Waste Wednesday & Corn Chips?

Pyrex saves waste!
Pyrex saves waste!

This Friday was my day off, so I borrowed the BF’s car, and headed to the outlet for Pyrex.  For change from $80, I got the haul above, which I’m impressed with.  These things last well – not one has cracked or chipped in all the back and forth to work, and in and out of cupboards etc.

Now I have enough pyrex for lunch leftovers (I bought 9 when I first moved into the loft, for lunches). Now I have another 10 (!!) so that I can have one with bacon at almost all times, one with pepperoni, a few with a meal’s serve of meat, like chicken breasts. It’s a learning curve for deli staff in Harris Farm and Coles, but I’m patient, and mostly it works… Til I give them a flat rectangular pyrex for a large cube of feta – live and learn!

So, this week wasn’t as good as past weeks – there were three meat trays. We can’t pass up $3 for 500g of beef mince, especially when making lasagne for 8!

Still a modest weigh in, despite three meat trays
Still a modest weigh in, despite three meat trays

I should also show you the weight of the plastics that I take back to Coles, who offer a recycling program that supposedly turns certain plastics into playground furniture:

Back to Coles, for them to recycle.
Back to Coles, for them to recycle.

Mmmm cornchip packets…

Garlic bread wrappers, museli bar wrappers, pasta packets etc
Garlic bread wrappers, museli bar wrappers, pasta packets etc

Reader/commenter challenge: Is there a zero waste way to corn chips? I’ve never seen them in bulk, but I’ve not looked that far and wide. What would it take to make a cornchip?

Book Review: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

It should come as no surprise I’m reviewing Bea Johnson’s book, given every Wednesday is devoted to my attempts at getting my (landfill) waste down to zero.

The book behind the blog source: zerowastehome.blogspot.com
The book behind the blog
source: zerowastehome.blogspot.com

I’ve known about Bea and her blog for a while – I can’t pinpoint exactly when.  I have had many weeks visiting with no new content, so it was at least since last (northern hemisphere’s) summer.  To be honest, it’s sad she doesn’t post as often now, and the old posts are often closed for commenting.   I’ll get to that later, back to the book.

I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t feel like I learnt too much.  I’d hoped there’d be some ground breaking changes I could make, but I think I have most of the solutions in my head, even if I’m not implementing them just yet.

Bea’s family has had to adjust to a changed diet to meet the zero waste initiative.  She doesn’t really talk about these compromises to make to get to zero waste.  Whilst she shares that it’s healthier, I still struggle to find zero waste options for things like puff pastry.  I could go without, but I don’t want to, and I know I can make it, but it is too hard.  I wonder what things the family now goes without.  I suppose those are excuses – but then Bea decided to opt out of DIY yoghurt too, and thankfully has sourced it in glass – something I know is common in France, rarer in the US and almost non existent in Australia.

I was also surprised, not by her international travel (seeing my veiws align with hers – travel is crucial and will never be zero waste, at least not from a carbon emission point of view), I was surprised that her simplified life still contained a clothes dryer and a dishwasher.  The clothes dryer is surprising when you consider how she explains the temperate climate they enjoy and makes her life simple with a capsule wardrobe.  Even in extreme climates, the central heating helps dry things on racks.  Definitely a moment where I thought ‘wow, something I do that Bea doesn’t’ and patted myself on the back.  (I didn’t own a dryer in the loft, now the owners have one for us here, and seeing I can’t dry sheets any other way… I’ve gone over to the dark side for the sheets only).

The book didn’t go into as much detail as I expected about her simplification and decluttering.  I think the process of getting rid of possessions, and getting her house to the sleek look it has, surely came with some struggles.  I’m sure readers would have loved to hear more about this (I would have!)  And more empathy with the ‘recycle’ component with giving away and thrifting items (even though refuse and reuse come first).  Which also begs the question – where is the line between reuse and recycle – when do you thrift something and when do you keep it, thinking it’ll get used ‘some day’.  Maybe the journey is covered more in her archives?

Now, to her zero waste blog:  It drives me nuts that I can’t actually ‘search’ her blog to find the ‘start’ of the journey (or what she does with a certain hiccup in my route to zerowaste).  There is a tag cloud, but no ‘in the beginning ..’ Which brings me to the next point:

The answer to a lot of questions on her Facebook stream is to suggest the topic is covered in the book.  Now, to me, selling a book isn’t a wastefree proposition (which she acknowledges, and opted for phote free to use less chemicals, as well as an e version).  I’d been awaiting the book’s arrival at my local library, until a very kind reader (with her own lovely blog Living Simply Free) offered to send me her copy.  I am eternally grateful, as the book is still not in the library!  But of course, now I forget some of my relevant questions to look them up in the book!  Sigh… I should have listed them

Am I too harsh? Was I expecting too much? I probably couldn’t write a better book – and a lot of the content is somewhat country specific, which might explain why it’s not yet in Australia (as far as I know).  Would anyone like me to pass the book along to them?

