Apr 21

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: like pushing shit up a hill

In a Discarded Nut Shell

This week was a little disheartening hearing that my local council, the Ipswich City Council, dumped recycling programs 4 weeks ago without communication to the public. The reasons were multiple: a lack of technology in facilities, rising costs, an increase in non-recyclables contaminating recycling processes and the ‘China Ban’ starting to take effect. However, there was also a big positive for me that arose from the black depths of seeing our country slide further and further into being a 2nd world country and that was the amount of productive, succinct and intelligent conversation that arose around this issue. And I do mean conversations! The actual art of having your say on an issue, sitting back and listening to others have their say, understanding that the issue is multi-faceted and we all have things to learn and things to teach. WOW!! Could this be a problem where we are all able to help each other create change to better our current and future standing?

I opened the floor to the community of Nature Cyclers through a post on our Farms Facebook page and it was inspiring to see how passionate they were getting, posing solutions and generating a positive future image on something that currently looks quite dire. It inspired me so much that I spent the whole of yesterday continuing the conversation with people in the community, noting down our collective ideas and then compiling a whole list of the changes we thought we could start making, initiating, funding, supporting and creating.

It is my hope that this conversation grows to the point where action can be taken, so I will be utilizing this list compiled from my local community to petition and lobby the local council and state government into taking sustainable actions for a clean and healthy future. Please join into the conversation and add any feedback suggestions, ideas or initiatives that you think would help begin the process of cleaning up our waste and maintaining a clean future!! And remember the biggest difference will be actually taking action 🙂

The Major Changers

One of the main topics that continues to pop up is the ideology that a group or groups need to take the blame, admit fault and become the main stakeholder in initiating, funding and maintaining rapid advancements in waste management. However, the more we conversed, the consensus changed. We started to realize that this exact system, a limited stakeholder system, was currently in effect and is why we ended up in this misinformed, ill-educated position in the first place. This led to discussions on who SHOULD be the main stakeholders, the assorted groups who are the ‘Major Changers’ and can influence the greatest change.

A list of 9 ‘Major Changers’ was created. Each Major Changer while being its own entity relies on collaborating with the other stakeholders to ensure robust waste reduction in the country. They all have associated actions which facilitate immediate, short-term and long-term changes to create a manageable waste system. I believe that all the constituents have their part to play to ensure a dynamic system which facilitates a low waste future.

Here it is so far, as you can see below, there is quite a way to go and some of the ‘Major Changers’ still need positive actions. Let’s stop pushing our shit uphill and take control of the situation!

  1. Individuals
  2. Communities
  3. Councils
  4. State Governments
  5. Federal Governments
  6. Businesses
  7. Entrepreneurs
  8. Engineers
  9. Scientists



  • Look at where waste is coming from, how much is being generated, and what products are creating the most waste and see if there are alternatives with less/reusable/biodegradable packaging.
  • Upcycling and repurposing appliances, furniture, building materials, pallets, crockery, clothes, bottles and jars
  • Swapping or advertising building waste materials over social media via a community newsletter or by creating a ‘swap-op’
  • Composting organic kitchen waste, garden waste, paper, cardboard, egg cartons and cereal boxes
  • Buying home chickens to feed excess kitchen scraps to
  • Using Bokashi composting for meat scraps
  • Separating and categorizing recyclable materials ie. plastics based on their 7 grades/metal/lumber/glass/organic waste/paper waste/food coated materials/hazardous recyclables ie. phones/batteries/light bulbs/ink cartridges
  • Keeping separate any brightly colored paper, plastic grocery bags, food stained materials, coated materials (ie. cardboard juice boxes/frozen food packaging/anything with a shiny, glossy coating)
  • Separating all lids from jars, bottles and containers
  • Separating plastics and shredding for road base
  • Growing high consumption foods and highly packaged foods at home
  • Buying local foods and products with limited/reusable/no packaging
  • Taking containers and putting food items in long term storage containers ie. farmers markets products/cereals/salads/grapes/legumes/eggs/washing powder/toilet paper/nearly every product we currently use
  • Implementing a home bio-gas system
  • Not buying or using any single use packaging or plastics
  • Repairing goods and appliances or buying 2nd hand before buying brand new
  • Using bee wraps and silicone wraps
  • Using glass containers instead of plastic containers or single use wrapping



