How much do you really think about other people’s waste? At Packshare, we’ve found once you start thinking about it, it can become all-consuming! Anything you’re buying, someone else is probably trying to figure out how to get rid of.
As a society, we’re starting to realise that there is no ‘away’ to throw something – all that waste ends up somewhere, and something has to be done with is when it gets there. So perhaps the time is right to rethink what we mean by waste.
I recently decided I wanted to mosaic the top of my garden table (I’m really fussy about homewares, and couldn’t find a pre-made table I liked the look of). I started looking in craft stores for packs of mosaic tiles, but the only ones I could find were more like pebbles, which wasn’t the style I was going for – I wanted something that would look at home at Fishbourne Roman Palace. Ok – so I might have had big dreams, but I knew the sort of thing I wanted. Also, the craft store packs were pretty expensive and I knew I’d have to buy multiple packs to cover the whole table.
A number of friends told me to keep an eye on a few local Facebook groups where people list items they no longer want (much like Packshare but for anything and everything). I love these sorts of groups but am pretty impatient so just wanted to get the tiles and get going.
Walking between two large craft stores on an out of town industrial estate, I passed a tile shop. I wondered initially whether they would sell the sort of mosaic tiles I was looking for. When I went in I was shown to the pre-made mosaic tiles. I told the guy in the shop that what I was really after was some broken tiles so that I could make my own mosaic.
He very kindly showed me out the back where they put all the broken and ex-display tiles to be taken away – these items can’t generally be put out with the normal business waste collection so they company pay a great deal to have it taken away.
I raided the broken tile bin and ended up with almost all the tiles I needed. I then bought some sample tiles for the few colours I was missing and hey presto I was ready to go.
I had to smash up the tiles further to make them appropriately mosaic sized, then I sketched and drew out the picture I wanted to make.
Once this was done it was time to start putting the mosaic together. It was much like doing a puzzle, but without knowing whether the piece you’re looking for is even in the box… which was quite therapeutic – if you’re looking for some mindful activities I would highly recommend mosaicing!
Once the tiles were all in place I left it overnight to dry, and the next day started grouting.
Once the grout was mostly dry I cleaned the whole thing up, revealing a mosaic I am absolutely thrilled with, and I know is totally original.
I was left with several boxes of broken tiles, so listed these on a Facebook group and someone came to collect the next day – a lovely lady who had much the same goal as I had had. Again, I think these groups are amazing and help keep items in circulation which a few years ago would have ended up at the dump (and yet people always bemoan the evils of social media!)
Before Packshare I might have felt awkward about asking a business if I could take something that they considered waste. The last year has shown me that there are so many businesses out there who want to do something better with their waste, but don’t know who to pass it on to and don’t have the time to find those people. Packshare aims to help close those loops and other apps like Olio (a food-sharing app) and the various local Facebook groups, we can see lots of people looking to repurpose waste.
We know that curbside collections are more convenient, and finding someone to reuse your waste can be more tricky, but we also know that what happens to our waste is our responsibility. If you haven’t already used Packshare, give it a go! If there are no businesses signed up near you, why not chat to them about whether they’re buying in packaging that could be sourced from their community instead?