Every Wednesday morning around 7am, we hear the garbage truck drive up the road. My boys jump up, scream for me to open the front door so they can run outside and watch the garbage men grab our bin, toss it into the truck, empty it of all our waste and drive off again with great gusto, all with a smile and a wave and a “good morning!”
And ‘Poof!’ Just like that, our mess, our waste; broken plastic toys, styrofoam trays, plastic bags, food waste, takeaway containers, greasy tin foil, plastic wrap, and and and is taken off into a magical land, never to be seen again. Right? Wrong. Oh so very wrong.
I first heard of Lauren Singer’s Blog, Trash is for Tossers in 2014 and was completely inspired by her approach to producing no trash/garbage/rubbish. This is the amount of trash she has collected over the years.
This was made even more real for me after spending some time on Galiano Island off the west coast of Vancouver. A fully functioning island (with views you could stare at for years), but a warning: that you take back to the mainland (Vancouver) what cannot be recycled, composted or is biodegradable. So, you literally pack your garbage in your boot for the ferry trip home. Reality check.
There are two sides to this way of thinking: by reconsidering ease and convenience, and being more proactive in caring for our ever-faithful environment.
What’s clear from the ever-increasing solid waste in the world, and the phenomenal and escalating expense of dealing with it, that while important, the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) are not enough. This is the driving force behind the emerging trend towards waste-free living. But looking at how much waste Lauren Singer has accumulated, how do we do it?
The key to waste-free living is to prevent waste coming into your home in the first place. Here are 5 easy ways to move towards waste-free living:
- Stop buying, using and discarding single use items. Believe or not, there are easy alternatives to paper towels and tissues, plastic bags and wrap, aluminium foil and baking paper, even dental floss, plasters and ear buds. In this stage of my life, many of my reusables involve breast pads and cloth nappies.
- Eliminate all the disposable items you bring into your home, and replace them with reusables. A simple example of this for women waste warriors is to replace tampons and sanitary pads with the increasingly popular menstrual cup. When you consider that each woman over her lifetime may dispose of as many as 12 000 tampons, changing this monthly habit can greatly reduce your waste.
- Buy without packaging by shopping for second hand goods and clothes rather than new; and buying bulk food items using your own glass containers and reusable bags. This is a new way of thinking for us here in SA, but it common practice in most awesome first world countries.
- Stop accepting freebies. YES! For real! We’re often on autopilot when someone hands us something, and most often out of politeness accept things we then want to get rid of. By being conscious about what you agree to accept from others you can prevent taking into your home what are essentially unwanted and unnecessary items. You can say ‘no thank you’…
- Add another R for ‘Rot’. Your green food waste is nutrient dense and can sweeten the place where you live if you compost instead of throw away. If you don’t garden at home, find a community garden or school food garden in your neighbourhood and contribute your kitchen waste to their composting efforts – or build a worm farm.
- Ensure you have reusables ‘on the go’. Go out and about in the world with the reusables you need on hand. Always have reusable shopping bags with you. If you can’t live without your favourite takeaway coffee, get a travel mug. Carry your own reusable water bottle or flask, and bring along a reusable straw. If you regularly eat takeaways make sure you have your own reusable plate and cutlery. If you are not sure how to get this together, see this Waste-Free-Living starter kit from Faithful to Nature which provides you with a glass water bottle, stainless steel straw, bamboo coffee cup and two mesh Fresh Bags for your groceries.
While these five steps might seem small, they go a long way towards waste-free living. Four of the biggest polluters of our environment are plastic bottles, bags and straws, and disposable coffee cups. These items used just once, but so frequently and by so many, result in phenomenal accumulations of completely unnecessary solid waste.
Essentially, waste-free living doesn’t have to mean doing without. It’s most often about working out what is really important to you, and then switching to the waste-free alternatives. The pioneers of waste-free living often attest to a life greatly enriched by the simplicity and peace of mind that they experience through their commitment to embracing the eco-friendly options.
All you need to do is comment below/on the Facebook comments thread and mention what reusables you love using in your home using the hashtag #wastefreeliving. Tag a friend on the facebook post for an extra entry…
Thanks for entering. Good Luck!
Contact Faithful to Nature
(t) (021) 785 3268
Terms and Conditions
The competition runs from Tuesday 18 April – Tuesday 25 April 2017.
This competition is open to South African residents only.
The winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email.
Winner will be announced on the Our Greenish Life website and social media channels on Tuesday 25 April.
Visit www.faithful-to-nature.co.za to find more solutions that will help you on your green journey.