I am pleased to say that as a follower of the Rubbish Diet blog and an occasional reader of My Zero Waste, over the last few years I have been encouraged to think about how much packaging I bring home with my food shopping, to reduce it and to recycle as much of it as possible. With the added assistance of both our children leaving home for university last Autumn we have often had only one or two kitchen bin bags full of rubbish per fortnight recently, leaving our large wheely bin well less than half full. I appreciate there could be room for improvement, but it is a start.
Yesterday I threw a few items of plastic wrapping away, and the most avoidable was from the half baked bread rolls we had for lunch, but with the shops having been closed and not having great enthusiasm to rush to them as soon as they opened, it seemed a sensible way of managing our bread supply. It is not something we rely on the rest of the year, but I shall keep one or two loaves of that kind to hand, in case I get snowed in again. With a bit of luck I shall have time to make my own bread from time to time over the next few months.
I shall make a mental note to buy more nuts, seeds and dried fruit from Suma as their bags are now fully recyclable. Perhaps that is why they are a little bit more expensive than Infinity Foods products, which I also like. Both are fairly traded and are supplied by workers co-operatives. This was one plastic wrapper that went to be recycled rather than add to our landfill problems.
Having a cold, I have been using tissues, so I guess some of them were used for less than 10 minutes before being thrown away. When I don't have a cold I prefer to use handkerchiefs.
In a couple of weeks I shall be on my own for a bit, so that would be a good time to see how much rubbish I produce just by myself. I'm hoping this year will be less hectic than the last few months have been, although I know I will need to spend some time helping to clear my aunt's house, but hopefully I shan't need to spend too much time phoning people on her behalf as it looks like she might be setting into the nursing home she moved into a month or so ago. I think you do need to have time to think and plan if you are going to be able to avoid creating much rubbish.
There are some good suggestions on the No Impact Week pdf, such as take your own bags to the shops, something I am now in the habit of doing, although it took a year or two to get there. I also buy porridge oats, which come in a paper bag and have given up shower gel because soap is just as good.
I try to reduce the amount of packaging I bring home with the shopping, but I believe that a sustainable life is about balance the needs of the planet with our own needs, so I can't see any merit in avoiding all packaging. Were I to do this it would limit what I eat to fresh fruit and vegetables and nothing else - no, I believe there is a local shop that does sell some things loose, but they are largely stored uncovered and as a result are rather unappetising. This is also an expensive shop, so not good for the budget to shop there often.
Another suggestion is to
"try out one of the many alternatives for soap, deodorant, and laundry detergent such as vinegar, baking soda, natural deodorant stones, shaving soap and soap nuts."
Having tried soap nuts I may use them occasionally, but don't feel they are suitable for most washes. As yet I haven't had time to experiment with making washing up liquid with them, either.I have found a natural deodorant I am happy with most of the time, which comes in a glass bottle, although it does have a plastic lid and roller ball. If we want to be accepted in modern society we need to smell fresh, so natural products must perform well.
When I read the book, No Impact Man, it was obvious the author was taking things to extremes and did not always take the needs of his family into consideration, something he realised, at least to some extent, by the end of his year long experiment.
I like Thich Nhat Hanh's approach, which is that if we are to look after the planet, we must start with looking after ourselves, although I'm sure he doesn't mean us to be overly self-indulgent. Buddhism sees all living organisms as interconnected, so people are an integral part of the planet, just we are part of our environment and our environment and the living creatures in it are in some way part of us. So I would say that keeping ourselves healthy and meeting our own needs in balance with the health of the planet is the best way forward..