When I started my journey to zero waste I was constantly frustrated by my own behaviour, I felt like I was failing every time I slipped up and created waste that would have to go to landfill.
I am learning to be a bit easier on myself and realise that we all have individual struggles with this journey and there are going to be times where we cannot avoid creating landfill waste. Its easy to assume that everybody else is doing so much better than you are and that they never slip up, but that’s not true.
So I decided to document the contents of my landfill waste jar each month in order to provide an understanding of the things that I struggle with and the bits of waste which I have yet to find a solution for.
So, now that February is over, it’s time to evaluate my landfill waste, the images below represent my landfill waste produced at home for the month of February (I have a separate jar at work).
Documenting my waste in this way is helpful for me to understand where I can do better, for instance:
- I will not buy the sachets of cous cous anymore, they are so yummy but they are made from a mixed-material of plastic and foil. The two layers cannot be separated and cannot be recycled. And as an aside, I also read the ingredients list and found out that these sachets contain palm oil which I try to avoid, so I definitely won’t be buying them again
- I noticed that the majority of the waste in the jar this month is junk food wrappers – crisps and sweeties. I always rationalise the waste from these sweeties and tell myself that its just one tiny bit of waste, but when I look at the waste as a whole then I realise that the tiny pieces of waste quickly add up
- The real reason why most of this waste cannot be recycled is that it is mostly made up of multi-material packaging, either paper and foil or plastic and foil, this is a real tricky category of material to recycle and only a few examples of this type of recycling exist in the world
- Some items are unexpected and really hard to plan out of your life: I received a package from ebay and it came in plastic wrapping which cannot be recycled. My best solution for this is to carefully cut open these type of packages and re-use the bag for posting items when I need to, I got a bit too excited with this delivery and ripped the bag open (doh!)
- Finally, I realised that this is 1 months waste and that most people probably produce this much in a day, and as I said above, it is important to be proud of each baby step you take on this journey, don’t forget how far you have already come!
My tip for you, is to start to your own waste collection, it could be that you have a jar or you might even need a bucket to start with, but it really helps to review your waste regularly and take notes on what you can improve on.