Naked Lunch

The view from the top of the bottom of the world

Last night was 'eating dinner in front of the telly' night, because we are all class here at Chez Blueday. So after watching Black Books I set up the lap top for a viewing of The Story of Stuff. It may be that I am the last person in the known universe to have discovered this fab presentation of the facts of the production of consumer goods that is easily assimilated even by eight year olds, but that is me, not-the-early-adopter.

I wanted to show the family why I am getting a bit tetchy about..stuff. And waste. And packaging. And disposable anything. There is one little moment among the many moments in this video that is making me rethink every action today. For every garbage can we trail out to the kerb, there were SEVENTY garbage cans-full of waste generated up-stream, in the resource generating process, in the manufacturing and transportation and distribution. SEVENTY.

Today we drove most of the way up a mountain, then scrambled up the last bit to the top in the brilliant sunshine and bitter cold of the first weekend of winter. We took a picnic, with salad rolls and thermos and slice, and chocolate, all the usual. Here I need to confess - I am the plastic wrap queen. I rather like my sandwiches to stay together, and arrive fresh in situ. Today I packed the rolls into a lunchbox with no plastic wrap. Yes, sometimes I do live dangerously. The rolls were firmly packed, and all survived. They were not stale (der, they were inside an airtight plastic container. What have I been thinking all this time?) Because, somehow, humanity managed picnics for a number of years before the invention of plastic. I remember my mum telling me that her mum wrapped her school sandwiches in nasturtium leaves to keep them fresh. I wonder how the sandwiches stayed together? I will find out. Stay tuned. 

Does anyone else cater for plastic-free picnics?

Tonight is rubbish night. That bin out on the kerb has seventy ghost bins gathered behind it, reproaching me.

Small child, big mountain. No rubbish or pollution, because we have outsourced it to somewhere far, far away.


Heather said…
I'll have to watch that show, too.

I use reusable containers a lot, but my weakness is plastic bags. I like how they stack up in the freezer for space efficiency. I will wash and reuse them if they hold things like breads or berries, but not if they held raw meat. I need to rethink my addiction to them.
Anonymous said…
I found a plausible substitute for plastic bags and cling wrap. I, also am finding it hard to give up my cling wrap and plastic bags... they are just so "easy"! I know we need to be limiting the amount of landfill and we have managed to get our bin down to half a bin a fortnight (not too bad but could do better!) and here are some links to do-it-yourself beeswax cloth wraps. They have the added benefit of being uber customisable and very pretty to boot so it shouldn't be too hard to get excited about making them. We even have a bee keeper that sells lots of beeswax living behind us... might buy some wax off him, goodness only knows his bees are down here freeloading enough! ;)
I'm like Heather--I use plastic bags for storage, but I re-use and re-use them again (honest!). For lunches, I go with reusable containers and wax paper bags, which I then compost.

Scary knowledge about the garbage bins ...

Judy said…
Nice post Jo. The top of the bottom of the world looks amazing! I share your dilemma. Well done for tackling one of the harder habits to change.

I have seriously cut my waste since watching the Story of Stuff, but mainly because we can recycle so much now. You made me think that there is probably 70 bags of waste for every bag we recycle too. Oh no!

Two weeks ago I gave up squirty soap and replaced it for bars of soap! I knew that I had to do it for ages, but I like hygienic squirty soap, much better than slippery, messy, and possibly germ-ridden bars of soap. I made the change anyway and its not so bad - we survived unscathed :) No more plastic pump-action bottles. It will probably work out cheaper too.

My next thing to tackle is disposable cleaning wipes. When the kids were babies I got into bad habits, because of worrying about germs. Now I need to go back to a good old fashioned dish cloth and rags. Then I may be ready to face my tin foil habit!
Jo said…
All I can say is yes, yes, yes, I know, I LOVE plastic bags, and I mostly reuse them, though they still mock me when I put them in the bin.
And I recycle religiously too Judy, but I'm beginning to think that may not be enough..
Frances, how does the wax paper go in the compost? Do you shred it up a bit, or just throw it in? Does it compost completely?
Anonymous said…
When you work out how I'd love to kick the habit too!
Jo said…
My plan is to live and learn from everyone else here. I am inspired by your zero waste plan.
It must be possible to live without disposable plastic, surely. It only became routinely available during my parents' lifetime. Have we come to depend on it so much in less than 60 years? Clearly the answer is Yes to that..
Anonymous said…
Flippin' hell. 70 bags!!!

