Zero Waste & dental floss

*sorry to anyone who got this before it was ‘finished’!*

For regular readers of this blog, it’s a weekly obsession of mine to aim for zero landfill.  Each week I weigh in, but there’s some recurrent items in my waste.  Today I’ll look at whole I’ve conquered dental floss.

Floss

Whilst floss is negligible in weight, it’s still something I was regularly adding to the trash heap.  The only solution I could find was silk thread.  Given I’m not a vegan, I don’t have a huge concern with this option, and it can be composted.  So from plastic box, wheel and nylon floss (I assume it’s nylon), I’ve gone to silk thread, of course on a plastic spool.  Ah well, you win some you lose some.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

In practice? It was a FAIL.  The thread is too thin, and it tears.  And at $6.70 a spool, it’s not cheap!

Lucky I got it in a colour I like, I should be able to find a use for it.  Oh well, you have to try to know!

This week’s weigh in:

Waste weigh in on Wed 10/7/13 (total for two weeks)

Waste weigh in on Wed 10/7/13 (total for two weeks)

220g – 95g = 125g. Not too shabby, as the bf’s nachos was made again, complete with foil chip bag & meat tray.  There was also turkey & salami packaging from my road trip meal.   I’m ever vigilant – in buying the salami I asked about BYO containers, and we talked about the logistics.  It seems possible, but difficult.  Another deli made it seem simpler, but it’s more of a walk.

Zero waste & cheddar cheese

Pregrated cheese packets were a repeat offender in my landfill trash, so I thought about how I could cut that down. So my first step was to grate the cheese myself. One day, I’ll find a deli that’s not already wrapped the cheddar in it’s own plastic raincoat, and I’ll liberate it to my house, where I’ll grate it and provide it with a reusable ziplock bag!

So, with my wonderful food processor, I was sorted:

Here's what you need to grate/shred your cheese

Here’s what you need to grate/shred your cheese

And in no time, I had this!

Grated cheese (bless that food processor!)

Grated cheese (bless that food processor!)

The solid cheese block wrapper, and the grated outcome (seems more than the 1kg pre grated bag)

The solid cheese block wrapper, and the grated outcome (seems more than the 1kg pre grated bag)

A $1.38 saving in grating my own - though slightly different cheeses.

A $1.38 saving in grating my own – though slightly different cheeses.

Weekly weigh in

This week’s check in is GREAT! (95g) I did a lot of cooking Thursday week ago, and that tided me over for meals until Sunday. Then my cooking on Sunday was homemade pastry for a leek pie – all minimal packaging (though the feta cheese wasn’t all used, to there’ll be plastic to come from that). I also had a belt fall apart (cheap = useless). There’s also some wrappers from choc chips and almond meal in there.

95g weigh in on Wed 3 July!

95g weigh in on Wed 3 July!

And last week? 297g.  Thanks largely to fabric of indeterminate type, so trashed.

Weighing in at 297g of choc wrappers and fabric

Weighing in at 297g of choc wrappers and fabric

I’m thinking I’ll create some sort of graph, and add it to my Zero Waste page so you can see how I’m going!

Zero waste & tissues

The hankie stash!

Remember a while back I was sickly but I had a miraculous recovery thanks to a nasal spray, which incidently has knocked my allergies for dead. I couldn’t be any happier. Plus, I had the nasal spray in my medicine cupboard, which means the ‘new’ spray I bought, I took back to the pharmacy and got a refund on!

Before the revival of the magic spray into my life, I was churning through boxes of tissues. There were tissue boxes by the sofa, on the kitchen table and on my bedside. Then a box at work, and a box or two around the BF’s house.

A little while ago, I spent the better part of a day making hankies. I bought two baby wraps and a sheet from the thrift shop (for a huge sum of $5 I think), and cut them into smaller squares (or rectangles/oblongs/weirdly shaped squarish things). All in all, I made more than 90 hankies! Every single one was double hemmed (as I didn’t have an overlocker). To make it simpler I ironed the hems, to make my sewing that much easier. Now I have a (paper) bag of hankies at my bedside, and by the sofa. The last lingering box of tissues is on the kitchen table.

So the loss? Well, the nasal spray is in a plastic contraption, so one day, it too will be in the trash pile.

Here’s some close ups:

Hankies macro hemming

A hem – done with two folds, so I didn’t have the overlocker and sewing machine to do these.

