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Trash Talk #9

We all know about the three R’s in education. At Aussie Skip Bags we believe in three more: reduce, reuse, and recycle. These three also get a bonus point each for actually starting with the letter ‘r’.

We’ve talked a little bit about recycling already – and will some more in the future – so we thought it was about time we check out the other two.

So in this issue of Trash Talk, we look at the first leg of the stool: how to reduce the amount of rubbish in your bins. After all, with Christmas around the corner you’re going to need room for a whole lot more rubbish (and we don’t mean gifts from your mother-in-law).

For starters, buy only as much fresh produce as you need. Food has this annoying habit of going off after a little while. As we mentioned in an earlier Trash Talk, 62 percent of landfill waste is organic. Imagine how much we could reduce that by if we bought enough fruit and veges for the week and no more?

Buy refills. A liquid soap dispenser, for instance, can last a long time if you refill it instead of throwing it out and replacing it with another. Same with sauce bottles – always good to give it a fair shake rather than chuck it at the first opportunity.

Buy rechargeable batteries. In fact, buy anything that can be reused. In 2003 Aussies threw out over two million batteries. True fact: if you stacked all those batteries one on top of the other, they would reach a very long way up.

Purchase products that can be used for multiple tasks. Why, for instance, fork out for different cleaners for your toilet, shower and bench tops when an all-purpose household cleaner can keep them all just as clean?

Get your invoices and statements emailed to you rather than sent in the post. Paying bills online gets them off your back quicker.

If you’re not a fan of having your mailbox filled with pamphlets stick a ‘no circulars’ sign on there. It works on rectangular flyers too.

Hold a garage sale for anything you no longer want. Auction them off online. Give old clothes away to charity, old toys to friends with kids, unwanted gifts to those who may want them.

While these tips will reduce your load, ultimately you will always have rubbish to dispose of. That’s your cue to buy an Aussie Skip Bag, fill it up and give us a call – we’ll take care of the rest.

Finally, we’d like you to meet George, one of our new customers. To get his full skip bag down his driveway George built himself this rather large skateboard. Now we don’t at all mind going up your driveway to collect your bag – but we still reckon this is a pretty cool invention.

Try doing that with a skip bin!

Bye for now, and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Aussie Skip Bags

— Posted over 4 years ago

Trash Talk #8

Righto, the very first issue of Trash Talk covered some ways in which a skip bag, especially a pink one, beats a skip bin every time.

Since then we’ve touched on other issues but we keep meaning to come back to this. After all, the beautiful simplicity of the skip bag contrasts sharply with the clunky inconvenience of the skip bin.

So, here are some more reasons why you should choose an Aussie Skip Bag over a skip bin:

Ever tried buying a skip bin from a retailer then walking home with it? Chances are you’re going to do your back a fair bit of grief. Skip bags are literally easy to pick up as they’re made from a very light (yet incredibly strong) woven polypropylene.

Skip bags are also easy to pick up in the figurative sense: they’re available from most hardware stores including Bunnings Warehouse and Mitre 10, and your local petrol station (as long as it’s a BP).

We don’t have rental fees. A skip bag bought today could be forgotten about until 2022 and you won’t get a big nasty bill. In that sense, a skip bag is also better than a library book. Not only would keeping a skip bin that long cost you a large fortune, but it will also end up all rusty.

Similarly, you can’t move a skip bin from its drop off point. Should you have it dropped on your front lawn, and you then decide that actually it’d be far better off closer to the garage, it will take some kind of black magic to move it from Point A to B. Not so with an Aussie Skip Bag.

We mentioned last time how our bags can fit into some tight spots. Guess what? Our trucks are pretty nifty too – our cranes can usually grab your bag from behind fences or from inside garages. Good luck doing that with a skip bin without taking out anything (or anyone) valuable.

This YouTube clip is short for a reason: picking up your Aussie Skip Bag is done in a jiffy. And if you had any doubts about how tough our bags are, this oughta disperse them.

Finally, skip bags are fantastic for other purposes too. They’ve been used for vegetable gardens, storage boxes, gardening bags for clippings and much more. The only limit is your imagination. With a skip bin, the only limit would be its size, weight, and the fact it’s made out of solid metal.

On that note, do you have some creative skip bag ideas we could try out on a quiet day at the office? Can you think of other ways skip bags beat skip bins? We always enjoy your feedback so drop us a line at trashtalk@aussieskipbags.com.au.

Bye for now, Aussie Skip Bags

— Posted almost 5 years ago

Trash Talk #7

“Don’t mess with Texas.”

