Menstruation, medication and getting mad about packaging!

zero waste week questionsThe run up to Zero Waste Week is an incredibly busy time with queries filling my inbox as fast as I can answer them!

Today I’m answering four questions from fantastic women who have signed up to Zero Waste Week.

How to recycle polystyrene chips

Jackie told me her recycling bugbear is polystyrene chips that companies pack things in when they send her parcels. She doesn’t send out that many parcels herself, so reusing them isn’t really an option.

Fortunately there are three ideas for Jackie:

  • Offer them on Freecycle or Streetbank. There may be an eBay trader or Etsy seller on there who is eager to take them off your hands.
  • Some people use them in the bottom of plant pots as drainage material. The beauty of that is it keeps the pots a bit lighter to move around!
  • Finally, Chris repairs headsets for the emergency services and is only too pleased to receive polystyrene chips – he sends out 60-100 parcels a DAY! You can contact him on 07745 572 332

Reducing bread and salad bag waste

Kath’s biggest areas of food waste include bread and salad bags.

Now I can’t give too much away because I’m covering both these foods next week, but suffice to say, I’ve issued Kath a mini challenge. I’m wondering if she’s up for growing her own mixed salad leaves!

You don’t need a big garden or allotment, you can grow them in a windowbox – you can cut just the amount you want, you end up with zero food mile and very little packaging!

For bread, I suggest freezing it, then taking out each slice as you need it to help reduce waste.

Menstrual products

Jozica said the biggest struggle with her waste is once a month with women’s pads. There are three simple alternatives for this:

  • Washable pads – these come in various sizes, absorbencies and, joy of joys – an array of designs! You treat them like washable nappies
  • Menstrual cup – a  menstrual cup like the Diva cup is the reusable equivalent of tampons. You tip out the contents, give it a wipe and re-insert.
  • Sponges are absorbent and are another alternative to tampons.

There are plenty of sellers online for any of these items. And the financial savings are not to be ignored!

Medication packaging

Sue said that due to a chronic health condition, her household waste is 95% medication packaging. Sadly I don’t know of a way to recycle blister packs – you know, the ones with plastic one side and foil the other – so into the bin they have to go.

Some of our community stalwarts painstakingly peel off the foil to recycle, but there’s still no way I’m aware of to recycle the plastic, unless you live in an area served with a mixed plastics recycling service.

But you know what struck me about Sue’s query? If medication packaging makes up 95% of her household waste, then that lady has a TINY amount of landfill waste each week. I think we need to focus on THAT and give her a high five, don’t you?!

If you have any suggestions to add to these queries or can offer personal experience of using washable menstrual products, please leave a comment!

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Rachelle Strauss

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