The Rubbish Diet

The Rubbish Diet. Maybe that makes you think of Supersize Me, and trying to eat only McDonalds all three meals for a month. 

Well, my rubbish diet is going to be 8 weeks.  And it has nothing to do with food at all.  It is a programme designed to go on a rubbish (aka trash) diet – to reduce, reuse, and recycle with the aim of decreasing the amount of rubbish that a household generates each week.

I heard about the Rubbish Diet in 2008, when a woman in Suffolk was on the radio talking about how she got her family’s weekly non-recyclable waste down to no more than one plaster (bandaid), and that now she fills about one large bin bag with non-recyclable rubbish once a month.  Karen, the woman I heard on the radio, just happens to be on Twitter, and I started following her “way back then”.  So when she put out the word that she would be doing a Rubbish Diet 2012, I let her know to count me in.

It is perfect timing for us, really.  For almost a year and a half we lived through renovations to our property, and these finally finished at the end of October 2011.  By the second week of December, things were more or less unpacked from storage and we had “moved back in”  – going from using only our kitchen and bedroom, to being able to use our living room, study and dining room.  By the end of December, I had undertaken an epic sort (which is still not done – but I made huge progress by the end of 2011).  And one of my 2012 goals is to become more organised (and tidy!) throughout the house.  A consequence of having more time to focus on being organised is that I am spending more time thinking about – and planning for – our home.  And as a consequence I am giving more thought to what we do with what we don’t need – eBay, charity shop or freecycle? – and more thought to how we dispose of those things that have no natural “home”.

Perfect timing to embark on a Rubbish Diet.

The Start – Week 1

Before you start any diet, you have a “health check” – in the case of the Rubbish Diet, this is a general understanding about how much household waste, on average, you generate each week.

Here are our figures:

Left bin – the recycling bin – 50 litres capacity – weekly total: 1.5 bags
Middle bin – the non-recyclable bin – 30 litres capacity – weekly total: 1 bag
Right bin – food waste bin (grey 3 litre box is normally on the counter, brown is what all bags are put into for collection weekly) – weekly total: 3 grey box bags

Tasks for Week 1

From Karen’s blog she suggests the following tasks to ease into Week 1 of the diet:

1.  Write a list of the top 5 things that fill your non-recyclable bin
2.  Try to recall the amount of rubbish that you put out last collection, and record this week’s collection amount
3.  Find out exactly what can be recycled, and where (curb side, other recycling locations, retailers, supermarkets, etc)
4.  Organise a place to sort recycling at home (note: I think I’ve got this covered!)
5.  Think about ways you can reduce waste, like reducing mail, reusing things, or repairing older things

I can see myself on Thursday evening, before putting out the non-recyclables, picking about my rubbish bag.  grin

My own goals this week are as follow:

1.  Track how many plastic bags I collect in one week from shops.
2.  Learn about how I can recycle the old satellite decoder boxes which were replaced in December (we have tv again after over a year!)
3.  Learn where to dispose of batteries
4.  Learn about how to dispose of garden and plant waste (as we are getting flowers for our house again now that renovations are done!)

The Diet Bandwagon

It seems that the theme of reducing consumption and waste is gaining popularity.  Laura of Wife Mother ATHLETE posted yesterday (spookily) (coincidentally) that she is doing an environmental challenge (for how long? gotta wait and see for that answer!).  And Karen’s story on how thinking about reducing actually saved her a lot of money is pretty timely given our current economy (lots more packed lunched and creative use of leftovers).

So I guess the question is – will you be signing up for the Rubbish Diet too?  If you do, feel free to drop me a comment or an email, or to tweet using #therubbishdiet so we can all follow each other over the next eight weeks.

Good luck!

8 responses to “The Rubbish Diet”

  1. Several years ago we were struck by how much recycling our friends living in Germany managed so we started our own program. We had limited kerbside recycling at this stage; we did a once a month journey to the local recycling centre to recycle what we could there. (Much easier now we have proper kerbside recycling). Now if we want to get rid of things – it is charity, give away, recycle, only into landfill bin if no use at all. We recycle everything we can and our household landfill is down to only the stuff we genuinely can’t recycle. Plus we don’t buy things unless we can figure a way of getting rid of/reusing/recycling the old.

  2. Erica ~ I really like the idea of only buying new if you can figure out how to use / repurpose the old… We are still sorting out our place post renovations, but that is certainly something I’ll be keeping in mind as we buy the last bits for our place. Thanks for that!

  3. Great blogpost Donna and thanks so much again for taking part. I love Erica’s comment too about not buying new until she’s found a solution for the old.  Brilliant!  Looking forward to seeing how you get along.

  4. Hi Donna,

    I love the challenge!

    For your week’s task, here are some thoughts and tips:

    1.  Get hold of some clothes or more sturdy bags to reuse. We have a lot of clothes bags (some kept in the car boot and others at home) and we use them 90% of the time now. The means no more plastic bags, and extra loyalty points at the supermarket (not many, but it’s better than nothing!)

    2. To recycle your satellite box or anything else electronic, look at your council’s recycling center and tip. All London’s councils have some and it’s free to drop off stuff to throw away and recycle.

    3. For the batteries, it’s easy, every supermarket has collection points

    4. Same as the electronics, your council’s recycling centre/tip will take them. A quick google search will tell you where that is!

    Good luck!

  5. Good luck with the Diet, Donna. I think you’ll find it has quite a bit to do with food – disposal and wrapping for a start.

    I’ll be interested to see how you get on. I’m always looking for tips to slim my bin a bit more. It’s not supersize, but we dispose of a few bin bags full of rubbish most weeks and sometimes more.

  6. LOVE this! I have to say I bet your ‘rubbish’ is already much less than the average American household and I”m SO jealous that your community composts. I have my own composter out back.

    Thanks for the link!!! smile

  7. What a fantastic idea! I’ve been working to increase the amount we recycle, although I’m not sure I’ll ever do as well as the lady in Suffolk!

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