This famous slogan was originally the catchphrase of a campaign to stop Texans from littering their highways. It was a great success, and the slogan took on new life as the perfect summation of Texas’ “take us on” attitude. It wasn’t so great for the poor guys who had created and trademarked it – they’ve been fighting a losing battle against souvenir makers ever since.

It made us wonder: what inspires people to litter? Is it a lack of bins? Laziness? Providing jobs for others? Lousy habit? They’re all reasons that have been offered by offending parties. So which excuses are used most often, and by whom?

Conveniently for us, Australia is home to the world’s largest “disposal behaviour database”, consisting of over 90,000 littering and non-littering observations. The things academics do for fun. The most recent set of interviews, carried out back in 2004, indicated that by far the biggest reason for littering was “there were no bins nearby”. The second most popular reason was “too lazy”. It could be argued those reasons are one and the same.

Next on the list was “no ashtray nearby”, which may explain why cigarette butts are by far the most common items of litter. (Check these figures out: cigarette butts make up 74% of all littered items in regional centres, and 60% in state capitals.)

But here are the figures we find most fascinating: 61% of people interviewed after being observed littering either could not remember doing so, or didn’t want to admit it. Keep in mind these interviewees had no idea they’d been observed. This figure was made up of 46% who (in their mind) hadn’t littered at least in the last 24 hours, and 15% who had “never littered” at all.

So who are the worst offenders? Bad guests for one: out of towners are likelier to litter up regional centres than locals.

People under 25 made up the highest proportion of litterers – but before we start grounding them, this needs to be balanced against the fact young people are usually the ones most likely to gather in public places. No matter what people’s ages, the study found, those in larger groups are more likely to litter. It’s a peer thing – one person does it, and others join in.

So in short: if you see six city slicker teenagers strutting through Moranbah, chances are they may drop a cigarette butt or three – but they’ll probably deny it. But, in fairness, guilt can be found amongst people of all ages and walks of life.

Luckily, most Aussies know how to use a bin – and that puts us ahead of many other countries. But there is still a wee way for us to go. We could, perhaps, do worse than adopting a little of that Texan attitude.

Bye for now, Aussie Skip Bags

— Posted almost 5 years ago

Trash Talk #6

The Carbon Tax came to life last month and, as with any tax increase, the costs have been passed on to the consumer. That is, you.

Alas, this includes rubbish. The Sunshine Coast Council, for instance, has had to increase the price for taking a trailer of rubbish from $14 to $16. For bigger dumpers, the domestic waste charge has risen from $110 a tonne to $130.

It’s understandable that prices rise in line with government demands. One consequence of that, however, is that less scrupulous folk than you and us are finding other, less legal, ways of dumping their trash.

We’re already seeing anecdotal evidence of more dumping. With tip fees up, and kerbside collections scrapped, people along the Sunshine Coast are finding more rubbish dumped on the roadside.

South of the border things are somewhat different. Many New South Welshfolk are keen to take their rubbish on a road trip north. Why? Because their waste levy increased while Queensland – as mentioned in the last edition of Trash Talk – reduced theirs to the low low price of zero.

Remembering that a lot of rubbish can be instead recycled, that’s a fair few recyclables going to a northern landfill instead of the local waste management centre.

Incentives matter. People react to price changes – and not always in ways we expect or appreciate.

Illegal dumping, mind you, was already quite the issue here in Aussie, and at great cost to ratepayers and the environment. In 2005, says Clean Up Australia, those living under the Gold Coast City Council paid $1.5 million to clean up after illegal dumpers.

Those who try to save money by illegally dumping rubbish only end up paying for it through their rates. As do you, unfortunately. There’s no such thing as a free dump. The council has to pay for it to be removed from wherever it’s been hidden.

And that’s to speak nothing of the environmental damage from leaked contaminates into our land and waterways, or the health hazards excited vermin carry as they flock to and from illegal dumpsites.

Enforcement isn’t cheap either. The same CUA report spoke of the Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Squad in Western Sydney, which “works day or night, seven days a week to tackle illegal dumping through surveillance, covert operations, helicopters and trail bike surveillance.” Note to TV producers: if that’s not a subject for a winning reality series, we don’t know what is.

For all that, they get results. In the year to 30 June 2011, the RID Squad investigated 4645 incidents and issued 691 penalty notices as well as 95 clean-up notices. Meanwhile, some recent remote camerawork in the Dubbo area caught six people dumping household rubbish, whiteware and green waste on travelling stock reserves. As Joe Strummer would say, they fought the law and the law won.