Hankies

The pink is from a bedsheet, the white from a baby wrap

Tissue bag

When I did away with tissue boxes, I swapped in some swanky paper bags 😀 (my mother or brother bought something there, not me!)

To be honest, they aren’t yet as good as tissues.  For incidental use, tissues are soft.  And they ‘stick’ together nicely, which my hankies don’t. (TMI? Sorry!).  Anyhow, I’ve used these hankies to wipe up spills too, so they really are replacing tissues, but they are washed and reused.

Usually, on waste Wednesday, I check in with my weight of non recyclable rubbish for the week.  I forgot this morning.  No idea why, it was just a normal morning.  Anyhow, if you read this before I get a chance to go home, and weigh it, and photograph it, and update this post, count yourself lucky! (I’m pretty sure it’s not the highlight of anyone’s weekly reading :p)

Zero Waste update

The things that are making it into my bin 😦 I welcome suggestions from readers (as well as offering my own, to date) on how I can keep the bin waste down! (I’ve decided to go without images – there’s no need, you all have imaginations I hope!)

In the trash, there’s been

  • old underwear: well I’m not going to go without, and there’s no way I can ‘recycle’ these, so maybe let that one through to the keeper?
  • muesli plastic bags: I have a preferred muesli, due to it’s low sugar content.  I suppose I could make my own, with all the individual ingredients.  But normal oats vs the oats in muesli are different (from the muesli, I was eating oats everyday for a year or so straight – and I just got fed up!)
  • gluten free snack bars: I love that I can ‘grab and go’ and they are GF and sugar free.  Individual wrappers – not so great.  I need to find a ‘snack’ recipe or 10 so I can make my own and nix the waste – suggestions welcome.
  • dried apricot & date bags: I saw these in the bulk bins at the co-op but the apricots were black (obviously more natural, but might turn the BF off them), and more pricey…. decisions
  • stock cube wrappers: I like that they are small, and shelf stable.  I do not like trying to crush them up!  And of course the waste.  The issue with DIY stock is that I’d need a much bigger freezer… :s
  • plastic mailing bag: thank you to 71toes.com.au and her blogging group for the mail, but the plastic mailing bag, while thin and durable, is just plain waste.  And I can’t help how people chose to mail things to me.
  • meat tray: this is a rare ‘waste’ – as I try to take a reusable container to the butcher.  However, the butcher’s hours are shorter than the supermarket’s, so on this day, I missed the butcher.   I can easily fix this one!
  • cheese bags: how can I get cheese (any cheese) without waste, given I don’t have a local deli or similar?  I admit I could grate my own (rather than buying grated packs) – but whilst all supermarket cheese is wrapped, I’m going for the ‘easiest’ option of the cheeses!
  • cotton buds: I know they are bad for me, but it’s a hard habit to crack – suggestions?
  • floss: both the thread, and soon enough, the container it comes in.
  • tissues: I’m just scared I’ll ruin the balance in my bokashi bucket.

Have you got any miracle solutions to these waste woes?  Anything that’s worked for you?

Zero waste – things I learnt today

So I think I’m doing ok on my waste situation, but today I stumbled on some great things I hadn’t considered, and will look at starting to do.

Plastic funnel

Admittedly, I don’t currently have any funnels – I think I’m a pretty good pourer!  (I also don’t have a potato masher or a pastry brush – might have to acquire the former!).  However, I was made aware by Sarah at Suburban Pioneers that you can make them out of old plastic bottles.  BRILLIANT!  I’ll get on that with some of my excess recycled plastic bottles.

Simple and smart!Source: simpleliving-sherrie.blogspot.com

Simple and smart!
Source: simpleliving-sherrie.blogspot.com

Rubber Bands

I do have a stock pile of rubber bands from eating produce (if you read Sarah’s post, it’s quite funny as she suggest if you’re not collecting them you’re either not eating healthy or well.. not eating healthily!).  But I never thought to make them out of rubber gloves.  I don’t use rubber gloves to wash up anymore, but recently I’ve seen the damage it’s done to my hands.  So at least when I next buy gloves, I’ll have a ‘reuse’ in mind.

Fly paper

I don’t buy this, but I’ve been starting to think I might/could/should.  There’s some pesky little flying things, I’m not sure where they come from, but they aren’t leaving.  So I shall entice them with honey and sugar laden paper (cause I’m certainly not making a dent in my supplies of either over lent).  Trash Backwards had a great how to here.

