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The disposable society

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When I read ‘Brave New World‘ in high school I was staggered by the idea of throw-away clothes. The kind you buy, wear once and then throw in the trash. I was amazed that a society could be so wasteful. And yet, disposable clothing, is a reality of modern society.

Yesterday was shopping day and, like every shopping trip lately I was surprised by the amount of products in the supermarket that I don’t buy anymore. Coles and Woolworths are stocked full of disposables. Disposable nappies & baby wipes, paper plates & cutlery, paper cups, plastic bags, baking paper, aluminium foil, gladwrap, paper serviettes, paper towel, cleaning wipes, bottled watertissues, batteries… and we don’t actually need any of it. Yet the demand is there and there are profits to be made so the supermarkets stock these products and big companies promote them.

With help from blogs like Down to Earth, Rowdy Kittens, & Small Notebook I have been steadily making small changes to our household. Each small step has been hardly noticeable but the overall impact of these changes has made a huge dent in our budget and reduced the amount of waste our family sends to the landfill each week.

The most recent small step has happened yesterday when I bought some lovely Swanky Hanky hankies from Botanical Grace, Yeronga. That’s right. I’m going to experiment using handkerchiefs. Something I haven’t used since kindergarten. I’ll let you know how it goes…


(No) Rubbish Day

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Today is rubbish day. The street is lined with dark green wheelie bins full of waste but there’s an empty spot on our footpath. My husband informed me last night that he was not taking the rubbish out. He wanted to let me know that he had made this decision consciously and not forgotten. He explained that this week we had produced a single bag of waste. The rubbish bin was practically empty and there was nothing in there that couldn’t wait until next week.

I’m not exactly sure why we only have one bag. I think perhaps it is the culmination of all the changes we’ve made to our lifestyle slowly over the past few years. Now that we have a compost bin most of the organic waste goes into the garden. Animal products are bagged and frozen until bin day. We reuse or recycle as much as possible. Takeaways are a rare treat so we don’t bring in the extra waste associated with outsourcing our meals. I’ve done away with glad wrap, aluminium foil and baking paper. And we also don’t buy those disposable cleaning wipes that are always advertised on TV.

Perhaps the biggest change this week is that we have survived without any disposable nappies. Absolutely zero. Up until now we have used disposables overnight, on holidays, during illness, and when we’ve gone out for the day. I’ve noticed that when my husband changed Miss M’s nappies, he usually grabbed a disposable rather than a cloth nappy. So last fortnight I devised a little experiment – I left disposable nappies off the grocery list. If they weren’t available we wouldn’t be able to use them. It worked! And now I won’t be adding them to the shopping list next fortnight either. I wish I had done this from the start, but my theory has always been do what you can manage and concentrate on the good of every cloth nappy used rather than every disposable. Each and every nappy helps. Besides, I’m a first time mum so I’m still ironing out the kinks of new motherhood.

How many bags of rubbish does your family produce each week? And, what things do you do to reduce your trash?