our zero waste challenge – day one; stepping up to the challenge as a family

Filed in Blog by on June 2, 2008 17 Comments
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metal dustbin; a bit like the one found at Chez greenI’m so excited to be writing our first Zero Waste blog post. Excited about rubbish? You betcha!

Our trusty dustbin is trembling with excitement too. For too long she has suffered the effects of our 21st century lifestyle and has been force fed all sorts of well, rubbish. It’s resulted in a warped tummy and a wobbly bottom. No girl with any self worth wants to be seen stuffing her face in public, now does she?

On our first day I figured the most important thing in this zero waste challenge was to get the family on board. We need to be working towards the same goal.

Mr Green and I have talked about this at length, and since meeting up with Almost Mrs Average, we’re both committed to our zero waste challenge. It’s been a long time coming. We’ve each enjoyed the convenience that comes with a bin neatly hidden under the kitchen sink in a striking ‘out-of-sight-out-of-mind-fashion; yet we’ve had increasing nagging feelings about the impact of our lifestyle on the environment.

Little Miss Green has been bought up with an awareness of the environment, but the lure of cheap plastic toys and plastic-wrapped goodies will pull her and us into making decisions that might not be best for the environment. Once a week she is allowed treats from her ‘goody box’ which includes chocolate and crisps – most of them come in plastic or foil-backed wrappers.

She knows that each fortnight we have a glass, tins and paper collection and on alternate weeks we have green waste collection. She knows what day the rubbish gets collected and, as we have a wood burner, puts a few tissues or kitchen roll onto the fire, while other things get put into the bin.

She is aware of the word ‘landfill’, that rubbish gets taken there, but seems to think that the landfill space will just keep on going forever. She’s also aware of the term ‘global warming’ and knows that cutting down trees and throwing things into the landfill contributes to this, amongst other things.

As it is WRAP’s Recycle Week, we’re planning on doing some activities and learning around this theme. I told Little miss Green this morning that it was Recycle week and she came up with the most amazing suggestion.

She asked ‘So the bin men aren’t coming this week then?’

What a girl! Let’s get her into politics.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if county councils across the country could have a six month plan to educate people about the importance of recycling, up the recycling facilities in every area, get manufacturers, politicians, schools and shops on board and incorporate this into a week of no bin collection? Only recycling collections. Just think how much difference that might make……..

Not only would we save a few thousand tonnes of stuff going into the landfill for a week, but we’d keep all those lorries off the road. Ok, so recycling is like a puppy – it’s not just for Christmas, not even for just one week, but I loved this suggestion straight out of the mouth of babes, as they say.

For this week then, our goal is to recycle all that we can which will involve getting some new habits into place. I expect many of them will involve huffing, puffing, sighing and sulking but let’s hope a cheery dance can be thrown in for good measure. We’ll be looking into the facilities that are available to us locally and working out how we can incorporate them into our usual errands.

Our rubbish collection is on Wednesday, so we’ll have a ‘weigh in’ and post up photos of our bin before its collected so that you can see what a ‘normal’ week is like for us.

Little Miss Green will be involved with all of this. She’s seven, has an interest in nature and the environment and of course we need her to be on board with the changes we are making otherwise things will creep into the bin without us realising.

What about you – how much recycling do you do? Would you like to set yourself a zero waste challenge?

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  1. russell says:

    Great new site and what a good idea about having no bin collection for a week to raise the profile of recycling (after as you say some education and decent council recycling door step schemes – which I glad to say ours does). If councils made it easy for people (like ours takes all plastic and sorts it for us centrally) then people will do more.

  2. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Russell,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. It sounds like your county council are really on board with the recycling idea. I’ve never heard of one taking all plastics and then sorting them – what a great service! Do you know what happens to it all?

    Mrs G x

  3. Reduced bin waste is the consumer’s contribution. My own aim is to use 1 binbag over a 2 year period (104 weeks approx). For a family of four, 4 binbags over the same period would be a similar challenge. In doing this my attitude to waste is to stop it at the doorstep. Landfill plastic has been proscribed.



  4. Mrs Green says:

    how many weeks into your 104 week challenge are you and how is it going?

    I phoned our council yesterday, and as yet, there are no plans to step up the plastics recycling; but there are lots of changes afoot, so fingers crossed things will change.
    Although I would rather we reduce our reliance on plastics as a culture per se.

    Mrs G x

  5. Hee hee Mrs Green – I emailed your council too ;-D

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Ooooo, you little devil Almost Mrs Average. Do let me know of any outcome – we can compare notes 😀

    Mrs G x

  7. HI again, Mrs Green. It is good to see you and family following your own bin bag target. My effort is going strong and I will extend it to 156 weeks if my quarterly total is low enough (9 oz). Maybe after 3 years, the situation will have changed for the better, in terms of packaging waste. I hear that M&S are participating in the PET/HDPE full circle scheme at Dagenham. That is a welcome contribution to the sustainablity challenge which lies ahead of us. I emailed M&S to thank them and will be following developments closely.



  8. Mrs Green says:

    Hi John,

    Good to see you again. It sounds like your challenge is going really well. It would be lovely to see some more detailed updates on your website.

    I read about M&S only yesterday, they seem to be really on the ball with this. Let us know what developments you find out about this.

    I just read that you can recycle nappies over in the US!! The wood pulp and plastic get separated and re-used…….