Here’s some really good news. Despite the new tax, compared to skip bins and trailers it is still ridiculously economical to use an Aussie Skip Bag. They’re easy to use, they’re flexible (you can put one just about anywhere), and they’re great for the environment – an area we take extremely seriously. We are proud, for example, to have been involved with both the Oxfam Trailwalker and Clean Up Australia Day.

We’re passionate about keeping Australia tidy for this and future generations. If you share our passion then keep an eye out for illegal dumping – and dumpers – and report them to the authorities. It’s far cheaper all round to dispose of rubbish properly – be it in a trailer, or – best of all! – an Aussie Skip Bag.

Bye for now,

Aussie Skip Bags

— Posted almost 5 years ago

Trash Talk #5

Who recycles?

This question was triggered by an interesting piece in the Sydney Morning Herald. Entitled ‘Rich are better at recycling? What a total load of rubbish’, the article refers to a report by the state government’s Office of Environment and Heritage into Sydney’s recycling habits.

“Some of Sydney’s poorer areas are recycling at more than double the rate of other suburbs and far outperforming many of [the] city’s more affluent addresses” started the article.

To illustrate the point, down the bottom was Botany Bay with just 24 percent of household waste recovered in 2010-11. Liverpool was at the top, having a recycle rate of 70.5%.

This is an amazing improvement from just 15.39% before 2009. Their secret: 50% of rubbish put into non-recycling bins is now transferred to “an alternative waste treatment facility at Kemps Creek.” Well done you guys.

But back to what originally grabbed our attention. Why did the SMH headline assume the ‘rich’ are more likely to recycle? Perhaps there is some overseas data that will give credence to this assertion? May as well find out, while Google’s open.

The assumption drawn from the academic stuff we skimmed through was that wealthier people tended to recycle more because they consumed more – but one study disputed that by arguing knowledge was a more important predictor of recycling behaviour. Academics disagreeing? How unexpected.

Some specific examples shed a bit more light. A 2011 article from Connecticut suggested those towns with the highest level of recycling tended to be wealthier. One theory put forward is that those towns had higher magazine and newspaper subscriptions rates – things that tend to be among the most recycled materials.

The best-performed town, Stonington, has free recycling and charges $1.50 per 30-gallon trash bag. Meanwhile Stratford, an economic diverse community, also scores highly. The reason: it’s the home of a garbage museum.

A New York study shows that, for the most part, the wealthiest areas recycle more and the poorest less. Then again Staten Island – a lower income area – had some of the highest recycling rates, which the study suggested was “tied to community culture rather than wealth.”

Over in Britain, the charitable organisation Friends of the Earth had little faith in lower-income earners to recycle. A 2002 report set a goal of achieving a recycling rate of 20-24% in the “poorest areas”, and a rate of 33-47% in the richest.

Were they right to be sceptical? As of March 2011 England’s average recycling rate was 41.2%. At the local authority level Britain’s Liverpool is ranked highest in deprivation and 332nd out of 359 for recycling. Then again Hart, Britain’s wealthiest district, only has a 38% recycle rate and has more than 200 districts ranked above them. Then again, again, Rochford has the highest recycling rate and is one of the top 30 wealthiest districts.

So the only thing we know for sure from this is that wealth does play a part in recycling rates, except for all the times it doesn’t. Clear as mud.

The good news is we can take a couple of conclusions from these tales: firstly, knowledge and community are important, as the tales of Stratford and Staten Island show.

Secondly, money talks. Stonington residents recycle more because it saves them money. Sydneysiders are likely recycle much more as the waste levy rises. In Queensland, on the other hand, we just had our levy abolished.

User pays, income, knowledge, community… what is the biggest factor? If we check in on Sydney and Queensland in a year’s time, we might have some solid answers at last.

Bye for now, Aussie Skip Bags

— Posted about 5 years ago

Trash Talk #4

Talk about thorough. From 30 July, the Clarence Valley Council is introducing a revamped waste management system for you good folk.

This will feature bins representing all the colours of the rainbow – well, three. They will have a bigger, yellow bin for recyclables. Stuff put in the red bin is used to feed the landfills and, with less going in it, will be collected every fortnight.

The big news though is the introduction of a brand new green bin, designed for storing your organic waste (which includes food scraps, garden waste, wood and paper) until collection day. Once picked up it will be taken to the new recovery centre at South Grafton, where it will be transformed into compost.

