My twenty four hour waste audit of a typical Thursday. Thursdays are generally my days off spent at home. This allows me more time to prepare and enjoy three standard meals throughout the day, as well as grocery shop for the week ahead. In this post we explore the foods consumed at breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with the waste that is collected by the end of the day.
As illustrated in the image above, a bowl of cereal and a cup of tea were consumed for breakfast, a simple salad for lunch, and a quick and easy spaghetti bolognese for dinner. I live in a household of two, which means my partner and I make a habit of cooking portions big enough for the both of us. We usually make larger portions for dinner so that the leftovers can be saved for lunch or dinner the following day. By doing this, we reduce the usage of gas, electricity and water from cooking a meal from scratch, as well as reducing the amount of wastage from not disposing of the leftovers.
Cereal – milk (carton), Weet Bix (box and plastic packaging containing cereal)
Cup of tea – tea leaves (tea bag), milk (carton), and sugar (packaging)
Salad – spinach (packaging), cucumber (ends), capsicums (stems, core and seeds), and cherry tomatoes (packaging)
Spaghetti bolognese – spaghetti (packaging), pork mince (glad wrap and styrofoam plate), onion (skin and ends), pasta sauce (glass jar), and leftovers saved for the next day
The waste was categorised into two, general waste and recyclables. The tea bag, styrofoam plate, glad wrap, stems, core and seeds, onion skin, and plastic packagings were disposed into the red bin (general). Whereas the milk carton, cereal box, glass jar (rinsed) were disposed into the yellow bin (recycling). Due to living in an apartment complex in Surry Hills, we do not have access to green bins for organic waste, which is why we combine our organic waste with our general waste. However, by doing so we have to empty our bins more frequently to avoid build up of unpleasant odours. According to the article, ‘The Smell of Garbage’ by Chaz Miller, bad odours develop during the decomposition process of combined decaying and putrescible materials such as meats, vegetables or diapers. As meat decays, it attracts bacteria that feeds on the amino acids in the meat’s protein. Vegetables can also rot and slowly liquify. When these various types of wastes are combined and exposed to air, more gases, liquid and odour are produced.
When shopping for groceries, we tend to always use the Aldi reusable canvas bags. Unless we run out of bin bags, then we’ll go to Coles or Woolworths and collect the plastic bags to carry our items. Although, I prefer using reusable canvas bags for their durability and eco friendly aspects.
After conducting this audit, I have started to consider some appropriate actions I can take to reduce waste and harm:
- Separating wet from dry waste to delay the decomposition process and control odour.
- Freeze organic waste until next time I go out and am able to find a green bin to throw away into.
- Purchasing some fundamental household products in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging that is disposed.
Miller, C. 2005, ‘The Smell of Garbage’, Waste 360 Magazine, 1 January, viewed 27 March 2017, <http://www.waste360.com/mag/waste_smell_garbage>