  • Utilizing and initiating swap-sell groups via website, paper and social media
  • Initiating community worm farms and compost systems for organic waste
  • Initiating and utilizing community edible gardens
  • Creating and joining community workshops on upcycling/repairing and repurposing
  • Supporting local businesses who are using sustainable methods and practices
  • Starting and joining food cop-ops
  • Staring and joining zero/low waste community groups and networking for innovative solutions
  • Starting and utilizing street libraries
  • Starting plant and seed swap-ops
  • Starting and utilizing verge gardens
  • Utilizing tip shops, vinnies and salvos
  • Keeping the local environment clean of rubbish ie. cleaning up on a walk
  • Supporting members in the community into a sustainable/low waste lifestyle
  • Supporting and promoting initiatives to the community, council and government
  • Standing against initiatives which detract from the environment, our lifestyle and the future of the community

Local Councils

  • Initiating and maintaining waste to energy programs
  • Creating community centers for upcycling
  • Upskilling the public in proper recycling practices enforced with strict guidelines
  • Upskilling the public in worm farming, chicken keeping and composting
  • Initiating land use grants for community composting, edible gardens and sensory gardens
  • Implementing and facilitating individual and community waste reduction initiatives ie. bokashi composting/home biogas/organic composting/worm farming/repairing and repurposing
  • Grants and incentives for implementing zero waste grocery stores
  • Grants and incentives for current grocery stores to cut/limit waste
  • Upcycling development and building materials for animal habitats
  • Designing/utilizing/incentivizing recycled plastics into road base
  • Efficient waste dumping facilities for the public to segregate and dispose of waste items correctly
  • Incentivizing repair and repurpose centers
  • Incentivizing local business to collaborate and minimize waste ie. local growers producing for local cafes and restaurants and composting the excess organic matter from the cafes and restaurants
  • Recycling cleared organic matter through local parks, gardens and nature reserves
  • Incentives for schools to install edible gardens and use produce for meals
  • Incentivizing multiple use items ie. jute bags/glass coffee cups/metal straws
  • Large scale home-biogas
  • Installing plastic to crude oil plants
  • Instigating waste management taxes at a staged level to allow the public to pay for facilities and over time gather benefits for their investment in the way of reduced electricity prices from a waste to energy scheme

State Governments

  • Incentivizing waste to energy schemes for local councils
  • Incentivizing upskilling for repurpose-repair-upcycle centers
  • Incentivizing waste to materials programs such as building materials being made from 50% recycled plastic
  • Creating schemes with small and remote communities to build with refurbished and recycled materials
  • State based biodegradable packaging facilities
  • Waste education programs ie. advertising, websites, workshops, TV shows like the war on waste
  • Incentivizing/upskilling/hiring teachers to maintain school gardens
  • Installing industrial waste to energy and industrial bio-gas
  • Research grants for waste reduction initiatives like plastic to crude oil (Japan), Caterpillars eating plastic and excreting anti-freeze, Plastics being incorporated into road base, plastic eating bacteria, plastic gases and sequestration to modify into and non harmful by-product
  • Grants for local, sustainable business planning ie. food co-ops, food hub distributors, farmers markets, urban farming
  • Grants for local business to initiate sustainable practices ie. reusable packing for producers/updating processing facilities/initiating low waste distribution practices
  • Caps on imported products, grants/subsidies for locally made products
  • Waste taxes and levies for businesses based on the waste they generate
  • Incorporating large scale producers of waste (Woolworths, Coles, packagers, distributors) into being stakeholders of waste facilities
  • Imposing strict guidelines on waste disposal and recycling practices


    • Erin on April 21, 2018 at 6:03 pm
    • Reply

    Hey, great breakdown. Just wondering if waste to energy means incineration?

    1. Thanks Erin! Where I live in Ipswich, Queensland, I believe the current practice will be incineration. I would like to generate some conversation and get some support behind other waste to energy practices such as converting the waste to a safer usable by-product. Thermal depolymerization intrigues me as you can convert the plastic and organic waste into crude oil

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