Organic waste makes up a lot of Australia’s total rubbish supply. Your correspondent nearly choked on his lunch of potato peels and wood shavings when he saw the stats: according to 2009 government figures 62 percent of landfill waste is organic. 2006-07 saw 20.06 million tonnes of organic waste created; only 6.4 million of that was recovered and reused. Included in this lot is $5.2 billion of food each and every year. I know greens, especially broccoli, can be yucky – but surely this is a little excessive.

Aside from the space it takes up in landfills, dumping organic rubbish has other environmental downsides. Rotting organics generates a biogas made up of mostly methane and carbon dioxide. Organics can also contribute to the formation of leachate, which can potentially contaminate surface and ground water.

None of this need happen. Organic waste can be recycled into compost, mulch, and biochar (organic charcoal). Putting this stuff in our land, as opposed to the unprocessed waste, carries many benefits. Among them – compost and mulch help reduce plants’ irrigation needs, and also allows soil to store more carbon for longer as opposed to, as scientists would say, letting it float around in the sky.

So any proposal to take these millions of tonnes and do something useful with it is to be welcomed. If you’d rather do it yourself, it’s pretty easy to make a compost heap at your place. It’s a great way to get rid of annoying little things like egg shells, coffee grounds and vacuum cleaner dust. If you want to attract mice or rats*, chuck in your meat and dairy products and animal droppings.

Get yourself a decent bin, put it in a sunny part of your garden, and ensure you keep it adequately watered (but not too wet) and aerated. Plenty of soil and leaves will attract the insects and worms, and help them to work their magic. Just the right mix of moisture, heat and air and you’ll have the perfect compost for your garden. And thus the circle of life continues, rather than being sent to die in a landfill somewhere. Well done to those in Clarence Valley – and everywhere else – who are doing their bit.

Bye for now, Aussie Skip Bags

* Just to remove all doubt, no you do NOT want to attract mice or rats

— Posted about 5 years ago

Trash Talk #3

Did you know, fellow Aussies, that our analogue network is being switched off by the end of 2013?

If anyone in Illawarra and Griffith – among others – didn’t know already, you would have found out the hard way on 5 June.

If you haven’t got the right television already then at some stage you will need to either buy one, get a set-top box, or purchase a digital TV recorder.

The good news is, as of March last year 79 percent of you have, one way or another, converted your main TV set to digital. A further eight percent have, for now, access to some digital channels through their Subscription TV services, while 13 percent are yet to make the switch in any way.

This doesn’t quite reflect the entire picture, however. Many households have more than one television set – a trend that has helped reduced family arguments one thousand fold. Of those homes with more than one telly, just 63% of two set households reckon they’re all sorted. This drops to 52% of three set homes, and just 42% with four or more TVs.

Many regions already switched to digital in the last couple of years. Of those that haven’t, you still have plenty of time to get sorted out. A number of big centres, including Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, won’t switch over until at least June 2013. Consider how many people live in those cities. Ponder how many televisions will need to be replaced. Then have a seat and consider an aspirin.

With all these televisions reaching the end of their usefulness, they are going to have to be disposed of thoughtfully. Throwing out TVs and monitors means losing precious non-renewable materials such as gold, zinc, platinum, copper, and many more.

On top of that, TVs and computer monitors contain a fair few unfriendly things like lead, cadmium and mercury. Not a problem while watching the set, but not so great when buried underground in a landfill, which is where 84 percent of them (roughly 14.1 million units) ended up in 2007-08.

So what can you do to dispose of your old telly responsibly? It seems the Government is coming to the party here with the launch last month of the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme. This involves establishing designated collection points where you can drop off your TV/computer monitors to be recycled safely and free of charge. The aim is to have at least 80% of these products recycled, rather than dumped, in the scheme’s first decade.

The first few recycling stations have been set up in ACT and surrounding New South Wales towns, and will be rolled out across the rest of the country by the end of next year – coinciding with the dawn of our brave new digital age.

If you want to hold onto your television until there’s a station near you then that’s cool – but what if you want to free up that space now? You can still get rid of your TV safely: there are a number of e-waste businesses out there that can help. Your local recycling centre will know what to do also.

And if you’ve got a few to throw out, you could chuck quite a few TVs into our biggest skip bag no probs. So buy one of our bags, go around the neighbourhood and take care of your e-waste. With your neighbours’ permission, of course.

Check out when your region’s making the switch, and read more info on the government’s e-waste recycling scheme.

