Thursday, 10 September 2009

Surviving a Zero Waste Week: Rethinking Rubbish

Damn, blast, splidgery flip flops...I've got some blimmin' rubbish!

Look at it. An annoying piece of desperate-to-pop bubblewrap, discovered last night in an empty strawberry carton, which my husband had bought at the weekend.

And there I was, thinking I was all prepared for Zero Waste Week, but I'd forgotten about these pieces of cushioned plastic that are now pretty ubiquitous in the soft fruit packaging department. It just goes to show even old hands at this zero waste business can get caught out.

Now as you are probably aware bubblewrap is pretty tricky to recycle and it'll be a top notch council that allows you to put it in your recycling bin. Ours is good, but it doesn't take bubblewrap. So if I'm going to survive a Zero Waste Week, especially a National Zero Waste Week it's time to think like a crafty old weasel.

I'm going to have to think of this bubblewrap as a valuable resource and not let it become a piece of rubbish.

Well rubbish is so last century isn't it? These days, if you're throwing stuff in your bin, you're also throwing away resources, wasting an opportunity to save money, energy and virgin resources. It really is the equivalent of throwing your small change into landfill. And who in their right mind would do that, especially if they need all the pennies they can get?

So where does that leave me with my tiny piece of bubblewrap?

On the edge of finishing that bottle of gin, with the kind of week I've had!

But seriously. If you're faced with the same problem during your Zero Waste Week, be assured there are a range of solutions out there.

Option No 1: Reuse It!

Yes I know, there aren't too many applications that call for a 8x13cm piece of bubblewrap but if you put your thinking cap on and pray for inspiration, you might be able to find other uses around the home.

For example, if you are blessed with a small child who owns a dolls-house, you might be able to get away with a few make-shift duvets for the dollies to keep warm at night. You could even unleash your inner seamstress and throw in a range of duvet covers while you're at it.

Keen gardeners amongst you can use them to insulate mini seedling pots (especially those made from old newspapers and toilet rolls).

Also, if you ever send very small and delicate items in the post you can use them as protection. And if you're making plans for the festive season, one of my fellow Tweeter @henryandjayne came up with the suggestion of craftily using them to create Christmas decorations. So you see, there are lots of ideas out there if you scratch your top-knot hard enough.

Option No 2: Recycle It!

Regardless of whether you find a reuse for these darn things, there'll come a time, where you'll be shouting "No more", depending where you are in the divorce proceedings. So you could consider recycling them.

Recycle them?!

Yes, I know I said that it would be a rare super-duper council that would take such a thing off your hands. But just because your council can't recycle it, it doesn't mean that your fruity bubblewrap has to be lost to landfill.

Because if you need a helping hand on your road to Zero Waste, there is a mailing film company that will happily take them off your hands. Based in Norfolk, Polyprint is the only film company that accepts waste polythene from the general public for recycling. And the great news is, this includes bubblewrap, even the small pieces that come in the bottom of fruit punnets. You can find their full list of acceptable items here.

So even though this is one of the few items that I've been bunging in my bin since I did my last Zero Waste Week, 18 months ago, I can now confirm that my zero waste fruitaholic lifestyle is now pretty much future-proofed.

However on this particular occasion, I'm not going to recycle this piece of bubblewrap. I've got other ideas and I've decided to upcycle it instead, to highlight a process that adds value to a material that is at the end of its original life cycle.

So as a memento of National Zero Waste Week, I've created a miniature work of art entitled: 21st century savings. Titter ye not, I bet even with a "face value" of just 39p it's the most valuable piece of 8x13cm bubblewrap in the whole wide world.

21st century savings

Hmm. I wonder if that could be true? The most valuable piece of fruity bubblewrap ever? If it is, what are the chances of getting my money back on eBay?

I am almost tempted to go and investigate.



Sam said...

Lovely piece of art there, Mrs A :-)

We've been keeping all our small bits of bubblewrap for art too - printing and stamping. It's very effective.

Great examples here :

Layla said...

Oh gosh - fruit in bubblewrap?? What will they think of next??

Haven't seen it here yet, though it's probably just a matter of time?

We just got the very shiny non-zero-waste anti-flu leaflet - the one that says 'paper hankies' or 'use your sleeve' - I nearly died laughing!!

I mean, aren't cloth hankies better than A SLEEVE??!!

Good luck with zero waste week!! Rooting for YA!!

Condo Blues said...

I just know that your artwork will one day end up on display at the Tate. I just know it.

I've read that if you have a larger sheet of bubblewrap, you can stick to the inside of your windows for extra insulation in the winter to help with air leaks. So if you know of someone with a tiny dollhouse w/ leaky windows your fruit bubblewrap would be perfect!

mrs green said...

Goodness; are you sure your surname isn't infact Hurst?

Pure Genius Mrs A - now who said reducing rubbish was boring?


Hi SAm - wow that is such a great link. Thank you. Her work is gorgeous. I've now got a huge piece of bubble wrap thanks to Mr A's new painting. Imagine the big art fun I could have with that :-D

LOL Layla - you mean to say that tiny bits of bubblewrap in punnets haven't hit your part of the world. You're lucky. Hold your horses...I've just had an idea...of course, they are so small they could be used to trap sneezes before they're binned. There's an interesting re-use idea :-D

Hi Lisa - we could even paint the little dots (as in the link above) and make patterned curtains. Yay the ideas are flowing. Thank you :-D

Hi Mrs Green - least I could change my blogger name to Almost Mrs there's an idea eh... now don't encourage me :-D

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