Waste Reduction in suburbia

We don’t really go out of our way to save the planet, but my Mum and Dad did live through “The Great Depression”; Mum was pretty canny with the family funds while raising six children and Dad was a great producer of food from their two acre block. I was the sixth of the children, so he no longer sent produce and poultry to market, but I spent many hours avoiding the housework so happily stirring liquid manure, watering the vegies or picking peaches and plums for Mum to preserve a zillion ways. It all seems like common sense to me, so I definitely picked up a few habits and values along the way. Waste not; want not, stitch in time saves nine and all that.
Plums
I recycled when recycling wasn’t fashionable and composted when my generation were throwing everything away. We took the cardboard to the cardboard recyclers, the aluminium cans and metals to the metal recyclers, the man up that dirt road takes beer bottles and wine bottles, but they have to be sorted by colour…all seemed too easy, really.

I have also been following backyard, suburban, Permaculture principles for the past quarter of a century to create a home for my children, unproductive and productive family pets and beneficial insects as well as providing food, fun and aethetic gardens along the way. However, my pièce de résistance was a yard I have not owned for 10 years now. Much water under the bridge with a divorce, parents health needs, work, remarriage and a myriad of personal crises and ‘just life’ clouding my early clarity of purpose.

One project sometimes flows onto others and just brings your world back into focus.So, once I found Bokashi last year, there was a sudden great increase in the proportion of our rubbish that was getting recycled in our suburban home.

I already put most newspapers and cardboard aside for use in Permaculture sheet mulch gardens (lasagne, no-dig). We just put technology and chemicals aside in the garage until our local council calls a day when we can take these in. If we miss one, there will always be another soon. Batteries and printer cartridges eventually find their way to the participating shops’ recycle bins (I can’t believe we would ever just throw them in the bin; honestly us humans sometimes act like it is someone else’s responsibility to make sure the world doesn’t get contaminated).
E-Waste-Recycling-Scheme
Our council collects plastic waste, paper, cardboard, steel cans, etc in a fortnightly pick up. There is also a green waste pick up on the other fortnight, but we rarely have a lot to put out. We have been composting fairly unsuccessfully the past few years as our heart hadn’t really been in it; the dog (and the weeds) get into on-ground compost and the tumbler we bought off E-Bay just seems to take so long and gets so heavy to turn. Quite often my hubby slips a few catchers full of clippings in the ‘green bin’ just because he thinks there is way too much already. When I go to create a new garden….there is never enough.

I ressurected my wormfarm which my inexperience had let ants take over a couple of years before. It now sits happily on our back deck with a container full of water under each leg. I just fill up the containers every so often. If ants want in they’ll need to swim in. I also leave the tap on the bottom turned a little on any excess liquid can just run out into a bucket, otherwise it could flood. Some people just pull the tap out, but I think that leaves the wormfarm a little bit too open to visitors.

The week we started Bokashi, our kitchen tidy bin had nothing in it but plastic bags and cling wrap. When you do one thing, you often start to get angst about stuff that you hardly noticed before. We used to fill up a kitchen bin a couple of times a week but, all of a sudden, we had hardly a thing to put out for council collection. The plastic I was conscious of, but consciously chose to leave that project for another day.
Sign for Kitchen Bin
I got on my trusty computer and made up a sign for the lid of the bin. That was all that was needed as far as educating the family on what to do. Everyone happily plonked their scraps in the container provided and I just added them to the bucket at the end of the day, added some Bokashi bran and pressed them down to exclude air. So much easier than having a scrap bucket that can’t have bread, citrus, onions, fungus, etc and which has to get out to that compost bin or the kitchen aromas can become less than pleasant, very quickly.

So far, so good. This Bokashi idea seems to meet my initial goals and then some. Wonder if it can get any simpler or cheaper or better??

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3 thoughts on “Waste Reduction in suburbia

  1. My worm farm had to be dismantled last summer on a day when it was over 40 degrees. The poor worms were cooking, literally. I put them in my deep, cool compost, but I don’t know what became of them, because they are not the same worms as the ones that suit big compost piles. I must get it started up again, because it treats organic waste in a different way from the tumbler bin or the sheet composting, or the ‘ordinary’ compost heaps.

    • I love my worms. I have several types and they all have their own depth and temperature where they like to live. It is almost impossible to get soil from my ‘can-of-worms’ wormfarm as they live on all the levels, including the soggy mud in the base level.

      I also have lots of in-garden bottomless worm feeding stations. As long as the garden is well mulched, worms will make themselves at home and be able to move from food sources, out into the soil and back. They eat the microorganisms on the food rather than the food, so are probably spread all through the compost and nearby. Hopefully yours will have found a place that suits.

      I feed fermented Bokashi scraps to my worms (bones, cheese, citrus, meat and all). I find it the easiest thing ever, but I would need more wormfarms to keep up. My raised beds are just wormfarms in themselves.

      Love to Penny and the family. Hope all is well. Kerri

  2. My grandparents also grew up during the Great Depression and influenced how I treat the subject of trash. I’m enjoying learning more about how you manage to have a family that doesn’t create enormous bags of trash, I think its easier to look after one in a household.

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