Bye for now, Aussie Skip Bags

— Posted about 5 years ago

Trash Talk #2

About a week ago, news came through on the grapevine that Tasmania is set to implement a ban on plastic bags. Over $700,000 has been put aside by the state government to draft a law that will make checkout bags a thing of the past.

It’s a move that’s not entirely unprecedented. Coles Bay banned the bag back in 2003, and Hawaii has also just announced their plans to be the first American state to ban what they call “the modern day tumbleweed”. On top of this, Vietnam is so sick of plastic bags they’re now taxing them. The Vietnamese Plastic Bag community is yet to say whether they plan to pay up.

It’s true, plastic bags are not exactly the healthiest invention we’ve gifted the earth. They have a nasty habit of clogging up landfills and waterways, and they are in absolutely no hurry to biodegrade. These news pieces from the ‘Apple Isle’ and the ‘Islands of Aloha’ are likely to be the tip of the polyethylene iceberg.

This is not to say all plastic bags are the same. There are biodegradable plastic bags out there, made from vegetable-based bioplastics. How common they are is hard to say; every time we did a Google search for ‘biodegradable plastic bags’ the results always came back prefixed with ‘non’.

There are, however, ways to reuse the humble plastic bag if you find yourself with a stash of them. These range from the simple – line your bins, wrap your lunch in them, pick up dog ‘souvenirs’ – to the creative, like for icing cakes or making funky handbags.

There is one lot of bags you can rely on to be good for the environment. Aussie Skip Bags are made from strong woven polypropylene. This ain’t your typical plastic: these bags are easily recycled once used. Unlike shopping bags they’re also durable and tear-proof – so long as you use them properly!

Not only are they recyclable, when used properly their contents can be also. In response to Queensland’s waste disposal levy many businesses are discovering how our skip bags can help reduce the amount they have to pay. By having separate skip bags for different kinds of rubbish, they’re increasing how much is being recycled, and ensuring the landfills aren’t filling nearly as quickly as they were. It’s a win-win situation, and we’re thrilled to be doing our bit.

Our trucks take your rubbish down to your local waste disposal facility – so as long as your local council likes recycling as much as we do, together we can make sure the right materials end up in the right place. It might be many years yet before the old plastic bag is confined to the dustbin of history. In the meantime be sure to reuse or dispose of them properly, and remember that not all bags are created equal. You’ll find the best bags in Australia are dressed in pink.

Bye for now, Aussie Skip Bags

— Posted about 5 years ago

Trash Talk #1

Aussie Skip Bags has been helping keep Australia clean for around two years now. Over that time we’ve met heaps of great people; getting to know our customers is a big highlight of our job.

We thought we might touch base with you from time to time via this new section we like to call ‘Trash Talk’.

What better way to start than with a few reasons why skip bags are so much better than their bin equivalents! Those who have used them will know exactly why, but for those of you who might be sceptical here’s eight reasons to ‘bin the bin’:

For starters, skip bags are cheaper. The longer you keep a skip bin the more you have to pay. With Aussie Skip Bags you pay for the bag and pick up – not the hire time. You could buy one today, not use it until next year, and you won’t pay an extra cent until you’re ready for us to come take it away.

Skip bags are also easier to store. Our skip bags fold easily, and you can put them in a drawer somewhere until you need it. Try doing that with a skip bin!

They’re very flexible. Skip bags fit into tight spaces much better than a big metal bin. You could even keep one inside if you wanted.

Builders love our skip bags because they can chuck them on the back of a truck and transport them easily to and from building sites as needed.

Skip bags have easy access for wheelbarrows. No more having to shot put your trash into a bin – our flexible bags mean you can take a wheelbarrow right up and into the bag, dump it, then go back for the next load. No more getting your hands dirty picking up anything that didn’t make it into the skip first time.

Our bags look nicer too. If you’ve seen a skip bin on someone’s lawn you know what an eyesore they can be. Not our bags: you won’t see any rust on them, and pink is pretty!

Our skip bags come in three different sizes: one, two, and three cubic metres. Don’t let anyone tell you they can’t carry as much as a bin – our biggest bag, the Boomer, can take up to 600kg of trash!

Finally, for now, it’s very easy to buy an Aussie Skip Bag. Just pop into one of our numerous stockists and pick one up at your leisure, or get in touch and we’ll deliver to your door.

So there’s a few good reasons, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list. No doubt we’ll be revisiting this topic now and again. In the meantime we’d love to hear your stories about how our Skip Bags have helped make your lives easier – drop us a line at trashtalk@aussieskipbags.com.au.

Bye for now,

Aussie Skip Bags

— Posted over 5 years ago