Did you know that each year in the Macedon Ranges Shire Council we throw away approximately nine million kilograms of waste in landfill?
This would fill approximately 37 Olympic swimming pools, or 185 heated lap pools at the Gisborne Aquatic Centre.
When waste ends up in landfill it sits buried in the ground for decades, releasing methane and other greenhouse gases.
This is a loss of precious resources like food and garden waste that could be turned into compost, or paper and cardboard that could be recycled into something new.
Council, residents, businesses and schools all have a part to play in reducing waste to landfill. Each of us can make a difference by following the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ philosophy.
Have you heard of the waste hierarchy?
The diagram shows the most preferred method of disposing of waste to the least preferred method, with disposal (landfill/using your general waste bin) being the last resort.
Let’s focus on the three steps that we can introduce into our daily lives to drive change and create less waste.
You may have heard of the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Reduce the amount of waste you bring into your home, school or workplace by avoiding it in the first place. How?
Start by asking yourself ‘Do I really need this?’ to avoid purchasing unnecessary poor quality items that break easily, or items with excess packaging.
Try saying ‘no’ to single-use items that will only be used once before being thrown away. Can you find a more sustainable use instead?
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Buy food and household items in bulk when you can, to reduce extra packaging. For example, purchasing a packet of individually wrapped biscuits leads to far more waste being created than buying a whole packet and storing in an airtight container.
- Visit a local farmers market where you can purchase fresh produce packaging free.
- Say no to shopping bags, produce bags, straws, plastic cutlery, water bottles, coffee cups, take away containers etc. Try BYO – bring your own.
- Switch to digital bank statements, instead of printed.
- Say ‘no thanks’ to receipts you don’t need.
- Put a ‘No junk mail’ sticker on your letter box.
- Subscribe to your favourite magazines and newspapers online.
- Take a pledge and try the Plastic Free July challenge.
- Try growing your own food at home to reduce plastic packaging. Start small with some herbs or leafy greens.
- Connect with local like-minded people to help you on your journey. Macedon Ranges Sustainability Waste Action Group provides a network of people making a difference in the community, as well as great information and resources.
Do you already have a similar item or know someone who could lend you one? Ask around in the community before spending money on something that you may not use very often. Where possible choose to purchase high-quality items that can be used again and again.
Perhaps you’ve got one but it needs repairing? Visit a repair café to fix broken items and learn new skills from others in the community.
Here are some re use ideas:
- Repurpose items. That old saucepan with the broken handle may not be suitable for cooking any more but it could make a great planter in the garden.
- Visit second hand stores and op shops to find good quality items and give them a second life while supporting local organisations.
- Join local community groups and try buy, swap and sell pages on social media. Visit virtual marketplaces such as gumtree or ebay which provide ways to shop pre-loved.
- The Kyneton transfer station has a Tip shop full of bargains and some free items.
- Visit a local library to borrow books or a toy library for toys.
- Look for local food swaps and clothes swaps.
If an item cannot be avoided or reused, the next responsible step we can take is to recycle. Here in the Macedon Ranges there are different ways to recycle. Many items can be recycled through the kerbside collection service, whereas some harder to recycle items may need to be dropped off at transfer station or other nominated locations.
Tips for being a star recycler:
- Become familiar with what goes where by visiting our waste A-Z of what goes where or downloading the Loddon Mallee Waste info app.
- Make sorting your waste easy, put bins in the location where you use that item the most. Try creating a sorting station with mini bins or cardboard boxes for small items like batteries. Everybody’s system will look different.
- Choose recyclable or compostable - When making a purchase, consider what the packaging is made from. If you have a choice between a cardboard box that can go in your recycling bin instead of a material that is non-recyclable that could end up in landfill, choose the recyclable option.
- Choosing an item that contains recycled content (over new/raw materials) supports your local recycling economy. Did you know council’s kerbside bins and FOGO caddy’s contain recycled plastic?
Want to reduce your food waste?
Reducing the amount of food waste that you create and put in your FOGO or compost bin will have a positive impact on the environment and help you to save money. Sustainability Victoria suggests that 65 per cent of the food thrown away by Victorian households is edible and that the average Victorian household wastes $2,136 worth of food every year.
Some tips to avoid food waste and save money include:Plan your meals for the week, work out your ingredient quantities for each of your recipes and only purchase what you need.
