new zero waste habits and weekly weigh in

Filed in Blog by on June 11, 2008 8 Comments
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weekly rubbish one week on
Hmmm, I feel a theme coming on – yesterday’s post was about habits too. You’ll discover this about me – I contradict myself a lot. Yesterday I was saying how old habits die hard and today I’m raving about how easy it all is. Such is the mind of a Gemini woman.

When we initially stepped up to Almost Mrs A’s zero waste challenge we tentatively signed up for halving the amount of rubbish we send to landfill each week.

At first I thought I’d spend a few weeks convincing Mr Green that this was a good idea and would be rummaging through the bins after he had gone to bed to spot any offenders.

One of the things I love most about Mr Green is his ability to surprise me after so many years of being together (all together now…………). He took on the challenge with strength and vigour and we haven’t looked back. I have to say that this challenge has been so much easier with his support and commitment, and looking back over some of the difficulties we faced last week there is no way we would have got through this without his full commitment.

Who else would drive me 4 times to the butchers in one day?

See, look – I really do love him:

mr and mrs green

One of our greatest modern conveniences here at Chez Green is tetrapaks. We use soya milk and fruit juice on a regular basis. Fortunately we found that we had a tetrapak recycling point just 3 miles from our house. In addition, it’s next to someone’s house who we visit weekly anyway so we can combine our trip.

Our other difficultly was cooked food waste from Little Miss Green. Once we explained to her what we were doing with our zero waste challenge we asked her to think more carefully about how hungry she was before taking food. The first few days she really challenged us on this. With a glint in her eye that can only come from a wise seven year old she would leave a tablespoon of something on her plate or in her dish. Gentle persuasion (ok, lots of heavy sighing in that exacerbated parent way) has worked though and cooked food waste is minimal now.

I love being creative in the kitchen, so most food waste is turned into ingredients for meals later in the week. On the first week I emptied my fridge on bin day to find 100ml of gone off yogurt (I gave it to the cat) and a couple of mouldy tomatoes which went into the compost. We were really pleased with this, as recent research shows that the average UK family throws away a third of the food they buy each week. I’m now really up to speed on looking at things on a daily basis and doing some menu planning with anything that is looking homeless in the fruit bowls and cupboards.

It’s amazing how quickly things have fallen into place for us, but I have to re emphasise that I’m sure it is down to having Mr Green’s full support on this issue. New habits are forming quicker than I anticipated, but I’m still quite slow at sorting through things. Throwing things into the bin is so easy isn’t it?

All I have to do now is get au fait with my shopping habits (like, don’t buy gravy powder in a plastic pot – doh!) and make good choices by selecting products with less non recyclable packaging.

After our first week, I’m proud to announce that we created just 945g rubbish (see piccie above). Yes, I was able to, in true anal retentive style, place all my rubbish on the scales! Remember what our rubbish looked like last week? We didn’t even have to haul out our heavy metal bin this week; we just put it all in a swing bin liner. Hey, maybe next time I’ll be buying pedal bin liners………..

I have to say another big thank you to all of you out there in cyber land. Your support, encouragement and all your comments have really helped us. It’s also helped us maintain a much-needed sense of humour throughout all of this and you’ve stopped me beating myself up so much when things don’t go according to plan.

Tune in tomorrow where we will reveal our shocking landfill confessional.

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 (8)

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  1. Sue says:

    Well done (big cheers) to all of you.
    Yes, go for swing bin liners next time! I want to get a smaller bin, it takes up so much room in the kitchen, and barely gets emptied once a week.
    I have thought about getting one of those small ‘in the cupboard’ bins, but if you are anything like me, i have so much cleaning stuff stuffed under the sink! That is one of my other things I am trying to do at the moment, get down to just vinegar bicarb etc.

  2. Woo…ooh, yee-ah…hooray. I think it’s time for the Bin Can Can again ;-D

    Congratulations to you all…even the cat. (Lovely Picture by the way) x

  3. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Sue,

    You know what? I think we’re going to get rid of the kitchen bin altogether – yipee! This week we kept a plastic container on the worksurface so that we could actually see what we were throwing away.

    It’s too easy for me to open a cupboard door and throw something into the bin and then close it again. (ours is under the sink). Unlike you I do not have a lot of cleaning supplies to get in the way!

    Mine consists of 1 Ecover cream cleaner, a pot of bicarb and a bottle of vinegar. That’s it………….

    Thank you Mrs A – you’re getting very good at that dancing lark 🙂

    Mrs G x

  4. Jane says:

    I have you say that you are making incredible progress very quickly. Having the whole of the household supporting you definitely helps. I even struggle getting everyone to use the compost bin. Having said that, our 4 year old always checks before anything goes in the main bin in case it can be recycled first.

    For anyone with young children, a great place for some of the plastic items is school / nursery as they will often reuse them for making models, seed trays etc. They can be extremely creative. I know that these will often end up in landfill much further down the line, but at least they will be well used and it’s a good thought process for young children to enter into. Most of our cardboard is made into at least one model before it reaches the recycling….

  5. Mrs Green says:

    Hello Jane!
    Thank you for visiting our site and leaving a comment. We love it when our readers take time out to say something about the site.

    Your four year old sounds great; ‘normalising’ activities such as recycling from an early age helps tremendously.

    I feel we are making good progress too, but I just feel that the timing was right. I’d played with the idea of reducing our waste around 6 months ago. I tried it without expecting the other two to get involved, but it just didn’t work – you really need to get everyone involved for it to take off. Otherwise you’re just going around behind everyone checking to see what they have put in the bin!

    Kids love junk modelling don’t they?! We’ve had some amazing creations in the past made out of all sorts of things 🙂

    I think scrapstores will take things like this too……

    Enjoy your day!

    Mrs G x

  6. Jane says:

    OK, so this is an old post, but had to say this somewhere…

    For the last couple of weeks I’ve been carefully washing and saving all of our Tetrapaks as according to the Tetrapak recycling site, there is a point at the Tesco’s I go to about 3 times a year (not often, I know, but I try not to drive to the supermarket unless I’m doing a major restock and there is an Asda closer that I tend to use for that). So, off I went this week, with my rather large bag to put in their recycling point….


    I got to the bank of recycling points and there was paper (council do that, not a problem), glass (likewise), plastic bottles (likewise) and cans… not a nice little hole for my tetrapaks. So, I had to bring them all home again and put them in the landfill bin. I was NOT a happy person. Recycling those cartons was justifying the extra drive!

  7. Susan Jones says:

    Yahoo, ian went to put the rubbish out this morning and came in commenting ‘what we gone the whole week using only one bag?’

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Oh Jane – what a let down for you. Did you contact the store and tetrapak recycling direct? I think I would have done. Tetrapak need to know that you took a special journey there and how it wasted your time, energy and fuel.
    What a shame. 🙁

    Susan – what a great comment from Ian! It sounds like you have done brilliantly to use only one bag in a week. Well done you! The amount of people increasing the awareness about the rubbish they produce is growing all the time. It’s fab!
    Thank you for sharing your news! 🙂

    Mrs G x

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