Wednesday 17 October 2018

My Journey to Less Waste #1 - In Just One Day

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

After my 'Drowning in Plastic' post last week I’ve been thinking a lot about what Martin and I throw away as a household ... in general ... not just plastics, and if there is any way we can reduce the overall amount of waste we produce.

To be able to really think about this I thought the first place to start would be by looking at what waste we do actually produce. That way I thought I might be able to identify some changes I could make that didn’t end up costing me a lot extra and didn’t make my life too difficult. Clearly I’m nowhere near a full blown 'Zero Waste' protagonist just yet.

I decided to keep a record of all the waste that we produced over the course of a full day and picked a normal Thursday, Martin was at work, so there was just me at home.

First piece of waste I produced was plastic ... I emptied the toothpaste. It’s plastic and it’s kind of like a bottle so I will put it in the recycling, though I'm not really sure whether I should or not.

The post lady came ... some junk mail advertising deals at a local supermarket and two letters from my credit card company ... in two separate envelopes. One was my monthly statement ... could I go paperless? One was offering me an increase in my credit limit. I will file the monthly statement and keep it for 12 months, but everything else will either be shredded for recycling later or go straight in the blue bin.
I then had a drink of squash and emptied a plastic bottle of fizzy water. Do I really need to buy fizzy water? I know I could just use tap water ... but I don’t like it as much. There were also still a few bits waiting to be thrown out from yesterday ... a yoghurt pot and a meat tray.
I spent the majority of the morning ironing and contemplating whether I really need to use that fragranced ironing water that makes your clothes smell fresh ... after all, it’s another plastic bottle. As I’d already got some in I did use it, but I diluted it with tap water to make it go further, thus avoiding producing another empty bottle.

Whether or not I will scrap it all together and revert to tap water I’m not sure, but I am more than happy to dilute it to reduce the amount of bottles that I buy.

Lunch was a banana and a salad that I’d made yesterday, so just produced a banana skin, which up until last year would have gone in the compost bin ... Why oh why did we get rid of that?
Ironing finished it was time to start tea. A double dose of spaghetti bolognaise, from scratch, with extra portions for the freezer.

This created a stack of waste ...
Two mushroom tubs full of stuff that should be going in a compost bin ... Why can’t this go in my green bin? After all, if I’d grown fruit or veg in the garden and it had gone over it can then be classed as garden waste? What is the difference?

A stack of plastic bags from veg and wrappings from meat cartons and bits of kitchen roll that definitely had to go in general waste and a pile of cartons and jars for recycling.

Time for a quick shower and hair wash generating one toilet roll middle, one cotton wool pad and two cotton buds. I have already switched from plastic cotton buds to paper so will continue to use those, but I have been thinking more and more about making some reusable face wipes to replace my cotton wool pads. Not sure yet whether to make them with towelling, for an exfoliating feel, or with something softer, but I don’t plan on buying any more pads when my stock runs out.

There were no plastic bottles generated, though there will be over the course of time as pretty much all of our toiletries are in either plastic or glass bottles and jars and aerosol cans.
That was about it for today. We just generated another couple of bits of kitchen roll ... used as napkins with tea ... a crisp packet and another 2 litre pop bottle.

Of course none of this includes the ‘hidden’ waste that either gets flushed or drained away every day ... the ‘dissolvable’ dish washer and washing machine tablets and reams of toilet paper that we seen to get through ... I know, too much information.

Up until very recently I would have been quite proud of myself. After all, the majority of today's waste was heading for the recycle bin and even though we weren't composting the food waste surely it would just decompose in landfill.

Well, you will know from my 'Drowning in Plastic' post that recycling is certainly no magic bullet and, as for food waste decomposing in landfill, well, it seems that's unlikely too.

So ... there we have it. One day's waste.

Are there changes I could make quite easily? Yes, there are ...
  • I could go paperless with regards to my banking
  • I could stop using fragranced ironing water
  • I could stop buying fizzy water
  • I could re-instate my compost bin ... or I could try and get the council to allow us to put ‘green’ kitchen waste in the garden waste bin
  • I could buy meat from a butchers, rather than the supermarket, though I guess then it would still be in a plastic bag, which probably can’t go in my recycling
  • I could buy fruit and veg loose off the market
  • I could switch to reusable face cleansing pads
The big question is ... Am I prepared to maybe experience a little inconvenience to try and make a difference? Now that .... I need to think about.

Doing this for one day has certainly been an interesting exercise and has already given me lots to think about. In just one day I’ve identified a good few changes I could make that would reduce the amount of waste we provide without causing us an additional cost and some changes could potentially save us both time and money

I think it's important that I repeat this exercise over some different days, especially a day when we do our weekly food shop, to get a better idea of how things look over time, then I need to make some decisions.

You may wonder why I am writing about this ... it’s not really because I think you are interested in seeing my daily waste.

But maybe, just maybe, if I actually write this stuff down and share it then I will be more likely to commit to change ... and if anyone is interested in doing the same then that can’t be bad πŸ˜€



  1. Interesting reading Carol, I must admit the amount of rubbish that we as a family throw away does bother me. Looking forward to your next post :)

    1. Hi Netty ... it certainly has been an eye opener for me. I can’t believe how much more I can do quite easily and if everyone else does little things too we will make a difference over time. We almost need to take ourselves back to our grandparents days πŸ˜ƒ


Thanks for taking time to comment on my blog. I love to hear what people think about what Martin and I have been up to.