Here on the NSW North Coast, households and businesses have similar options when it comes to dealing with their rubbish. Once those items deemed ‘trash’ leave your kerb, they begin their journey to be recovered, recycled, composted or worst of all, landfilled.
Australians now produce a staggering 50 million tonnes of waste each year – an average of more than two tonnes per person. Luckily, there are some solutions to ensure that you’re contributing as little as possible to these figures. Once you begin to make decisions about the end of life options for items in your home, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you start thinking of ways to use your purchasing power to decrease waste.
Soft, scrunchy, squishy plastics
Plastic bags, chip wrappers, plastic bread bags, cling wrap and anything that you can scrunch up in your fist classifies as a soft plastic and will never completely break down. Ever. It will, over time, fragment into more tiny pieces of plastic.
The best option is to avoid using these by shopping at bulk stores, going without a bag and using beeswax wraps for food. For those can’t-avoid purchases, reuse at home or recycle via RedCycle at participating Coles and Woolworths or join your local TerraCycle soft plastics collection point. Can’t find one? Consider creating one via their website.
You’ve updated your living room and need to get rid of an old couch still in good nick. Rather than sending to landfill, using your local Council’s bulky goods service, embark on a DIY project and sew a new cover to freshen its look. Not the creative type? All communities have people on the hunt for free or second-hand furniture so be sure to post on a local Buy, Swap, Sell Facebook page, Gumtree, FreeCycle or donate to charity.
We all have piles of gorgeous clothes and shoes in our wardrobe that are no longer worn. Someone out there will be looking for what you need to clear out (even if it is for a ‘Wouldn’t Be Seen Dead In’ dress-up party!)
As long as it doesn’t have stains and moth holes, local second-hand stores will happily take your pre-loved clothing and shoes. Search for a local clothes swap market or suitcase rummage, or have a clothes swap party with friends. If you’ve well and truly worn clothes and shoes to their end, contact your local second-hand store to see if they will accept the material to be passed on to a rag supplier.
Things that plug into walls
TVs, computers, printers, mobiles, mobile phone accessories, washing machines, dryers and fridges can all be recovered for useful materials and avoid that dark fate of being buried alive with lead, mercury and cadmium toxins seeping into the ground. Plus, it’s normally free of charge.
Mail your old phone to MobileMuster by picking up a free postage-paid satchel at Australia Post.
Email your Council or search online at ‘Recycling Near You’ to find your local drop-off point for electronic waste, your fridge and other white goods no longer in working order.
Donate working items to second-hand white goods and electronic stores, a local church or community group or try online through Buy, Swap and Sell sites, Gumtree or FreeCycle. Some op shops will also take electronic goods in working order too.
Leftover DIY materials
Leftover home-reno paint collection sound familiar? You can take your empty and leftover oil and water-based paints to your local Community Recycling Centre to be recycled for free. They’ll also take gas bottles, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fluoro globes and tubes, car batteries, household batteries, motor oils, other oils and smoke detectors. These are all free and will be either recovered or recycled resulting in less toxic and chemical waste being buried in landfills near you. Search for your closest one online.
We’re all responsible for thinking about the amount of waste we create so why not have some fun with it whilst you decrease the contents of your red bin!
*Warning, once you get started it might be hard to stop thinking up creative ideas to lessen your impact!