Call me crazy, tell me i’ve got way too much time on my hands (errr….not with a baby I haven’t!) and call me someone way too obsessed with their waste, but this week I decided to record all of our weeks waste. Why? My aim was to firstly see the sheer amount that we throw away each week (obviously will vary) but also the areas we can improve in and perhaps make some more swaps.
My waste in a week – is this recyclable?
I was pleasantly surprised that the pile of waste I tipped out in my back garden last Sunday evening was not as much as I thought it would be. My husband and I sorted it out into two piles – recycling and non-recycling and he jotted down for me what we’d collected (team work!)
There’s no surprise that we ended up querying A LOT of the items – is this recyclable? We weren’t sure half the time. Some were definite no-nos, for example, black plastic. However, others such as a foil/paper bag from an Indian takeaway that once housed our naan bread, we weren’t sure of.
I’m not going to chat any longer – let’s get down to the nitty gritty – I know you’re dying to hear all about my waste. Let’s get stuck in!
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I thought it would be nice to start with all the items that our council/area can recycle –
1 x Amazon cardboard box (we’d ordered a bowl and plate for our little one)
2 x cardboard punnets – both from our Riverford box. A little research has told me that they are made from recyclable materials and make excellent planters for seedlings
1 x tin can
1 x dishwasher tablet box
1 x card sleeve (from the Riverford veg punnets)
2 x small crisp packets (these are recyclable through the Terracycle scheme)
2 x foil takeaway trays
2 x card takeaway lids
1 x biscuit box (Cadbury’s fingers…)
1 x glass marmite jar
2 x letter envelopes (my husband did say he’d gone paperless for his banking but it seems the bank is still sending out paper statements!)
2 x ‘how to fill in passport form’ leaflets (I should have applied online really)
2 x pieces of scrap paper with scribblings on both
5 x pieces of junk mail
1 x brochure from a company I’ve bought from in the past (should probably opt-out to brochures)
2 x ice cream boxes
1 x plastic meat tray (I’m always unsure as to whether meat trays are recyclable or not. Our council says ‘food trays’ so i’m guessing they are?)
1 x plastic coke bottle
1 x plastic yoghurt pot and lid
1 x takeaway plastic tupperware (unsure if this is recyclable as a lot of places say no)
1 x random cardboard packaging
3 x wooden ice cream sticks
1 x mini plastic bubble bath bottle
2 x paper instructions
1 x plastic milk bottle and lid
1 x foil/paper bag used for a takeaway naan bread (I’m not 100% on this one)
2 x paper receipts
1 x drinks can
8 x plastic veg bags (various kinds – some from our previous week’s shop)
1 x paneer cheese wrapper (from what I’ve read, it’s extremely hard to find cheese like paneer, halloumi and feta sold plastic-free)
1 x black plastic biscuit tray (no idea why this had to be in black plastic. I’ve heard it’s to make food more attractive but this one was on the inside of the packaging!) Naughty Cadbury’s fingers!
3 x biscuit outer wrappers
1 x plastic pasta bag
1 x Taylors plastic coffee bag
3 x plastic ice cream wrappers
1 x foil and plastic paracetamol packaging (it’s a shame these are not recyclable)
1 x plastic glue stick
1 x bacon tray
1 x plastic wrapper from my new inhaler
1 x paper pasta bag with a plastic window (bought in Italy so no idea if recyclable there)
3 x dishwasher tablet wrappers
How we can reduce our waste
From looking at the above waste, these are the areas I clearly need to improve in…
- Shop local and refuse a bag or bring my own (which I usually do) – try not to order so much from Amazon.
- Buy fruit and veg loose, preferably at a local farm shop or grocery store (in our case, we like to order a weekly veg box from Riverford as we know they’re one of these most ethical stores – they sometimes package their veg – it’s all about compromise I think. We could shop at Tesco and buy loose but then we’d be supporting a very unethical supermarket – catch 22!)
- Cut down on takeaways and make a ‘fakeaway’ instead. Jamie Oliver has some yummy ideas…
- Make our own paneer cheese. Feasting at Home has a recipe.
- Go digital – apply online for things where you can/opt for paperless banking.
- Write on phone instead of using paper.
- Put a sign on door saying ‘no junk mail’.
- Shop at plastic-free shops where things like pasta and rice are bought in bulk and customers are encouraged to bring in tupperware/jars to fill.
- Buy coffee beans to grind or opt for businesses selling coffee in paper bags.
- Buy meat at the butchers and ask to fill a reusable tupperware.
- Buy drinks in glass bottles.
- Make own ice cream using reusable metal ice cream holders like *these.
- Make our own dishwasher detergent. This website has a recipe – not tried it so cannot say how well it works).
- Say no to receipts (I usually do!)
How we can reuse our waste
Here are some creative ways you can get crafty with and reuse waste instead of throwing it.
- Use the cardboard punnets made from durable card (especially the Riverford ones) as planters for seedlings.
- Use materials for crafting sessions with little ones – check out Pinterest for endless ideas.
- Donate waste useful for crafts to a ‘scrapstore’ – a place which collects waste which schools then use for craft and art projects. Check out this site to find out where your nearest is located.
- Use tin cans as vases.
- Save envelopes by opening carefully and reuse again by sealing again with tape.
- Make a bird feed from a plastic bottle.
- Use jars to store bits and bobs.
What will you be doing to reduce and reuse your waste?