We’ve been doing a lot of research for our Tassie move lately. Lighting, grey-water system, bus conversion frames, insulation, cool climate plant species, wicking beds, plant guilds to name a few.
One area that’s taken up more time then we thought is waste disposal. Along with being off grid for water, sewage and power our Tassie property is also off grid in terms of waste collection. Whatever waste is produced by us has to be dealt with by us.
When we first found this out we were both really excited. After living remotely (where it’s easy for everything to get thrown in the bin) it was liberating to be in complete control of our waste. It’s lead us to look closely at some of current approaches and put in some plans to reduce our waste. Some of these we’ve tested up here and will continue in Tassie. Others are untried and sure to have more written about them at a later date.
Currently our approach to Oscar and Yoda’s waste is in one word: slack. We generally leave the poo to dry until it gets too much for us and then we pick it up in a plastic bag and put it in the bin.(Not the best I know!)
For Tassie though we have come up with a two-prong attack. The first, while we are converting the bus, is to get ourselves an Enso pet bokashi bucket . This will be dug into the ground and break down their poo into the soil in situ.
When the bus is finished we will then be setting up a dog poo worm farm, turning their shit into something productive for the garden. (Oscar and Yoda will now be contributing to their keep!)
Household Products (laundry and bathroom)
This is one area in which changes are already in place. Earlier this year Deirdre started making our own laundry powder from baking soda, lectric soap, citric acid, salt and soap flakes. All products we were able to pick up in the supermarket. It’s relatively easy and works well. It’s also good for the garden as it’s borax free so non-toxic to the plants.
Deirdre has also been making her own deodorant using coconut oil, baking soda and arrowroot flour (her’s is recipe 2). She swears by it and finds it much more pleasant to wear than deodarant. It even withstands the Kimberley build up!
We have also been stocking up on bamboo toothbrushes and oxygen bleach. Bamboo is a fast growing grass, more sustainable then wood and breaks down better then plastic, and oxygen bleach is a non-toxic bleach. We’ve yet to use the bleach but the toothbrush works fine and it feels good to hold something solid and wooden when brushing your teeth.
We’ve also bought ourselves a stockpile of tissues and toilet paper from Who gives a crap. Another every-day thing we were surprisingly excited about. (Deirdres’ even gave some to her Mum for a birthday gift!). The toilet paper and tissues are made from recycled materials, a percentage of profits go the charity to build toilets in India and it’s a successful start-up. We are yet to use them but being made from chlorine free recycled paper means it should be fine in our composting toilet.
Deirdre has also attempted to make her own shampoo and conditioner from water and baking soda, without much success. The bi carb and water seem to separate and the result is a liquid that doesn’t lather up and leaves her hair looking greasy. A work in progress but one we’ll come back to for sure. But apple cider vinegar and water works well as a conditioner.
Our next household challenge is to find an alternative to store bought toothpaste. At this stage we are leaning towards making our own but have yet to find a recipe that we can make out of easily accessible products. Besides during the holidays we stocked up on toothpaste so we need to use those first before making our own.
Kitchen (cling wrap)
A while ago we also ran out of cling wrap and decided not to buy anymore. Instead of cling wrap we’ve been using containers, repurposed plastic bags (still plastic I know) and honey bee wraps. The wraps work well keeping things fresh and they are quite beautiful to look at.
Currently Oscar and Yoda are fed frozen kangaroo meat. This comes in plastic that just gets chucked in the bin. Deirdre’s been hatching a plan to collect and harvest roadkill for Oscar and Yoda to eat. It won’t provide every meal for them, but it’s a start.
The real challenge is going to be when we get to Tassie and put these ideas into practise. We’re bound to find some other waste we produce that we haven’t even thought about and have to reassess and come up with new approaches . We don’t think we will be totally waste free from the get go (like everything else it will be a step by step process) but it feels empowering to be responsible and more aware of our waste. And that’s a good start! Any other ideas or suggestions please leave a note.