Recycling is something a lot of us do on autopilot with it being part of everyday life. Not one to show my age, but I can remember during my childhood having no recycling boxes outside the house and never seeing adverts or media circulated regarding the climate crisis. Thankfully one of the advantages of our children’s generation, is that they are made much more aware and have greater understanding from a young age, giving them the tools and education to actively be a part of tackling it. It makes me uncomfortable to think of all the packaging we would have thrown mindlessly in the bin for all those years when I see how full our recycling boxes get every week.
Having two ostomates in the house makes for a lot of extra packaging. We use just under 400 single use syringes, between 60-80 stoma bags, all the additions that come with it, and the medicines that we both take with their recycling too. Thats just in 1 month! It’s a lot when you see it down in black and white, and as a result we had no choice but to request extra recycling boxes from the local council. It was very straight forward and they were dropped off outside the door within a few weeks. If you haven’t and feel you would benefit from this, I strongly recommend you do the same as we were putting materials that could be recycled in the general waste bin when our recycling boxes were over flowing. I would be lying if I didn’t say I felt guilty about the packaging that comes through the house. With all the orders we have for the supplies and the delivery companies boxes, it can sometimes feel like we could start our own packing service! Here are some of my tips to help ease that guilt:
At first I would see the boxes as play potential when my son Jake was really little. They would become a car wash, a den, a play house or a race track. I would try and reuse them in any way I could so I could extend its use. If a friend needed boxes for moving or storing items then I would pass them on. Your child’s school may find them useful for projects too so its always worth sending an email. The plastic square coverings of our stoma supplies made for great arts and crafts projects. It’s a lovely feeling knowing you have helped in the community and giving the packaging a new lease of life.
When our stoma supplies come I break everything down to its bare essentials straight away. I take everything out of its individual boxes and put them straight in my storage system of a craft trolley from hobby craft for our weekly supplies. For the rest of the months supplies I put them away in our garage where I have a storage cupboard and individual baskets so I can keep organised and on track of what is left. Everyone has their own way of storing things, but if you can scale things down like removing boxes that separate individual flanges and recycling it when it arrives, it can stop you mindlessly throwing it with your disposable waste during a bag change if you are in a rush or in a bit of a mess!
It’s been great to see some companies releasing products which have more than one use. Respond Healthcare Ltd have release a product with 3 uses (yes 3!) as a barrier film, fresh linen scent and adhesive remover called REFRESH. If this product was to work for you that’s 2 out of 3 products that you could potential stop ordering, reducing your environmental impact.
There are so many products on the market right now where you can get enough samples to open your own ostomy shop! But do you really need them? Do you need to try 5 different adhesive removal sprays at the same time or could you try one first and if it doesn’t work for you send to try for another? More often than not you will find a great fit quickly and be left with lots of products not even used which often the companies can’t take back which either end up in the bin or collecting dust in a drawer. Obviously this depends on your situation, and if you need a solution for an ostomy problem quickly you need a few options to relieve any discomfort you are experiencing.
Finally something we thankfully have access to in our local council is clinical waste collection. In Wales in particular, there is terribly low availability for service and it needs improving. Go on your councils website or give them and ring to enquire if you qualify in your area. Life can be so hard juggling work, children and your health, especially if you are having a flare up. I make sure I tell myself that even if I manage to just do one small thing then its a positive step and that’s good enough. Tomorrow is always a new day for new opportunities. Just being conscious of your impact and being good role models to our children is fantastic in itself.
Until next time, Rach x