Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Reducing the Waste

After reading this post about how little rubbish we had in our wheelie bin a friend sent me a text message asking me to share some tips on reducing the amount of rubbish.

So over the past few days I've been making a list lof what we do. Here goes!!


# make as much food from scratch as possible. I make all our stock, bread, bread rolls, pasta, pastry, pizza dough, pasta and pizza sauce, cakes, muffins, desserts, sweet biscuits, ice cream, grated cheese, dried apple, dried banana, hommus etc

# buy in bulk. Every couple of months I go to a bulk whole foods store in the next town and get big lots of nuts, seeds, rolled oats (5kg at a time), and I order in 20kg bags of organic wholemeal flour. I then store this (except flour) in our chest freezer. I put the bag of flour into the freezer for a couple of days but then decant it into a big storage container to save room in the freezer. I also buy 1kg blocks of cheese, 1kg tubs of yoghurt, the biggest packets of sugar etc from the grocery store.

# don't buy prepacked, individual or convenience foods. My one regular exception to this is a treat for the boys, the individual Babybell cheeses. They absolutely love them and are fairly healthy too. We go through 1-2 packs every fortnightly shop depending on how much we go out. They are only for snacks when we go out, not at home.

# try and buy foods with as little packaging as possible. I hate that some foods come in a package within a package (the rice cakes I buy from Aldi do and it drives me bananas) or like cereal in a bag in a box!

# try and avoid putting fruit and veg in those plastic bags they have for you to use. It probably drives the checkout people crazy when I put my big pile of bananas or 5 loose avocados on the belt, but it saves a bag! The bags I do get I reuse later.

# buy meat in bulk from the butcher. They use the same bag for 500g of mince as 1-2kgs so I get more and then freeze it, generally in a reused fruit or veg bag. If we don't have any of them I use a reuseable plastic container.

# shop for fruit and veg at the farmers markets. I take our reuseable bags and just load up the pram. It's not unusual for Elliot to be holding a pumpkin or two or a watermelon in season! He refuses to hold pineapples though, they're too spikey!! I also don't get things indiviually bagged unless they're fragile or I'm buying a lot of something ie 2-3kg of apples. I'm also mindful that many people I buy from are farmers local to the area and that every bag I use, they have to pay for it. It saves me rubbish and them money if I don't get a bag!

# buy things in reuseable packaging ie glass. Then we wash it well and put it in a box in the laundry to be reused to store something (cable ties, loose screws etc) or bottle something (jam, chutney etc). Moccona coffee jars are great for storing food in the kitchen (sugar, dried fruit, nuts etc) because they seal so well! It is an expensive brand of coffee, but whenever it's on sale I get a couple of bottles. Also an op shop in town quite often has the jars for sale for a dollar or two.

# reuse other packaging eg storing homemade washing liquid and spray & wipe in old vinegar bottles

# make some of our cleaning products, or use general household/kitchen items for cleaning eg vinegar, bi-carb. Then I just top up spray bottles or shakers in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry.

# compost all of our fruit and veg scraps

# feed most of our food scraps that can't be composted to our dog. She is very tiny and doesn't eat a lot though so we do chuck some out, especially bread crusts!

# give our egg cartons to friends with chickens. We are often gifted yummy free range eggs too! Yum!

# use boxes for craft activities

# collect newspapers to use as weed control in the garden or tear them up into the compost

# use paper on both sides for shopping lists etc

# recycle envelopes (mostly for when we go to the dairy and leave money in the box)

# use cloth nappies and cloth wipes. We do use some disposables too, very few through the day 2-3 a week and one every night.

# use face washers to wipe the boys hands and faces after meals

# put leftovers or things to store in the fridge in a container with a lid instead of glad wrap or alfoil

Most of our rubbish is tins from tomatoes, chickpeas, beans etc and milk and cream bottles that I don't like to reuse. It doesn't matter how much I wash them they still smell like sour milk! We also get junk mail delivered. My days of devouring the catalogues for bargains is over but I still haven't gotten around to putting up a "No Junk Mail" sign. We'll have to wait and see if the junk mail gets delivered to our new house out of town. Lots of my friends that live out of town don't get junk mail, and I'm sure it is one thing we won't miss!!!

I hope this list helps give people one or two new ideas on how to reduce their rubbish. If we all do a little (or big) bit, it can only help our precious planet Earth.

If you do other things to reduce your rubbish, please let me know in a comment below. I'd love to get a few new ideas!!


  1. great post Vic. Have a few new ideas now. Thanks!

  2. You really are an inspiration Vicki! Next you'll be saying you knit your own clothes! Oh, hang on, that's right...you do knit! I'd like a beanie thanks!

  3. I started using butter rather than margarine a while ago, partly due to the stark difference in packaging (a smallish paper wrapper versus a plastic tub), and we recycle the butter wrapper.

    I also use paper towel a lot less than I used to (I haven't managed to remove it all together yet, but we're getting there!). I've found clean tea towels work very well for drying rinsed salted eggplant, for example, but I'm yet to find an alternative for reducing oil residue on things like fritters or bacon. Any ideas?

    We also compost and recycle anything we can, and often end up with our bin less than a quarter full. Though this may change as I start nesting....!

  4. Brilliant, Vicki!! :) Such great ideas. xo

  5. Seriously Helen, could you be more cheeky? ;)

    Anna, I hate margarine, for the packaging and the fact that it's not a 'real' food. But that's a whole other post! ;) We use tea towels a lot too and not too much paper towel. I have no idea about draining/absorbing oil. We use paper towel for that too.

  6. Just in case you wanted to know , Yogurt is the easiest thing to make, we make a kilo a day nearly, just buy a small tub for the starter and some powdered milk and away you go.
    You'll never have to buy yogurt again

  7. Thanks Lou or Stew ;) I've attemped yoghurt a few times, but every time it's not set. If you can let me know exactly how you do it I'd love to give it a go! Vic xx

  8. Have a worm farm, you can even throw used clothes of natural fabrics in there.

    Use washable kitchen cloths, they're hard to find in shops but there's lots of lovely knitted or crocheted ones for sale online.

    What about dried legumes rather than canned? They're much cheaper and have a better flavour and texture IMO.

    And the easiest way to stop using it is to simply stop buying it-if you don't buy cling wrap/freezer bags/other one-use products you WILL find a way around it!

    Dillpickle-we use old newspapers to drain chips and such.

    Vicki-if you buy the Macro Organics rice cakes, or the ones in a yellow bag (both in health food sections) there's only one bag, I also hate that! Plus, i'll have to convince you to use cloth night nappies :D
    I look forward to brainstorming with you!

  9. great tips Kelly! I'll have to look next for those rice cakes next time I'm at Woolies, but I tend not to shop there too much. As far as legumes go, dried is always on my to do list, but I never seem to get around to it!

    If you know of someone that makes good night nappies let me know! ;)