Monday, August 13, 2007

Practising zero waste

With the ongoing civic strike it has been the perfect time to practise zero waste. How am I doing? In my opininon not too bad. I have thrown out less than two plastic shopping bags of waste.

I got caught out at the start of the strike. It was necessary to sort a bag of waste containing both organic waste and landfill waste. Just writing the words landfill waste makes me shudder. So I had to do at home what I have done more commonly at work on a construction site, separating the trash. Equipped with rubber gloves I pulled the hard stuff from the bag leaving only the organic matter. I rinsed off the landfill waste and then cleaned as I would clean the dishes.

As for that first batch of organic waste? I flushed it down the toilet. That is far from ideal. I have only flushed one piece of organic matter since. At the end of last week I opened a jar of rice to find creepy crawlies. The entire contents of the jar got flushed. I then boiled the kettle, rinsed the jar several times and also flushed this. With the jar clean it joined two recently cleaned empty fish tins, ready for the recycling bin in my building. These are the first items I have recycled since the strike's inception. My thought at that time was there would be no collection of recycling. So I thought it better to leave the stuff in bags in my apartment but this bin has been emptied. I also made a conscious decision to eat more fresh food and avoid collecting recycleable waste.

Eating more fresh food however and living in an apartment with no compost facilities provides a dilema. The answer - an empty five gallon paint bucket. Since the start of the strike all organic waste has been deposited into the bucket which is closed tight with original lid and placed in sealed and defunct fridge. The bucket is about three quarters full.

In my suite - there is one large rubbish sack containing two, almost three, plastic shopping bags of paper to be recycled. There is also one plastic shopping bag of newspapers to be recycled, two bags of cleaned landfill waste. That is it. Hazards so far - perhaps more fruit flies than normal but this could also be a result of avoiding housework for more than two weeks. Having washed kitchen floor today their numbers are already reduced. Perhaps the single biggest problem will be what to do with the organic matter when the bin is full. I can only think that a trip to a communal garden might be the answer. Failing that starting a compost on the roof but then I am impacting on my neighbours - something I have avoided thus far.

In a perfect world I could compost all the organic matter at a nearby communal garden, recycle all existing recycleables as well trash that at present is headed for the landfill. Some items that can't be recycled can be reused as plant pots for example. But there is a lot which can not be reused like batteries, used ink cartridges and faulty cameras to name just a few examples sitting idle in my apartment.

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