No, it’s not McDonald’s at every meal. I’m on a diet to help me to become more “bin aware” and to work on reducing the amount of non-recyclable household waste we generate.
If you are interested in learning more about “bin slimming” and joining in the Rubbish Diet, I really encourage you to jump on over to Karen’s site, where she is running an eight week programme and has numerous resources available – she managed to get her weekly waste down to one single bandaid a few years ago!
Week 1 Update
So, how did I do? Did I lose weight? Maintain? Or gain?
Here are my tallies, and a bit of narrative:
Recycling bin: 50l, 1 very stuffed bag (prior week: 1.5 bags)
Non-recycling bin: 30l, 1 bag (prior week: 1 bag)—half of this bag was full of plant waste (dead flowers)
Food waste bin: 3l, 4 bags (prior week: 3 bags)—the increase of one bag was a chicken carcass
The tasks for week one, according to Karen:
1. Write a list of the top 5 things that fill your non-recyclable bin
Half of my bin was filled with plant waste! We just started getting flowers for our house again after about 18 months of construction work, and I was aghast that I had to throw these into my non-recyclable bin (our house used to be on a garden waste collection route but when I jumped online to see what day it was I found out we were removed). So (for last week) I had to throw the dead flowers out with non-recyclables. The rest of my bin was mostly food packaging, especially the film and packaging from meats (plastic trays). We had some saran wrap. A little aluminum foil (not much though as if it is not too covered in food it can be put in our recycling).
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)
I checked out my local authority website for more details on recycling, and asked at a few stores.
4. Organise a place to sort recycling at home (note: I think I’ve got this covered!)
I already have a nice bin area for recycling, but I am going to add one more bin (using an extra food waste bin that was delivered to my house by accident) – labelling it “miscellaneous” recycling, it is a perfect sized container for plastic bags, batteries, Brita filters and things that can be recycled with a bit more effort than just putting the trash curbside.
5. Think about ways you can reduce waste, like reducing mail, reusing things, or repairing older things
One of my biggest things is that although I have many at home, I do not have in my handbag a nice, pretty reusable bag to avoid taking supermarket bags. By coincidence I checked out a local sewing class on Saturday and decided that my first project, to learn the machine, would be such a bag. I am halfway through making it. As a future project, I would like to take a good look at my sister’s “bag for her bag” as she has a really cool one that folds up neatly – and template this to make them for stocking stuffers for friends and family next year
My goals for week one:
1. Track how many plastic bags I collect in one week from shops.
I collected 18 plastic bags during the week. Of these, 14 can be handed back with ease to my online grocery delivery guy. 3 were from random store purchases, and 1 came with new orthotics prescribed at the hospital. Of the 4 random non-recyclable bags, I plan to find out if shops such as Marks & Spencer, Boots and Tesco offer the same bag return service as Waitrose. I learned, thanks to my friend Erica, that Waitrose offers a bag return service at most of its branches, where they recycle plastic bags into garden furniture. My regular Waitrose branch (Canary Wharf) does not take any plastic bag like they do at most of their branches, but will only take their own at the Service Counter (due to concerns about having large bins in one of London’s key business districts). I enjoyed asking the store manager about the programme (thanks Mr Harris) and will definitely ask about similar schemes the next time I visit other shops and take a bag.
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!)
I learned that Sky offer a free postal recycling service for their products, so my old satellite dishes can be sent back to my service provider, free of charge. For more details about Sky’s program, click here.
3. Learn where to dispose of batteries
I found out that both my local Robert Dyas as well as Waitrose take back old 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!)
As a part of Karen’s “homework” I found out that my street was no longer on the garden waste collection list. By sending an email to my council authorities, I was able to have our street added back to the list, allowing us to be put on a weekly collection schedule (the same days as our recycling and food waste collection). The council will be sending a special garden waste bag for my house, and I will be setting up a new area for this in my back yard. I have let my immediate neighbours know about this, and will be sending around an email to our community asking if other streets wish to be added to the scheme. A huge success.
Tasks for Week 2
Week 2 is all about supermarket shopping – and packaging – and waste. I am already fairly aware of the waste we generate from food and food shopping, as a result of moving to the household food waste collection scheme offered in my council. But I wonder, how aware am I, really… And am I getting it wrong?
1. Before you buy, ask yourself – can I but it without packaging, can I compost the packaging, can I recycle the packaging, and do I really need the product if I can’t recycle what it comes in?
2. Become familiar with the labels (this is a big one for me as I don’t know the various plastic number types and which ones I actually *can* recycle)
3. Learn to lift and separate – basically, to prep what you put in your recycle bin the right way to facilitate recycling
4. Think about ways to build in habits – buy loose fruit and veg, take a container and bags to the shops, look for refillable options
And my mini-goals for this week
1. Make the random recyclable bin (label it and use it).
2. Finish making my new bag for my bag at sewing class.
3. Learn which plastic types are actually supposed to go in my recycling bin.
4. Label my recycling bin with what can actually go in there.
So, have you decided to join in the rubbish diet? If you have, let me know. The comments you all left last week were great.
And I am hoping to move more discussion over to my Facebook page as well, so feel free to check me out there too. Yeah, I know, so 2010 of me to set up a Facebook page… I’ve finally joined that bandwagon