Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Zero Waste Parys

I wouldn't classify myself as an all-out radical greeny-beany, but I am aware and considerate especially when it comes to litter, waste and recycling.

Since I first got my hands on our pre-production prototype of our YOLO Compost Tumbler in mid-January, I've been an avid and successful composter. Putting our kitchen cuttings into it has made a massive difference to the bin in our kitchen (reduced volume and diminished odours) and to producing useful compost that I toss into the garden.

Top: Our small YOLO Compost Tumbler. Each shell is 45 litres in volume
Bottom: Our medium YOLO Compost Tumbler. Each shell is 100-litres in volume
I've been recycling plastics, paper, metal and glass for years by separating waste at home and taking bags to recycling sites or putting it out for the informal recycling collectors. They earn a living by collecting recyclables and taking them to recycling centres where they are paid a small amount - but an amount nonetheless. Having a compost tumbler completed the circle by being able to recycle organic waste too.

Even with all of this going on, my stomach turns when I see the volume of waste that comes out of our home - even if it is going to recycling. Every two weeks a bag like this goes onto our curb for Johannes, our local informal recycling collector.

Packaging is to blame. Almost everything is packaged in plastic - printed in bright colours to catch your attention and to make the product look attractive. The only way to reduce this is by changing my shopping habits and taking my refusal of plastic packaging up a notch further than just taking my own fabric shopping bags to the supermarket.

Zero Waste advocate Bea Johnson was in South Africa recently for a speaking tour. My mom put me onto her after she heard Bea on the radio. Watching a short video on Bea's Zero Waste Home website was the catalyst I needed to think about how to do things differently - especially around taking my own containers to stores.

A big one coming out of my home are two-litre milk bottles - my bunch drink a lot of milk. In the past two weeks I have eliminated these plastic milk bottles by filling up my one-litre glass bottles at the local farm store where they have fresh farm milk on tap.

This one was easy. Other changes require more thought, especially with supermarkets here where there is very little that one can pick from a counter and have put into your own container. But, I'm living in a small town and we have shop owners who may be keen to jump into offering more products in bulk containers from which customers can fill their own containers. Even our dried fruit and nuts store in town offers only packaged products.

I'm on a mission and with small-town change-is-possible in mind, I contacted our local Parys Gazette newspaper editor and asked her if there was space for me to write a regular column about waste and recycling and Bea Johnson's 5Rs of "Refuse what you do not need, Reduce what you do need, Reuse what you consume, Recycle what you cannot Refuse, Reduce or Reuse, and Rot (Compost) the rest (and only in that order)". When there is space the pieces will be published; otherwise they'll feature on the Parys Gazette website.

I submitted my first piece this morning and it is already online.

Added to this, I've created a 'Zero Waste Parys' Google Map where I'll add location droppers with descriptions as I explore my little town, speak to shop owners and find ways that I can reduce what I bring into my home by refusing to accept packaging.

Changing my behaviour and modifying my shopping patterns isn't going to happen overnight. My head is in the right space to do it and I have a plan. I need to make these changes. We all need to make these changes.

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