Waste warrior* Justin Lang didn’t have his home rubbish bin collected for two years — and he believes all Australians could do the same if they tried.
Mr Lang, from the suburb of Belair in Adelaide, started increasing the time between having his bin collected as a personal challenge and to cut back on the amount of rubbish he was putting into landfill*.
“I thought, ‘I wonder if I can go a year’, and then, ‘I wonder if I can go two years’,” he said.
He first started the challenge in March 2015 and did not have his bin collected again by the council until May 2017 — and even then, it contained a large bag of waste from a neighbour’s party.
Mr Lang, who works for Green Industries, said a university lecturer scared him into action during a talk about climate change.
“She said in 20 years’ time, we’re going to get a big environmental wake up call — but the only problem is it will be 20 years too late,” Mr Lang said.
“That just sent shivers up my spine.”
One year on from his challenge, there’s little Mr Lang throws out and his bin contains the few items that can’t be recycled, from old pairs of shoes, to broken crockery*, polystyrene* meat trays and tea bag packets with foil backings.
“I’m not a freak of nature, but my bin doesn’t smell,” he said.
“The challenge for people will be to take out your food waste and even if you don’t compost* it, put it in your organics bin.
“Once there’s no organics in your normal waste bin, you don’t need to put it outside so much.”
He has called on all residents to set their own challenges this month to reduce household waste — sending more into recycling and organics collections, which councils used to make compost.
“Typically, half of what people present at the kerb* is organics, and that’s insane,” he said.
Putting the bin out fortnightly, monthly or even less often not only encourages people to think harder about their your own carbon footprint*, he said. It reduces the rate revenue required to cover collection — and cuts down on noise from trucks having to stop and start at every house.
MR LANG’S TOP TIPS
- Compost: Start a home compost bin and put all your food scraps in it. Or if you can’t, get a home-based food waste system from your council to divert all organics to the kerbside organics bin. Turning organics into nutrient-rich compost is better, and cheaper, than losing it to landfill.
- Recycle soft plastics: Search for redcycle drop off points and recycle any soft plastic that can be scrunched into a ball.
- Reduce collections: Can you put your bin out less often? If it’s nearly empty, fewer collections means fewer emissions by trucks stopping and starting, and contributes to more efficient collections.
- Say goodbye to disposables: Bottled water and temporary coffee cups are probably the uncoolest items consumed in recent years. They’re needless and in most cases, definitely avoidable.
- Say no to junk mail: Reducing our consumption of constant paper waste by negating its production is a great first step.
- warrior: fighter
- landfill: disposing of waste by burying it
- crockery: plates, dishes and cups made of earthware or china
- polystyrene: lightweight foam product
- compost: decayed organic material used as a fertiliser for growing plants
- kerb: the edge of a pavement
- carbon footprint: the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
1. Sharing Justin’s Top Tips
Create a computer presentation to share Justin’s top tips for reducing the environmental impact of household waste. Each tip should be restated in your own words along with relevant images. Once you have put your writing and images into your presentation, then you can spend time adding other effects to enhance your presentation.
Think of three questions that a person viewing your presentation but who hasn’t read the full article might ask you. Write down how you would answer these questions.
Time: Allow 50 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Science, Digital Technologies
2. Understanding compost
There is lots of information available on the library and internet about how to begin composting. Do some research and then either draw a labelled diagram or write a procedure that explains how to begin your own compost pile.
Create a one page ‘quick reference sheet’ that shows common items that can and cannot be added to compost.
Time: Allow 30 minutes
Curriculum links: English, Science
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalists has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?
IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT TODAY’S STORY
Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the story. Use lots of adjectives.