A side effect of working to restore our gullies from rubbish dumps to some version of a functional waterway is that we’ve become a bit twitchy about waste. We’re constantly surprised at the kinds of things that have ended up pushed over the banks. We’ve written before about discoveries like the garbage bags filled with empty recyclable milk bottles that implode into confetti after being in the elements for a decade, or the long-expired discount cards for long-bankrupt franchises preserved by their plastic lamination. Perhaps there’s no more weirdly poetic illustration of the persistence of plastic waste than the discovery of a midden of ‘disposable’ nappies, their contents long composted, but the nappy itself only slightly aged by the elements.
Inspired by the Normanville Natural Resource Centre‘s call to attempt a ‘Plastic-Free July‘, this month we’ll be experimenting with further reducing our production and usage of single-use plastics. Working to reduce our plastic usage is topical not just because of our gully dumps, but also because of our proximity to the ocean. You don’t have to walk for very long along the tideline just a kilometre or so from our back boundary to turn-up a few handfuls of neon micro-plastics that have tumbled on the currents for years. As the Catalyst feature Plastic Oceans demonstrates below, plastic ‘marine debris’ is an unfortunate illustration of the ecological law that “everything must go somewhere”, that there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.
In order to get some baseline data, in June we tried to collect as many of our household and farm single-use plastics as we could. As pictured above, excluding PET bottles and other items readily recycled, our domestic plastic waste totalled 782 grams for the month. In addition to that pictured above, our farm plastic would have been greater, with at least one garbage bag of about 800 seedling tubes, a few styrofoam boxes, cling-film from pallets, plastic strapping, and miscellaneous feed bags.
We like to think that minimising plastic waste belongs in the great agricultural tradition of making do, innovating and adapting with available resources. So with that in mind, wish us luck, and we’ll share updates on life with less plastic as we go!