Zero waste week planned for Gloucestershire!

Filed in Blog by on July 24, 2008 28 Comments
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Recycle for GloucestershireWe spent an insightful 2 hours yesterday afternoon chatting merrily and laughing heartily (and being very serious and staying on topic of course) with two colleagues from the Gloucestershire County council waste team.

Kim and Simon sat on our sofa drinking tea while we put the world to rights (and I figured out how to dispose of the foil backed tea bag wrapper that only comes out of the cupboard when we have guests. Note to self, buy loose leaf tea in a cardboard box next time) and solved all the county’s recycling issues in the process.

Well, ok then, we made a start…………

For those of you who are new to our humble site, we’re doing a zero waste week. This will be taking place during the first week of September.

As the winds of fortune would have it, the council are planning a zero waste week for Gloucestershire at the beginning of next year. They are planning on launching lots of yummy information about their zero waste week on their Recycle for Gloucestershire site during September, just as we are doing our own zero waste week. Oh, how we laughed as the Gods of synchronisity smiled down upon us.

Launching the information in September, will give the residents of Gloucestershire three months to sign up, gather all the information they need and make their pledge to recycle more and minimise waste.

When we’ve eaten turkey to satisfy us for the next 11 months, hidden the last ghastly jumper we were given at the back of the wardrobe, written all our thank you notes, fainted over the first credit card bill of the year and are vowing a ‘could do better’ Christmas 2009, what better way to begin the new year by recycling more and becoming more conscious consumers?

There are around 250,000 homes in the county. While we figured out how many human years to one cat year there are as Pussus Green lifted her leg and cleaned her derriรจre, we allowed ourselves to ponder for a moment on what an achievement it would be for the county if every household recycled just one more item during Gloucestershire’s zero waste week. Or how daring it would be if people pledged to take their own reusable bag to the shop. Imagine 250,000 cans kept out of the landfill or two and a half million plastic carrier bags refused at the checkout………

Figures have just been released which show that 1/3 of residents in Stroud do not recycle at all, so it’s time to find a way to reach out into the community and encourage everyone to have a go at recycling.

We all have our reasons for not recycling. We’ve admitted to laziness and convenience on many an occasion here on My Zero Waste. For others there is a lack of education or information. Some have financial constraints which means it is cheaper for them to buy heavily packaged ‘convenience’ foods. Other’s have no room to store recycling. Some have no transport to get to a recycling centre. Some are confused and overwhelmed so don’t know where to start. Many have no time and some claim it is not their responsibility (that’s what I pay taxes for).

Then there are some who just don’t care. One labour MP in the UK, when told of measures to refuse to collect weekly waste said: “It is a British way of life to have your bins emptied once a week. Taking that away is like losing your birth right.”

A birthright?! Meheheheheheheheee. <excuse me while I spit my drink at my computer screen>

Well, he’s entitled to his opinion. But for me a simple birthright is to have a safe, healthy and beautiful environment to grow up in.

I’m an optimist and I love a good challenge, so let’s appeal to the residents of Gloucestershire to step up to the zero waste challenge; whatever your circumstances and whatever your personal challenges. There is no need for overwhelm, you can do it at exactly the pace that is right for you and stay well inside your comfort zone.

Make just one pledge that you can manage successfully and start small. Success breeds success and all that.

The council will be providing lots of helpful information and resource packs in the months leading up to zero waste week in January. There will be plenty of time for you to learn about your kerbside collections, find out where your recycling banks are and ask questions.

During zero waste week, why not choose one of the following?

1- Recycle one more tin
2- Recycle your newspapers
3- Recycle one glass bottle
4- Take a reusable shopping bag when you go shopping
5- Start a compost heap
6- Sign up for a vegetable box scheme

For those of you who are already recycling, this is the perfect week to stretch your boundaries:

1- Make zero waste lunches for the week
2- Swap one of your regular weekly grocery purchases for something with less packaging
3- Order milk from a local milkman who will reuse glass bottles
4- Buy something in bulk such as fabric conditioner or soft drinks to reduce overall packaging
5- Take a reusable container to a deli or butcher and ask them to fill it instead of giving you non-recyclable plastic containers
6- Make your own bread / yogurt / cakes to reduce plastic packaging

We have now officially become a ‘case study’ for Gloucestershire County council waste team and the Recycle for Gloucestershire website. We’ve also nominated several of our friends, neighbours and countrymen for this prestigious title, but they don’t actually know yet.

