Adventures in Ethical Consumerism

Friday, March 04, 2005

Towards zero waste

I'm pleased with the way my waste processing efforts are going. I throw out very little in the way of rubbish these days.

I am composting my organic waste in my communal back garden (which nobody except me seems to use). That includes raw fruit & veg offcuts/skins, tea bags, tea leaves, dead leaves from house plants and odd bits of paper & cardboard.

I take my waste paper, food cans and glass bottles & jars to the recycling point at my local supermarket, around five minutes walk away. This only has to be done occasionally as I don't seem to produce much of this kind of waste. Plastic bottles - which I hardly ever have - can be taken to a recycling point, though I have to go further to reach a facility for that. My cardboard goes to LEEP (Lothian and Edinburgh Environmental Partnership), the local charity for recycling, as there are no recycling points for this in Edinburgh. (There are no doorstep collections of any kind in my area).

Plastic bags can be taken to Tesco for recycling. I rarely need to to do this as I reuse them or I use my own bag to carry things home in.

What is left is less than one carrier bag per week of other stuff that cannot be reused or recycled. This is almost entirely plastic packaging from food (and tea), and tissues I have blown my nose on (it is winter).

Even this small amount of waste could be reduced. I try to avoid food that is excessively packaged and could probably do better at it, though it seems there is always some plastic to be torn off of something or other. As for tissues, I could probably be composting those, though someone once suggested to me that it is not healthy to blow your nose and then add it to your compost. I'm not sure. Can anyone enlighten me?

I know that recycling is not always eco-friendly, and that the process itself can produce a lot of carbon emissions and other waste. However, I feel it is important for me to try to avoid contributing to the problem of landfill. Organic waste is particularly damaging when it goes to landfill. Though it bio-degrades naturally, it cannot compost properly in a landfill site and ends up producing methane gas, a major contributor to global warming.


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