General ramblings

The Rubbish Diet-Waste Watching….

January 21, 2013

Today saw the official start of Wilthsire Wildlife’s Rubbish Diet!!

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, Wiltshire Wildlife are running a Slim your Bin campaign for the start of 2013, encouraging the good householders of Wiltshire to “Watch their Waste” and try and reduce the amount of rubbish that goes to landfill in the county. (I blogged about it here) It is based on Karen Cannard’s really excellent Rubbish Diet blog. If you take a look at the e-book that Karen has written, it talks you through an 8 week project, aiming to look at every aspect of household rubbish production. So, even it you aren’t in Wilthsire, or signed up to take part, you can still join in too!

And if you are wondering why you should, did you know that it is expected that the UK will run out of landfill space in the next 10 years. 10 years. And if that’s not enough incentive, read Karen’s acount of her visit to a landfill site. She expresses it far more articulately than I could ever hope to.

The first step, as in any diet, is a weigh-in. Time to ‘fess up and step on the scales!

In order to reduce the amount of rubbish we are throwing away as a family, we first need to know how much we are currently throwing away, and also have an idea of what we are throwing away.

There are various ways to do this:

  • Count the number of bags that are in your bin at the end of the fortnight, just before the next collection
  • Estimate how full your bin is, and if you know the capacity of your bin (in cubic litres) then this will give you a fairly accurate guesstimation
  • If you are really dedicated, you can weigh your rubbish….

Now, I think I am reasonably dedicated, but I’m afraid I draw the line at weighing my rubbish….

So we went for looking inside the bin, and roughly gauging how full it was:

Just so you know, I ventured out, IN THE SNOW, to do this....

Just so you know, I ventured out, IN THE SNOW, to do this….

It was about 1/3 full. This is a fortnight’s worth of rubbish for us.

Waste watchers21

According to Wikipedia, a standard UK wheelie bin is 240 litres. So if my maths is correct…this makes our total rubbish capacity about 80litres per fortnight.

So now, down to the nitty gritty. What are we throwing away…??

Karen’s advice is to don a pair of gloves, and phsically root through the rubbish bags.

Again, I’m afraid I wimped out here…

We did peer inside the kitchen bin, and have a bitof a poke around. And then we made a top 5 ‘hit list’:

  1. Food waste-fruit and veg peelings, tea bags (I love tea…), and also a small amount of cooked food-a function of living with toddlers I think!
  2. Packaging-mostly from food. Packets from pasta and rice, the plastic bags from fuit and veg, and those annoying plastic containers that they put the veg in. And also from toiltries and cleaning products
  3. The ash and bits from the fire-this is just a winter thing, and not that often as it’s such a faff. But once the paper bricks are dry, who knows..!!
  4. Nappies and wipes-we use reusable nappies the day, but do resort to disposables at night for SmallSmall. And we do get through a lot of baby wipes. Again, we use reusabel wipes for bums, but for mucky faces and hands after dinner, and to carry in the changing bag, we use disposable ones
  5. Cotton wool, kitchen roll, ear buds etc

So there we have it. The full confessional…

I don’t think 2/3 of a wheelie bin a month is too bad. But there is still room for improvement….

PS. If you do live in lovely Wilthsire, then Wiltshire Wildlife are running all sorts of great events during the campaign, including two workshops in conjucntion with me! On the 2nd February we are runing a workshop showing you how to make your own toiletires and cleaning products in Chippenham, and on the 2nd March, we are running an Upcycling workshop in Warminster library, turningthings that you would otherwise throw away into funky memo boards andmagnets! Check out the website for more information, or leave me a message here.

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19 Comments

  • Reply Zero Waste Week 2014 | My Make Do and Mend Year August 11, 2014 at 6:02 am

    […] since going on a Rubbish Diet, to Slim our Bins, in the January of Make Do and Mend Year, I have been so much more aware of everything that we put […]

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    […] all our stretchy plastic bags to the recycling points at the local supermarkets. When we did the Bin Slimming we identified that bags and packing accounted for quite a high volume of our rubbish. Now we keep […]

  • Reply Trashion | My Make Do and Mend Year May 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    […] couple of weeks ago I was invited along by expert Waste Watcher Emma Croft (Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Waste Minimisation Officer no less!) to a fashion show […]

  • Reply Happy Earth Day! | My Make Do and Mend Year April 22, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    […] reduce food waste. We get an organic fruit and veg box from Riverford, and since taking part in the Waste Watcher’s campaign with Wiltshire Wildlife we have really ‘slimmed our bin’. Our Green Johanna […]

  • Reply Waste Watcher’s-the end..? | My Make Do and Mend Year March 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    […] This was our bin at the start of the project: […]

  • Reply SarahN March 18, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Cotton buds get me too! And floss. And sanitary items.

    I go to the CO-op now for bulk rice and oats. I’d love to know more about Hazel’s newspaper soaked for Bokashi – I’m still buying Bokashi bran (which comes in a mega plastic ziplock bag – whilst it’s plastic, I almost always reuse them, so I’m not as worried). It’s definately a challenge to slim one’s bin!

    • Reply Jen March 18, 2013 at 9:48 pm

      I think you can buy cotton buds with wooden sticks instead of plastic, but not sure where from. Floss, not sure-presumably not compostable as waxed?? And sanitary products-check out mooncups (which I use) or many of the cloth nappy websites do re-usable pads..

