To manage waste in the home, the approach should be to first reduce the amount of waste materials you generate, then reuse and recycle waste materials where you can. This will help to:
- reduce our reliance on virgin materials
- reduce the energy/fossil fuels used in the production of new goods
- reduce pollution, including carbon
- reduce landfill volumes, and ultimately the number of landfills; and
- save you money!
"Reduce" refers to considering more carefully what products you buy, so that you have less rubbish to get rid of later on. Consider some of the following ideas:
When you go shopping:
- Say "No" to buying plastic straws
- take your own bags
- avoid products with excessive packaging
- buy products made from recycled materials, that use recycled packaging, or are refillable
- select products that are durable and will last a long time
- avoid disposable products where possible
- try to buy food in bulk to reduce packaging (but don't waste food)
Takeaways or convenience foods have considerable packaging, so prepare food at home as much as possible, or support businesses making an effort to reduce packaging on foods that they sell.
- Make gifts and cards for family and friends, rather than buying them.
- Grow your own vegetables, and compost your vege scraps.
- Organise co-operatives with family and friends - things like tools and equipment, and activities such as shopping and gardening bees can be shared. This can reduce cost of products, and time you spend on activities needing to be done, as well as reduce the waste materials you generate!
A large amount of energy and resources are required to make new products, but this can be saved when you reuse a waste material rather than buying a new product for the purpose. Reusing also means that the product doesn't go in the bin and end up in landfill.
There are many ways that you can reuse things around the home. Consider some of the following:
- Reuse empty glass jars e.g. as containers in the cupboard, or for storing nails and screws in the shed or workshop.
- Open old envelopes carefully so that they can be reused, and use the back of used paper.
- Empty plastic soft drink bottles can be reused as drink bottles to take to sport, school or the office, or to make home-made ginger beer!
- Buy second-hand where possible - old books, furniture, pictures, etc serve the purpose in the right situation, and can add character to the home at a fraction of the price.
- Make some money out of that junk around your house by arranging a garage sale - remember your trash is someone else's treasure! Add your garage sale to the Garage Sale Trail or join in the trial and do some shopping
- Clean plastic containers, cards, scrap fabric pieces are used by small children in their creative activities, so donate them to a school, pre-school or Arts Parts. The Resource Cooperative run Arts Parts at the Hobart Tip Shop on the last Saturday of every month, from 10am - 2pm. They collect and sell waste materials that can be used for art and craft, fashion and jewellery making, event decorations and more.
If you're feeling creative, try these ideas:
- ‘up-cycle’ your old clothes – make a vest or a fingerless gloves from an old jumper, turn an old men’s shirt into a nifty blouse, add a colourful hem to children’s trousers to extend their length, dye an old shirt to give it a new look.
- Make your own paper from old photocopy paper or envelopes, or a mixture of papers to add colour and character.
Recycling means that a waste material is returned to a factory where it is re-made into either the same product or something different. For example, old newspapers and magazines can be recycled to make new newsprint, and used aluminium cans can be recycled back into new drink cans, structural materials or wheel hubs.
Materials that can be collected from most homes in kerbside recycling include:
- Paper and cardboard
- Glass bottles and jars
- Aluminium cans
- Plastic drink bottles and containers
- Steel cans
Due to variation between Councils, check with your local Council for details about which materials are collected for kerbside recycling in your local area.
It is also important to place the correct materials out for kerbside collection. Recyclable materials may become contaminated if the wrong materials are also included, and this will decrease the feasibility of recycling those materials that can be. The consequences are that the cost of recycling increases for everyone, including the general community, and the viability of the kerbside recycling system is threatened.
There are lots of other waste materials that can be reused and recycled, such as mobile phones, batteries, washing machines, timber – even old wardrobes! Check out the Recycling Directory for details on who to contact in Tasmania re your waste materials.
Towards Zero Waste for Launceston is a useful resource for schools and community, covering methods to reduce waste and creating useful resources from waste.