365 days of trash challenge

Filed in Blog by on July 10, 2008 27 Comments
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365 days of trash challenge - can you store your rubbish for a week
Inspired by Dave over at 365 days of trash, we’ve decided to tot up all of our recycling ‘rubbish’ too.

We’re doing our weekly weigh ins, where we report how much stuff we’ve sent to landfill in the week, but we’ve realised just how much recycling we produce too.

This morning, we are going to the recycling centre to get rid of our burgeoning boxes of tetrapaks, paper, tins etc. so next week we’ll share figures for one weeks worth of recycling here at Chez Green too.

We currently recycle:
plastic bottles

Now my thoughts go to Dave who is STORING all his trash for 365 days in his basement. Last week he celebrated his 6 month anniversary (Happy anniversary Dave!) and challenged his readers to Take the Challenge of holding onto their trash for a week; just to get a feel for what he is doing.

As he states in his invitation; “it’s about understanding our consumption habits and nothing else. Whether you keep everything or not is not what’s important, but recognizing the footprint you are leaving behind is. Hopefully, it’ll change your thinking a bit and you’ll start making better and smarter choices from here on in.”

Sounds like a good one to me; so if anyone else would like to step up to Dave’s challenge, why not pop over and sign up?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (27)

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  1. Dave says:

    Awesome that you are taking the challenge and what a great site you have here! Great info and really well laid out. I’m jealous!

    Consume Less, Conserve More!!!!



  2. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Dave!
    Great to see you here; I know you’re really busy at the moment so I’m delighted you found time to drop a comment in.
    We released all our tetrapaks, tins, glass, paper and plastic today to the recycling centre, so we’re ready to start a week on those. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  3. Hi Mrs Green,

    As Dave does I also collect stuff which I hope to recycle later. Included are aerosol cans, used cooking oil, polypropylene (PP) lids, aluminium combination waste and various other items. The main idea is to keep stuff out of landfill. In fact, I would like to have a home landfill kit (Bokashi type) as well to achieve Zero Landfill.
    I like the Gravatar. Preferred colours blue and black.


  4. Mrs Green says:

    Ack – I need to write up about our ‘holding onto things for a week’ experience. It was very interesting and I learned even more about our habits.

    We’d wondered how it might impact people if we were suddenly forced to bury our waste in our own back gardens; wouldn’t that be an interesting experiment?

    Gravatars are generated randomly by the system – I’m quite sure people think we have chosen them for them; but they seem to cause a little humour which is great – especially when the men end up with a pink person with red lipstick on or similar.

    It sounds like your own ‘zero waste’ system is working really well. Do you have any particular challenges with it?

  5. Hi Mrs Green,

    The worst aspect is the plastic film on envelopes and milk/paper combo milk labels. The glue used to stick on has the most horrendous plasticky smell and the film is awful to the touch.
    My other problem is that I am way ahead of locals and feel that I might have to take the initiative eg buy an aerosol can crusher or cooking oil converter, though a local company is into the nuts and bolts of recycling.
    Burying landfill at home is a nono. The stuff requires special treatment and garden space is precious. Avoidance is the best choice, where available.


  6. Mr. Green says:

    Hi John, just a quick note on the can crusher: I have made one very easily from 2 pieces of wood and a VERY strong butt hinge. Total cost 90p (for the hinge). It is strong enough to crush steel cans as well as the flimbsy allu. ones. I’m putting a post up about this soon, but really they are so easy to make and probably stronger than cheap commercial ones.

  7. Hi Mr & Mrs Green,

    I am talking about aerosol can (iron/aluminium) crushing. This is an industrial scale facility with removal of waste fluid. It needs working space with Health&Safety issues covered. My local recycling industry contact has the space and I will get in touch for a chat.
    Normal cans can be done with boots on. First flatten the cylinder and then press the base over it. Do by hand if the strength is there also. Spend no money if you have tough footwear.
    Good to see you joining in Mr G. It allows different ideas to gel when there are several inputs.


  8. Mr. Green says:

    @ John So john are you proposing a service to the community with your “industrial scale facility with removal of waste fluid.” ? I agree about the footware thing, but we try and provide options for ladies and lightweight gents also. Yes, it’s good to exchange ideas; the other project I’m working on at home is with using the latest high output LEDs to replace incandescent bulbs. LEDs are far better in every respect to CFLs but the drawback is still the cost. How would you like the equivalent of a 100 watt light bulb (900 lumens) running off 3.7 volts that lasts for about 11 years or 50,000 hours? And no toxic mercury or PCBs to deal with. That’s another story that we’ll air here some time.

