many packets that would be binned in a year if our family ate regular supermarket bread. My effort in making all of our bread was renewed. Well and truly renewed. Aside from the health, cost, and taste benefits, the fact that I’m skipping putting approximately 208 plastic bags in the garbage a year (that’s 5,200 bags over a 25 year span) is certainly something to think about.

I asked Mr Chocolate what he thought of the challenge of keeping everything we would normally throw away in our kitchen (or repurpose) for a whole week. He didn’t seem overly keen.

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I eyed my recycling box off and pondered a little further. Living in a small inner city space certainly has benefits in this regard, but drawbacks in others.

We benefit by having regular curbside recycling trucks come and take our binned empty packaging away, (along with regular rubbish and set council clean up days.)

For bigger items we also benefit by people often leaving unwanted things on the street for others to take if they would like.

Drawbacks are that we have a limited living space. Something that may be beneficial in time to come, and worth considering keeping, quite often is just not possible. When every one centimetre of space is already accounted for.

Another drawback is in fact one of the benefits, we DO have regular recycling trucks that take away our excess packaging, but does that make us blase? Is that enough? Would we be more considerate as a community if this option didn’t exist and instead had to dispose of things ourselves?

And then there was this video, which ultimately just left a tear in my eye and my heart that bit bigger….please watch it.

So tell me, would you be willing to collect all your garbage for a week?

Some teeny tiny ideas that also may help

Keep a cardboard box on top of a kitchen cupboard and slowly add to it with other small cardboard or plastic packaging pieces that can be used for raining craft days with kids. (If you don’t have children see if your local pre-school would like it, they generally have a lot of craft activities going on.)

Repurpose Reuse Recycle Reclaim- Pinterest ideas.

Waste free school lunchboxes

Reduce

Recycle

Re-claim

Repurpose

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* It’s now been rolled out as a once a week, “waste free day”.

Thanks to Living a little Greener for that awesome link.

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16 thoughts on “packaging, landfill guilt and sweet music

  1. What a fantastic post Brydie. I hadn’t heard of the Landfill Harmonic before. Such an inspiring video… definitely challenges us who live in modern society to do better with our trash/landfill. You’re doing an amazing job, both personally and by instilling these same values in the next generation. I’m taking these points on board! xxx

      • I feel exactly the same. Sometimes I think that I have no ability to make a difference in a situation that extends so far beyond me. I think you’re doing a great job in the public education sense. If do our bit and we can spread the word, we have hope.

  2. I like the sound of waste free day at your school – helps us think about packaging. I love my plastic tubs which help me reduce packaging around the kitchen but I do use too much. It makes me laugh though that I so often hoard old boxes for craft or child care that sylvia often unwraps her favourite bar and gives it to me ‘for craft’. We live in a small place too and it often seems to me to be a great environmentally friendly decision as we cannot afford to buy too much ‘stuff’.

  3. Great post Brydie.
    My bugbear(?) at the moment is packaged breakfast cereal. My kids love the stuff! But a) it’s full of sugar (usually a couple of teaspoons worth in a serve of even in the ‘healthy-ish’ cereal options); b) the amount of packaging from a week’s worth really bothers me; and c) it’s relatively expensive.
    So I buy oats in bulk – for porridge, toasted muesli (which I make a batch of every weekend -http://cumquatsandquinces.blogspot.com.au/2013/03/toasted-muesli-recipe.html), and also bircher muesli on occasion. Plus there’s homemade bread, eggs, etc. But then my husband will buy a couple of boxes of cereal again and the kids switch straight over… how do I convince him that we can actually live without cereal?! How did we all become brainwashed to think this is what you have to have for brekky? ;)

    • I’m in a similar boat Amber. The Mr and boys still eat cereal too. It’s not everyday, and porridge and sourdough are used a lot too but still the cereal sits there, and you are right it’s damn expensive! My justifying it is it’s Dick Smith- local ingredients, Australian company and all profits go to charity.

  4. when i walk up and down the supermarket aisles and see all the packaging, it makes me kinda depressed. then to think those shelves are restocked every night with more, more, more.

    on the bread baking front i’ve been trying to come up with an alternative to the baking paper i use to line the bread tin. any suggestions on this front? i’m stumped!

    rachel xo

    • Rachel are you sourdoughing still? Or yeast?
      I’ve thought about this a lot as I still use the paper too. I don’t generally use tins but do use the trays with lined paper. (I reuse them until they are a crumbly brown mess.) The problems I’ve had with using oiled tins is with the longer proving times of sourdough they don’t always come out properly, (the oil being absorbed) and if a sourdough loaf is on paper, having been in the fridge for a long ferment it’s easy to move. It’s too gutting to spend three days on your loaf to find pieces come off.
      Jeez, just thinking out loud what do the professionals use?? To be continued dear lady…

  5. Wonderful post! I often think of those same issues! Finland is a fairly Eco-friendly country, but of course there is always room for improvement. One way we reuse our milk cartons is fill them with berries we pick and then fold the sides down. We then slip a band (another cardboard carton cut into 1 inch bands) to keep it enclosed. Then the berries are ready to be frozen!

  6. We dont have a rubbish collection service so we have to take everything away ourselves and it certainly makes us aware of the amount of rubbish we generate. Most of the kitchen rubbish comes from meat wrappings like dog food wrap or meat bought from the supermarket which I try to keep to a minimum. Growing up in the 50′s and 60′s was a good grounding for reusing everything we can – and my husband’s penchant for keeping stuff “just in case” bears witness to that. The children in that video could certainly teach the majority of Aussie kids a thing or two. Joy

  7. Pingback: Intending insignificance | billy can creek

  8. Well Brydie – if everyone were like you – the world’s carbon footprint would be very low and we wouldn’t be in this awful climate change predicament. Well done on doing more than your recycling bit. I hardly ever have full bins. I took out the two bins today for collection actually and I wondered if I should bother. They were a quarter filled; if that; looking at the neighbours; it was overflowing and I was just glad there was no wind to blow all the loose bits of rubbish over the road.

    All my food scraps go in the chicken pen or under trees. We have a fire from time to time; not only for accumulated rubbish but palm fronds, broken branches and the like.

    Ever watch that movie “The Red Violin”. It’s a bloody fine foreign film. The violin is worth millions. Those kids in the video can make wonderful music – and their violins wouldn’t fetch very much at an auction I suspect. Nice one.

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