    I hope you are well,
    Mrs G x

  9. Hi again Mrs Green,

    I am fine and watching and enjoying Andy Murray efforts at Wimbedon, on the box. I hope you and family are well.
    The idea for the site is to identify weekly waste and where possible seek ZWP alternatives. Others can do their own 156 week bin bag and display their results. I follow other developments and place positive news as feedback. Emailing other agencies, like M&S, when they take up the sutainability challenge is something all Zero Waste enthusiasts should do. This will indicate the depth of support for change.
    Yuor site is excellent and a great addition to Mrs A’s range of friendly connections.
    My minimalist approach suits at present. If people need to contact me, email is fine for now.



  10. Mrs Green says:

    Hi John,

    now there’s an avatar that suits you LOL!
    Glad you are enjoying the Wimbledon. Thanks for explaining more about the role of your website. I mentioned in a post last week how I love that everyone has their unique twist on attaining a common goal.

    I agree that it’s very important consumers write to manufacturers and comment on media articles about progression and it’s great to know that there are stalwarts like you doing that 🙂 It’s a really important piece of the jigsaw and one that I frequently forget to do.

    I know that Beth at Fake Plastic Fish does a lot of writing to manufacturers too and it’s always fascinating to read her responses. The UK companies I write to tend not to answer so I have nothing to report!

    You’ve inspired me to write to M&S – it’s on my ‘to dos’ for this week – thanks!

  11. Hi again Mrs Green,

    Thanks for the email. I took a look at Fake Plastic Fish. It might be worth another. Contacting a top company like M&S is worthwhile due to its high standing, even if a reply is not forthcoming.
    Shopping, like for the fair sex, is an interest of mine. One particular enjoyment I get is watching shop staff try to push plastic my way. In Gregg’s bakers I asked for an unpackaged wholemeal loaf for my bag and the girl said “would you like it sliced?” with the intention of dumping the slices in a plastic bag. They are very clever, in fact they slipped 2 plastic sheets into my paper cake pokes. These will be returned at my next visit.
    Have you tried fish/meat containers for your purchases. I have used them for weeks, quite successfully, with staff
    Blogs seem to suit the female temperament. I enjoy the interaction but do not feel one would suit me. What is your view?



  12. Mrs Green says:

    Hi John,
    I’ve contacted M&S now so thanks for the proverbial kick up the derriere on that one.
    We’re using our own reusable containers in the butchers and at deli counters in our local Co-Op and Budgens – they’ve all been really accommodating (with no sneaking in of plastic!). For bread, biscuits and cakes I make my own so there is no problem with packaging.

    Regarding blogs; you make an interesting comment. I do find that the majority of blogs I read are written by the female of the species, but then there are a couple of ‘rubbish bloggers’ in the US who are male – http://365daysoftrash.blogspot.com/ and http://www.wastedfood.com/

    As to what temperament blogging suits, I guess that’s down to the individual. Perhaps women have a need to express their thoughts and feelings more? But then some men are prolific writers……I know in our situation, Mr Green likes to be behind the scenes doing all the technical stuff, while I pretty up the front with my ramblings. We make a good team!

  13. Hi again Mrs Green,

    Thanks for the email. The first thing to say is vive la difference, as the French indicate. Great to see you are using containers with success. A family team is an excellent way to share the burdens. Most of my contacts are female and I am not complaining.
    Junk mail is a related issue and I have started a “Return to Sender” trend, (address known, in this case and apologies to Elvis). Enclosed franked envelopes are a useful place to insert non-recyclable junk mail items, minus labels. Surely they will get the message!



  14. Mrs Green says:

    Hi again John,

    Vive la difference indeed – it makes life so much more interesting. A single male with many female contacts is a most enviable place to be I should think 😉

    I’m totally with you on the ‘return to sender’ idea and I like to take full advantage of postage paid envelopes too. I see them as a free gift!

    We have a great competition coming up next month to do with junk mail. Watch this space as they say 😉

    The containers are going great – it hasn’t taken us long to get into a habit of remembering to take them with us, either….

    Have a great evening,
    Mrs G x

  15. HI Again Mrs Green,

    Thanks for the email. Competitions are a great way to spread the message among your readers. Junk mail is an example of the unthinking use of resources and the consequences for landfill. I recently contacted Litlewoods Direct via junk mail return. They sent a postcard type as an alternative. This is better since full recycling is now possible, minus labels obviously.

    I am looking forward to the Men’s Final at Wimbledon, probably Federer v Nadal. I favour youth over experience but Roger has history on his side, an undefinable power.

    Hope you, Mr Green and family have a restful weekend.



  16. Mrs Green says:

    Hi John,
    Well we have competitions bonanza going on during our zero waste week. I can’t wait! We’re turning it into a real celebration for all our readers.

    Well done for taking on Littlewoods. This week in the Co-Op they were urging customers with internet access to share their email addresses so that they can cut down on paper send outs. It gets my vote!

    I’m afraid I know nothing about tennis, but I hope you enjoyed it 🙂

  17. Hi Mrs Green,

    Competitions are a fantastic idea and should create a lot of interest among readers. Imaginative topics/activities can only add to the impact of your campaign. Best of luck.
    The Co-Op initiative is very welcome. Sainsbury is trying to be greener having appointed a female ,as usual, sustainable representative. At least they are making an effort. They also promote loose veg/fruit.
    I followed my tennis interest and was happy to see Nadal triumph over Federer in a memorable contest.


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