I don't use cling wrap for picnics. I put the sandwiches in containers. Yes, they are plastic but some have lasted us for 20 years. Packed well, sandwiches don't move or get squashed. I bought the Tupperware sandwich boxes for my daily sandwich. I use Cling wrap for one son. The other is happy to use the Tupperware containers.

Now, shallow of me I know, but I was so excited you mentioned Black Books. I LOVE that show. I took my son to see Dylan Moran live. What a psychic connection between you and me? (OK, so millions like Black Books, and like to go on picnics, but I like to feel unique, and uniquely connected to another unique person!)
Anonymous said…
Isn't the story of us AMAZING! gets ya thinking about all sorts of waste issues and how we get conned!
Way to go Jo!

Anonymous said…
the story of stuff i mean!!!
Jo, I tear up the wax paper bags into small pieces. They seem to compost fine--which is to say, when I dig into my compost bin, I don't see their remains (unlike, say, the avocado pits, which I believe to be eternal).

Lizzi said…
When I married my husband he had been in the catering business and had the most enormous roll of catering size cling film. I joked with his daughter that it would probably still be there after we had gone .

Nearly 7 years later we are still using it. As we have it i will continue to use it but I also use greaseproof paper and it is especially good for cheese. I find that wrapping cheese in plastic makes it sweat. Like others, I have plastic boxes that I have been using for years and will continue to do so.

Plastic is here to stay but if we use it wisely we can reduce our waste.
Anonymous said…
I too watched the story of Stuff, through a facebook page it's not ok-mart. I can't link it being an ex facebook addict and no longer on there but it should come up in a search if you're interested.
Another comment that struck me along the way somewhere is that recycling is all well and god but it's still stuff. I ache when I use or turf out plastic bags (I hate reusing ones that have had meat too) so I try and use other containers in the fridge and freezer now. In fact I hate plastic, but there are disadvantages like price to stainless steel and breakability of glass (had one explode all over me the other day - scary) but as you say, we survived before plastic and the way the world is going, we will soon have to survive without it once again. Well, not unless we're willing to pay an exhorbitant amount for it.
Jo said…
Lucinda, we totally have a psychic connection. We love Black Books here. We told Posy it was a documentary, and now she thinks she's watching reality TV. We love messing with the children's heads.
Bel and Dunc, I just read your post about the beeswax wrap - that's brlliant! And yes, our kids were completely absorbed in The Story of Stuff - it's such a great resource, works for little kids and teenagers and adults.
Thanks for the composting advice Frances. I'll give it a go. One less thing to throw out.
Lizzi, that is hilarious about the catering size cling wrap. I always buy the biggest size that will fit in my drawer. Hoping to make this one last a nice long time as I wean myself off it. I'm certainly not going to be throwing out all my plastic containers, as you say, they last forever, but I'll certainly be working on the disposable plastic that seems to clog up my bin. Thanks for the greaseproof paper tip. Clearly very useful, and compostable. Currently my cheese goes in a plastic lunchbox (big hunks of cheddar) or ziploc bags (deli cheeses). 'm thinking wrapping the deli cheeses in greasproof or baking paper in a plastic or glass container would be better.. thanks!
Jo said…
Fran and Jessie, so sorry, my spam folder keeps eating your comments, no idea why! Thanks for the beeswax wrap links Fran. I usually stick a plate on top of most of the casserole dishes etc that I stick in the fridge, but I have some odd-shaped ones that I have always used cling wrap on. I will be needing to source some beeswax. Bel and Dunc have given me a hint, as there are no neighbours with bees here in the burbs.
Jessie, scary, glass exploding in the freezer. I think I have decided to go with Pyrex, which is safety glass, and apparently crumbles into pebbles, rather than shards when it breaks, which sounds better! Also, I have chipped the rim of a Pyrex dish before, and it doesn't have that sharp edge that normal glass does, and after a few goes in the dishwasher, has smoothed off nicely.
Anonymous said…
I wish there was a like button. I would hit it for your messing with kids' heads comment.

One of the first more difficult words my kids learnt was sarcastic, as in asking,"Are you being sarcastic?" Moi? No, no, no,no well, yes.

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