Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Waste free for Lent

Tomorrow marks the begining of Lent, which is the forty day period before Easter where many Christians fast, or at the very least give up something they enjoy, like scoffing down a block of Cadbury Fruit n Nut when nobody is looking.

Now, I could do something like that, but I don't usually eat chocolate of any description, so that would be a bit of a cop out. Plus, well, I like a challenge. I thought about going Plastic Free for a month, again, but I feel that Lent deserves something a little more hard core. So, I'm going to give up creating waste.

That's right, waste! For the next forty days, I'm going to try to only bring into my house things that can be composted or recycled, and to cut down on the recyclable packaging to boot.

I came up with the idea on Sunday, when I was lounging around with the Galumph. Excitedly I sat up, and said "Hey! Let's do a waste fast for Lent! We won't buy anything new, except for food, and even then all the packaging must be minimal or recycable. Won't that be GREAT?"

I heard a desolate little sigh from beside me. Turning, I looked over to see the Galumph looking at me with deploring eyes. "Can't we just have a fast where we eat chocolate three times a day?", he begged. "These things you do are always so hard!"

"Oh, pah!", I said, smothering his face with a cushion. "Hard, schmard. I've got it all planned out. We'll ride on our bikes to CERES or the organic grocery, and get all our pulses and grains and things in reusable paper bags. We'll eat heaps of fresh fruits and vegies, and compost the scraps, and everything else has to come in glass jars or bottles that we then reuse for jam. Or cardboard. Too easy!"

"But what about all the things already in our cupboard, like pasta and tins. Can we still use them?"

Listen up, buddy, I told him. Here's the rules:

- Waste creation must be kept to a minimum. If it can't be recycled or composted, it shouldn't be purchased.

- Exceptions are allowed for essential items i.e. medicines. (Galumph: Is chocolate essential?) Plus one or two other items that might be too expensive/hard to buy otherwise. In our case this will be milk, which we'll buy in cardboard, rather than glass. (Galumph: What about cordial? Please, let me keep my cordial!)

- You can eat what is already in your cupboard, but when replacing it, try to find a more sustainable way. For example, buy bread from your local baker in a reusable paper bag you bought from home, rather than in plastic from the supermarket. You'll be supporting the local economy AND helping the environment.

After nutting all this out, I turned to the Galumph and said "So, whaddya say? Are you in? Huh, huh?"

Galumph: "Do I have a choice?"

Me (with perhaps a little too much glee): "Nope!"

That's that what I'll be doing for Lent. And here's the bit where I invite you all to join me. I know 40 days is a pretty long time, so I'm going to relax the rules and let you decide how long you'd like to do it for, be it a week, a fortnight, or the whole hog! And you can be as strict or as relaxed about it as suits your life style/situation. I know not everybody has access to small local shops where these things are possible, but it would be amazing to reduce waste if we could. And don't worry about falling off the wagon, as I'm sure I will at some stage in proceedings.

So c'mon - hope on board the Lent waste-free train! Send me an email if you'd like to join in.


  1. I do like this idea, although I have a connundrum which you may be able to solve.
    I like the idea of buying in bulk. I go to shops where they sell rice, flour, chickpeas,etc in big sacks. Here's the bit I don't get. I'd like to take my canisters or similar so that I don't have to use a plastic bag, but then how do they weigh out the rice, etc? So it goes into a freezer bag thingy and then comes home where I decant into my containers. But I've still used plastic packaging!!
    Am I being thick? Is there a way around this?
    I look forward to reading how you get on in Lent.

  2. I'll stick with my seven year old. She told me this morning she is giving up lie's for lent. Which made me wonder just how often she does lie to me?

  3. I have a delicious homemade lemon cordial recipe from my Great-Grandma if you'd like it. You can then recycle your old Cottees containers, and keep the poor treat-deprived man happy :p

  4. Stacey, when I use containers they usually weigh them, then remove that weight from the scales ('tare'), so when you fill it up with rice etc you are only paying for the weight of the rice. However, this would entail quite a bit of tooing and froing at a wholefoods shop, where you serve yourself. I only tend to use containers at delis, where the shop assistant is getting the produce for you anyway, so it's no extra trouble for them.

    I usually take my stash of paper bags to the wholefoods place, and then reuse them over and over again. I hope that helps!

  5. I had a huge declutter today as I hadn't made any commitment to give up anything for lent. But it was was one of those declutters where I got rid of so much, yet I hardly seemed to touch the surface .... sigh !


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