The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
We try really hard to connect things together in our lives. It’s a simple principle.
Take for example the chickens. They eat kitchen waste- they eat weeds- they produce manure. The hens are dealing with a ‘problem’ and recycling it into something useful.
So we needed to deal with paper. We’ve already done many things to cut down the paper in our house.
In The Netherlands there’s a system for the mail commonly referred to as ‘nee-nee’. A label on the letter box is used to stop unaddressed mail and all the ‘free’ papers and advertisements.
There’s a few versions of the label so you can choose which material you don’t want. It’s a free thing from the local town hall.
And the good thing is delivery companies do pay attention to the label. The regular services don’t come to the door at all.
So then there’s the envelopes, paper based packaging etc that still accumulates albeit at a reduced rate.
We store this for a period of time. Then when there’s plenty the fun starts.
We shred the paper and card into a large box or bucket.
Then add water to the box. (We use collected rain water from a water butt. You could leave the large box in the garden for a few days in anticipation.)
It should be very soggy. I tend to have an theory that less water and more paper is preferable. Basically the water is going to be squeezed out so keep the water levels lower.
I add about a cup full of vinegar. This helps to make the paper mushy. (Some people use bleach for this but vinegar really works and is less chemical.)
Vinegar also loosens jar labels if you soak them in water.
So then leave the paper to soak and become squidgy.
When the paper is more mushy, after a couple of days, we start to make the briquettes.
It’s a bit like the paper mâché from school.
This is a briquette press which we bought in the UK from a catalogue shop. It was in the garden section. At the end of the season it was down in price to £10.00.
The trick is not to over fill it. if it’s really hard to press then you’re doing it wrong and you could buckle the lever system. It’s not a strong arm process.
Make sure you do this somewhere where the liquid isn’t a problem as it’s squeezed out.
At the end of the process we normally have around twenty briquettes. We dry them outside under a cold frame on our balcony for a few weeks.
Each briquette burns for about twenty minutes.
It’s a little exercise.
Burning old utilities bills is a good way of disposing of confidential information.
It keeps the house warm.
Here’s a link to a short film with the fire.
<a href="http://“>Fire starter film
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...