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Here is how things were looking by Wednesday: wastejar2The jar was filling up but plenty of room left for the rest of the week. In the picture there is a large plastic wrapper from a set of school tights for our eldest girl. It was a spur of the moment purchase, one of those situations when we thought that avoiding plastic had to come second to getting the tights bought.  I hadn’t bought tights in about 3 years, always waiting for hand me downs.  I should have just sent her to school in socks for another  week until I could have sourced some. There’s a plastic cat food pouch from a pack purchased ages ago (before we cared) – this will be avoided in the future by using canned meat and boxed nuts. Some fancy cheese we got as a gift had an inedible rind (we tried!!) so in that went too. All in all, we figured things were going fine.

IMG_1891By the end of the week, we were delighted to see that we still hadn’t filled the glass jar.  We found that we were taking a bit more liberty in what went into the composter (veg fried in oil??) and the hens were getting force fed potato skins and leftover toast that had a bit of jam on.  The cat was given an extra day to finish the salmon skins.  And mommy-eat-anything, the human garbage dump, ate any other scraps that would normally go in the bin.

Here’s the overview of our junk for the week, and how we hope to eliminate each of the items:
Crisp bag from Joe’s Farm Crisps: The package is made from repurposed coffee bean bags, which is how I justified this yummy purchase.  It is still my rubbish though.  Not sure what to do with it.  Maybe this will be an every other week indulgence..
Cat Food bag and School Tights bag: See above. Tin cans for the cat from now on, along with Whiskas cardboard boxed cat nuts.  And the new tights… what was I thinking!  This was a good reminder that something might not be as essential to puchase on the spur of the moment as it seems.
Cheese Rind & Wax: We eat lots of cheese…  I found some recipes using cheese rinds to make stock.  The wax might be compostable.  We should be able to find a use or a waste free disposal option for these.
Dishwasher tab wrappers: These were bought in bulk with a Groupon voucher before we were concerned about the packaging.  We’ll use them up then source non-packaged dishwasher soap (like the old cardboard boxes of Cascade that we used to use in Alaska..)
Tea Bag Covers: We won’t be buying tea bags with wrappers on them anymore.  In fact, we’ll aim to switch to loose tea from a shop in Cork.
Yogurt Pot Covers: Mr MakeDo loves his lemon custard yogurt.  I started making homemade yogurt in July, and just this week figured out that adding lemon curd to homemade yogurt nearly replaces his favourite yogurt.  So, these will be eliminated. We recycled the paper pots (hmmm, better check that’s allowed…)
Cream Cheese Cover: I made courgette cake, which had to have cream cheese icing on it.  Indulgence.  We do use the cream cheese pots for lunches, but we don’t need that many.  Maybe I’ll look for a homemade recipe for cream cheese.  For now, though, we’ll reduce the cream cheese purchases.
TetraPak pull tabs: We need to come up with a plan to reduce Tetrapak use.  We’ll post here when we do!
Expired Hairbands and Rubber Bands: No idea what to do with these yet.  Suggestions welcome!
Gum Wrappers: Gum is gross – our 5 year old needs to find something else to be obsessed with.  It hopefully won’t appear again.
Fruit Sticky Labels: Shopping at the Farmer’s Markets will eliminate the fruit labels, while the fruit is in season.  Not a huge amount of waste, but it all counts.
Salmon Skins (not pictured here): The cat ate most of them, but we’re going to see if we can bury them or chop them up finely and compost them.  I’ll ask the fishmonger what he does with the skins.  Or I might ask him to skin them for me.

We also found that we should get better about cutting off inedible parts of veg before cooking them, since cooked stuff isn’t desirable in the composter.  For example, pull the kale leaves off the stalks before making kale chips.

Of course a week is short enough that plenty of purchases in packaging that last longer wouldn’t reach end of life, and so won’t appear in this test.  One example of this is that the family got head lice this week (!!!) and my first thought was how much room the delousing shampoo bottle would take up in our glass jar!  But luckily, we bought a 6 treatment bottle, and only needed to shampoo 4 of us.  So the bottle didn’t need to be discarded, yet.

Our glass jar will remain on our kitchen countertop, and the rest of the household bins will stay stacked and put away.  I suppose we should warn guests.

An interesting side-effect of this high degree of attention to our household waste is that we areIMG_1890 becoming even more keenly aware of the clutter in our home that we don’t need to have around. And so Zero Waste Week seems to have triggered a de-clutter month also. Some time is being spent rounding up things that we don’t love or enjoy using so much as we come across them. We hope that as this stuff leaves, that it wont get replaced by other similar stuff now that we have become more sensitive to the effects of consuming. Many of these items were things we picked up in our premarried lives that we are just no longer attached to. Some were posted for sale online and the rest will be offered to our local charity shop.  We did order a set of bamboo toothbrushes (Eccoe-Verde), which we love!

One other thing I’d like to mention is the use of reusable feminine products.  Once you start using these, you’ll wonder why you never did before.  They save a huge amount of money, and the cups are safer for you too by eliminating the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).  Have a look at this gorgeous young lady, Lauren Singer, who’s a huge advocate, or here is a list of different alternatives for cups or pads.

I’d read about the joy that others experience as a result of minimizing, and I used to think it was a little bit corny.  But, I have to admit to very much starting to feel that joy, as we move closer to having only the things we love and need.  I’m already noticing more free time now that we spend less time cleaning up, throwing stuff away and taking out the rubbish.

If you want more motivation to reduce waste and minimize your stuff, have a look into Lauren Singer (mentioned above) or Bea Johnson, the queen of zero waste!