I put my rubbish out on the kerb on a Monday night, to be collected by the garbo on the Tuesday morning. Each week we have to put out a smaller bin of normal household rubbish and every second Tuesday the recycling bin is emptied, which is done on alternate weeks with the 'green' rubbish (ie. the garden waste). Normally my recycling bin is full to overflowing, to the point where I have to dump some on the garage floor and wait until the next fortnight before it can fit in the bin. My household rubbish bin too, is usually bursting to the brim, which results in a very entertaining ten minutes for the neighbours as I try and lean my weight on the lid to attempt to squash all the bags down so that the crows can't access all the tasty tasty food scraps and spread mess all over the driveway.
This week, however, when I put up my rubbish I noticed that I was able to close the lid with ease. Incredible! And not only that but I didn't realise it was the week to collect the recycling because the bin was only just over half full....by looking at it I thought I still had a whole week to go before collection. It was only after dragging up the rubbish that I noticed the neighbours had their recycling bins out and I was astounded. A weird thing I know to get excited about, but considering we are a family of six, we produce a decent amount of waste. It was then that I realised that this change of lifestyle must be the reason , that by doing things like cooking from scratch was making a difference.
So what have I learnt and how can it help you?
Baking and cooking from scratch - I used to do the odd bit of baking but now I do a lot. Every week I will make either a couple of slices, a batch of cakes, ice cream and biscuits. I have a son at school who needs snacks in his lunch box, two pre-school boys with appetites like teenagers, and a toddler who likes to graze all day. I use a lot of flour, sugar, eggs and milk. All the basics. As I am using a lot of raw ingredients I am spending less but I am also producing a lot less waste. A packet of flour will last longer than one packet of store bought biscuits, plus it comes in a paper bag that can be flattened to virtually nothing, compared to a plastic tray and the plastic wrapping that comes with a packet of Tim Tams.
By not buying pre-made or pre-packaged things I am not only reducing what I have to throw away but we are eating simple and healthy meals. Fruit, vegetables and meat are the staples and make for a really easy meal. I don't buy things like pre-made desserts, but rather make them from scratch, for example I made a big bread and butter pudding the other night with very simple ingredients that were already in my pantry. If you have the basics you will find that there are a huge array of things that you can make and you will never go hungry.
Nude food - Nude food? Yep. I'm talking naked food here, things that are in their most natural state as possible. Buying things that are in their raw state is not only healthier but cheaper. Buying an apple is way better than purchasing some fancy little container,with it's own little spoon, with processed stewed apple in it that is most likely full of additional sugar and preservatives and basically a whole pile of crap. Not only does it cost more, you most likely get less...and at the end of the experience...you have rubbish to throw away. An apple core will rot away, and makes fabulous compost for your garden or veggie patch, whereas the little container and spoon will sit in landfill for say....ooohh....hundreds of years (??) Who knows.
My recent example is my cup of tea. Normally I buy tea bags. I drink a few cups a day and after using each tea bag in the bin it goes. It doesn't take up much space, it seems fairly harmless, but it is still a little piece of rubbish that adds to the pile. Last week I ran out of tea bags, so reached for the box of tea leaves that my husband had got from somewhere. This little red pot was a present from my eldest son, it makes a single cup, and it does the job quite nicely. This week I went to the supermarket and had to buy more tea. I weighed up my options. Box of tea bags, box of tea leaves. I considered the ease of a tea bag, how quickly I can just dunk it and move on. But then I looked at the box of tea leaves. I could get twice as much for half the price and in the process have a fair bit less to throw away. Not only that but it brings me back to the whole point of trying to live a simple life. I am actively trying to slow down my existence, to take time over things and try to stop life from rushing by me with all it's time saving conveniences and technology....so I thought why don't I start by slowing down my ritual of making my daily cups of tea. Boil the kettle, warm the pot, add the tea leaves and the hot water, let it sit, pour my cuppa, add the milk. This all takes time. Extra time. Probably a good five minutes of extra time. And you know what? It's a great thing.
So...back to my rubbish, because that's such an earth shatteringly exciting topic. Once I have my vegetable garden going (still waiting on hubby to build it for me....we are lambing now so that is taking all his time, and then he's off up north shearing for several weeks...) I will be able to have a compost bin, so all of those food scraps can make their way out to the compost rather than finding their way into my bin. The composting won't be occurring just to lighten the rubbish load, but rather the veggie patch and the composting will be put in place to help further orchestrate this journey towards a simpler life. But just as a side celebration, I'm enjoying not having to drag such a heavy rubbish bin up the driveway every week!
Have you found any ways lately to reduce your household waste?