Trash party

This Sunday is the last #trashparty for @plasticfreejuly.

A month ago, I set the goal of cleaning up a small part of the Merri Creek for one hour every Sunday in July. If anyone else came along, it was a bonus – and what a bonus it was!! So far, with the help of friends, we have filled 5 and a half landfill bins (120L each).

This is a big achievement for me, but it’s just another day for the legends at @friendsofmerricreek who have been tirelessly cleaning the creek for a long time now. I have so much respect for people who do this kind of thing regularly, even at a small scale. It’s hard work! One hour of picking up rubbish made my back sore. The walk to the car carrying loads of rubbish made my arms dead (Exercise? What’s that!?). We found some seriously gross items in the creek including a crack pipe and loads of syringes. Last week, I travelled interstate to get there on time and when I finally arrived, it rained heavily – yet we still managed to stick to the weekly goal.  I sound like I’m complaining but I have truly loved every minute of it.

This whole experience has created new memories from old junk, like this little rubber duckie… This toy was the first item I picked up one week. I was by myself, assuming nobody would turn up and I had a lovely surprise when friends appeared a few moments later. It made me so happy to see everyone that I kept this duck as a little memento. Trash Party has been more enjoyable than I had ever imagined and a nice excuse to be outside.

If you’d like to join, I’ll be under the Merri Creek bridge, near @ceresfairfood this Sunday from 3-4pm, weather permitting. If your heart is in the right place but your schedule isn’t, that’s ok. We’re all in this together. Special thanks to the following accounts for picking up trash and inspiring me to follow suit: @lifewithoutplastic @take3forthesea@seashepherdmarinedebristeam@_wastelandrebel_ @waronwasteau@plasticfreemermaid

1 hour. 4 people. 6 bags of trash.

1 hour. 4 people. 6 bags of trash.

The things we dug up today made it feel like we were investigating a crime. Together, we found a syringe, an unused condom, a men’s wallet with membership cards, a pair of men’s jeans, a cardigan and maybe a small baggie of heroin!?

We also found loads of @woolworths_au and @colessupermarkets plastic bags, styrofoam, straws, @cocacola cans, @evianwater bottles, coffee cups, @cadbury and @nestle chocolate wrappers, a milk crate, an uneaten fun-sized bounty bar, a tyre iron, a @nikesoccer ball and an astonishing amount of @mcdonalds bags, burger boxes, cups and straws.

I think these McDonald’s straws are haunting me. Every week, there’s so many of them. They never die. Maybe they have special powers of immortality? Maybe if I hold one, I’ll become immortal too?? Thank you @_jameslake @hoppingtonpost and Kirsty from @girlsrockmelb for making this a Trash Party. Regardless of the never-ending straws, it’s been incredible to see our progress each week and have a different group of wonderful people helping out. You rock!

Easy system for label removal

I’ve now got an easy system for label removal. First, I peel as much off as possible. Then I soak in warm water with a dash of eucalyptus. I leave the glue to soften until any remaining label is soaked through. Then, I take steel wool and more eucalyptus and scrub away all the gunky paper and glue. After that, it just needs a wash with Castile soap to remove the oil. Depending on the label, this can be a 5sec task or a 10min task – but it’s worth it if you find something perfect for your needs. I love how beautiful a used container looks after the label is removed.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

Hmm… Do you want the good news or the bad news first? At 7 months, our progress is really good: At our current rate of waste creation, I’ve estimated that we would fill one landfill bin every 8 months, and one recycling bin every 5 weeks. Previously, it would take 2 weeks to fill both bins.

Our household has 3 people and one dog. One of us is slightly more obsessed with zero waste than the others… Guess who!?  If we were to stop making incremental improvements, this is the rate we’d be at. I think that’s pretty great! I thought it would take much longer to get to this stage. Plus, a lot of the waste we’re still creating is from products we bought before my zero waste rampage. I also love not needing to take the bins out… Now for the bad news… We recently found out that our waste collection service has been cutting corners by dumping recycling into their landfill trucks.

It’s not all the time, but it’s still really messed up. We’ve put pressure on body corporate who are in the process of rectifying everything. I have an inkling/hope that the service provider will lose their very big contract (over 200 dwellings… that’s a lot of wasted recycling!).

Until now, I’d never thought to check how our bins are being collected. I put my trust in the fact that recycling goes to a recycling plant. Every area is a little bit different, so we’ve learnt our lesson to be aware of what happens to our waste after it leaves our home. Another positive from this is that we are even more committed to reducing our recycling waste.