And now the good news: it is very possible to manage on a less frequent bin pick up and it only takes small habit changes. Life as you know it will hardly change.
We have five people and a small business at our house and our 120-litre rubbish bin goes out about once every four weeks, with recycling fortnightly, and green waste fluctuates seasonally. All of our food scraps go to our chickens, which then become compost piles for our vegetable garden. Obviously there are many in smaller abodes who can’t keep chooks, but inevitably you will have people in your street who may or there are a plethora of composting options, big and small.
Any meat scraps are given to the neighbour’s dog and fish scraps are either frozen until bin night or the bag is rinsed out in the dishwashing process. With up to 40 per cent of Australia’s bin contents being food, you’ll see an immediate reduction in your rubbish creation, not to mention helping reduce greenhouse gases.
We buy things in bulk and attempt to only purchase things in packaging that is recyclable – it ends up cheaper and again reduces waste. Similarly, we bake a lot – bread and school snacks. You’ll also probably end up eating healthier as an added bonus. Yes, it takes up slightly more time, but my inspiration is the beautiful natural world we are supposed to be caretakers of and the generations of children currently being born into a world becoming more cluttered with rubbish every day. We have to stop making excuses for not changing some of our wasteful habits.
We store soft plastics to await our next trip to our nearest collection point; a 140km journey. The effort is worth it, and even if our recycling industry is in crisis I firmly believe we are showing various levels of government that it is vital we address the over-packaging and encourage a closing of the loop.
With kids being natural born crap magnets, we have even made changes in their respect. Birthdays and Christmas do not see and overabundance of wrapped gifts, instead we trawl op shops and use eBay/Gumtree to rehome things. They also get a map of our house with “X marks the spot” so they go on a treasure hunt for their gifts instead of piling up ripped paper and packaging. My favourite new development is the “fiver and/or tenner” parties, brilliant at avoiding unwanted things!
We also wear things out. And then mend them where possible (check out the visible mending trend). Our economy now comes with a built-in obsolescence with nearly everything – I fight back, in my own small way, by keeping things way past when companies would like me to. So what if my phone is five years old, it still works and I’ll use it until it dies. This is common sense and I draw inspiration from my grandparents and their frugality borne from the Depression.
Ultimately we have to admit that our lives have become wasteful and with populations soaring, this will only get worse unless we make changes – both at an individual and corporate level. We all have to start caring and that means thinking more about products and where they are going to end up, instead of the default “just chuck it” practises we’ve had for so long. It’s not as hard as you think and it’s a win for all if you give it a go.