  9. Hi Mr Green,

    Thanks for the email. The fair sex may find my boot process difficult but these days, I have learned from experience, they aspire to absolute equality. An impossible dream?
    LED’s are better in several ways as you indicate. I have seen one large enough for a torch. Can they provide household requirements at reasonable economic cost?
    In general new ideas/technologies are required for many areas including Zero Waste.


  10. Mr. Green says:

    >>John re LEDs The cost of LEDs is still above CFLs. Production/demand of CFLs have finally made them the best price choice. What’s concerning is the cumulative amount of mercury that may find its way to landfill when a CFL fails and is carelessly disposed. The best LED (brightest)is now made by Seoul Semiconductors P7 C-Bin High Power LED Emitter and the best price is from China here http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.12721 Bare in mind that 900 lumens is about the equivelent to a 60-100w incandescent bulb, but this baby runs at 2.8amps at 3.7 volts! Issues are regulated power supplies because this kind of device needs carefull voltage control to prevent burnout and thermal runaway. Meaning you need a device like this http://www.dimensionengineering.com/DE-SWADJ.htm to keep the power supply sweet. (I have many other references that I’ll detail in my upcoming article) The main point of all this, is that you ‘could’ run all your domestic (and vehicle) lighting of LEDs at low voltage from a battery that can be solar charged. There’s the environmental benefit that totally outweighs the CFL product.

  11. Hi again Mr Green,

    I think mainstream. What is required is a practical, easy to use, available at the flick of a switch, safe and economic system. This has yet to be achieved. We live in an imperfect world and patience will be required in the long march to full sustainability. Changes are taking place but these must be resilient and efficient to succeed.


  12. Mr Green says:

    True, so we have to think ‘what makes something mainstream?’ From our POV it’s the pioneering efforts of a few that start the ball rolling. LEDs are as popular now as CFLs were 3 years ago. As popular now as reuseable bags are to carrier bags right now … etc. Achieving ‘critical mass’ and ‘take off velocity’ to bring a concept into the mainstream is all part of the process that we are involved with. As pioneers, we play our part in the areas we are passionate and capable in so that others may be inspired and follow. My interest and skills are in renewable enegy sources and the mechanisms that make them work, so that’s where I focus.

  13. Hi again,

    The science behind the technology, which is of critical importance, is still developing. Home lighting is the main problem and they say 3 years development is required. It is something for the future and I will certainly be following these scientific investigations closely. 3 years can become 1 year if there is a breakthrough in design. It is a good topic for the blog.


  14. Mr Green says:

    “The science behind the technology, which is of critical importance,” For sure, but more importantly, as I see it, we need a major shift in political will to drive manufacturing and marketing. If you look to places in the states that have pioneered LED lighting in hotels, stores and galleries thay all report huge success in aethetics, efficiency and savings in running costs. Again there are some impressive examples of this that I’ll bring forward in my later articles.

    I say political will because at the moment there is too much ambivalence to this matter. CFL’s are allowed to proliferate, even given away freely, without much concern to disposal, mecury recovery and long term problems associated with them. (I refer to health issues as well as environ mental) Ok, I’m digging in too deep into article material maybe. 🙂

  15. Hi again,

    Tha actual science involves making tiny holes in the led surface to allow multi- rather than uni-directional distribution of the light so that it would be similar to present bulb performance. That is the requirement. It must provide similar light spread to become a mainstream item. That is the test for all new technology. Can it be mainstream? Otherwise it will no succeed.


  16. Mr Green says:

    Hi John, maybe some difference in opinon in the light distribution. In terms of angle, 280 degrees spread from the emiter source is easily achieved, whereas Seoul also says that the directionality of light emission from an LED lamp also creates an additional advantage compared with fluorescent and incandescent lamps. The company says that the ability of an LED system to focus light on an application can result in an even greater efficacy advantage compared with conventional light sources. However, I know there is futher deveopment going on to release more light from the diode structure through microscopic holes. Like solar panal technology, it is leaping ahead very fast behind the scenes. take a look at http://www.ledsmagazine.com/powerLEDs for some illuminating articles (very punny)

  17. Hi again Mr Green,

    It has been an interesting exchange of ideas and hopefully this new technology will be perfected soon. In the meantime other matters press.


