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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Bamboo Toothbrushes- you might want to try it

A little while ago I was trying to find out what my alternatives were to using the conventional plastic handled toothbrush. I’d like to keep my teeth, so the brushing twice a day for the rest of my life is quite the long term plan. Now if I changed my toothbrush every 3 months as reccommended. Add in the odd change of toothbrush after illness. Times that for the next 60 years (I’m optimistic). That’s a lot of toothbrushes!

All sitting in their landfill graves. Silently sitting and waiting to break down. Waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…

Now there are a few alternatives out there on the market at the moment and I’m sure give it another few years and there should be a lot more readily available options to the average consumer. However for the most part, the average plastic toothbrush is what sells. Looking at a few of my options, I could get a 100% recycled plastic toothbrush, made from yoghurt tubs, (made in USA). I could use a twig from an appropriate tree, or I could use a bamboo handle toothbrush… Bamboo sounded good.

Step up, The Environmental Toothbrush. Simple biodegradable packaging, looks just like the picture and how does it brush?…

Really well! The head is small enough to get in at the back teeth. The bristles are soft, works well on the gums and that little fella knows how to clean. To be honest I was slightly hesitant when I first saw it. How can something so basic looking work so well? However after giving it a go, I was left nodding to myself muttering that’s a good tooth brush, and with sparkly clean teeth to show for it.

The toothbrush was designed by an Australian dentist. It’s biodegradable, environmentally sustainable. When you throw it out, it simply breaks down into compost.

If you would like to give this toothbrush a red hot go, (not the one I was using obviously!) I’m giving one away. To get one for your pearly whites, tell me something about teeth or bamboo. Anything you like. An interesting fact about bamboo, or a story about your Nana’s false teeth, what ever takes your fancy…Post a comment by the 3rd of November…seriously, it’s a really good toothbrush.

* Top photo from G magazine online.

EDIT- Congratulations to Christine from Slow Living Essentials for getting the Bamboo toothbrush.