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Having learned a lot from our experiences during plastic free July we intended to participate in the Zero waste week, starting Monday September 5th. Learning how to at least manage and control our use of single use plastics was an excellent starting point for attempting to lead the family towards trying to eliminate our household waste at least for a short period. Partaking in these organized waste efforts is a great way to coax everyone to pay attention to the problem and to play with ways to reduce. The kids are particularly interested in these experiments and love to get involved in the process.

Our plan of attack for the week will revolve around:

  1. Focus in particular on food waste, and reusing leftovers; for leftovers that we don’t use:
  2. Composting
  3. Expanding the diet of our trusty hens who are keen to eat almost anything we have tried on them that doesn’t go in the composter.
  4. Cat for any fish scraps we have (being a no meat household removes that issue for us)
  5. Zero plastic shopping – of course.
  6. These first few deal with the kitchen waste which for us is easily the biggest source of daily wastetrashjar generation.
  7. Re-useable nappies all the way for our two kids who still need them
  8. No unnecessary purchasing which involves packaging of any kind.

Shown is a picture of our temporary bin which will have pride of place on our kitchen counter for the week, where everyone can see it and monitor our progress. We took the precautions of emptying and hiding all other bins in the house to start the week so we can clearly see what is being generated during the week. A leftover croissant was waiting for hen-breakfast but was later grabbed for a bedtime snack.

As with the plastic free effort, the goal here is not so much to minimise the waste but more to examine what we generate alot of and to look for alternatives. Zero waste feels like an unattainable goal but as many bloggers have demonstrated, it is a practical target to aim for and we can all make some changes to move in that direction at least.

With our family of 5, we needed to put a little more  thought into preparing for areas such as nappies, school lunches and grocery shopping, but as our previous experience showed us, plastic was the issue for groceries and we  found that our plastic free habits have stayed with us and it has become second nature now to just avoid plastic packaged foods. This has meant we now only shop at farmers markets and SuperValu, as well as the English Market in Cork.

Composting is also something that we have done for many years now and if you have the space in your garden it is an excellent way of reusing raw food scraps. We made our two bin composter from old pallets and a metal base from a kids cot, covered in roofing rubber membrane (leftover). We then lined it with plastic construction film (left over from our house build) to slow the breakdown of the wood. We fill one bin while the other full side breaks down, and have found that we can get good quality compost out from the full side in the time it takes us to fill the other bin. In August we emptied the latest batch of compost onto our veggie garden to help restore it.

So if you have the interest, join us for Zero waste week and learn more about what your household generates.