Manning our Eco Food Wrap stalls, we often get a lot of questions around different aspects of ‘living the green life’ so we thought what better way to help out than to include some of those questions in our weekly blog?
This week, we thought we’d take a look at a big concern for many of you at home. With the recent announcement that our major supermarkets will phase out plastic bags by next year (See? Petitions get results!) many of you have wondered how you will live sustainably when it comes to, say, lining your kitchen bin. Of course, many people rationalise taking home their shopping in plastic bags with the fact they then ‘reuse’ them to line their bins. The problem being, they still end up in landfill along with all that other anamorphic waste- and that isn’t good news for our planet!
THE BIN-LINER-BAG ARGUMENT
The bin liner bag argument is probably the biggest concern raised when it comes to those that don’t want to see this ‘convenient’ item phased out. Of course, for many of you- this is a real concern but when it comes to living sustainably it’s not ALWAYS about replacing, or reusing. When it comes to what we throw out, it’s more about a change in perception; than an easy way to dispose of trash. The response we give people when asked is “It’s not really a case of what do you line your bins with, but what are you actively doing to reduce your waste?”
Changing our perception, or changing the angle we approach waste and rubbish is crucial to the betterment of our future world. Only through making environmentally conscious choices, will we actually affect the problem of waste on a major scale and make real change. That being said, it is the little things you do each day that can make all of the difference!
MINIMISE THE WASTE WE PRODUCE
The best way to avoid the bin liner bag issue is to change the way we purchase in the first place. Try to look at your current staples and snacks. Are there alternatives you can buy that don’t use soft-plastic or non-biodegradable packaging? Could a similar product be bought that is sold in Glass bottles or containers, cardboard/paper, compostable materials or is there a way you can purchase the product without packaging at all?
There are new waste-free supermarkets and dry goods stores popping up all over the place and we couldn’t be happier. Try googling ‘waste-free shopping’ and see what you can find in your local area. One of our Eco Food Wrap stockists; Scoop Wholefoods is a great example of a waste-free shopping option with the ability to buy goods in bulk and bring along your own reusable containers to store your goods. For those in rural or remote areas, there are a few great sources online you can order from- just be sure to check they deliver to your area.
Coles and Woolworths supermarkets have also set up soft-plastic and packaging recycling in their stores, meaning you can dispose of any packaging that is unavoidable for your weekly shop (use your jars, containers and wraps instead!) and know that these plastics are being used to produce recycled materials such as pallets and playground equipment and furniture. With a little foresight, research and preparation, you’ll soon see a huge reduction in the amount of trash you are throwing away each week!
REUSE WHAT YOU CAN (AND COMPOST THE REST!)
There’s a wide variety of store-bought packaging that can be reused, recycled or disposed of ethically that doesn’t need to end up in a bin or landfill. Anything glass is great- bottles and jars are great for juices, liquids, and storing your dry goods in the pantry. You can also use these for ferments and preserves if you like to make your own (we do recommend trying it- you can check out our For The Love of Fermentation blog for a great Jun Tea recipe, too!).
A lot of manufacturers are being pushed- due to consumer sentiment- towards more sustainable packaging, meaning you have more choices to replace your current plastic-packaged products in the supermarket. Cardboard boxes and paper packaging are great as they can be recycled as per normal- just make sure your cardboard packaging doesn’t contain a polyethylene layer – if it’s holding a liquid, chances are, its there, and this turns all that reusable paper pulp to a product that can no longer be recycled (that means your ‘disposable’ coffee cups!).
Any cloth packaging can usually be composted (including your old Eco Food Wraps, which can be thrown on the pile after about of year of good use!).In fact- your biggest reduction of your throwaway waste each week will come from having a compost system present.
There are many options available depending on the space that you have available. Even compact ones that produce methane as a by-product, which can be used as an alternative to LPG! While traditional Garden Composts for garden and food waste are a great option if you have the space, many of us don’t have the luxury of a garden or yard. Worm farms; too, usually require an outdoor setting. Having said that, we recently read this article from WasteLandRebel where one couple made a Worm Bin for their apartment kitchen with great success! Referred to as Vermicomposting- this form of breaking down organic kitchen matter is odourless, and therefore perfect for indoor/smaller spaces. If you don’t have plants that can utilise the fertiliser your worms will produce, you can always give it away, or seek out a local produce swap and trade it for some fresh goodies for your kitchen.
Then there’s Bokashi- a Japanese term meaning 'fermented organic matter'. It is often referred to as a type of 'composting' but it is actually a anaerobic fermentation process. For the purposes of this blog we’re not going to split hairs, as it is a great way of disposing of kitchen waste and Bokashi Bins can be kept in a kitchen or laundry (and even left unattended when going on holiday!) They do require Bokashi mix to help the process as well as emptying on a monthly basis. You can buy specialist Bokashi bins or even try your hand at making your own using a handy youtube guide (such as this one from GreenItYourself’s Youtube Channel).
Of course, you can go all out and build yourself a Methane Biodigester- where you take all your scrap food wastes (basically anything except for bones, eggshells or anything that cannot be broken down) and let it ferment in a specialist chamber. This releases Methane, which builds pressure, measured by a meter, and from here it can be ‘harvested’ into a container for using natural gas to power other appliances down the track. This is definitely more complicated (and will require a shed or suitable space) but it is an optimum method for making the most of your food waste. You can find all kinds of tutorials on YouTube on the topic- just remember to stay safe! We’ve included a great TED Talk about how BioDigester and BioGas technology has helped developing countries across the world and two women’s plans for making this happen in every home.
(Source: TEdx Talks, Youtube)
Composting alone, when done right can reduce a household’s personal waste by about 40% and if just 1% of Australians switched to one of these composting methods in their homes, we would save 45 million kilograms of Co2 from being released into our atmosphere!
If it’s new to you, we have a handy guide to get started in our blog Joining the Compost Revolution.
Of course, recycling and reusing can be a lot of fun, too! We’ve often turned the Kids old gumboots into funky planters for herbs and succulents and even our old Eco Food Wraps get a good workout! We’ve used older wraps as pockets to sprout seedlings for herbs and any produce that has smaller seeds. Once you have your baby plants, simply place the whole thing in the ground . It will naturally break down as your plant grows. One Eco Wrapper even sent us a picture of her old wraps. The kids cut out all the fruit patterns and used them to make collages and artworks . You could even glue the designs to pieces of felt and create a felt board so the kids can create scenes with the various pieces over and over again.
Thanks from all of us at Eco Food Wrap to Francisco for the beautiful recycled artwork!
IF ALL ELSE FAILS, THINK GREEN
Still need to throw out trash each week? Skip the plastic bag and use a few pieces of newspaper to form a lining for your bin. You can find tutorials online if you want it to look as good as it is for the planet, or simply form a large cone shape and be sure to wrap it around your trash tightly before transporting to your bin- think old-fashioned fish-and-chip takeaway as a guide!
Making a few good choices and doing a bit of research is worth it- not only will your overall carbon footprint be greatly reduced, Your planet will also thank you.
Need to stock up on Eco Food Wraps? Click Here to visit the online store.