Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What is Waste?

Over the past year I have been trying to educate myself through some environmental community groups. I have been able to involve myself in two Earth Carer courses, Living Smart and an Earth Carers Kids course. One of the main messages that has really struck a chord with me has been looking at how we view waste. So much of it is to do with the word we use to describe the things we throw out.


By looking at the things we no longer want as a 'resource', we are more likely to find another use for these. Whether it is food scraps, clothes or even electronics, think about who could use it again or how it could be used. It might be something as simple as getting a compost or bokashi bin up and running. In an article in the most recent G Mag, there was a break-down of a household rubbish bin. It is amazing that according to their statistics, which are from the Environment Protection and Heritage Council, nearly half of the contents of a household bin is made up of food and garden waste. These products can be dealt with at a household level rather than being thrown away and destined for landfill. I am constantly amazed with how little rubbish goes in our bin since we started composting, worm farming and running a bokashi. I know it is a bit of overkill with all three but I really wanted to try them all.

There are so many ways to get rid of things you no longer need. Another favourite in our house is Freecycle. This is a great way to re-house something that is in working order but is just no longer of use to you. I have even managed to find a home for a microwave that wasn't working. I made it clear in my post that the turntable wasn't turning and the guy who took it emailed me back to tell me that he managed to repair it. He liked to tinker with things and he generally puts the fixed items back up on Freecycle so someone else can get use of it.

On a recent trip away we couldn't find 
any egg cups but some small jars made
fabulous substitutes.

Before the days of council rubbish collections, it was up to householder to dispose of their own rubbish. Food was often buried in the backyard or fed to the chooks or other animals. Things were repaired rather than being replaced. It was also rare for things to be single-use. Walking through a shopping centre food hall nowadays makes me feel quite anxious looking at all of the single use items, such as cutlery and cups, that will inevitably make their way to the tip.

A change in thinking is needed to make more of the things that we use. It has made me think more about where a product has come from. how I am going to get the most use out of it and where it will go when I have finished with it.

We can all be resource rescuers.

Take care


  1. You have really made me think twice about everything I put in the bin. I throw things away with hesitation now, I have a compost bin too thanks to your influence.

  2. We always try to follow John Seymour's recommendation in his Self-Sufficiency book: have as little as possible moving on and off site - so we consume less and try to deal with as much waste as possible on site.

    Pomona x

  3. Great post, very well put, I also cringe at all the waste in foodcourts! I was inspired a while ago by a book called "Waste equals food" by William McDonough & Michael Braungart. They talk about every product being designed to be raw materials for another product or process. http://www.mcdonough.com/full.htm. I'd love to see more suggestions of clever ways to reuse "waste" items. Keep up the great work! Cheers, Liz

  4. Jude, that is great about the composting. I'm sure you will feel really satisfied when you see how much you divert from landfill. It is great to also know that it will all end up back on your garden to help those lovely veges I saw on your blog. : )

    Pomona, thanks so much for the book recommendation. I have just checked the local library and have reserved a copy. I very much look forward to reading it.

    Farmer Liz, I just had a look for that book. Was it "Cradle to Cradle"? It looks really interesting. I am also reading another one at the moment called 'Waste' by Tristram Stuart.
    I really feel that my way of thinking is changing as I trying to see where so much of our household waste it going to end up. Will it have a 'life' after I am finished with it?

    Dixiebelle, thanks. : )

  5. Great post BM. This is one point that I feel helpless with and so wish things were different. Food courts, yep... it also pains me to see things like single use drinking yogurts in plastic containers bought by well meaning parents and then drunk by their kids. 2 seconds to drink and who knows how long in landfill.
    I mended a pair of the holiest of socks on the weekend. Rather satisfying to know I just got another couple of years out of the old things :-)

  6. CHFG, I know what you mean about well-meaning parents. Those little baby yoghurts drive me crazy. All that plastic and who knows what exactly is IN the yoghurt. What scares me most of all is that I used to buy all of these things, thinking that I was doing the best thing for my children. Oh, the wonders of hindsight.
    Well done on fixing the socks. There's nothing like a great pair of socks. It sounds like one of those comfy Nanna things to do. Wonderful. I hope you were drinking a cup of tea at the same time. ; )


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