Tag Archives: rubbish free

Rubbish free solutions – supermarket shopping

11 Jun

Food is my biggest source of rubbish. So, aside from overnight disposable nappies, it is my first port of call to reduce my waste.

Dairy

I LOVE cheese. Any and all kinds of cheese. One day I will learn how to make it and then I will be cheese-rubbish-free, but til then, I’m allowing myself a block of cheese. A 1kg block of tasty cheddar lasts me a month, so it’s not too much rubbish. But I also sometimes buy camembert (about the only cheese I can afford outside of cheddar!) so I will cut down on that. If you have a larger budget than mine there are specialty cheese shops and delis where you can buy a chunk of cheese off the round, and wrap it in your own cloth or reused plastic bag.

Milk is fine, because I can recycle the bottles. Thanks, council. But even better would be to get it direct off a farm in a reused glass bottle. I’m not in a situation to source that, but you might be! Same goes for juice here; the bottles are recyclable.

Yoghurt containers can also be recycled where I am, which is handy. But I might try making my own. All you need is milk and some active culture. (And pots and thermometer and spoon.)

Personally I prefer butter to margarine. I don’t use a lot of it, so a block of butter lasts a while, unless I have a baking spree. According to myzerowaste.com, you can compost the butter wrapper, but fatty foods can attract rats so only compost it if you have a well fitting lid.

Fruit

Plant some fruit trees.

Arrange a swap with your neighbours fruit trees.

Order an organic vege box. This is my favoured option.

Go to a farmers market and take your own bags.

If you must buy fruit from the supermarket, reuse plastic bags, or don’t use them at all. If the checkout operator gives you a funny look as your fruit rolls on to the scales, smile and say ‘I’m cutting down on plastic bags’. Or ignore it, smug with the knowledge that you are helping the planet, even if they think you’re annoying.

Veges

Same as for fruit above, except it’s easier, quicker, and takes less space to grow veges.

I love the organic boxes. But farmers markets are also good.

And unlike buying multiple pieces of fruit, you usually don’t need plastic bags for vegies anyway.

Snacks

Cutting down on rubbish around snacks requires more of an attitude shift. These things are all about the packaging. Here are some snacks I like, and how I’m going to reduce my rubbish with them:

Bhuja mix. Crunchy and peanut-y, yum! This stuff comes in the bulk bins at the supermarket, so I’m going to reuse the same bag. It’ll even have the right number on it already! This goes for lots of things in the bulk bins. Nuts, rice crackers, dried fruit. All good snacks that have reusable packaging.

Crackers. I usually buy the organic corn thins because they don’t have lots of extra ingredients; emulsifiers and preservatives and MSG and flavours and all that. So they are a handy snack to give to the toddler. The outside plastic bag can be reused as storage as I won’t be buying clingfilm, but I’m not sure what to do about the foil inner. Maybe this is one of the things, like the cheese wrapper, that I have to accept for the meantime. I’ve tried making crackers a few times before and they were failures. So I don’t really want to try again and waste food.

Biscuits. Yummy but not terribly good for you. Still, it’s nice to have some on hand for when visitors pop round or you want a quick sweet munch. Easy way to cut down on waste – bake them yourself! I have even made raw cookies and they were delicious.

Chips… just don’t bother. I used to love chips, but when I gave in to my weaker self and bought some the other day, I found that I finally didn’t enjoy them. Woohoo!

Muesli bars are fairly easy to make. I don’t buy them usually but I’m quite tempted to make some.

Grains

I will now only buy my grains in the bulk bins and reuse the bags.

Bread

Now that I know I can successfully make wholemeal bread, I plan to make two loaves at a time, and that will mean no plastic waste. My flour comes in paper bags which can be recycled or composted, the oil comes in glass, the honey and yeast in reusable containers. The only thing that comes in a plastic bag is the salt, so I will have to investigate other options for salt.

Meat

I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I might suss out the local butcher for the little that I do.