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    […] It has the bonus of being packaging free-very important when you are Watching your Waste… […]

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    […] I have to confess to feeling a little disheartened and feeling like we would have achieved very little in terms of ‘Slimming our Bin’ by the end of the Waste Watchers diet. […]

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  • Reply My Waste Watcher’s update « My Make Do and Mend Year February 6, 2013 at 7:01 pm

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  • Reply Hazel January 22, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    I made a concerted effort to reduce my landfill rubbish after finding Karen’s blog a few years ago.

    Our waste is still nearly all plastic, though I do my best to use the local farm shop for veg especially to avoid fruit and veg packaging. I made some net bags from some offcuts of nylon voile-type stuff to make bags like these OnyaWeigh bags http://www.onyabags.co.uk/shop.php?crn=208 so that I can buy loose produce from the supermarket whenever possible. It varies a bit from shop to shop though- Morrisons seem to wrap everything in plastic, even individual peppers…

    Incidentally, Sainsbury’s will recycle the citrus fruit nets in their carrier bag recycling (or you can crochet them into a scrubbing pad for the sink!) They’ll also take anything polythene (stretchy plastic bags rather than the crinkly film ones), which includes some pasta and rice bags, which is helpful.

    I compost all our food waste and I’m lucky in that our council collect all food waste, so they’ll take bones and stuff I can’t compost or feed to the dogs/chickens. Wormeries and bokashi are also good ways to dispose of food you can’t compost. Bokashis look expensive, but I ferment pieces of newspaper in live yogurt way, so I don’t have to buy the special bran.

    I second composting the fire ash. I give mine to my chickens as a dust bath too, but that’s not a good tip unless you have chickens as well, so composting is the way to go!

    Finally (sorry, really long comment!) try to avoid anything disposable- flannels instead of wipes (like the other commenters I take a wet flannel in a bag even now and my children are 14, 12 and 9!); flannels/muslin/washable pads/wipes instead of cotton wool and go cold turkey on the kitchen roll! I don’t fry much that needs draining, but paper (produce) bags are a good substitute, or I use an old teatowel. Use washable dishcloths for wiping up spills. You can buy paper cotton buds that are compostable. It sounds like extra work, but it’s really not, it’s just a different mindset

    I’ve found trying to avoid the stuff in the first place is the most effective, so not buying kitchen roll/veg in packaging/prepacked food etc is where I’ve made the most progress. My bug bear is polystyrene, which all my local butchers seem to think is compulsory. My favourite farmshop will now save me some sausages to put straight into a plastic tub if I phone and order some though, which is progress.

    Hope some of that’s helpful!

    • Reply Jen January 22, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Brilliant!! Thankyou so much Hazel. Will definitely be trying to implement lots of these ideas. It’s so refreshing to hear that there are people out there who do think about their waste and have taken so many great steps to reduce it. Now we just need to spread the word!

  • Reply Steve Waller January 22, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    I think you’re probably already doing better than the average family so that’s a good start and I’m sure using the suggestions in the other comments will help you reduce things further. If you have the space, you could try getting a wormery for your food waste – I tried but I didn’t do very well as my worms died twice over and I finally gave up but I’ve heard other people have got them working very well.

    • Reply Jen January 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      We tried a wormery too Steve, and ours died too! We are going to try a Green Joanna-which can take 2/3 kitchen waste to 1/3 garden. Will let you know how we get on!

  • Reply chris January 22, 2013 at 11:17 am

    My children are in there 40’s so I hade no disposable nappies, children seemed to be dry by 18 months, it does not always help to keep them too comfy, I used 2 flannels one for bottoms and one for fingers, the grandchildren get there fingers and mouths wipe with Grannies dish cloth. If you are going out just put the flannels in 2 plastic containers.
    Start using leaf tea the dregs can be put straight onto the garden. Food waste can be composted; some i.e. bread or rice can be fed to the birds.
    Some film that comes around tea and cakes can be recycled at Waitrose.
    The ash you can dig into your veg patch. I wish I could get some ash it is wonderful for the garden.
    For cleaning I use microfibre cloths and vinager in a spray bottle [This is what my Grandma used.] Try it in the washing up too. I use Ecover soap powder; this comes in a recyclable cardboard box.
    My landfill waste is mainly plastic bags from veg; I must start using the greengrocer. I get about a carrier bag of rubbish every 2 weeks. I have used 1 roll of paper towel recently as hankies when I had the flu I started with the intention off using old squares of sheet but the good intentions went out the window after a couple of days.
    I will be interested to watch how you get on. Good Luck,
    I have one aside when buying cloths etc take a cloth bag or pillowcase this saves another plastic carrier

    • Reply Jen January 22, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Wow! What fab tips. Thankyou so much 🙂
      We use reusable nappies during the day, but dispoables at night as we had a few problems. Might try again with the reusables at night soon.
      Thanks again for all the fab tips. 🙂

  • Reply Jo aka Kiwijo January 22, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Our area of most waste is plastic packaging also, mainly plastic bags that meat comes in, Im really not sure how we can get round that one, the other is cotton pads, but I think Im gonna try muslin which can be reused.
    Did you know that ash is great for your garden? You could possibly use it on your compost heap as well (but you might have to check that first), but its really good dug in to the soil.
    Oh, and to cut down on disposable wipes for faces and hands, water and a flannel works just as well, we take a wet one with us in a plastci tub when we go picnicing.
    Im trying to get organised to have a go at ‘slimming; our bins as well, but have got lots going on at the moment, so still need to get myself organised. Am looking forward to hearing how you get on.
    :o)

    • Reply Jen January 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      I was going to try making some cotton wool pad replacements too Jo! Will let you know how I get on 🙂
      I did try using flannels instead of wipes when BigSmall was small but they got very hard and crunchy. Might have another go…

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