Monday, 10 January 2011

No Impact Week - Day 2 - Trash (or, Rubbish, as I prefer to call it!)

One of yesterday's tasks was to collect all my personal rubbish in a bag. I'm sure that a physical collection would have had greater visual impact than the virtual one I created but, given the nature of some of my waste, I thought it would be easier to type a list.

I've been through my rubbish and separated the stuff I used for more than 10 minutes from the stuff I used for less than 10 minutes. I'm not altogether sure what is meant by this, but I have given it a go.

Stuff used for less than 10 minutes
2 x used paper tissues
Coffee grounds
Tea bags
Stuff used for more than 10 minutes
Plastic wrapping (sheet, bag and tag) from bacon
Egg shells
Plastic wrapping (sheet, bag and tag) from sausages
Vegetable parings
Fruit parings
Milk bottle
Milk bottle foil cap
Plastic cream tub

I deliberated over the wrappings and containers. They could have been included in the 'less than 10 minutes list', on the grounds that their function is merely to protect their contents during the short journey from shop to home. I think this is the purpose of the experiment, ie to show the wastefulness of creating a product that will continue to exist (invariably in a landfill site) long after it's useful life.

However, although it's all rubbish, most of it can still be of some use. The tea bags, egg shells and fruit and vegetable parings all ended up in our brown household waste bin. I was once told that coffee grounds are good for drains, which is where mine have been going ever since. The milk bottle was returned to the dairy via the milkman, where it will apparently be reused approximately 20 times, and the foil cap went into the black recycling box. The plastic tub will taken to the plastic bottle bank in Asda's car park. Even the plastic wrappers can be recycled by Sainsbury's.

Which only leaves my used tissues. I'm not sure of the health and safety implications of composting germ laden tissues, so I play it safe and consign them to the bin.

Lest I become complacent I must acknowledge that the first and most important of the Rs is Reduce, and that I need to cut down on my use of plastic. I'd got into the habit of taking a couple of plastic containers with me on my visits to the butcher but the practice is slipping, hence the mince and bacon wrappers.

Avoiding rubbish is not easy. I put back a packet of salad leaves in Aldi this afternoon assuming I'd be able to pick up a naked lettuce in the greengrocer. But I was wrong. And I have yet to source plastic free yoghurt, or cream or ice cream. Do I compromise or do I go without? And when it comes to blister packs of medication, the decision's been made for me. I'm making progress but I'm not there yet!

I've put together my no-rubbish travel kit, comprising a plastic knife, fork and spoon, all retrieved from disposal. The seal on my pink aluminium water bottle is lost so I'm making do with a small plastic bottle in the the meantime. I've also got my Fair Cup insulated mug for hot drinks. I'm ready to go.

The 5 things for which I am grateful today
My life
The hug from my friend's little girl
The deli
The people who care enough about our local community to campaign to protect it
Macaroni cheese

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