Less Waste Wednesdays – What can be placed in your recycling bin and how do you manage your waste at home.

Recycling Symbol

Recycling. Does it play a major role in your family’s management of your weekly waste?

Growing up in Northern New South Wales of Australia, in a rural community, we didn’t have a recycling programme.  We lived out of town by about fifteen minutes and there was no refuse collection what-so-ever until I was in my late teens.

Our weekly routine with our household rubbish, was to compost any kitchen waste, reuse any paper for note taking or crafty making for my sister and I, separate out items like glass bottles and cans to go to the dump, and burn anything else that we could on our property (this included plastic wrap, paper that was no longer needed and anything else that would combust when exposed to flame).  Looking back, this wasn’t exactly ideal, but it was also EXACTLY, what all our neighbours were doing in the local area to get rid of their trash, because they had no alternative.

We would visit the dump once a month, and once there, the facility in those early days was basically just a massive expanse of land that you tossed the trash at and drove away from. Eventually it would be capped with dirt and everything would be buried under tonnes of earth.  Nothing like the process our more modern facilities we have today with the special concrete pit drops you back your vehicle up to (there’s a story I need to share about these for a later blog. Remind me. 😊)

Today, I’ve very happy to say, that my own family and I are living in a rural location in Australia, and we now have access to a much higher standard of waste disposal. Which includes a pretty good recycling programme.

Which leads me to explain how we deal with our waste.

At home, we separate our trash into four different types.

1.       Organic Waste This includes any food scraps, or natural materials that will break down in our veggie patch, think eggs shells to spent lettuce leaves, hair from my hairbrush or scraps of paper that are loosely torn up.  Basically anything that will break down back into the soil is separated into this group.


2.       Recycling This is by far the vast majority of our weekly waste, we just about fill our bin every week. We place any moulded plastics (milk bottles), glass containers (wine bottles – qty dependent on the week I’ve had with the kids), aluminium and metal cans (think drink cans and tins)


3.       Soft Plastics Our local supermarket accepts soft plastics for recycling, these include, food wrappers, plastic bags, and soft foil wrappers (like chip packets and chocolate bar wrappers)

To learn more about a couple of these programs click here for Coles and here for Woolworths.

4.       Non Recyclable Waste This includes items such as nappies, meat waste (like bones and fat)


To dispose of these items we do the following:

1.       Organic Waste Food Scraps get dug back into our veggie patch as compost. I’m intending to share more ways to compost in a future Less Waste Wednesday as I totally understand not everyone has a garden to compost them back into.


2.       Recycling Our local council collects our Yellow topped bin for recycling every two weeks.  It’s best to drop a line to your local council to understand what they do and don’t accept in your recycling bin. It’s also important to rinse out containers before putting them in these bins, and remove the lids (lids can be recycled too, they just need to be off the top of the containers)


3.       Soft Plastics You’ll find at most of the large chain supermarkets they have a ‘soft plastics’ recycling bin, where you can leave any soft plastics. This includes everything from cling wrap to foil chip packets. I take ours on my weekly shop and the kids put it in this bin for collection.


4.       Non-Recyclable Waste This material really makes up the smallest part of our household waste. I’m working to get this down to nothing if possible as time goes on.  I line this bin in our kitchen with a compostable bag, which will compost in landfill.  We then place this bag into our non recyclable wheelie bin weekly.


So why am I telling you all about this?

I guess the main reason is that some people find it confusing as to what can and can’t go into their recycling bin, or they feel the process is too arduous.

I’m hear to tell you, my two boys who are just getting the hang of counting to ten (without their fingers) can do this. We have four small bins that fit under our kitchen sink and They understand which bin to use, and it’s not a chore, because simply, it’s just where things go.  This process doesn’t have to be hard, and once you get going, it becomes second nature.

Do you know what type of recyclables your council accepts? Does it have any other programmes running that you or your family or community group can get involved in? Tell me about it in the comments below, or comment on my Facebook page. I’d love to hear about it.

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