I don’t know about you, but every time I throw food scrapes in the bin I feel guilty. I feel guilty when I reach for the plastic wrap knowing I am going to use it to cover my food for a day then leave it in landfill forever.
I feel guilty when I see the amount of plastic bags I’ve dragged home from the shops, some of them with only one thing in them. All because I forgot to take my cloth bags… AGAIN!
The problem was we had bad habits. We’d reach for the plastic instead of the Tupperware. The cloth bags didn’t go back in the car after every shop. Our composting system wasn’t the right one for us and it didn’t work, so it was easier to put our scrapes in the bin.
So rather than feel guilty about it, ‘I’ decided to change. Then over time, ‘we’ changed. ‘We’ are a family of four, myself, my husband and our two kids, and ‘we’ have all changed our habits. But it didn’t start that way.
Here are the stages to becoming better at recycling, composting and eleiminating single use plastic.
Step one: Our composting system was totally rubbish. We had moved house, gotten busy and everything had fallen by the way side. Between the four of us and our quarter acre block we generate quite a lot of green waste. The compost bin we had couldn’t cope so the first thing I did was get a second bin.
Step two: I put a big bucket with a lid on the kitchen bench and reminded everyone to put all their scrapes in the bucket.
Step three: I took the bucket to the compost bin every evening and alternated the bins. Then I got the kids to do it as part of their chores and my husband does it as well. Now ‘we’ are all composting our kitchen scrapes.
My husband and I share the lawn mowing so when I did it I put the clipping in the compost and again alternate each time. When my husband did it, I’d remind him which bin to use.
Now ‘we’ are composting the grass clippings
About 18 months ago we got four chickens who are excellent at composting and give us 3-4 fresh eggs every day. The kids are responsible for feeding them so as well as grains, they get kitchen scrapes and grass clippings. Because we had the composting bins down pat, adding the chicken was easier. Now we rotate between two bins and the chooks.
There is some additional work needed to get the compost ready for the garden and I take on that job. I add extra things like the vaccum dust, coffee grounds from the corner shop, chook poo from the coop, and I make sure its not to wet or dry. I let everyone know when to stop adding things and when the compost is ready to be used I add it to the veggie garden.
Single use plastics
Step one: Remembering to take the green bags to the shops every week was the hardest change for me. I don’t plan to go to the shops, I just pop in when I’m out and about. The bags were never in the car so I had to use plastic and kick myself every time I was at the checkout!
So one day as soon as I got home I put the cloth ones straight in my car. And now remember to put them back in the car after every shop so they are always on hand.
Step two: Getting my husband to change his habits has been a lot harder. I have tried to lead by example, but I have resorted to nagging and this has been the most helpful.
The kids don’t really contribute to the plastic bag problem. If we are offered one at the shops Ill turn it down and get them to carry it instead (within reason of course) and lead by example. I also sat them in front of the computer and showed them images of landfill. When we throw things ‘away’ it still goes somewhere.
Step three: This was the easiest, I just stopped buying plastic wrap! If it wasn’t there to use, we went hunting for the Tupperware instead. I’ve also stated to use waxed cotton covers that I made myself. They are a big hit and really effective.
While eliminating plastic all together is difficult, ‘we’ have now reduced our single use plastics by half.
Getting to this point has taken us over a year. There is no way I could have sat down at dinner and demanded that we all change immediately. Getting the kids to do extra chores and relentlessly nagging my husband would have been a disaster. Before long it would have been all to hard and we would be back to doing nothing.
Small changes done every day, soon become habits.
Introducing one small change at a time and do it until it becomes habit. Then pick another change and add that until it also becomes habit. We found this to be a much more sustainable way.
The biggest impact our change has made is the amount of rubbish in our bins each week. Our recycle bin has less and our general waste bin has a LOT less. We now compost 90% of our green waste and our garden is thriving from all the extra compost.
By changing our habits we have reduce landfill and that is a good feeling.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Have you changed your habits to live more sustainably? If so what was the hardest habit you had to change? Are there other habits you want to change in the future?
Tell us your experiences in the comments below. We love to hear from you!