managing zero waste expectations at PumpjackPiddlewick

For me there is something therapeutic about not being wasteful. And I will admit it, I like watching zero waste videos. You know those ones that people get their year’s(?) supply of rubbish/garbage/the stuff you actually throw away as there is nothing else can be done with it, into a single glass jar videos? Yeah, I thought you probably watched them too.

I have no doubt it is extremely satisfying to be able see that jar at the end of a year and know that’s all you will contribute to landfills. Tempting, tempting.

We’re only human

And then there are us mere mortals. For us every day folk it’s not something easily achievable. Nor, maybe, would I want to. But before you have a go at me for being ‘wasteful’, it did make me think about what we do throw away – and what we don’t. And of that, what I don’t in particular.

It made me realise, I am pretty darned near to zero waste. I just haven’t incorporated the glass jar to check the actuality. Zero waste to me is not about how little I put in a jar, but how little I waste.

Isn’t that the same thing, I hear you ask? Well, not really.

You see one focuses on how little is going to waste, whilst the other simply focuses on not wasting – things.

What is Zero Waste to me?

I’ll give you one example. Much of zero waste (using a jar) is about taking your own container to bulk purchase places, eschewing packaging in other words. Something I would love to do, if I could. But in my village, and beyond, there is almost no option. Unless I wish to spend inordinate amounts of money on fuel to make it so. (And I suspect I am not alone in this situation.) I’ll give that driving waste a miss, thank you very much.

Not wasting, to me, is about re-using, recycling, upcycling, and all those other ‘ings. It’s about looking at by-products, whatever they may be, and figuring out what else to do with them. Which to my mind is much simpler as it fits easier into normal day to day living.

And it turns out, I re-use it all. Well, almost all. (And I for one am not sweating the almost bit.)

What’s your secret?

But now I hear you ask ‘ but how’? (Honestly, I do.) How does a mere mortal achieve almost zero waste? Well, my friends I will tell you my profound secrets.

Let’s start with the basic ones. Leftover food gets made into a new dish on left-over night. Old clothes, past their be seen in public date, are re-used as gardening or workshop clothes. And once too holey, washed and re-used elsewhere (more below). Old towels or bed linen become animal beds (read: duck poop). In the garden, weeds become food or mulch, and prunings become wattling. Even rotting wood is re-used in my raised hugulkultur garden beds.

You see, it’s rather a state of mind, with a consideration of how to re-use rather than throw away, where ever possible.

Waste not

But when I do ‘throw away’, I make it easy for myself. I have 3 point 4 ‘bins’ for my waste; the actual (landfill) bin, the recycling bin, the garden bin, and the dead clothing bin.

Reversing the order, I will explain…

1. Dead Clothing Bin – this is where old socks, etc. go to die. Hole in something, worn beyond repair? These go in this bin. This bin then gets upcycled (usually in the winter months). Currently my passion is rag rugs, a great (and fast) way to recycle old socks. Hint, you cut them like you were peeling an orange skin until you get one long piece. If not rugs then quilts (a great way to immortalise old treasured T-shirts) or pillow cases, or patches for jeans and eventually if truly nothing else, cleaning rags.

2. Garden Bin – this is anything I can re-use in the garden. Compost of course is part of this and vegetable scraps (peelings, tops and tails, etc.) get added to the composting (bin). Any old, can’t be re-used as packaging for my shop, non-printed cardboard is used as weed fabric for paths and veg plantings.

3. Recycling Bin Recycling in France is great, as almost all packaging is recyclable. But also, when you think about it so much has the opportunity to be re-used. That plastic pot the mushrooms came in is great for organising items in a drawer. Any scrap papers, receipts, toilet roll (when not being made into Christmas advent calendars), etc. of a paper persuasion gets added to the compost pile. Colourful magazine supplements are bbq fire starters.

4. My Actual Bin Bin – is a very very tiny waste bin. It’s 5 litres in size (so doesn’t quite reach my mid-calf). In this bin goes those items I have not been able to find a use for. It takes about 2 weeks to fill it. Not bad really. It may not be a jar for the year, but I am happy with the result. It suits my home.

Are you sold on it yet?

But why go to this effort? That’s easy. Why waste when you don’t have to? In this consumer led society it feels good to swim against the norm. But more importantly, it makes me appreciate what I have. And to offer things a second life.

It has actually made my life easier to have these pathways for re-use rather than having to search, buy, travel to and/or… Maybe it is just because I don’t like to waste time that I appreciate being able to do all this at home.

More Simple Life Stuff?

For more simple life posts, check out my Finding a Simple Living Posts.

And if you like what you read and wish to join in and support Pumpjack & Piddlewick, do check out my Nourish page.

If you are looking for waste not gifts, do check out my shops: Pumpjack & Piddlewick and French Silk Scarf. All my items are antique or vintage, e.g. they were originally owned by someone else. IN other words = zero waste, sustainable, eco friendly, feel good gifts. Here’s a taste…

(Simply click on an image to see more.)


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