Friday, August 31, 2018

How to recycle a toothbrush

Somethings are hard to recycle - like toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes. But now there's a way.

Biome stores have these collection boxes in store.

Toothbrush and toothpaste tube recycling at Biome stores

So what can we recycle?

Through this program we can recycle toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, floss containers and packaging.

Acceptable items for toothbrush recycling

What if you're not near a store?

At the moment all Biome stores are in Brisbane.

If you're elsewhere in Australia, why not start your own collection or find an existing one near you.

The Biome collection is part of the Terracycle program. You can start your own collection at your local school or community group (and raise money for that group). It's convenient for you and can help other people in your group get involved in recycling.

Find out more at Terracycle.

PS. US readers, Terracycle US also has a dental products program.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The best way to help farmers?

Farmers have hit the headlines here in Australia as large portions of Eastern Australia are in drought.

Very little rain means farmers are running out of water and often running out of feed for their animals. Obviously Australians want to help. But what to do?

This stat from The New Joneses (about the environmental impact of food) gave me an idea:

If we're choosing to eat meat, how about we switch some of our red-meat for chicken or pork? These meats require 11 times less water to produce, so farmers would need far less water to produce the same amount of meat.

It seems like the smart option in a country that is getting more and more droughts as climate change increases. The only thing it needs is for us customers to be buying it instead of red meat.

Obviously it's long-term solution but, given the inadequate government action on climate change, these droughts are also going to be a long-term part of our future.

The side bonus is that (according to the original science article) these meats also produce 5 times less greenhouse emissions - so our contribution to climate change (and future droughts) will be decreased.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Canberra contacts

There's a lot we can do to make our environment better. Some of the biggest actions can be taken by our politicians - if we the voters encourage them to do so.

Here are the contact details to help you do that:

Prime Minister

Scott Morrison - phone numbers
Contact form

Environment Minister

Melissa Price - phone numbers

Energy Minister

Angus Taylor - phone numbers
Contact form

Your Local Member

Enter your suburb name to find out your electorate.
That page will also give you the name of your local member.
Google them or find their page on the parliament list.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Clean Bin Project (the movie)

Canadian couple Grant and Jen wonder whether it's possible to live waste-free. What about going a year without buying anything (other than food)?

Their solution

A head-to-head competition where less is more. One bin each. Who will have the least waste?

Here's the trailer:

There's fun is watching how they navigate the challenge - and learn how to quickly add "no bag" every time they buy food.

Their 3 Rules

1. No buying stuff (no devices, no clothes, no shoes, no material presents)
2. No producing garbage.
3. Take responsibility for their own waste (even if eating out).

They also meet some interesting people along the way:


Brian Burke lives in a block of 20 units which no longer needs a garbage bin. They have some containers in the garage for collating things like batteries, bottle tops etc that they take to specific recycle places.
Brian's favourite thing is compost - it eliminates so much waste.


Chris Jordan is the corporate lawyer-turned-artist who creates some mind-boggling art out of showing just how much waste we generate. It's one thing to know that America uses 210 billion cups. But to see that number represented in art really hits home.

Check out his website, particularly the galleries Running the Numbers and Running the Numbers 2. These artworks are normally several metres across. From a distance they look like a normal picture (or nothing at all). It's only when you step up close (or zoom in on the website) that you can see what makes up the picture.

What to do?

If you're keen to see the movie, you can rent it online - or buy the DVD (in very minimal packaging).
If you're keen to get started, check out the Top 10 Tips from the couple who spent a year doing this.
For people in apartments, also check out ShareWaste for composting.

Monday, August 20, 2018

DIY Recycling with Precious Plastics

Have you heard of Precious Plastics? It's a movement of recycling enthusiasts and designers who shred, melt and mould used plastic into new items.

Today I met some of the people from the Precious Plastics Brisbane group at UQ's Sustainability Week. Their big piece of local news is that the State Library is soon going to have a set of equipment. I'm looking forward to trying that out.

So how does it work?

This week they are collecting lids from plastic bottles, like milk bottle lids for example. They hope to fill this jar many times over.

About 80-90 lids, when shredded up, fill a jar about this size:

jar of shredded plastic - polyethylene

Then those can be melted and injected into a mould (like below left) to make a new item. In this case a small multi-coloured cup / pen-holder. But it can be anything.

injection mould and the final product

If you're in Brisbane, you may be interested in joining the Facebook group.

Wherever you live you can join the community (and see more videos) via the Precious Plastics website.

Friday, August 17, 2018

What's going on at the local shops?

Why the huge display of disposable cups? Why film this?

Scene: A presenter crosses in front of a giant perspex container of disposable cups. She delivers yet another variation of a single line-to-camera.

