Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chaos into order? Zero Waste Report #1!

Okay, so I'm still battling with Blogger (& so are some of my Livejournal friends, who haven't been able to post comments! Thanks for visiting anyway!!) - but I thought I'd just go ahead & start this thing proper.

I am learning from the lovely Danda at Dandaworld to be a bit more systematic and bring some order into this chaos!
Our household is, well, a tiny bit chaotic.

We do recycle, but hm... Not 100% of time (sometimes things like tuna tins have gotten thrown in with the rest of garbage, cause no one my Sis could be bothered to wash them up proper)

Our 'recycling station' - hm! We do have two (three) bins in our pretty almost-new kitchen, one for 'mixed garbage' and one for paper (that usually gets burnt in the furnace, as it's typical here). /I'm not completely happy with this, as I'm not sure how chlorine-free the paper is, especially as Sis & Dad insist on damn catalogues (while Mom & I'd love to cancel them!) and those have been known to be a source of heavy metals also! - A friend of mine who works in a Slovenian printing shop has informed me that eco-awareness there is 'disastrous'! - Maybe topic for another rant post!/
Also, the mixed-garbage bin is too big! As it has been pointed out (and observed!) the bigger the bin, the more waste may be made!
We had a smaller bin in the old kitchen, and I think less waste was made cause simply there wasn't so much place for it!

There are small bins in the toilet and bathroom too, which we thought was the 'height of hygiene' when we bought them a couple of years ago (after observing this in Uni dorms), but now I wish we hadn't bought them, as they only seem to give people incentive to make more waste - more easily!
I wish it were harder to throw away things!

Mom & Sis still insist on iffy hair products & deodorants etc with lots of throwaway packaging.. So currently I'm not focusing on those little bins, as they're not fully within my control.. /I do try to nag inform and inspire when appropriate, or just ignore.. until I have other things better under control.. or find better and alternative products they could use easily../
I started in my bathroom, where I'M in control, and am now moving on to kitchen! :)

We have a separate tiny plastic bin (with a non-tight lid) on the kitchen counter for compost/peels/ leftovers.

Then, things get taken downstairs (where the monsters are)!
Monsters, aka, all Dad's things!! (toxic poisons and all!!)
Sometimes the tins ruminate for a while on his big desk of tools, then get taken to the 'small garage', where there are boxes for this! The compost bin is there also, and a big box with plastic bottles (Sis still drinks Coca Cola! ugh!).
Truly we consume much less 'plastic food' and drinks than our neighbours, but still - I'd love to have juice etc produced at home/locally and available in glass bottles etc! We've done this at times and peach nectar was yummy!

Basically, it would be great if 'the small garage' could be organized better!!
As it is, it's also freezing cold there, so I barely tiptoe to the compost bin and put stuff in (it's later taken to the compost heap by Dad).

There are doors between the main garage and the small garage (where the car is), so the smell is not a problem. (There's no lid on the big compost bins, and well, sometimes it can smell a bit - it's still yummy food for the veggies and Dad keeps saying we need more compost - so it's very precious!)
I'm not sure if a lid would interrupt with the natural decomposing process or not, it's just always been done this way.. (On the farm where my Dad grew up they had a no-lid bucket in the kitchen 'for the piggies' too..)

So, basically this is the description of our 'recycling station'!
It kinda works for us, though some things could be improved!

There are big containers for recyclables (paper, plastics, tins, glass) about 200m away from our house, for all the neighbours to put stuff there.. This system works quite well, I've seen kiddies (& other neighbours) bring in stuff on wheelbarrows or even small wooden carts.. /Unfortunately not all neighbours are on board with this, but I've seen many and this gives me hope!!/

There has been some speculation whether the recyclables are really taken away separately by the waste trucks (basically people have given this as a reason not to do it!) - I always answer that in another city, when it was done, it was a pilot programme to assess how many people would be willing to recycle and it's even more important to recycle in this case!

In the summer, at times there were too many plastic bottles, and they waited outside the plastic container.. sometimes stuff got scattered around.. I guess it's important for everyone to MINIMIZE the plastic bottles in the 1st place (most stuff in them is really unhealthy for you anyway!)
This is a small town 'where village meets the town' and 'mini-markets' (with plastic food, & a plastic bag frenzy!) are 'the latest rage'! grr!!
Instead of preserving the beautiful nature, they are planning another one!! ugh
In one of them, I haven't been able to find a single thing without artificial food preservatives or excess baggage!
(They have eco bananas, but wrapped in plastic!!)

