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Plastic Free - Recycling and reducing rubbish

Ironically, this July is the beginning of the end of recycling in the South Burnett Regional Council area.  Yes, you read correctly, from July 2014 we will no longer have curb-side collection of recycling, its all going to landfill.  Not to recycling at the landfill either, we don't even have the option to take our own recycling to the tip, there is simply no facility for it. Essentially our council tricked us into this change.  They sent out a survey and asked if we wanted to pay extra for another bin for recycling.  We were happy with our one split bin - half for rubbish and half for recycling.  Unfortunately the options weren't well explained, and our region didn't vote for the second bin, our council is now only providing one bin for rubbish, no more split bin.  Apparently they are now "looking into" providing recycling facilities at our landfills, but at the moment there is no local recycling options.  More on that in a minute....
image source

This July Pete and I are taking up the challenge once again to reduce and analyse our single use plastic consumption with Plastic Free July.

Reduce, reuse, recycle
As much as I did like the convinience of recycling, in some ways, having that option taken away does encourage some greater creativity.   Even though it might feel virtuous to put plastic in a recycling bin, in truth we are only ever downcycling (reducing the value of the material), so thinking of solutions to reduce or reuse plastic is better than recycling.  The Plastic Free July challenge will help us to assess our plastic consumption including recycling.  Ultimately we would like to "produce no waste".

Of course, we are going to find that some plastic is unavoidable, and I was quite surprised to see a bin at Coles in Brisbane CBD for recycling thin plastic wrapping (as explained recently by Fiona from Life at Arbordale Farm), and the rest I can put in recycling bins at my rental unit.  I'm going to have to remember to cart it around, so ideally we will keep recycling to a minimum.

this is the recycling bin at Coles

Lining our rubbish bin
One thing that we changed last Plastic Free July that I am very very proud of, is we started lining our rubbish bin with newspaper instead of using rubbish bags!  Most of our rubbish is plastic wrappers anyway.  All food scraps go to the dogs, the chickens or the worm farm, and most everything else can be recycled or burnt.  Our rubbish really isn't very messy, so the newspaper has been great.  On rubbish day, we just take the whole bin out and empty it into the wheelie bin (we only fill one bin a week).  Even since I've been living in Brisbane and Pete has been in charge of Thursday rubbish day, he has kept up this new habit, and I'm so proud of him.  I brought this up at work and one guy said "but we don't buy newspapers"!  That left me stumped for creative ideas, we always have newspapers!  I didn't ask how he lights a woodstove without newspaper (joking!).

Picking up rubbish
I've also developed a habit of picking up bits of plastic rubbish.  We had a steer butchered at the farm and the butcher cut the stomach open in the paddock so we didn't have to bury the whole thing.  The contents of the stomach was mostly grass, but also included several plastic bags and bits of rope!  I have seen photos of sea birds and fish that have swallowed plastic, but I didn't know our farm animals would do the same.  After that I started picking up bits of rubbish around the farm so that the cattle didn't eat them.  Then I started just picking up plastic rubbish in public.  I don't care if people see me, probably 9 out of 10 people think I'm weird, but maybe one person will see me and realise that we can't just leave our rubbish on the ground.  I just tuck the pieces into my pocket, or my bag or hold onto them until I see a bin.

a trip to the farmers market with my reusable bag collection
- including Fregie Sacks (the new ones look slightly different)

How do you reduce your plastic rubbish and recycling?


  1. I have been reading a fair bit about plastic free July on various blogs, I think its a great idea and I hope it encourages people to continue it as a lifestyle change rather than just for one month, The other month I purchased a soda stream for making carbonated drinks instead of buying them, I plan to use our own fruit cordials for flavourings, were we have just moved to there is no kerbside collection of anything so we have to reduce waste on everything, a big lifestyle change all round.

  2. We have been doing reasonable well in Plastic free July but I bought cheese yesterday. Its all plastic wrapped and at this stage I don't think I could talk my husband out of not buying cheese nor am I ready to begin making cheese. Supermarkets seem to be wrapping fresh vegetables in plastic - what a waste. I refuse to buy it and choose loose fruit and vege but I have a dilema as celery now comes wrapped in plastic!

  3. I'm flat out refusing plastic bags this July. Even giving them back when shopkeepers sneakily put one or two goods in a bag.

    My new aim is to use reusable produce bags. I'm also painting my house and have found plastic drop sheets to be a real pain. So I've decided to use newspaper instead.