"Used once" [holds up cup] "then in landfill forever" [looks at cups].

So what's going on?

My "investigative journalism" reveals that the shopping centre will soon have a "campaign" to reduce coffee cup waste.

Here's the deal

From late August, spend $10 in Toowong Village shopping centre (even just groceries) and you can get a free reusable cup.

Disclaimer: This not yet confirmed by the centre. It's just what I've managed to find out. The start date (and duration) are still a mystery but I will let you know when I do.

Update: The deal is now on. Get the details.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Cut food waste. Give scraps to a neighbour.

60% of our bin contents is organic waste - according to War on Waste. Some of that is garden waste. About 31% is food waste says my local council.

One massive thing we can do to reduce food waste is to compost our food scraps.

But we don't all have compost

Many of us live in apartments, or just aren't into composting and gardening. We need another option.

That's where ShareWaste comes in. If you've got food scraps you can find a compost person in your neighbourhood. If you do compost you can put yourself on the map to get extra organic waste from local people. What a great idea!

Screenshot of the Share Waste website where you can connect with neighbours to compost your food waste

The first in your suburb?

If there isn't anyone close to you on the map, still sign up. This is quite new - and still growing.

You can register to be alerted when there is someone new near you. Also, you can share this post so that more people find out about it.

Food recycling?

This is an unusual but effective form of recycling. The nutrients in our food scraps can help fertilise more food to be grown. Or maybe flowers. Either way, at least it's not being wasted.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Take the e-waste quiz

According to War on Waste, the average family generates 73kg of e-waste per year. For a family of five this can be 140kg. Over a decade that's 1.4 tonnes.

This family of five will generate 1.4 tonnes of ewaste over 10 years acccording to the War on Waste

As the father of the family remarked, it's quite a lot when you look at it all at once.

Obviously e-waste is big issue. for recycling options near you, see the very well-named website Recycling Near You.

Also see how much you know about e-waste, with ABC's e-waste quiz. The average person gets about 6/10.
(Hint: I gave away one of the answers yesterday)

To learn more, read Where are we with e-waste recycling.

Monday, August 06, 2018

How to recycle your mobile

Australia has a good recycling system for mobile phones. But not many people know about it. Only about 10% of phones are getting recycled.

Why is it important?

As a nation we have 25 million old phones lying around the house.

How much is that?

Craig Reucassel from War on Waste covered this car (and filled the hatch) with mobile phones. He fit in 1,500 phones. To carry all of Australia's old and broken phones, he would need 17,000 cars like this.

Car of phones fromCarig reucassel and the War on Waste

That's a lot of waste if they get thrown in the bin. Even the little bit of gold in each broken phone would add up to tens of millions of dollars being thrown away.

So how do we recycle them?

The program is Mobile Muster. You can drop in the old or broken phone to a phone retailer. If you prefer to go direct, you can get a free mail satchel at Australia Post outlets or print the online label and post it yourself.

Mobile Muster also have more information about the recycling process and what it accepted. It includes chargers, batteries and even smart watches.

See how much phone waste you can recycle from your place.
Also, if you missed War on Waste, see the full episode on iView.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Battery Recycling at Battery World

Right now Australians recycle just 3% of our used batteries. Where can we recycle them? Many people don't know.

For Australian readers, you can take household batteries (AAA, AA, C, D and 9V) to any Aldi store. See my earlier post for more information.

Battery World take dead batteries of any kind. They can also give you one of these mini-bins, which are handy for collecting used batteries at home or in the office.

Now that we know where we to take them, hopefully the rate of recycling can increase. According to this week's War on Waste, Switzerland recycles 72% of its batteries. So we definitely have room for improvement.

PS. Now my local library is also collecting used batteries. Does yours? I'd be interested to know how widespread that is.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

When does your country overshoot?

If you spend your whole year's income in 7 months, that's not good. That's what we're doing to the Earth.

Today (1 August 2018) is Earth Overshoot Day. Already this year we've used up a year's worth of natural resources.

Clearly, we can't keep going like this - unless we have a second Earth to farm, fish, pollute and dump our waste on. One Earth just can't handle all we're doing.

Australia really bad

Worse still is that countries like mine are chewing through resources even more recklessly. If everyone behaved like Australia, Earth Overshoot Day would be 31 March. That means we'd need four Earths!

How does you country compare?

Here's where that day falls for other countries. See if you can find your country. If it's not there then your country is being responsible. (Click for a larger image).

Let's not wait until it's too late

It really is like we're spending more every year than we earn. Do we have to wait until our savings have all disappeared? Hopefully we take action earlier than that - and have a long-term future on the one Earth we do have.

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