Reducing waste in the household

My last post (about the dump) generated quite a lot of emails.
If I do speeches (yes I do, please hire me) If I know what to do about it (well no, I never do). Do I have any tips (sure thing!)

 

MOTIVATION

When we came to forest the first, and to this date biggest problem (let´s not think about all the emotional stuff for a minute) has been the situation of the waste.
We bought stuff. People gave us stuff. Stuff piled up around us… and we didn´t really know what to do about it.

The biggest problem within the problem was not our lack of knowledge though, it was our lack of motivation. We had never spendt time dealing with our trash. We took it to the sidewalk, someone picked it up, end of story. So actually changing our mindset and making the trash a priority has been a challenge. Who wants to deal with the trash? Who wants to look at it, touch it?
It´s so much easier just closing the eyes.

So there´s that.
Motivation. Having the energy to do something about it.  I´m not saying we have fixed this problem of motivation (all though it does change your view on the issue when the trash pile up just outside your door)- but we´re working on it and we have come a long way.

Here´s some tips, tricks, advise, thoughts and ideas on the issue:

 

CONSUMERISM

Consumerism is really to blame here. 50 years ago products were made to last. They´re not anymore. We keep buying and buying. “It´s your duty as a citizen to consume” (someone actually told me that).
Get off that fast moving train heading for a fall. Refuse to consume.

Do you really need 20 pairs of shoes. Really? Or that new gadget that will make you feel more complete as a person?

The thing about consumerism is that it never stops. If you are like me you have been wanting things for your whole life. And then when you get it… it´s nice and all but it does not take long before you begin craving yet another thing. Right?

I STRONGLY recommend you watch this BBC series (“Century of the self part 1- 4) about the rise of consumerism. It was a stroke of corporate genius to create a link between people’s sense of self and the products they would have to acquire to be truly individual.

 

BUY LESS

Changing the patterns of consumerism is hard, it is so imbedded in our behaviour and understanding of self. This change is about so much more than just the trash. So be patient.  Be ok.

1. Buy second-hand

There is enough stuff in the world for everyone. We are not low on stuff, we are not running out of stuff, there is stuff in abundance. And the stuff you buy second-hand is more often than not of a much better quality than what ou buy in the store.

* Locate great second-hand shops in your area (this one is in my area)

*Aacknowledge that the acquisition of stuff may take a little longer this way (and that you might not get instant gratification). There is a point in this.

2. Don´t buy on impulse
For us this was easy, we had little access to stores and temptations, living far out in the forest. However if we are in the city and have a bit of money in the pocket the impulse comes. As sure as amen in church. Think about that. Isn´t that crazy?

3. Prepare
If you´re going on a trip bring with you food, bring with you coffee, diapers, biscuit, water. Make yourself INDEPENDENT of consumerism. Reclaim choice and control.

4. Fix it
It´s a really sad tendency in our culture and I have written about it before. We turn to specialist for everything, we no longer see us self as doers, fixers, capable- and I think it´s a shame.
You don´t need to turn to a specialist for the simplest of tasks and don´t need a specialist to tell you how to reduce your waste and recycle (ahem… but um… well… I do speeches and stuff…. ) See what I mean? Just DO it.
And remember: if you can´t fix it with gaffatape – you havn´t used enough.

 

GROW MORE

The more you produce yourself – the less you have to buy. Often providing yourself with vegetables and even meat will ensure you better quality and easy access. Eating locally grown food reduces carbon waste (airplanes and boats transporting stuff to your nearest grocery) and plastic pollution (wrappings, plastic bags ect)

 

SORT YOUR WASTE

Sweden is an absolute first-mover when it comes to sorting trash. Every household is expected and obliged to have different trashcans for

– plastic
– metal
– paper
– batteries and dangerous waste
– ordinary waste.

The dustman comes to pick up the ordinary waste –  the swedes themselves dump the plastic, metal,paper and dangerous waste at certain “återvindingsstation” (placed in every town).

I do not know about your area´s politics and possibilities when it comes to recycling… but you could check it out yourself.

* Contact the local dump and learn about how and where you can recycle

* Tell everyone you know about how you city handles the waste (raise awareness)

 

COMPOST

I´m working on 3 composts.

* One for potting soil (the potting soil one buys in plastic bags at the grocery store is often produced with great environmental cost). My potting soil compost will receive only the best: eggshells, ash, kitchen scraps, forest floor material.

* Short term compost (kitchen scraps and garden waste). A regular compost.

* Long term compost (paper, meat scraps, large garden waste ect. A compost is a great way of recycling almost all the trash (except from plastic and metal)

 

RECYCLE

Plastic containers, tin cans, plastic bottles and even toilet paper rolls can be recycled. Old clothes can be recycled. Actually most things can.

If you need ideas take a look at this 

 

REDUCE THE WASTE

Last but not least you can take the radical step of not allowing unnecessary trash into your house. You are not obliged to take responsibility for the insane amount of plastic wrappings around most grocery items. You could bring with you containers for the food you buy. You can leave the plastic at the store sending a strong signal to the shop owners.

We have only just begun on this road and still have a lot to learn. Please share any tips, thoughts or LINKS you might have on this topic. Let´s get better- together.

(ps. There´s a picture of Ziggy on this post because I think it kind of sucks if we use all of the ressources and leave nothing for him)

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