The second series of The War on Waste has got many of my friends interested in reducing their waste, and it’s great to see their enthusiasm. Many hadn’t watched the first season so they’re catching up on iView, and we have a Facebook groups in which we post links, ideas and successes.

It’s opened my eyes to how much further down the waste reduction path I am to many people I know. Like… 25+ years ahead. When I consider why, I realise it’s partly due to some of the people at my first job, and partly due to Mum.

In the 90s, encouraged by work mates, I bought a pair of jute shopping bags and started refusing plastic bags (those jute bags lasted 15 or so years and got a lot of use). I’ve been trying to buy only products in recyclable containers and nurturing a hatred of polystyrene and glad wrap since those days, encouraged by my Mum, who went through a green phase a few years laster.

As soon as I owned a house I began composting, and I’ve been minimising my food waste for so long (for economic reasons) that we rarely throw anything out. We use household cleaning products that are gentle on the environment (also because of allergies). More recently I switched to homemade deodorant after finding I couldn’t get sensitive skin products in travel sizes. I bought produce bags and made some more, and made washable makeup wipes.

The biggest change the WoW show made to us was revealing that soft plastic recycling existed. I’ve been amazed at how much we end up putting in the RedCycle bins, and how empty our landfill bin is as a result.

The second season’s lesson has been to point out the devil in the detail – the contamination in the recycling bin and the amount of recyclable plastic that goes in landfill anyway. Discovering that black plastic can’t be seen by the sorting machines, and that small objects like bottle caps may fall through the system, and that my council doesn’t take biscuit or meat trays even though they have the right numbers on them, has had me thinking about avoiding those plastics altogether.

But I doubt I can. Not when medications come in non-recyclable packaging.

So I decided I’d put aside every piece of non-recyclable packaging we’d normally toss in the trash for August. I’ll try hardest to find an alternative. At first most of what we gathered was brought to our house by guests, but I know as the weeks pass it will be taken over by our own contributions.

My second priority is reducing unnecessary plastic packaging. If there’s a non-plastic alternative we get that instead (though I’ve conceded to Paul’s insistence that we won’t buy alternatives that are double the price). To aid that we’ll take our own containers to shops, use the green grocer, butcher and baker instead of the supermarket, and go to the farmer’s market and the bulk store a few suburbs away. All things I did more of in the past.

There will be some packaging that it’s too hard or impossible to avoid. That’s inevitable. But it seems each year there’s another bunch of alternatives or solutions.

And if there’s a third season of The War on Waste I’ll probably review what we’ve tried, what worked and what didn’t, and see if we can improve again.

3 thoughts on “Wow.

  1. I agree with everything you have said, it is great that more people are becoming aware of how much waste society creates. I have been going to the butcher, the baker, and the green grocer for many years with my baskets and paper bags, but constantly fell short at the supermarket because “I forgot my bags”. One day I thought, bags? who needs bags? I pack straight back into my trolley, take the trolley out and load my purchases into crates in the back of the car, or if my partner takes them out (dop) I throw them on the back seat. It took the supermarket a while to not meet my request with a look of “you wanna wot?”, but I have trained them well now. Then again, living out on the edge … our supermarket does have a car park!

    • Ha! That’s a great idea! Funny thing is, I think my Mum used to do that, before she got dementia. I’d forgotten until now. I’m thinking of adopting her decision to use an ice-cream container as a garbage bin under the sink, because she’d reduced her waste so much that she could never fill up a standard sized bin without it getting stinky – a problem we’re having now.

  2. I’ve never had a prob with ‘no bags, thanks’ at the supermarket – I take my shopping jeep in with me and load the groceries back into it. Have been doing that for years. It’s some of the smaller shops that just don’t seem to get the message. If they ignore what I’ve said, I take the stuff out of the bag again and give the bag straight back to them. Been doing that for years, too. But avoiding shopping bags is easy; it’s all the packaging that’s harder even when you don’t buy much in the way of processed food.

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