Trash Backwards

Cling Wrap

I already don’t have cling wrap (though parchment paper and alfoil still hang out at my place).  I do have two ‘Abeego’ wraps (sadly I lost the most versatile large one), which are a company that make beeswax impregnated food wraps.  Now I know I can  DIY reusable food wraps myself.  Admittedly if I’m mailing ordering beeswax, perhaps it’s easier just to order the wraps from Abeego from Canada.  They do send lovely little messages on the invoice!

So versatile source: www.abeego.ca

So versatile source: http://www.abeego.ca

Furniture Protectors

Oh my, I’ve been to Bunnings Hardware FAR too often, and sometimes for little felt ‘feet’ for my dining chairs.  They come with velcro on one side, and felt on the other.  Weirdly the packets offer ‘extra’ felt, but not velcro, and I got sick of the excess felts, so bought a string of velcros – but of course I only need one side.  No matter which way I’ve been playing it, I’ve had surplus.  So, I was delighted to realise – i could use old thongs (flip flops to those that think I was talking about intimates there!).  My most recent dead thongs have long since done to landfill back in Oct, and my new thongs are going strong.

Door Stops

Now, I only have two doors in my house – the one on the bathroom and the entry.  So doorstop needs are limited.  But I did buy one rubber one, and it’s still going strong. However this is WAY nicer, and given all shoes live near my entry, it would work so well!

The best part of the Suburban Pioneers blog was Sarah saying if you’re so good that you don’t generate any of the things for reuse, your neighbours or friendly surely do! Awesome, and oh so true!

Categories of Clutter

Thanks to Cindy’s post at www.365lessthings.com (which I love, and happy to have ‘worked out’ how to get the emailed posts now that I can’t read the blog at work), I’m inspired for another LIST!

She mentions categories of clutter, and I’m going to go through each one, and see which I could work on more.  Then I’ll share my little list of identified things to thin out

– things from put off decisions: a little bit,  I do have a ‘use it or lose it’ list (also to come)

– craft supplies: don’t really have any.  I have brown paper for wrapping presents, and a few sheets of white and yellow tissue (the white is reused from a brand that wraps stuff I buy).  I have three types of ribbons (leftover from weddings I did) to make florist style bows on the brown paper.  I have coloured pencils (since I was 12 I think I’ve had those, how much I wanted that 72 set of Derwent Water Colours).  But I don’t have any scrapbooking decorative stuff or the like.

source: melstampz.blogspot.com

source: melstampz.blogspot.com

office supplies: worked hard to thin out the biros I don’t like (yes, I WANT people to ‘take’ my pen when I loan it sometimes….!)

toys and games: I move most puzzles on as I do them. I have two lingering – one a gift from my mother for Christmas (from France) and one I never did that I got from freecycle. Might need to rehome both of those!

books: again, anything that’s not a library book, I try to rehome once read. Mum gave me a book she’d read, Leon and Louise, not sure where that’s got to. And when I’m finished the one I’m reading, I’ll need to pass it on to someone, or donate it somewhere. And I really must decided on the few books on my bedhead – the one about Israel is tiresome reading, and I may never crack it!

papers left over from school: I have a container for ‘school’ and one for ‘uni’. The school one is not 100% closing, cause I have an old uniform and a jumper passed from all my siblings to my God daughter, and I want to keep it (as it’s still 100% usable!).  So I need to thin out that box.  The uni box is rather emptier since I moved my 3 travel journals downstairs, to somewhere more accessible when I want to show someone something.  My thesis paperwork is now all stored in the garage as I never want to access it regularly, but I feel it’s important to keep proof of such a major amount of work.

technical books: I always sold my textbooks from semester to semester to fund the next batch.  I also inherited some from a friend.  Pleased to say, I have NO reference books for my field.  Perhaps this isn’t ideal, but it is what it is!

– career related magazines: don’t have any, but I am fighting my professional organisation to STOP sending me them monthly, as they just end up in the recycling (or making me feel guilty!)

– electronic this and that: I have a drawer in my kitchen for there – charges for AA batteries and  Li Ion battery, plus some international adaptors, earphones.  I also have 2 HDD (at the moment, one I bought last week).  I work INCREDIBLY hard to have a minimal amount of electronics.

– garage items: I have one length of wood leftover from a project, and a caulking gun with silicon.  Both of them bother me, as they aren’t in active service, however it’s rather minimal.

outgrown clothes and toys: I don’t grow out of stuff anymore!  And I’ve mentioned toys above

art supplies: just the Derwents, above, really!

things girls collect: I have some Indian bangles that I seldom wear (they make too much noise), so they could go.  And too many hair clips (and no hair now), so they are in the ‘declutter box’ now.

