Trash Challenge Week 1

So I’ve finished week 1 of the trash challenge I have set myself for February. I decided to collect all the rubbish I generated this week, to see where I can make changes to continue my eco-friendly journey.

Trash Challenge Week 1

I’m not sure if it’s more than I expected, but it was definitely a shock when I laid it all out today! If you’re interested, here’s a list:

  • 8 individual chocolate bar wrappers and 2 outer wrappers
  • 4 sweet wrappers
  • top from a packet of chocolates
  • 6 yoghurt pots and lids
  • 3 tins
  • food packaging: 2 turkey containers, 1 sausage packet, 1 bacon container, 1 pie tray, 1 fish finger box and 1 pizza box plus thin plastic wrap and polystyrene circle from the pizza
  • 2 bread bags and 1 tortilla bag
  • 3 veg bags
  • 1 egg box
  • 1 milk bottle and 1 juice carton
  • 1 apple sticker
  • 2 cardboard toilet rolls and plastic packaging
  • 1 cardboard kitchen roll
  • used ink cartridge and wrapper
  • 2 batteries
  • 2 contact lens packets
  • assorted papers, including 8 receipts, 5 print-outs, 1 leaflet, 4 letters, 10 old cards, 1 invitation, 1 envelope, 1 expired voucher and 6 pieces of scrap paper reused
  • plastic wrapper from a magazine and paper advert contained within it
  • clothes catalogue
  • plastic wrapper from a congratulations card
  • bit of white plastic not needed from a set of drawers
  • prescription bag plus prescription paper

And this isn’t including the things that it was too impractical to keep, such as food waste, toilet paper, paper towels, kitchen roll, sanitary towels, contact lenses, foil from a butter tub, 5 paper cake cases and items disposed of at work (wrapper from a packet of printer paper, and some envelopes).

I found it quite hard to see all of this, but it’s also great because it’s shown me that I produce most waste from the food I eat. This is going to hopefully be my focus for the next few weeks, so I will be looking out for differences in my weekly photos!

This week I’ve decided to make desserts from scratch, instead of buying individually-wrapped chocolate bars (as you can tell, I have a bit of a sweet tooth!) I’ve also bought a 450g tub of yoghurt instead of 85g individual portions to try and reduce packaging from that.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by this but I’m reminding myself that I have already made a lot of changes in my life, and by being conscious of what I throw away I can make more. I also don’t throw all of these things away every week (the ink cartridge, letters and other papers, for example), so that’s something to take into account.

Anne over at Minimalist Sometimes is doing the Plastic Free Challenge too, so pop over and check out her post! Have you done something similar? Or perhaps you have tips on how I can cut down my waste? I’d love to hear from you!

Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper is something I’ve been meaning to deal with since before Christmas – then I realised I had almost an entire roll of Christmas wrapping paper left over from the previous year, and decided to make do with that for the time being. We do have a good policy in our house of keeping all wrapping paper that could possibly be reused, and sellotape is picked off the rest, which is then recycled. But it would be great to go one step further and start wrapping things up in an environmentally friendly way!

One of the biggest concerns I have is with sellotape (or sticky tape, adhesive tape, whatever you want to call it). I’ve done a bit of googling (as usual!), because I wasn’t sure exactly what it was made of. Originally, it was made from natural cellulose and rubber resin, I think, but of course it’s now generally all synthetic. I think one of the best ways to combat sticky tape if you’re not sure about it is to stop using it! You can tie up parcels etc. with ribbons instead (ribbons may be a topic for another post!) – although if you’re sending something in the post then you’ll want something that can hold it together a bit more securely. My favourite sticky tape alternative is this Eco Paper Packing Tape. (Whilst we’re on the subject of sticking, I can’t resist telling you about Paperchase’s Eco Glue: I keep going back to look at it – when I next want to buy some glue this will be top of my wishlist.)

And then of course there’s the wrapping paper itself. I’ve heard various suggestions in the past, including old newspapers, brown paper, recycled wrapping paper. I don’t have an exhaustive list of things to try (I would be here forever!) but if you’re looking for some starting points then try these:

  • Make your own – use old sheets of paper and stamp or draw pictures or patterns on them (great if you have young children too!)
  • Use old newspapers – thanks to ljpaul5b3g for this one (and for the above suggestion too!)
  • Reuse what you’ve already got, and what you get given.
  • Try out some post-consumer paper – have a look at Re-wrapped or Paperchase’s recycled kraft wrapping paper as a start.
  • If you want to go for something a bit different, what about Lush’s Knot-wrap gift wrap? Although if you like that sort of thing you could always made your own using any leftover materials you have at home.

I hope this post gives you more ideas about how you can change the little things in your life to more eco-friendly alternatives! It would be great to hear about the alternatives you use!