  18. Hi again Mr Green,

    I looked at the Welsh situation. There seems to be a lot of opposition to council proposals for the siting of new landfill sites, and all the subsequent problems therein. We outside of Wales are less affected by this type of council pressure. There is no comfort in this however. What they get away with there could easily embolden councils elsewhere. Have you any information about Wales, with your proximity to the area?


  19. Mr Green says:

    Hi John, We have no direct information about this. With regards to any landfill site, I would have to say that I support any resistance and opposition without a full consultation process. One day we must all forego the dubious luxury of burrying our waste, simply because there will be no suitable sites left. That is certainly the prospect in our area within about 9 years. The whole thrust of our effort at MyZeroWaste.com is to recognise that inevitable crisis and begin implementing better waste management and recycling NOW and not in 8 years time. I am also sceptical about incineration as that again is a poor remedy to the problem and not a preventative measure.

  20. Hi again Mr Green,

    I back your ideas totally in this area. In Wales the “9 years” is up. They are facing today what we will further down the line. I contacted BBC’s HaveYourSay about this and hopefully they will appreciate the importance of bringing the Welsh matter to the front of the agenda, rather than its current hidden status. I came across it by accident and am unsure why it has not been highlighted in the media. I joined a Welsh forum (radyr.org/forum/) at 3am, posted a topic asking for details. Did the same at 11am and have not received a decent answer. What gives? It is a puzzle.


  21. Poppy says:

    Lots of interesting landfill and the implications of waste on the following local to me website


  22. Mr Green says:

    Thanks Poppy for that link. If we stop and look at the issues of lanfill and incineration, common sense clearly shows that this can only be a short term measure. If waste is increasing and we are trying to bury and burn it, there’s bound to be limitations and a finite life cycle for such methods. Then what? The alternative answer to turning our planet into a global rubbish pit is to deal with waste at source. That means making radical changes right at the beginning of the waste production cycle. The consumer holds the real key; by taking personal responsibility for our waste and recycling, making informed puchasing choices and collectively sending a marketing and political message up stream to influence the decision makers.

  23. Mrs Green says:

    Thanks for the great link, Poppy – lots of interesting stuff on there.

    John, I saw your post, and thank you for the mention and link to our site – much appreciated. Let’s see what answers you get.

  24. Hi Mr & Mrs Green,

    Poppy’s link was informative. Incineration is being touted as a solution. It is the stuff of nightmares. The Welsh blog may not be the best place to start though putting a plug in for Zero Waste is always worthwhile. I contacted David Levy (The Air That We Breathe) about Welsh details and await a reply. He is involved in more “Direct” activities, maybe not our interest. NIMBY may be part of the problem in Wales, I do not know for certain. Mrs Average may have a better insight. I will try to get more detail elsewhere.


  25. Hi again,

    I have just had a history flashback. Remember the Poll Tax, it was started in “Labour” Scotland as a testing ground but we know the reaction when England & Wales were included.
    Look at Wales, maybe they are using it as a testing ground for new “Landfill procedures” before England & Scotland are roped in. If this is the case we need to watch what happens there very closely.


  26. Mrs Green says:

    John, I agree about incineration. I think there are a lot of people who fear this as a ‘solution. Of course I understand about the idea of burning it as a ‘resource’ to create fuel / heat, but I’m concerned about environmental and health impacts. I feel there is not enough known about it and, as we have talked about; it is treating a symptom, not a cause. Treating things at symptom level have a habit of biting us on the bum a few years down the line…………

    Poll tax; hmmmm, my memory is hazy on that one, I have to admit.

  27. Hi Mrs Green,

    Incineration is a quick option for councils etc whose environmental credentials are questionable. I burned some plastic for aluminium reclaim, a messy process and if done on a big scale , I do not want to speculate on the results.

    The Poll Tax was introduced in Scotland, every household member had to pay regardless of income, the Tories put the opposition to it as Labour tactics. When introduced down south, all hell broke loose and the policy was eventually scrapped. There were riots in London.
    This Welsh situation could be a dry run for the rest of the country later. That is why we should follow it closely. I have sent an email to the first of the Welsh posts requesting background information. Looking forward to the reply.


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