THE MAIN PROBLEM: Plastics from buying food!!
Many of those are non-recyclable, and even if some of them have #numbers and are theoretically 'recyclable' - hmm.. who knows? In a video on recycling in Slovenia the expert (head of recycling company) said things get sorted and some things that are impossible or 'uneconomical' to recycle proper still get 'processed for energy' - and we all know what that means!!
I've also read articles on recycling 'film plastics' (like bags or food packaging) being 'uneconomical'! - So the terrible plastics worry me tremendously & would love to find ways to shop without them completely!!
/It's been done for centuries, why not now??/

It's not really easy to find zero waste food and other stuff in these mini-markets, still, it's partly doable.. some veggies are packed, and some aren't, depends on the veggie - and the shop also!!
There's no everyday 'farmer's market' or 'health food store' (the first ones are half-an-hour drive away) - fortunately we do have a 'fair' once a month or so..
& Luckily Sis did get the phone number of a lady selling homemade butter and cottage cheese/quark, so YAY!! The 1st Zero Waste Wahoo!! :)

We get some milk and eggs, rabbits and beef from farmers directly, so these are pretty much 'zero waste', when fresh... The stuff from the garden is also pretty much Zero Waste.. Trouble is the frozen stuff, which is partly still in the terrible plastic bags! (the rest are ex-quark/ice-cream or Tupperware/Curver containers!)
Unfortunately the 'Yoghurt Wahoo' is not such a Wahoo anymore, as Sis & Mom want low-fat yoghurt (& maybe we've all been scared a bit by a possible dioxin scare - there's a PVC window producer locally..)
So the yogurt production has dwindled... (I keep wanting to try & make yogurt out of 2-day old milk, but people keep drinking/using it away!!)

Not surprisingly, our garbage is much less than our neighbours'! Mostly 1 plastic bag a week, while the neighbours (often) make 2 full huge bins!

So, the idea is to keep minimizing garbage, finding ways to buy ZERO WASTE (YAY there's been talk of organic food baskets or such in Slovenia too!! still, there are no good eco farmers with extra food to sell locally, that we would know of.. maybe more research would be needed..) - especially meat and such...

Will be detailing the battle for this in the next blogs... (as an ex-vegetarian, I am properly terrified of handling raw meat, but if I don't do it, who will??)
My family keep bringing 'plastic meat' (wrapped in tons of plastic or worse) from the super-markets!! grr!!
Is it really impossible to get semi-organic zero waste chicken or pork? Or, uhm, sausages or similar?

Stay tuned!! :)


  1. Just checking if this works!!

    Been told it's impossible to comment here & tweaked the Blogger a bit, so hope this will work now!! :)

  2. WOW .. this is a very long post that includes several suggestions for reflection and discussion!
    First of all thanks for having mentioned me! I am very happy to be an example for you and I hope not to disappoint you! :)
    Reading your post I have seen so many problems I already encountered in my situation:
    • For example, I found difficult too to involve other persons in the daily challenge of producing less waste. Fortunately, my boyfriend agrees with my full effort, but the problem is on summer, when my mother-in-law comes here for three months! Then it becomes really difficult to explain everything, but I am sure that little by little I will make understand these things to her;
    • It is true that the presence of many small bins at home leads to more waste to throw away. For this would be useful to label the bins so as to encourage others to separate waste according to the materials;
    • Washing dirt waste is something not very pleasant but necessary. I also learned to wash aluminum foil that I use at times to cover food;
    • If you have a garage is wonderful! You could organize your ecological station in the best possible way. For the compost, I think that keeping the lid open is not a problem, but it is important that the fund has holes, in contact with the soil, to facilitate the entry of micro-organisms that "digest" organic waste;
    • I hate plastic! Also here it is not always easy to find the goods free of plastic packaging... maybe perhaps we could begin to write some mail to the merchants to make them understand that we prefer free excessive packaging products... what do you think?
    • The neighbors do too much garbage here too, often mistake to separate their waste... is too easy for them to blame the services of waste collection, saying that they collect all the garbage together. This is true even in Rome, where I lived until last year. Unfortunately, it is a matter of administration, but meanwhile we can begin to do our best, just as governments begin to give us some more value!
    Dear Layla, go on! Go in search of anything that doesn't make waste! You will see that someone will start to follow you! Turn it up!

  3. It is so great that your boyfriend is 'on board'!!
    At first everybody here was against me making so much fuss!!
    The older generation may have much more difficulty adjusting to this.. (my Dad too) and sometimes they just 'forget things' too.. (I mean really forget) Will share some of my tips and tricks for this in some later posts.. (and all of you can share yours!)

    What do you do with the aluminum foil? do you then reuse it? (or can it be recycled?) I just try to stay away from it - & use lids, or plates or bowls, or reusable containers instead..

    I really like your idea to write to merchants.. It could a whole campaign.. Some 'eco stuff' (veggies etc) in our shops is Italian anyway.. Is it okay if I ask Mrs Green to give you my e-mail? (not sure how to write you, and would prefer to discuss it in e-mail?)

    Thank you for your words of wisdom & encouragement & cheerleading!! :) I really appreciate it!! KISSES TO ITALY!!!
    Have already spoken to some of my friends about this and they seem interested!!