Last February I joined a local zero waste group and as part of that I weighed my rubbish for a whole year. Here in Brussels they collect general rubbish, paper and cardboard for recycling, certain plastic waste for recycling (the types of plastic they collect expanded in September 2022) and food waste (which they burn for energy).
The zero- waste group leaders gave us tips throughout the year on cutting our waste, for example minimizing food-waste by planning weekly menus and minimizing food packaging waste by bringing your own reusable containers (not just reusable bags), and there was also a talk on how to make your own household products and cosmetics.
I did like being part of the group, but my French being somewhat dubious I couldn’t participate verbally (I just listened and smiled) and though the tips were useful, before I joined the group I already tried to buy very few new things, and we menu planned and we have a home compost in the garden so I would already put as much food waste as I could there, and I used beeswax cloths instead of clingfilm, and we only got take-away once a month maximum to cut down on packaging, and of course we used reusable bags and reusable water bottles already so we’d done all the ‘low hanging fruits’ and the harder things like making my own products, or going meat-free (as meat often has the most packaging) felt like they were too difficult to incorporate into our routine.
We did still reduce our waste over the year though – but this is more because our younger daughter become potty trained as of September 2022 than from any other habit change. Which is somewhat scary given our general rubbish went from an average of ~30kg per month to more like ~10kg per month after she become potty trained !!!
Per person we now seem to be generating about 2.5kg of general waste down from ~8 kg , 1kg of recyclable plastic up from 0.75kg (although how much of that actually gets recycled is anybody’s guess), and a steady around 4.3kg of food waste for energy per month. Paper recycling is much more erratic (the huge jump in Week 6 is me doing a clear-out of my old papers!) and very dependant on purchases (big bump in week 50 is when they finally took the paper rubbish after 3 weeks in December of not collecting it so it’s Christmas gifts) , but its usually between 1-3kg per month per person. In total over the year we generated 557kg of rubbish or 139kg each (60kg per person of that being general rubbish, and we were away for 8 weeks of the year) which is a lot lower than the Belgian average of 416kg.
I’m not going to continue to weigh the rubbish as I don’t have any really big changes that we are going to make rubbish wise planned this year. I do want to continue with all the things we are doing already, and to stop using Amazon for anything except buying e-books on my kindle so hopefully that should reduce our paper waste a bit more, but sadly I don’t think I have the energy to go the whole hog zero-waste wise.
Actually scrap that last sentence, I do have energy to do more! I’ve sent out my daughter’s 8th birthday invitations with the message ‘ NO PRESENTS-there will be no party bags just cake!’ and I have never felt better! (I did clear this with my daughter before hand and we agreed we would buy her one nice present – currently she wants it to be a drone so I’m trying to change her mind…)
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