Zero Waste Wednesday Weigh In

Zero Waste attmepts

Hello fearless readers – another Wednesday peak at my trash weigh in.  Every week, I weigh my landfill trash, in an effort to get to zero waste – for details of this crazy experiment, head to my Zero Waste page.

Zero Waste attmepts
A weighty 1.071kg – a woeful week for zero waste


I’m sad.  That’s pretty high. Actually I came home grocery shopping, shell shocked from the price (~$100 for three meals and some supplies), the size of the store (2-3 times my IGA), the number of people (it was Saturday), the number of choices (but still I couldn’t find cream cheese) AND the packaging.  We went together, the BF and me, and I just went for the path of least resistance.  Neither of us enjoyed the shopping trip.

I WILL get back to the co-op and the bulk supplies they offer soon.

And I’ll start working with a new butcher to get rid of meat trays.

Here’s what (from memory) what’s in this bag

  • meat trays – pork mince for Mexican
  • blister pack from new HDMI cable & mini book light
  • plastic wrapper on a new wireless card
  • egg shells – only got the Bokashi composting back in action a day or two ago
  • plastic ‘slithers’ from the top of the GF wraps

I’ve also started reading Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home and she concedes that hardware items (like dot point 2) are really hard to find zero waste alternatives, so I’m feeling a touch better.

And last week? I forgot to include two mattress bags, made of fine plastic.  They some how made it to the building’s bins without my weighing them.  And I let them.  SIGH!

So, it’s a third of my moving waste (which was over 3kg last week), but it’s still twice what I can achieve in a ‘normal’ week.  Once work stops being so draining, and house errands keep me out and about til later than usual, I’ll knuckle down into my co-op and butcher/grocer routines that help trim this number.  The more I can do myself, the less the BF will need to do, cause I’m not sure I can get him using the fabric produce bags just yet!

Waste Wednesday update

Slim your bin zero waste

For anyone new here, I like to weigh my waste every week.  My aim is to one day be zero waste.  I only way landfill waste,  recycling and composting (i use a Bokashi bucket) are not weighed. Monday and Tuesday this week, I moved house – so there’s a lot more than usual in this week’s weigh in!  Let me start with some photos:

slim your bin zero waste
Bag 1 coming in at 562g

This was the weekly waste leading up to the move, so meat trays and similar items.

slim your bin zero waste
276g for the second bag

The overflow of day to day trash (with some McDonald’s food soiled carboard that STANK!)

slim your bin zero waste
987g from bag #3

Things are getting heavy! This was mainly packing tape, with a pair of the BF’s old shoes that the leather had started dying a painful death

Zero waste slim your bin
Leaving the heaviest to last at 1277g

And the final collection of ‘stuff’ at the old house – there’s a plant in there, and a homemade mozzie trap made form a plastic soft drink bottle, sugar syrup and yeast… what a sticky mess!

So, the grand total is 562 + 276 + 987 + 1277 = 3102g = 3.1KG!

Wowzers! To think I was down to single digits recently… Such is life.  There’s no ‘everyday’ waste from the new house (such as food, as Bokashi’s on a holiday to my parents to get buried and returned empty).

More on the new house and new lists tomorrow…  And the drama of Sunday and a hospital visit.  Oh yes, I like to keep it interesting!

Waste Wednesday update

rubbish weigh in

It might be a busy week, but I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t weigh my rubbish.  So, let’s see how things went in the first (partial) week of the BF living at live-to-list-ville:

rubbish weigh in
Waste weigh in for Wed 31 July 2013

That’s the weight for three weeks worth of trash, so, this week’s weigh in is: 548 – 67 -172 = 302g

Not my biggest week.  Just my second biggest week.  And here’s why

  • meat trays: with all the moving, I settled for meat from the grocery store, in non recyclable trays
  • ice cream wrappers: why does stress come with eating bad things, and thinking it’s ok?
  • cheese packets: yes, I used up TWO of the packets in the photo from last week
  • apple puree cups: I was feeling ill, so I always go for apple sauce to settle my tummy.  Whilst I can buy it in a jar (with cinnamon), I somehow just got single portions pack, with three cups and three pretend foil lids.
  • tortilla bag: I’m not sure I can buy these without plastic, though I could look into making them?
  • plastic wrapping from a lamp: this cellophane wrapping was removed to show the lamp’s fabric (like it’s already un-plasticed twin)
  • tea bags: yes, I still have a stash.  And I could empty out the tea leaves to the Bokashi, and just trash the string and staple, but I’m not that vigilant (yet)

So I’m not that happy, but it’s not *that* bad.  I’ve got to focus on work, and packing my house/showing my house, so I let other things slip.

