Welcome to day five of our zero waste week

Filed in Blog by on September 5, 2008 6 Comments
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I can’t believe we are on day five already. I have to admit, the first couple of days were a bit intense and by Wednesday I had had enough. Not of what we were doing, because as Mr green said yesterday, this is becoming a way of life for us. But it was the knowledge that hundreds of people were visiting the site every day to follow our progress.

Although that is fantastic, and has been a wonderful source of support to us, it was a little daunting at times too.

Anyway, with renewed optimism and a more relaxed attitude, we’re beginning our fifth day.
incinerator blowing out toxic smoke into the environment
I’ve been heavily involved with Tracey Smith’s campaign for armchair activism over the past couple of days. If I can be an activist from the comfort of my own home, that suits me. No boarding a dinghy on wild seas or marching for miles through London for me, thank you.

I’ve had some interesting responses from supermarkets so far about their plans for reducing packaging and providing better facilities in their stores for consumers to place their waste. You can view them in the comments section on Tracey’s site. Feel free to join in and add your own comments, so that Tracey can generate some media interest in this much needed area of recycling. The more voices are heard, the more chance we have for change.

I’ve been thinking about what has helped me most this week, and apart from the wonderful comments and plastics exported to Chinaemails we’ve had from all of you, it’s a mantra that we have adopted that keeps us on the right path to zero waste.

Every time we look at purchasing something we remind ourselves that there is no such place as away. We all talk about ‘throwing things away’, but what does it mean?

Throwing something ‘away’ simply means putting it somewhere else. Whether it’s a landfill site, a ship to China, an incinerator or the ocean floor, our rubbish becomes an out of sight, out of mind relief as soon as it is picked up by the rubbish collection every week or fortnight. We forget about it, thank the Gods we got things to the kerbside in time and are grateful that it’s all gone.

With an empty bin we can start to refill it again with more junk and thus the cycle of convenience and waste continues.

Take a look at the pictures in this post and keep them in your mind as you go about your day.

The incinerator is billowing toxic smoke into the environment and who knows the long term effects of this? The landfill are filling up rapidly so that it is estimated we have around 9 years of space left in the UK. Ships sail to China loaded with our plastic so that they can make cheap plastic toys and fleeces for us to import back again. It’s called good economics. The harrowing picture below shows the remains of an adult albatross with a gut full of plastic. Do you recognise your plastic bottle tops? (yeah, it’s ok, I cried too)

plastic inside an albatros

When you purchase something today, take a look at the packaging and the item within it and make a conscious choice.

Can you recycle or reuse it, or will it end up polluting the environment at some stage in its life cycle?
Is it something that will provide you with a quick emotional fix because you’ve had a bad day?
Does it have built in obsolescence or is it something that will last?
What are you going to do with the packaging and what message are you giving to the manufacturer with your purchase? That what they are doing to the environment is ok?

Ask yourself; how will you use your money to vote today?


About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. That bird picture is disgusting! It certainly gets the point across.

    Although I do “The Compact,” (buy nothing new) I had to buy school supplies this week. I felt horrible having to buy all this packag-ey stuff. The glue sticks, scissors, pencil sharpener and a few other items all were encased in non-recyclable plastic. Grr . . . I did choose metal rulers over plastic. Of course I brought my own fabric bag to the store though.

    Keep up the great work. I think I need to write about your zero waste week in my blog!

    -Katy Wolk-Stanley
    The Non-Consumer Advocate

    “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”


  2. Oh Mrs G – you warm the cockles of my heart. Earlier this week, I was huddled over my PC writing the very same mantra for the book, to describe a morning that I spent on landfill. When I witnessed the waste that lay beneath my feet, and the decay and stench of rotten food, it felt that society didn’t care. Landfill to me now feels like a burial ground not just for our waste, but for the leftovers of boredom, dissatisfaction and the need to have more. I have learned that it’s not a case that people don’t care, it’s more that they don’t realise, which is why I am so so grateful that you signed up to the challenge.

    LOL, I only popped up to see how were doing and I find myself writing a tome. So on that note, I’m off back to bed to settle myself back down with my tonsillitis. 🙁

  3. Jaynie says:

    What a wonderful blog, Mrs G- I can’t wait for my OH to come home from work tonight so I can let him read it…

    You really know how to bring the message ‘home’.

  4. Hi Mrs Green,

    The albatross remains reminds me of a great old poem – The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

    In the story, on a becalmed ocean, a sailor kills an albatross. This is seen as a bad omen in olden times.
    The crew suffer a hellish experience for their pains.

    The message of the poem is to care for nature. Plastic in a dead albatross is a bad sign and a warning for the future.

  5. Mr Green says:

    Good call John. We try and keep an upbeat approach here on My Zero Waste, but under the surface, there is a serious issue that is both sickening and very dangerous. We hate to use ‘shock tactics’ but sometimes nothing else tells the story truthfully.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Katy, we have to do the best we can in any given situation, and when it comes to stationary often what is available is not ideal in terms of zero waste. Feel free to write about us; the more we can spread the word, the better.

    (((HUGS))) Mrs A – it’s a delight to see you popping in, but you really should be resting. You shared some very poignant words about your views on landfill – burial ground is good – your book will be a wonderful read.

    Jaynie, thank you – I would love to know what your husband thought of this.

    John, I’ve just spent some time reading about the poem on Wikipedia; it makes for fascinating reading. As Mr Green says, the occasional ‘deep and meaningful’ post doesn’t go a miss to remind ourselves of why we are here on the site 🙂

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