– unwanted gifts: as soon as I open them, I tend to know.  So the vanilla scented stuff gets passed straight onto my mother (two items recently!).  But mostly, I get cheap jewelry and wine, both of which I use.  Anything that doesn’t suit me, I move on – such as tolitieries not to my taste, books that are… inconsiderate.  There is a travel souvenir from a friend that’s just collecting dust, it may move on v v soon!

– impulse purchases  I am the QUEEN of returns (and store’s policies).  Anything that doesn’t suit/fit goes back for a full refund (even unopened groceries)

THINGS TO DECLUTTER – the strike through items have found new homes since I drafted this! 😀

hair clips (still in packaging)

– excess bubble wrap: why does no one want this when I put it on freecycle?

– two lamp shades: can’t be returned as they were part of a set

– 4 wine bottle gift bags: I never give wine, but I get a fair bit!

– broken (cheap) jewelry: not sure if the bin is the best way, or if there’s hope of fixing them

– travel souvenir from a colleague

Zero waste home (or the truth about my garbage)

Inspired by one of my favourite bloggers, I thought I’d speak a little more on my aim to be ‘zero waste‘.

Firstly, when I moved into my own place, I bought a Bokashi bucket.  Interestingly, both my local friends also ‘bokashi’ their food scraps.  Alas, both of those couples have gardens.  I do not.  So I need to find a home for my ‘compost’ periodically – either taking it to my parents (and I fear I’ll accidently drive like a maniac and the contents will spill in my car!), or offer it on freecycle.

Whilst I like having next to no ‘wet’ waste other than that the Bokashi contains, I’m not 100% behind the Bokashi experience.  It does smell a fair bit, which means every time I open the lid, or drain the liquid (which I then put down the sink as advised).  I wish it was all just a little more pleasant for me!

I also recycle all paper, glass, aluminium and plastic that’s suitable in our council area.

In order to limit my waste I

– use the butcher for meats (I take an ice cream container).  Sadly, meat trays from the super market are not recyclable in our area, even though the materials themselves are 😦

– buy bulk occasionally – however, I have to take a bus, which is far more planning that the block to the grocery store.  However, where my ingredients come in plastic, my preference is the co-op.  Except, they have EXHORBITANTLY priced chocolate bits (which I use in brownies v v regularly), so I try to get my friends to grab some when they are at Costco.

– refuse – every time I get junk mail from companies I use, I ring them and ask them to stop.  I also have a no junk mail sticker, but it seems take away menus and apartment sales flyers still end up being deposited 😦

– return – where I get a container such as my chinese medicine, I take it back to them to reuse the container.

– solid shampoo – way simplier in my opinion.  Solid conditioner leaves a lot to be desired, so I just cut my hair off (ok that wasn’t the reason!)

What ends up in the trash?

– Plastics!!! They drive me nuts.  My new work uniforms come with a plastic bag – I try to reuse that as a bin liner.  The ring pulls in some milk cartons.  The little foil/plastic caps on juise bottles

– My choc chip packets from IGA often end up in there – as did the dried apricots I buy for the BF.

– Broken rubber bands from herbs and vegies (I collect the intact ones, but my collection is exceeding my needs!).

– Butter wrappers – whilst I keep them on hand to grease tins, I can’t endlessly stockpile them.

– Cotton buds (or Q tips) – a habit Bea at zerowastehome.blogspot.com suggests I break, but it’s not happened yet!

– Tissues – when I use them (ie when I’m sick)  I think the quantity is far too high to add them to a composting system.  And again, on quantity, it’d be A LOT of hankichiefs!

– Blister packs from tablets – almost everything we get here is in a box and a blister pack, rather than a bottle like in the US.

Rubber bands

Source: en.wikipedia.org

Cotton Buds

Source: cellonline.ordg

If I’m honest, a large reason for my elaborate system (composting, sorting recycling from trash etc), is because I’m lazy – I don’t want to have to take out stinky waste too often.  Twice a week, the bins aren’t even in the bin room, they are out on the street, which is even more hard work.  (amusingly, my apartment is physically the closest to the bin room and the street side pick up – just getting there is convoluted!)

I plan to continue to track what I produce in non recyclable waste, and look at how I can continue to reduce it.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t all get too hard!