I also indulged in a cleaner to do the bathroom and the oven yesterday.  She emptied the bathroom bin (curses – seriously, my boyfriend thinks I’m the only person who’d have a problem with a cleaner emptying bins!).  Thankfully, I found the bin liner and contents in the kitchen bin, so I weighed them.  There’s ‘wet’ stuff still inside, so it’s heavier than it I did it later:

Bathroom trash weigh in
Bathroom trash weigh in

It’s by no means ‘full’ but this is 216g since 22 May – so more than two months.  In this bag we have:

  • cotton buds: using the last of the ‘normal’ ones up before buying bamboo ones
  • floss: remember that the silk thread as floss was a failure, so I’m stuck with this waste.  Not yet at rinsing it either…
  • dish cloths: from the cleaner.  I usually use a microfibre cloth and wash it (in the washing machine) and use a little loo paper for the ickiest of wipe downs.

So there in completes my weekly update.  I’m not sure I’ll have a Wednesday Waste post next week – I’ll certainly trash things in the moving day of Monday without weighing them! I’ll perhaps Facebook post any ‘trashing’ in the move process…

On the rental front: There was only one interested couple to apply after two showings.  The other couple found the balcony too small.  I’ve decided to accept the first couple’s application, rather than lower my rent and see if there’s more interest.  The first couple can move in 9th August, which is just 4 days after we vacate, so that’s better than what I might otherwise get.  So that’s one more thing sorted…

Waste Wednesday update

I almost forgot this riveting installment… Oh, how you would have missed it! (Seriously, there was a bolt upright moment when I realised, and I scurried back to the kitchen to snap some photos).  For anyone new to this, I like to weigh my non recyclable waste every Wednesday.  One day, I hope to have zero non recyclable waste.  That’s the aim!  I do the kitchen bin weekly, and the bathroom and bedroom bin when they get full.  For more details, see the Zero Waste page.

Waste weigh in for Wed 24 July 2013
Waste weigh in for Wed 24 July 2013

Blurry picture at 6.30am, sorry, but that’s 239g.  Adjusted (as this is two week’s trash) total is 67g.

That is a RECORD! I’ve never had it that low since I started weighing weekly in April.

Inside the bag
Choc chips, last of the bulk bacon (from freezer), mac and cheese packet… 🙁

It’s weird, cause I was sure the yucky bacon packet would take me over.

Oh and for people who remember all my cheese grating efforts (to lessen waste), here’s some photos of what happened when the BF’s fridge was emptied into mine this past weekend:

All the 'inherited' cheese
All the ‘inherited’ cheese
The freezer 'before'
The freezer ‘before’
The freezer AFTER the cheese invasion
The freezer AFTER the cheese invasion

And to think, this was after I consolidated all his half packets into one package, where possible. If there’s one thing I teach the BF, it’ll be to ‘use it up’ when there’s just dregs in the packet… I mean, who couldn’t handle one more sprinkle of cheese to empty the packet?

So, that brings us to… the best week yet, but some bad weeks anticipated in the new future. Any tips on how to keep the BF on board with my waste minimisation targets?

Waste Wednesday update

Oh, it’s Wednesday again.  Best get my ‘crazy’ on weighing my rubbish!

Waste weigh in
Waste weigh in

A heavy week at 172g.  Third week in a row on the increase – bad Sarah!

There were some unrepairable sunglasses.  There was gluten free macaroni a friend gave me in its plastic bag (she’s so on board with what I do and don’t eat, it’s lovely).  There was a *cough cough* garlic bread wrapper from IGA – yes, me the gluten free pasta girl had a gluteny garlic bread.  Sigh.  There were block cheese wrappers, and band aid wrappers.  Really usual stuff mostly.

How I’d curb this rubbish?  Plastic sunglasses are probably always going to be a curse.  Pasta can be bought at the coop, but I won’t deny the gift.  I could make my own garlic bread (as the bf suggested) but this was a ‘I’m starving, I need lunch NOW without eating out’ purchase – if I was to buy bread, then butter it and garlic it, I feel like I really am putting a lot of effort in.  Of course, he’s right, I should make it at home… I make sweet chili sauce now, and grate cheese, garlic bread really isn’t a stretch now is it?

Short and sweet today!

Zero Waste & dental floss

*sorry to anyone who got this before it was ‘finished’!*

For regular readers of this blog, it’s a weekly obsession of mine to aim for zero landfill.  Each week I weigh in, but there’s some recurrent items in my waste.  Today I’ll look at whole I’ve conquered dental floss.


