Glass half-full

Clear glass tumbler half-filled with water.

It is said that optimists see the above as half-full and pessimists see it as half-empty.

It is the opposite when it comes to my journey into living a sustainable life.

I see that my half-empty green-lid landfill bin as a sign of optimism.

Actually, my green-lid bin is not quite half empty.  Most weeks, it is actually about 10% full.

And my yellow-lid mixed recycling bin is usually more than 75% full.

It has taken effort including:

  • buying wisely (what is needed and choosing to pay more for things that will last a long time),
  • composting kitchen waste at home, and
  • green-lid bin diving to retrieve recyclables from ending up in landfill – training the family is still on-going.

Where I was

Before I became aware of sustainability, I viewed the dumping everything into the green-lid landfill bin as a great convenience.

An event that prompted my desire to live more sustainably was when the City of Vincent (CoV) surveyed ratepayers (people who live in the locality and pay they city for services) about what kind of recycling we would like to have the City provide.

For convenience sake, I replied that I would like a large yellow-lid mixed recycling bin.

Since joining Transition Town Vincent (TTV) and learning more about waste, I wish I had opted for the alternative of having multiple smaller bins which would contain waste that residents had already sorted (e.g. paper & cardboard, glass, plastic).

It turns out that the contents a significant number of yellow-lid bins are rejected because they contain non-recyclable material, like garden and kitchen waste.  Rejected contents are sent to landfill.

Hence my regret for choosing the convenience of mixed-recycling.

But I live and have learnt.

Where I am

Contents of my yellow-lidded mixed recycling bin

Now, through my work with Transition Town Vincent, I try to influence my local community to effect better recycling practices (i.e. only putting the correct materials into their yellow-lid bins) and with the City of Vincent to trial waste disposal alternatives.

On the latter, TTV and CoV are have set up a Community Composting Station, which will accept kitchen waste which will be composted locally, reducing greenhouse gas emission from garbage trucks.

The City of Vincent is trialling a smaller green-lid bin for a once-off $40 discount.  I have chosen not to participate because I don’t think that once-off $40 discount is sufficient incentive to have the convenience of occasionally being able to send more to landfill.

Where I want to go

My journey still continues and I think I will be on it for my whole life.

The optimist in me would like to achieve a green-lid bin fully empty AND a yellow-lid bin also fully-empty.

The pragmatist in me acknowledges this will be difficult but I like being an optimist.

Individual journeys

Each persons’ waste reduction journey is their own.  How fast they travel and where they want to go is up to them.

I believe by reading this blog, you have started or are well on your way on your journey.  I congratulate you – it takes all our efforts to make our communities more sustainable.