Zero Waste & going out

This past week, I’ve thought a lot more about zero waste than I usually do.  Mainly because of my weekend out and about, my run and then Beams festival, but I also went to a Sunday School party.  Let’s work backwards:

Sunday School Party

This was held at the rectory on Saturday afternoon. The Sunday School coordinator asked the priest’s wife to supply paper plates, knives and forks.  I ran into the priest’s wife as I finished the church flowers on Saturday morning, and mentioned the request – I could easily supply everyone with my ‘extra’ crockery set from when my grandmother downsized.  (Yes, I could ‘declutter’ them, but I’d rather have them on hand than single use.)  The priest’s wife agreed, but obliged also with the request.

At the party, I brought a banana cake on a grandma plate, rather than something single use.  The best thing is that grandma’s plates aren’t my usual set, so I don’t miss them if they end up staying at someone’s house for a short while, which is exactly what happened.  I was free to head to the museum unburdened by a plate!  And because I’m zero waste, there was no cling wrap.  It would have ruined the icing!  But we do have it (inherited from the BF’s house).  So I carried a cake a number of city blocks, uncovered.  Nothing comedic happened.  But I did realise I could have used a cake tin. D’oh!

At the party, there was both ceramic and plastic crockery and cutlery.  Like a sheep, I got a plastic plate, but I realised, and used proper cutlery.  You win some you lose some!

Beams Festival

Did I feel smart or what, remembering to bring my bamboo knife and fork with me?  I did, til I needed a spoon to eat sago pudding! Thankfully the fork passed.  The rest of the food was ‘hand’ edible.  Interestingly, the meals came in compostable containers, which I know Beth Terry’s (I’m currently reading her book Plastic Free) is dubious about.  I was impressed that there were marked ‘recycling’ bins at the festival too – though lined in plastic wheelie bin liners.  For non Aussies, this is a wheelie bin:

Wheelie bin - due to the little wheels! source: by L Reonalds
Wheelie bin – due to the little wheels!
source: by L Reonalds

Bridge Run

Firstly, last week I mentioned I had a need for textile recycling last week – I had a cotton interlock zip cardigan that had lost it’s mojo.  Thankfully, I wore this to the run, and discarded it at the start to be collected for charity (so they tell us).  Whilst it’s not ideal for charity given how worn out it is, it was a good compromise to keep me warm before the run, and not discard something I would sorely miss.

The run came with two or three drink pit stops.  These were all stocked with plastic cups, most with water and some with Gatorade.  As people finished them, they just threw them on the ground, and I was no exception.  It was one of those instances that was dismaying to see the discarded cups extending every which way on the ground.  But it also made me realise, there truly is no alternative.  Glass or ceramics would break.  Competitive runners will not stop to place a glass/cup down.  No one is going to run with a reusable cup, and whilst some people have a strap with a bottles on them, it’s not really widespread.  The water that filled the jugs came from hoses, at least.  Hoses that filled bins (not wheelie ones ;)), again lined in a plastic bag.  Surely the bins were bought new for this purpose, I’m just not convinced they needed a plastic bin liner too!  SIGH!

Lastly, at the finish, everyone was offered a bottle of water, and a medal.  I took the water bottle.  I admit, we still use plastic water bottles which we endlessly refill here at Cohab Central.  It’s not ideal, but small steps.  I did not take the medal.  The BF was aghast.  I was adamant it would have been waste the minute I got it.  I don’t have a place for a medal! And I don’t need proof of my run – although I have (for now) kept the baggage label as a memory.  The bib I wore came with some techy doobie which means it’s chunkier and not as good to keep.  And it’s in the trash, cause it’s that funny material that seems to be paper, but never tears, or gets wet?

Weekly Waste Weigh In
There’s two meat trays in there, and meat stained coated paper. I lost the battle with the deli lady this week, but it’s not over! Sorry for the horrible photo, for those who can’t see, it’s 195g. Down from 203g last week, but not as good at 88g a few weeks ago.  I’m not too worried.

Zero Waste attempts
Weighing in at 195g this week

Gratitude (for Tuesday)

  1. Time in the office to catch up on paperwork
  2. Fundraising Caramello koala chocolate after lunch
  3. Healthy dinner made by 7pm
  4. Intelligent new graduate engineer working with me 🙂
  5. Mocha on the way into work (and I was still early!)
Aussie chocolate source: by S Marr
Aussie chocolate
source: by S Marr

Do you actively think about the least waste option when you’re out and about? Can you think of creative ways the water situation could be solved at fun runs?

18 Replies to “Zero Waste & going out”

  1. Sarah, you had quite the weekend, it sounds like a lot of fun. I sadly have no brilliant ideas on the cups at runs. My town hosts a mine triathlon every summer, the garbage strewn about is horrible when it's over. But like you said runners aren't going to stop to drink and leave a glass. I am sure that many believe carrying a reusable bottle would slow them down by adding to the strain as they get tired and the time lost to refill a bottle would be an issue in a race.