Frozen goods

I do tend to keep frozen peas, corn, and pastry in the freezer. I guess I’ll have to make pastry from scratch (and if I can’t be bothered, that’s probably better for me!). As far as the veges go, I think I will allow myself that. It’s good to have backup veges and they don’t get used up quickly so it won’t be much waste. Once I have a garden I can obviously freeze my own produce.

Cleaning products

I thought there wasn’t a Bin Inn in Wellington, but apparently there’s a new store in Lower Hutt. Great! Bin Inn have bulk cleaning products on tap, as well as all the ingredients you need to make your own. Their website has recipes and tips if you click on the ‘Cleaning’ tab. I will have to do this bit slowly, as I have cleaning products and it would be silly to waste them.

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Cutting down on waste

10 Jun

Remember these guys?

When I first saw this segment on Campbell Live I remember being almost disbelieving. Only one plastic bag of rubbish? How is that possible? Do these people eat? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that they were really on to something. Rubbish plays a huge part in our modern lifestyles. We are so used to being able to pick up a packet of anything, and then throw it away. You can buy apple slices in the supermarket, wrapped in plastic. You can buy individually wrapped slices of cheese and crackers, which are then packaged in a container. It’s quite absurd. It has got to the point where we don’t think things are safe unless they are triple wrapped. Last night I stopped by the Organic Gypsy wellness blog, written by one of my readers (hi!). Her top post was about how zero waste is hard. It is! But not impossible. I figure it’s like transitioning from a standard to a raw diet. It requires a radical change in thinking and habits, and may involve slipping back before the change is complete. So I’m going to start now.

According to rubbishfree.co.nz, there are now estimated to be 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square kilometre of every ocean in the world, and in the past 25 years in NZ, we’ve increased what we throw away by 73%. If we put our waste onto a rugby field we’d have a pile 30 stories high – every month!

I feel like I want to justify myself to Waveney and Matthew on the rubbishfree website. But you don’t have a baby. It’s harder with a baby. For example, although I have used cloth nappies with my son from birth, I have also put him in a disposable nappy overnight. They hold more moisture and pull the wetness away from him so he doesn’t wake up wet. I really like getting a good nights sleep and it sucks to be woken up and have to change his nappy (and his outfit) and get him back to sleep. But having said that, he occasionally wets through his disposable too, so I may as well at least give it a go with the cloth nappy overnight. I have enough inserts; I just hope it won’t be too uncomfortable for him with that much padding round his bum.

So this is my first thing to address. I am feeling myself really resistant to not putting him in a disposable overnight! It’s also winter, and I am occasionally using disposables during the day as well, as I just can’t seem to get the cloth nappies dry in time. It takes a good few days to dry them in this weather. I have one small rack in the hot water cupboard, and a larger rack in the hallway.

The next big thing to address is food waste. I am not particularly careful about the food packaging I buy. To give myself some credit, I do take my reusable shopping bags, and I buy my organic produce in a box, so there aren’t a zillion little plastic bags for each type of fruit. But I don’t think twice about buying a block of cheese, a packet of crackers, some ham in a bag from the deli, frozen peas and corn, snacks. So much plastic! This is going to be a BIG change to make! I’m rather nervous, if I’m totally honest with you.

Another big issue for me is that I don’t have a compost. I left my worm farm behind when my husband and I separated. I now live in the upstairs flat in a block of two. There is a small grassy section at the front which isn’t fenced and is right on the road. The small back section is almost unusable; it gets no sun and is very steep and borders on to bush. I don’t feel comfortable gardening out there with my son toddling around. So, thinking of solutions… I could ask my nice landlord if I can put a compost on the back section – there is a small area that looks reasonably flat, and it won’t be used for anything else. Although some of these changes are difficult, not having a compost goes against the grain. It’s something I have had everywhere I have lived, except for a few months in an apartment when I didn’t cook much anyway. I feel reluctant to ask anything of my landlord, given that I flooded the place the second night I was here, when the washing machine hose popped out of the sink. The floors are having to be relaid and it is a drama. They are very nice, but still…

This post is getting a bit long, so I’ll do another one on zero waste solutions shortly.