Allison Roberts of Exploding Tree is documenting her family’s self-imposed challenge to create zero rubbish for a whole year. If you would like to join Allison in her quest, or suggest some tips to help her achieve it, you will find her blog at www.explodingtree.com/cuttherubbish.
We’re into month three of our major rubbish cut back and have had a few pitfalls this month. Namely online shopping. We needed a new bed for our young boy that can double as a guest bed, and nothing we could find locally or second hand would do, so Ikea online it was. The bed and the bits we inevitably bought alongside seemed mostly wrapped in cardboard but, as we unpacked, the pile of plastic started to build. I did my best keeping anything that could be reused but we still have bits of plastic single-use tools and ends of bags and such lying about the place. It is weighing heavily on my conscience since I have only recently found out that none of the lightweight plastic, that I thought was recyclable, is.
In search of clarity on what can and cannot be recycled, keeping in mind that cutting back both is what is needed, I started scouring the internet. A great photo list of all that can and should be recycled can be found on www.recyclinglistireland.ie. Alongside the list is reasons why anything else you thought should have been on the list can’t be recycled here in Ireland, confirming, to my dismay, all soft plastics.
Rubbish-free adjustments to having treats-on-the-go with a toddler have led me back to basics, ice cream cones are just as cheap (or cheaper!) than any ice cream in a packet and there are three places (at least) in Clonakilty to enjoy, and did you know you can get dill pickles straight from a jar in the Polish shop on McCurtain Hill? Most shops will have a few unwrapped fruits and bakery type goods on display and a limited choice is definitely a good thing; there is just way too much to choose from these days! I have yet to start making crackers but that is on the agenda for this month – we miss crackers.
A great find this month was a solution to my ‘things around the house that are used for a while and then thrown away’ category. I have found that through cutting the rubbish I am now noticing the odd things that end up in the bin that need replacing with a sustainable alternative. Most things in this made-up category are from the kitchen and bathroom; kitchen scourers, toothbrushes, j-cloths and the like. First stop – the Olive Branch, they have a whole section for biodegradable kitchen solutions – whoop! The next category I was addressing was general office supplies, in my cut-the-rubbish project I am trying to cut back on any paper products that are non-recycled. I found a gem in www.kleepaper.ie; these guys have everything from compostable packing tape to recycled printing paper to loofa sponges – gold.
Now onto some inspiration. I loved seeing all the photos online this past week about the big Friends of the Earth ‘shop and drop’ campaign, the national campaign urging shoppers to buy their groceries as usual but leave all excess packaging behind at the till. There is such a wave of concern and disgust at the sheer amount of packaging these days that the momentum is rolling and we are clearly headed for some big changes in the way things are done. I recently got an email from one of my packaging companies who are now offering recycled compostable mailing envelopes, that is the way we are going, new solutions are on the way, so please, grab hold of your nearest unwrapped vegetable and bring your own container to the butcher; if you do you will be part of a growing movement that, through our changed shopping habits, is changing the world for the better.