Thursday, 19 October 2017

Let me shock you with some statistics!

I did it. I held on to all of our waste for an entire month and it was gross! But I did it, and I did it for a good cause. You’re welcome!

Well, I didn’t keep all of it. For instance, I didn’t hold on to food leftovers, Q-tips, kitchen towel, tissues and well… toilet paper.  There are limits!
This is just a snapshot, rather than an average. 

Different seasons produce different waste and sometimes you go through unusual circumstances such as exam periods, lots of work in the office, preparing for holidays and renovations. These periods can come with more waste, just because, for instance, buying ready meals is more convenient than having to cook yourself,…!

For example, we bought a bathroom mirror which came in a big cardboard box of 2.6 kg. Of course this distorts the numbers a bit, but not including it would not be realistic either, because we do buy kitchenware and printers and stuff on the internet all year round, and they all come in boxes. 

I might take more snapshots later during this exercise, just to be able to compare, if I can find new strength to go through this rubbish again!

OK, here we go:

·         Paper and cardboard = 9.28 kg
o    including unsolicited mail = 3.1 kg
o    including the big cardboard box = 2.6 kg

·         Coffee capsules (estimated 4/person/day) = 3.32 kg

o    including (wet) coffee = 2.98 kg
o    Therefore aluminium = 0.34 kg

·         Plastic = 3.7kg

o    including bottles = 2.1 kg (including shampoo and cleaning products)
o    including food packaging = 1.6 kg

·         Drink cartons = 0.7 kg
·         Tin cans = 2.8 kg
·         Other bits (tin, cans, Styrofoam food boxes) = 0.3 kg

Per year that means

·         Total waste= 201.36 kg, including
·         111.36 kg of paper and cardboard
·         44.40 kg of plastic
·         4.03 kg empty coffee capsules

Per 10 years that means

·         Total waste= 2,013.60 kg (more than 2 tonnes!), including
·         1,113.60 kg of paper and cardboard
·         444 kg of plastic
·         40.32 kg empty coffee capsules

Add to this 1 regular bin liner of 60 litres a week. It is made of plastic and weighs 45 grams. That is 2.3 kg of plastic a year, just to get rid of other waste!

Add to this 1 plastic bag to dispose of our plastic bottles, cartons and cans every 3 weeks. It is made of plastic and it weighs 25 grams. That is 433 grams of plastic a year, just to get rid of other plastic!

Are you as disgusted as I am? Good. Let’s change things around!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

“Starting with the man in the mirror” (Michael Jackson)

Why this blog?

Hi, my name is Karine and I am an occasional blogger. That means I blog when I think I’ve got something to say that might be of interest. Or, in this particular case, when I think somebody might have something interesting to say to me!

The purpose of this blog is that my husband and I want to reduce the amounts of waste of our household. We are sick of single-use plastic and cardboard. There are so many of these single-use things, usually plastic: straws, plastic bags, plastic cups,… take-away food has got a lot to answer for…

Lately, plastic and recycling have been in the news so often; videos of turtles with straws stuck in their nostrils go around the world in no time. Every year 8 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean. A couple of years from now, there will be more plastic bottles in the ocean than fish, they say… awareness-raising with these videos is good. But is it good enough?

Can we trust our decision-makers to fix this? Can we trust big companies to do what they tell us they’ll do, like recycling? Too often, it turns out they are just lying to our faces. Apparently, the consumer (that means you and I) doesn’t want to drink from plastic bottles that are not perfectly clear, and recycled bottles aren’t. So first of all: who dares decide this in our place? And secondly, is “not recycling” – and therefore producing and wasting more plastic – the solution? It is time we stopped believing everything big companies and governments feed us. We are too gullible.

Did you know that:

·     Fifty percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw it away?
·        More than one million plastic bags are used every minute worldwide?
·        One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed every year from plastic in our  oceans?
·         Plastic accounts for around 10 percent of the total waste we generate?
·         And I can keep going for a while…

For my husband and me, spreading videos with shocking statistics on Facebook is no longer good enough. It is time for more action.
Our plan

Our plan is to change our own household waste levels dramatically within a period of 2 years.
To start with, we will live “in sin” for the whole month of September 2017. This means, we will shop the way we have been shopping for years. We’ll buy bottled water, coffee capsules and food packed in plastic and cardboard. We’ll shop as if we don’t care about the environment.

We’ll hold on to all the waste we bring home for a whole month and measure it.

Then we’ll try to reduce it in 10 steps. We have identified 10 areas where we know improvement is needed:

             1.    Bottled water
2.    Food packaging
3.    Beer cans, fruit juice and milk bottles and cartons
4.    Coffee and tea (tough one, we love our capsule coffee)
5.    Plastic plates, cutlery, straws and cups (party stuff)
6.    Paper
7.    Car use
8.    Renovation and recycling
9.    Water and electricity
10.  Travel (another tough one, we love travel)

This list may change and/or get longer as we go along. It will depend on how we experience this exercise and of course, on your input.

For each chapter and each change we implement, we want to calculate:

     1.    Its environmental impact: how much waste can we easily avoid?
     2.    Its financial impact: if we change our ways, what is the impact on our monthly budget?
     3.    Its time impact: if we change our ways, how does it affect our time?
     4.    Its space impact: if we change our ways, how much space do we have more or less in our kitchen?

We will report on the problems we’ve encountered and the solutions we found – or didn’t find – to overcome them. We may and will have to do some research on the way. We know you can’t trust everything on the internet, but we don’t have the funds to do all of our own research. For the sake of this blog, we have to trust what’s out on the internet to some extent.

If you are convinced that what we write is absolutely not true, please do get in touch with us. We want to hear from you. We don’t blog about this because we want to preach, although we secretly hope to inspire many of you. We blog because we want you to tell us what we can do to make this work better, where our calculations do not make sense, which solutions are staring us in the face and yet we can’t see them. 

And don’t get us wrong: we don’t aim for perfection. We can’t guarantee that we will stick to every aspect of this exercise. We will still buy the occasional plastic bottle. We won’t be able to avoid cans of beer at festivals. And, for now, that’s OK for us. 

Are you in?

You might want to give some things a try yourself. You might not because your circumstances are different. Having children or not having children will make a difference. Living in the countryside or in a city will make a difference. The size of your kitchen may make a difference. Let us know what works or doesn’t work for you and why. Other readers might find this useful too.

If you just think this is all about a whole load of rubbish (which actually, is exactly what it is) we suggest you click on the upper right corner’s “X” and leave this page.

Oh, you are still here! Good! So are you in? Then let’s take this journey together!
You can share this blog as much as you want. All we ask from you is to keep your comments friendly, helpful and respectful.

Part 1: bottled water - publication expected by 31 October 2017