Reground’s Kaitlin Reid has a few tips for how to keep a lid on your household waste.
In 2014, Ninna Larsen was working as a barista. Watching thousands of cups worth of coffee grounds going to landfill, she knew there must be a better use for this perceived waste. So she started Reground and teamed up with Kaitlin Reid. They began by taking coffee grounds from cafes and delivering them to local community gardens. Over the years, Reground has grown, and set its sights on bigger and bigger goals. Now, they help businesses, councils and commercial sites avoid and reduce waste. Here, Kaitlin talks us through what we can do about waste in our own homes.
Kaitlin says: “At the moment we are facing some big challenges as a community. As we ease out of COVID-19 restrictions here in Melbourne, I am reassessing my habits to have a more positive impact on my life and more importantly on my community and the planet. I think one really simple way that we can reverse climate change is through reducing the amount of waste we produce in our everyday lives. The first step I asked myself was: how can I avoid waste in the first place?”
Tip One: Become aware of your waste
It’s helpful to know exactly what waste you are producing in order to stop producing it. When I lived in a share house, it was a competition with my housemates to see how full (or empty) our bins were.
Start achievable, make it fun and aim for less waste next week, and less the week after. By July you might wonder where your waste went!
Tip Two: Set up some bins to increase your recycling effort
Head over to your kitchen and have a look around. How many bins can you see right now? If the answer is one, this is the first thing to change. In my small kitchen I have four bins, three that match the larger bins in my building, plus one that doesn’t. Here are a few bins you could set up to increase your recycling effort:
Tip Three: Tackle food waste
Food waste is hard on our landfill and also on our wallets! For an average household, one out of five shopping bags of food ends up in landfill. How can we avoid this? Composting is a great effort already, but finding ways to throw out less in the first place is also helpful.
Tip Four: Tackle soft plastics
Soft Plastics are the scrunchable plastics that cover our food and keep things fresh, for example herb packets, gladwrap, and spinach bags. These are recyclable but not in the yellow-lidded Commingled Recycling bin, as they will contaminate it and will live forever in landfill, or broken down into little pieces in our oceans.
Tip Five: Keep an eye on hidden waste
Thank you Kaitlin at Reground for sharing these tips with us, and thank you to illustrator Angharad for the wonderful images.
Join Kaitlin and Ninna, her partner at Reground, as they host a series of free workshops for reducing household waste on Tuesday 23 June, Tuesday 30 June and Tuesday 7 July.
You may also want to check out the City of Melbourne’s Open Innovation Competition, an annual challenge to solve a city issue by tapping into the creativity and expertise of our community to stimulate new ideas and effective solutions.
This year, the theme for the Open Innovation Competition is ‘waste elimination and the circular economy’. We invite the community to examine supply chains and systems to find ways to help eliminate the 800,000 tonnes of waste disposed of within the City of Melbourne boundary every year, some of which is recycled, most of which goes to landfill. The competition is running from 21 May to 3 July 2020. A panel of mentors and experts is available for anyone considering entering the competition – including Kaitlin and Ninna from Reground.
This article has been produced in partnership with Assemble Papers, as part of a series of workshops hosted by Knowledge Melbourne online from May-July 2020.
Illustrator: Angharad Neal-Williams
Angharad Neal-Williams is a Melbourne-based illustrator who uses both digital and traditional mediums to create thoughtful and quirky drawings. Her style is distinctly optimistic and focuses on the sensitivity of line and subtlety of colour. She aims to work with ethically conscious clients. If you would like to see more of Angharad’s illustrations follow her on Instagram or check out her website.