- Use leftovers the next day or put them in labelled containers in your freezer for future meals.
- Declutter your pantry and fridge by keeping the foods with the nearest expiry date at the front of each shelf so you use them before newer purchases.
The Love Food Hate Waste program has further tips and a collection of free recipes that you can use to reduce the amount of food waste your household creates.
Why use reusable cloth nappies?
Using cloth nappies instead of disposable nappies can significantly reduce the amount of rubbish/general waste your household produces.
You will help to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Currently in Australia and New Zealand 26.25 million disposable nappies are used on a weekly basis with these all ending up in landfill where they take an estimated 150 years to decompose.
The transition from modern cloth nappies to undies is often easier for toddlers than from disposable.
Cloth nappies can be used again and again so you can purchase them second hand and you can reuse them for other children in your family.
Are there different types?
All-in-ones can take some time to dry. They have a moisture-wicking inner layer and a moisture-resistant outer layer.
All-in-twos (also called snap-in-ones) you can take them apart when washing which makes drying faster – the moisture-wicking inner layers snap in with press-studs to the moisture-resistant outer layer.
Pocket nappies are the fastest drying, a moisture-resistant outer layer is attached to a soft inner lining. Between these two layers you insert an absorbent pad.
Tips for washing
- Tip the contents of the nappy into the toilet before placing the nappy in your nappy bucket.
- Rinse each nappy under the tap before you place them in your dry nappy bucket dry (known as dry pailing)
- When you have a full load of nappies in your bucket put them in your machine and undertake your wash.
- Do not use fabric softener, as this is not needed. Front-loaded washing machines use less water.
- Dry your nappies on an outside line.
Cloth nappies can be purchased new or second hand. More information is available on the Raising Children website or the Sustainability Victoria website.
If you use disposable nappies these should be put in your rubbish/general waste bin, there you will find some suggestions to reduce the potential for odours.
On a journey towards zero waste?
Here is a selection of organisations, websites and blogs filled with inspiration and tips for your journey.
Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group is a not-for-profit, member-based organisation focusing on projects, events, and practical activities that promote sustainable living in our local communities.
Boomerang Bags is a global grass roots movement connecting and empowering local communities to tackle plastic pollution at its source. There are multiple groups located in the shire.
Zero Waste Victoria is a not-for-profit charity that provides education, community engagement and sustainable living advice.
The Rogue Ginger – Erin Rhoads is the ‘The Rogue Ginger’. She has been writing about her own journey since 2013 sharing how she reduced plastic and her rubbish, leading to a happier and healthier life.
Gippsland Unwrapped is a blog about maximising resources and reducing waste.
Zero waste bloggers network is a supportive community of zero waste bloggers around the world.
MRSG Waste Action Group’s blog shares local news and information.
Waste info – Loddon Mallee Waste and Resource Recovery Group app with custom Macedon Ranges Shire Council information. (VIC)
Zero Waste Home – Worldwide bulk and packaging free shopping app.
Campaigns and websites
Planet Ark’s campaigns are designed to help us all make a difference. Whether through recycling more, planting trees or changing to energy efficient light globes, small changes to individual behaviour add up to big savings for the environment.
Boomerang Alliance is a not for profit organisation that believe that an empowered community taking action at individual, political and economic levels will prompt business and government to support community wishes and prioritise the shift towards a zero-waste society.
One Million Women are an organisation fighting climate change through everyday lives.
Loddon Mallee Waste and Resource Recovery Group are a statutory authority and is the link between state, local governments, community and industry.
Clean Up Australia inspires and empowers communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment.
Responsible Cafes mission is to reduce single use plastic within the café and catering industry and stop all plastic from ending up in landfill, littering our oceans and our neighbourhoods.
BYO containers are on a mission to reduce single use plastic waste by popularising the use of Bring Your Own (BYO) containers
Trashless Takeaway are encouraging the use of BYO containers for takeaway food and provide resources for businesses and consumers,
Plastic Free July is a global movement that helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution.
Plastic Oceans Australasia are on a mission to change the world’s attitude towards plastic within a generation.
When Balloons Fly is a Zoos Australia campaign to raise awareness of the impact of balloons. Register your balloon free event and try bubbles instead.