Tag Archives: landfill

Cats, bins, snot and plastic

Late this spring I started properly monitoring how much my household sends to landfill, and what we send. I turned out that we were putting out a small bin bag per month – which for a household of three didn’t seem too bad. Our landfill waste was, for the greater part, un-recyclable plastic, so the bin bags were light and loosely packed and could have been compacted to take up little space. Sometimes we’d have to throw out a truly broken and useless item, but there weren’t many of those in any given month.

Then we took in a cat. Our bin use increased dramatically. As we live in a flat, cats have to be up for being indoors cats, and they have to use litter trays. This creates waste. However, what creates far more waste, is the non-recyclable sachets most cat food comes in. We can’t do tins because we haven’t got a fridge, and an open tin of cat food in a cool box in summer conditions is not going to work. One elderly cat with a small appetite does not get through a tin quickly. For a few months we were throwing away far more and far more often.

Eventually we found a food that the cat really likes and that creates less waste. Dry cat food of course comes in cardboard boxes. You can also get a sort of chewy and dry cat food in bags. It doesn’t go off in the way that fresh meat will, and doesn’t attract flies. We’d had an arrangement with our local crows about leftovers, but on the whole it’s better not to have an issue. One big bag creates far less waste than lots of little sachets.

With the cat food containers under control, and the contents of the litter tray leaving in the un-re-cycle-able bags some food stuffs come in, we’re fairly organised again.

I noticed during the same time frame that if the household all has colds, we create a lot more waste – entirely in the form of snotty tissues. I’m a bit more relaxed about those going to landfill as I think there’s less issue with those than plastic. I also note that at times when I’ve had an open fire or woodstove, tissues full of snotty disease have mostly been burned. I have no idea which outcome is the most problematic. And yes, I have tried fabric hankies, but they really do need boil washing and we really can produce a lot of snot…

Advertisements

Humbug season

I get round to blogging in this way every year. I am not a fan of Christmas. I have no issue with spiritual Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus – that’s their festival and they have every right to get on with it. What drives me nuts, is this other thing. This celebration of gluttony and excess in which we are supposed to spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to give to people we don’t even necessarily like with a side order of a lot of wasted food and a frightening amount of rubbish destined for landfill.

Every year, I get more hostile to the whole process and my desire to get away from it grows.

I’ve made myself a promise therefore, that this is going to be the last year in which I do anything conventional around Christmas. The boy is ten, and able to cope with the idea, and I think also conscious of the same issues. He’s too environmentally aware not to be uneasy about the waste and excess, even while he does like getting presents. We’ve talked a lot about making good memories rather than owning more things.
What would happen if we took a tiny fraction of the money spent on things that will never be used, or played with, and did something else with it? What if that money went to people who have nothing, who are homeless, hungry, and suffering around the world? What would happen if ‘keep things out of landfill’ got hardwired into the Christmas message? Hard to imagine that one. Tis the season to generate a great deal of junk. What about all the animals who are still given as gifts, despite, surely, everyone knowing that this is not a clever time to get a puppy or a kitten?

I’ve sung a lot of Christmas carols down the years – I like community singing and it’s a great way to raise money for good causes. I notice all those messages about peace and goodwill. I don’t remember a single carol about getting drunk, eating too much, trying to be polite about unwanted gifts and throwing far too much in the bin on Boxing day. I remember Good King Wenceslas taking things to peasants, and I remember tidings of comfort and joy, and I keep thinking how far off the mark we are, so often.

If you want to do Christmas, please, please reclaim it as something warm and human and get away from this orgy of commerciality and irresponsibility.

In the meantime, I’m plotting what I’m going to do next year, when I’m not going to be living in the middle nowhere and my scope to be useful should be much improved. And I’m trying not to feel too horribly frustrated about what I’m not able to do this time around.