- 4 Minute Read -
We started the Hibernation Series to help everyone stay safe, sane and sustainable during the Covid19 isolation period. It's full to the brim with positive, practical tips and ideas on what we can all do to care for ourselves, our families and the planet.
If you want some context for this Series before starting and some positive COVID19 philosophy, click here for the Intro Blog. Keep an eye out for the other 4 episodes coming soon!
During the lockdown period many councils around New Zealand have stopped processing recycling. It is classed as non-essential due to handling.
Your recycling bin is likely still getting picked up - but everything is likely being landfilled. Never fear, we have practical tips to help! Below you will find easy ways reduce your household waste (#1 to 3) and then a step-by-step guide on how to Stockpile Recycling (#4 and 5).
Let's get into it!
#1 - Check Your Local
This really is a case-by-case basis! While the majority of councils are not processing recycling, this could be different in your area.
Check with your local council about their recycling protocols during this time and plan accordingly. It's important to note here that recycling pick ups are likely still happening, you may just have to dig a little to find out what is actually going on at the processing end.
#2 - Stop Your Waste Before It Starts!
At the moment this mainly involves being aware of potential waste you are bringing home from the supermarket. We are all whipping up delicious home-made meals so when shopping it's important to consider more sustainable alternatives. Takeaway waste and eating out isn't in the picture right now but the good news is that we have a smaller realm to control - and reducing kitchen waste by 50% basically overnight is super achievable!
It's a good idea to plan your hibernation master chef meals before you shop. This means less time in the store and you can to consider more sustainable alternatives beforehand rather than impulse buying.
✔️Plan your meals so you know what you are going to cook for the week
✔️Write a list of each item you need
✔️Can you buy any of these things in a way so there's no tiny packets? There's less need for kiddie-size individually wrapped snacks right now
✔️Is there a local fresh produce operator you can support by buying a fruit and vege box? Farmers markets aren't operating but a lot of smaller suppliers can still send, for example the online farmers market Ooooby
YOU CAN CHOOSE THE MORE SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING OPTION!
...even when at a regular supermarket! Here are a list of common examples we all come across:
Choosing a larger quantity bag of bulk milk powder (whether you are eating diary or vegan milks) creates less significantly waste than 30 milk bottles or tetrapaks, plus you have a back-up supply.
You can buy oats in a plastic bag or choose the paper packaging. Plastic recycling rates worldwide sit at a dismal 12%, even less for soft plastics which is what these bags are made from.
In the chocolate isle there are lots of yummy brands to choose from - some more ethical and sustainable than others. There's a lot of plastic packaging but also low-waste options! Trade Aid and Loving Earth has a delicious line of chocolates and their packaging is home compostable - win!
Each supermarket has its own Bakery with Bread that have no packaging. You can choose a freshly-baked loaf or try your hand at making your own.
Buying produce at the supermarket can be zero waste. Avoid the pre-packaged fruit and vege bags, opting for loose. That way you can choose the amount you actually need as well as see the quality.
#3 - Give Bulk Food Shopping a go
As touched on above, Bulk stores are open and safe to shop at during the hibernation. Here's a list of the groceries you could swap out for a lower waste option:
- Beans and Pulses
- Coffee and Tea
- Dried Fruit
- Flour and Grains
- Herbs and Spices
- Nuts and Seeds
- Snacks and Superfoods
Use this time to set up an epic low-waste pantry, repurpose those jars and form good buying habits. Often we just go for what is easy but doing a stock up at the bulk store each fortnight really can save time and money in the long run.
Please note that each store has a different offering and your local independent organic store often has awesome low waste selections too. Check out the Rubbish Trip website here for a region by region list of low waste shopping spots to find a place near you.
Want to know step-by-step how to Bulk Food Shop? You can read our full blog here. Please note there may be some restrictions in place for bringing your own containers at this time - best to check in with the store before you go.
(*Make sure you are adhering to each stores shopping rules and bring your hand sanitiser and face mask with you. Only touch the items you are going to buy to keep yourself and others safe)
#4 - Stockpiling Your Recyclables!
Okay so you have done a few things when you shop to reduce your household waste footprint - go you! If there's ever been a time to get new habits in the pipeline, it is now. Our Mama Earth needs us more than ever and we need everyone doing something to help.
You will still have quite a bit of packaging left over and we know right now that it's likely your recycling isn't actually going to be recycled. Sad face but never fret, we can all help!
Step 1: Reduce Your Waste
Because you're a total legend. Follow some of the tips above.
Step 2: Wash and Clean Everything!
This practise is what the norm but extra important during this time. For a bit of context, small bits of food, dirt or grime from your recycling can contaminate the whole recycling stream. Contaminated recycling isn't accepted by the market, has no value and then all our efforts go to waste.
Since we are going to be storing packaging cleaning is even more relevant - if it's clean, it won't smell.
Step 3: Compress What You Can
It's unclear quite how long this will go on for. No one has answers right now. Compress as you stockpile.
This is important for maximising storage space and will also allow more recycling to fit into the truck when it is collected (making it easier for those epic humans who are picking it up for you!).
Make sure all paper boxes are taken apart and compressed. We had a reader mention that some sorting facilities may not recognise flat cans - great point! Please check with your local authority on how they do things - unfortunately there isn't a one size fits all answer across all of NZ. Making some pocket money on scrap metal is also a great idea, cool for the kids!
Step 4: Store Your Recycling
Keep your clean stockpiled recycling in a repurposed bag or spare storage tub somewhere dry.
If possible, store like materials together. This is particularly important if you plan to drop it off to your local recycling centre as you will need to sorted when you arrive and this may also be relevant to the area you live in. Separate into the following groups:
- Recyclable Plastic (numbers 1 and 2, check with your council about the rest)
Step 5: Trickle Feed!!! (or responsibly drop off)
We cannot stress this enough: It is important we do not inundate services when they start back up. Remember that just because the Recycling Truck is coming, your well-cared-for-recycling might not be actually recycled. Get confirmation first and then trickle feed your stockpiled recycling in with your weekly recycling - not all at once!
Another option is to call your local recycling centre to see if they are taking drop offs when services commence. If you haven't been before it's an awesome spot in your community to check out and show you where 'things' actually 'go' when we throw them away. Make sure they aren't too busy and try to time your drop off out of peak times to spread the load on the workers.
#5 - Reuse What You Can
Being resourceful during this time will also help to reduce strain on services. There are a lot of ways to get creative and make use of what we already have. If there are kids in the house think about projects and activities from salvaged materials instead of buying new - we will have lots of ideas coming during the Hibernation Series!
Useful packaging ideas;
- Jars work great for air tight food storage. It's the perfect time to create that low waste pantry by storing all your dry goods in jars and labelling!
- Keep paper separate and use in the garden/compost or if you have a fire through winter (or perhaps the neighbours do)
- Reuse plastic cleaning and beauty product containers by refilling them at your bulk store or making DIY versions at home
- Use packaging to start a nursery of edible plants. Half cut Tetrapaks are great for this or see the repurposed glasses in the pic below!
We hope that has given you some new information and inspiration. From all of us here we are sending you some good vibes!
Take a pic of your waste reducing and recycling stockpiling and link to us with @caliwoods_eco #ecohibernation
We have a great prize pack up for grabs for our community which will be sent out when Level 4 has lifted!