  4. When I started my new job I brought in a metal refillable water bottle, and a coffee mug, along with a calico shopping bag. I use the bag to do a weekly snack shop, for things like fruit, nuts, biscuits and muesli bars. It is easy enough to go plastic free for the fruit and nuts (the local supermarket has bulk buy nuts and dried fruit) but there isn't any options for plastic free biscuits and bars. I have made my own for this week (It was fun, I hadn't made muesli bars before) and hopefully it is a habit that is going to form and stick. They freeze fine, so I can make in bulk for a week or 2 or 3.
    My other work thing I am trying is using paperclips or pins rather than sticky tape. Small but deadly, and not using it or staples means the paper can be recycled easier.

    However if anyone has any suggestions for buying meat plastic free I am all ears, as producing our own is not really an option.

    1. I have been to the buthers before and asked him to put it in my own containers rather than wrapping it.

    2. ok. good to know. I have tried that at the deli, but they said no on health and safety grounds (they can't tell if you have cleaned the container and don't want to get blamed for any food poisoning was the spiel I got). So I assumed that was the general rule. But will try again elsewhere

  5. I have started being more aware of where i am sourcing the food that I feed my family from so have recently cut my visits to the large supermarkets down and been visiting local farmers markets.
    I have been having a ball getting up early and discovering new ways to source fresher healthier food.
    However i have not before reading this post thought about bringing along my own bags instead of taking the ones given by the producers.
    So tomorrow when I head out I will take a couple of canvas bags i have laying around. Now that wasn't so hard was it! lol.
    Thank you for your post, it made me realise I wasn't doing half of what i could do to decrease my plastic consumption.

  6. I also walk around picking up rubbish on the farm, on the street at the shopping centre at the beach any where really. I hope that others will see me and not think that i am mad but perhaps feel that maybe they could also do it. Here's hoping anyway!

  7. Picking up plastic and picking up nails, screws and other metal objects on roads and footpaths.
    Plastic-saving tip: storing leftovers in the 'fridge - use a glass jar or bowl or metal basin, cover with a plate or saucer. Downside is you cannot see what is in the container, but at least there's no plastic fumes to contaminate the food.

  8. I have started keeping a packable, reusable grocery bag for those random trips where I don't plan to have my bags with me. I'm also planning to sew some lightweight bulk bags so I can quit bringing home more plastic with bulk items and produce.

  9. What a disgrace that your council are taking away the recycling! I agree with you that recycling is not the best option. The best option is definitely reducing rubbish in the first place. However so many in the general population don't even think about their impact and local councils should be responsible for providing recycling as a way to mitigate the negative impacts of their ratepayers on the environment. Grrrr!

    As for a tip, I wash any bread bags that we get and use them to cover our food. The large ones that you buy flat bread in are a very generous size to cover most casseroles etc. Hubby also takes his lunch to work in bread bags.

  10. One of changes this month is to start using those Fregie sacks for produce- I just purchased some! But of course, hoping to win another pack to give away to friends.
    Re the comment above about the guy saying "we don't have newspapers", I don't either, but I line our bin with used paper. As a teacher, you always accumulate paper, no matter how hard you avoid it, so I have a box full waiting to be recycled or reused somehow.

  11. I find in rural areas it can actually be harder to get cool things like recycling and organic food ...strange isn't it! We do have recycling bins though and encourage it through the farm stay. One thing we are starting to get our farm stay visitors to do is not put their food in the bin and give it to the them it is a really 'weird 'thing to do and it takes them a while to acclimatize to the idea.
    The big thing with having teenage kids at highschool is that we have lunchboxes that don't need gladwrap but look a bit cool. I had to change over from my material wraps because that was making the kids stand out at school So now we have stainless steel lunch boxes that keep food fresh without glad wrap.

  12. it is a shame that the council is getting rid of the recycling. Although it is not the best option I think most people are not going to think about reducing their rubbish. I think bins should be weighed and you should pay for the amount of waste you produce. For plastic Free July I am giving up shampoo and conditioner which I need to buy, and switching to bi carb and apple cider vinegar. If all goes well this could be a permanent thing but I will wait and see if my curls agree with the switch.

  13. Another suggestion that should really belong to last week's ideas, is to look at replacing the plastic bag that you probably bring home containing any wet/dirty items from your child's kindergarten or childcare. These are excellent - they are eco friendly washable waterproof bags. that are used over and over again. I can fit a damp beach towel and togs in mine - they Stretch!
    PS I don't receive commission for this, I just think they are great. The initial purchase price may seem high, but they just keep on working.

  14. I never thought of using newspaper to line trash bins, that's brilliant! Thanks for sharing! Hello from Thank Goodness It’s Monday!

  15. Certainly knew cows ate plastic. Many years ago we bought day old bread by the bagful and had to remove the plastic bags so the cows would not eat it, and mum also air dried the sliced bread before giving to the cattle. Like the idea of lining my kitchen bin with news paper.


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