    I had to laugh as you offered your own silver only to use a plastic plate 🙂 Do they wash and reuse the plastic plates or just toss them? And again at the picture of you walking around with this uncovered frosted cake.

    Your wheelie bin… ours look basically the same but we are lazy and call them garbage or trash cans. 🙂

    1. I certainly did – the BF was away most of it, so I made the most of doing what I wanted, and ignored chores 😀

      I think they just tossed the plastic plates – I did see the priest's wife take out a bag of trash, which reminded me how well you and I are doing against another 'normal'. It'd take me a month or two to fill the size of bag! The priest's wife remembers me saying I made hankies, so she knows I'm a greenie!

      I'm slowly giving my non Aussie readers a lesson in slang! We have so many words for things, it's quite funny!

  2. Reusing plastic bottles is good for reducing waste, but it's really not good for your health because they begin to break down in heat and UV radiation and release nasty chemicals into your water. I used to think this was just a rumour spread by bottled water manufacturers to make people buy more bottles, but it is actually true:

    You can buy stainless steel bottles for about $10-15, which you can refill endlessly and not have to worry about leaching. I have one at my desk at work and another one that I take when I go out. You can also buy glass bottles with a protective silicon skin, if you want a clear bottle.

    1. I have one stainless steel bottle which I have at work, and take home on weekends. And yesterday I did pour glasses of water from the glass bottle I keep in the fridge. I know about the bad leeching, but so far laziness, and cost have prevented me from wholesale changing. At this moment, there are three empty bottles by the BF's side of the bed, and two by the sofa. Based on this habit, we'd need HEAPS of stainless steels ones to always have some cold water on hand. I'm hoping he'll get better at refilling them, but maybe I need to just cut over to stainless (and fewer) and see what happens?

  3. I've been thinking a lot about just this question…all the waste I generate at work, as one example (in the library, they use plastic laminate sheet by the metre for all kinds of useless purposes!)

    I have made one big move here this week. Checked my rates notice and discovered that for 12 years, we have been paying for the bigger, optional 120 litre wheelie bin at home. Duh! I cancelled that and we are now getting the smaller, 80 litre bin! We will *have* to watch our waste now!

    1. Oh yes! I have the Plastic Free book, thoughtfully published without plastics… for the library to have wrapped it in plastic! It's a balance, libraries do it to preserve the books, particularly paper backs! Sometimes, plastic is the lesser of the evils. But the off cuts, there's no real recycling available that I know of.

      Do you also save money downsizing the wheelie bin too? Oh I forgot to share on here, I'm meeting my council's bin man this Friday (and yes, I find that exciting!)

      1. Yes, we do save money on downsizing the bin. We're also getting rid of our Green Waste Bin as I found out that you can put the same waste out on the nature strip, you just have to tie it together. For the few weeks a year that we prune heavily, we'll do that.

        LOL – I would also find it exciting to meet the Council Bin Man!

  4. I always cringe at public events, too, when disposables are used for everything. But it bothers me even more in people's homes (as in – using a paper plate at a barbecue at someone's house). I look forward to hearing about your meeting with the Bin Man!

    1. I agree, I was aghast that some homes (that blog about it) use single use plates instead of washing up! I didn't even know anyone would consider that as normal! The Bin Man – yes, that shall be fun, in a way it only could be for me.

  5. As I go through my kitchen items (again!) I still can't decide whether to totally replace all our plastic, just keep using it until it gives up the ghost. I do need to get a few more glass storage items (I like the small pyrex dishes I think you purchased a few weeks ago), as I don't like to use plastic for food – they still have plastic lids, but it's a start.

    1. I agree, I'd like metal cup measures, but the plastic are all working (save for one missing an arm). The plastic lid rarely touches the food thankfully, and I can remove it when I microwave (though I don't usually, I just leave it loosely resting on top). I'm not sure there's a better option for me, given I love to reheat leftovers, so metal options would be out.

  6. My thoughts for the water after the run is that yu could maybe have cardboard compostable cups. But, then someone would have to collect them and compost them. And then you also have the issue of the water cooler itself, which is usually plastic. I think just the fact you are having this conversation is a step towards progress, the other problem is so many people just don't care.
    Have a great weekend!

  7. It's one thing to do tis at home, but events make me nuts. We recenlty had our yearly blues festival. They used plastic cups for drinks, wouldn't allow us to reuse our cups, and did not provide recylcing bins for the cups or beer cans. This festival went on for five days and was packed everyday with folks having more than one drink. Th trash was heartbreaking. Thanks. You just reminded me that I meant to write the mayor.

    1. I must write a letter too – to a green grocer chain that has a great deli, and inconsistent policy on DIY containers. There's one lady whose got it out for me, and I'd love to know the formal policy. Such a shame your festival piled up so much recyclable things, and wouldn't even permit reuse!!

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