Whilst floss is negligible in weight, it’s still something I was regularly adding to the trash heap.  The only solution I could find was silk thread.  Given I’m not a vegan, I don’t have a huge concern with this option, and it can be composted.  So from plastic box, wheel and nylon floss (I assume it’s nylon), I’ve gone to silk thread, of course on a plastic spool.  Ah well, you win some you lose some.


In practice? It was a FAIL.  The thread is too thin, and it tears.  And at $6.70 a spool, it’s not cheap!

Lucky I got it in a colour I like, I should be able to find a use for it.  Oh well, you have to try to know!

This week’s weigh in:

Waste weigh in on Wed 10/7/13 (total for two weeks)
Waste weigh in on Wed 10/7/13 (total for two weeks)

220g – 95g = 125g. Not too shabby, as the bf’s nachos was made again, complete with foil chip bag & meat tray.  There was also turkey & salami packaging from my road trip meal.   I’m ever vigilant – in buying the salami I asked about BYO containers, and we talked about the logistics.  It seems possible, but difficult.  Another deli made it seem simpler, but it’s more of a walk.

Zero waste & cheddar cheese

Pregrated cheese packets were a repeat offender in my landfill trash, so I thought about how I could cut that down. So my first step was to grate the cheese myself. One day, I’ll find a deli that’s not already wrapped the cheddar in it’s own plastic raincoat, and I’ll liberate it to my house, where I’ll grate it and provide it with a reusable ziplock bag!

So, with my wonderful food processor, I was sorted:

Here's what you need to grate/shred your cheese
Here’s what you need to grate/shred your cheese

And in no time, I had this!

Grated cheese (bless that food processor!)
Grated cheese (bless that food processor!)
The solid cheese block wrapper, and the grated outcome (seems more than the 1kg pre grated bag)
The solid cheese block wrapper, and the grated outcome (seems more than the 1kg pre grated bag)
A $1.38 saving in grating my own - though slightly different cheeses.
A $1.38 saving in grating my own – though slightly different cheeses.

Weekly weigh in

This week’s check in is GREAT! (95g) I did a lot of cooking Thursday week ago, and that tided me over for meals until Sunday. Then my cooking on Sunday was homemade pastry for a leek pie – all minimal packaging (though the feta cheese wasn’t all used, to there’ll be plastic to come from that). I also had a belt fall apart (cheap = useless). There’s also some wrappers from choc chips and almond meal in there.

95g weigh in on Wed 3 July!
95g weigh in on Wed 3 July!

And last week? 297g.  Thanks largely to fabric of indeterminate type, so trashed.

Weighing in at 297g of choc wrappers and fabric
Weighing in at 297g of choc wrappers and fabric

I’m thinking I’ll create some sort of graph, and add it to my Zero Waste page so you can see how I’m going!

Zero waste & tissues

The hankie stash!

Remember a while back I was sickly but I had a miraculous recovery thanks to a nasal spray, which incidently has knocked my allergies for dead. I couldn’t be any happier. Plus, I had the nasal spray in my medicine cupboard, which means the ‘new’ spray I bought, I took back to the pharmacy and got a refund on!

Before the revival of the magic spray into my life, I was churning through boxes of tissues. There were tissue boxes by the sofa, on the kitchen table and on my bedside. Then a box at work, and a box or two around the BF’s house.

A little while ago, I spent the better part of a day making hankies. I bought two baby wraps and a sheet from the thrift shop (for a huge sum of $5 I think), and cut them into smaller squares (or rectangles/oblongs/weirdly shaped squarish things). All in all, I made more than 90 hankies! Every single one was double hemmed (as I didn’t have an overlocker). To make it simpler I ironed the hems, to make my sewing that much easier. Now I have a (paper) bag of hankies at my bedside, and by the sofa. The last lingering box of tissues is on the kitchen table.

So the loss? Well, the nasal spray is in a plastic contraption, so one day, it too will be in the trash pile.

Here’s some close ups:

Hankies macro hemming
A hem – done with two folds, so I didn’t have the overlocker and sewing machine to do these.
The pink is from a bedsheet, the white from a baby wrap
Tissue bag
When I did away with tissue boxes, I swapped in some swanky paper bags 😀 (my mother or brother bought something there, not me!)

To be honest, they aren’t yet as good as tissues.  For incidental use, tissues are soft.  And they ‘stick’ together nicely, which my hankies don’t. (TMI? Sorry!).  Anyhow, I’ve used these hankies to wipe up spills too, so they really are replacing tissues, but they are washed and reused.

Usually, on waste Wednesday, I check in with my weight of non recyclable rubbish for the week.  I forgot this morning.  No idea why, it was just a normal morning.  Anyhow, if you read this before I get a chance to go home, and weigh it, and photograph it, and update this post, count yourself lucky! (I’m pretty sure it’s not the highlight of anyone’s weekly reading :p)