Thursday, August 29, 2013

Where is 'Away'?

I was at the local supermarket this evening when I overhead a mum talking to her daughter about how she had bought plastic cups because that way she could thrown these 'away' and not have to worry about any washing.

These sorts of comments always leave me feeling a little sad. I wish I had to confidence to go and ask her, "Where is away?"

The answer to this always depends on your local council. It depends on your bin system, the plastics recycled in your area, as well as making sure it goes into the recycling bin rather than household rubbish. If these cups are used at a function at a park or the beach and put in the bin there, in my council these would go straight to landfill.

(If you live in the Western Metropolitan Regional Council in Perth and want to know more about where your rubbish goes, think about an Earth Carers course starting 11 September.)

So plastic cups come from petroleum which is transported to be processed, turned into cups, transported to a warehouse, then to a shop, then to a function, generally used by one person for that one function, thrown 'away', and either sent to landfill or perhaps recycled. This is just a very brief chain of event but I hope it give a bit of idea about the extraction of the resources, manufacture, transport, use and disposal of the cup. Remember that a lot of this transport would include vast distances perhaps to different countries for this cup to be used just once.

I think that using a ceramic mug or a glass is a much nicer way to consume a drink anyway. I still have some that I was given when I left home 20 years ago!

I have come across some great graphics talking about waste produced and energy used. Although the data is from the US with a much higher population that Australia, it still gives a good picture about the extent of the problem on this one planet.

The Plastics Breakdown
Savings in a Cup

So my questions to you, where is your 'away'? Do you know where your household waste goes? Where is your recycling sent?

If you don't know the answers to these questions, please contact your council and ask. They may even have a tour to show you your local landfill site or recycling facility.

Take care.


  1. That is a brilliant thought, "where is away?" I mean I know we apply it to us but what about other people we interact with, how could we politely ask this.

    1. It always concerns we seeing bins that a overflowing. How much is being consumed in one week for this to happen? There are so many questions I would love to ask people. Do you really need it? Does it make you happy?

  2. Great post..I totally agree....the mindset of using something only once and throwing it away is mind boggling...all you can do is keep spreading the word and hopefully people will hard is it to wash a cup.

    1. Thanks, Suzie. What did people do before single use plastic items were so readily available? I know, wash things, take their own bags,be more organised. Plastic bags just astound me. People obviously know that they are about to do a big grocery shop but still walk into the supermarket empty handed. It is considered a right to have plastic that can just be thrown away.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I totally agree! My pet hate is people putting a hand of bananas in a plastic bag at the supermarket. WHY? The bananas already have a wrapper and are all together! I try not to use the little plastic bags at all - even if I forget my net ones I just put things in loose (not peas though). Great thought provoker Bruise Mouse.

    1. I know what you mean about bananas! Crazy.
      I saw someone put a 2L bottle on milk THAT HAS A HANDLE into a plastic bag today. Crazy.
      I often think that maybe I am the crazy one.

  4. Wouldn't it be good if we all appreciated where our 'away' was. Great post :-)

    1. Thanks, Tricia. So often people think about how to reduce water and energy consumption but waste doesn't really get a look-in.


Thanks so much for dropping by. I really appreciate any comments you have to make.

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