We’re delighted to be working with the council in this way (and I’m sure our friends will too) and hope that we can work together to make Gloucestershire’s zero waste week a resounding success.

And if you don’t live in Gloucestershire, there’s no need to feel left out. You can join in our party too with your own zero waste week! Feel free to drop us a line and tell us your plans. If you’re really well behaved we might set you up your very own ‘my zero waste’ blog to play on so that you can share your news with other garbloggers and other gorgeous people in the world.

Now, feeling like a caged rabbit under bright lights surrounded by Simon’s and Kim’s in white coats I guess I’d better go and dust off the yogurt maker.

oh wait! I can’t – I gave away all my milk in cups of tea yesterday.
What a shame……………

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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 (28)

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  1. Good morning Mrs G – I have been waiting on tenterhooks to see how the meeting went. What fantastic news. It can’t get better than this…the seed, has turned into a sapling and before we know it we’ll have a huge forest of trees…if you get what I mean.

    As for any happy dances…I’m now doing my own merry waltz up here in Suffolk and I think I will be partying all day!

    Three cheers for the Greens and three cheers for Gloucestershire. Well done everyone.

    Now get on with that yogurt, take a walk to the shop, remember your bag and bring home some milk….the world is watching ;-D

  2. Kim says:

    Great write up, really liked all the ideas for pledges especially as you have different levels for the various stages that people are at with recycling.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Hi Mrs Green.
    Good morning….
    3- Order milk from a local milkman who will reuse glass bottles
    I tried, there isn’t a milkman that comes anywhere near my house. Poo. But I do buy milk in plastic bottles rather than tetrapacks because I can recycle the bottles.
    4- Buy something in bulk such as fabric conditioner or soft drinks to reduce overall packaging
    I looked at this and figures that the cans are easier to recycle as my council does kerbside for cans but not plastic.

    The Zero Waste week sounds brilliant – maybe other councils will follow on.
    Love,
    Sarah

  4. Fumblina says:

    Well done.. I’m sure you will be a real encouragement for other families in Gloucestershire. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I do think that the idea that “Some have financial constraints which means it is cheaper for them to buy heavily packaged โ€˜convenienceโ€™ foods.” is a bit of a myth.

    Poorer families buying Smash and chicken nuggets for their kids or microwaveable curry are not saving money. There is no way that this is cheaper than a well padded casserole for example.

    The key here is education and good old fashioned home *economics* lessons. Many young people leave home and have no idea how to cook cheap simple wholesome food. Why are people always so surpised at how little is in a white sauce for example?

    Anyway rant over ๐Ÿ˜›

    PS. My excuse for buying pre-packed food is just plain laziness and an addiction to tortellini!!

  5. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Mrs A – I knew you’d be happy dancing today ๐Ÿ™‚ and I love your idea of a forest of trees, here in the forest of dean. I think there might be a slogan in there somewhere ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hi Kim, great to see you here. Thanks for leaving a comment. I think it’s important to meet people where they are at. For some a zero waste challenge will be hugely daunting, so baby steps are called for. For others this could be just the opportunity to step things up a little – especially as it ties in so beautifully with New Year resolutions.

    Hi Sarah, the milkman is becoming a dying breed it would seem. That’s such a shame. I understand that bulk buying is not for all; you’ve looked into it and weighed up the TYPE of packaging that is easier to recycle which is fab. I have some interesting figures about packaging coming up in a post near you soon ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thank you Fumblina – and rant away; I agree with what you say. I think we are too driven by ‘price’ and we have no idea of the true meaning of ‘cost’. These are two different things to me.

    You’re right in that the first step is education – showing people HOW to make a casserole from fresh vegetables and cheaper offcuts of meat or by using grains and pulses which are often much more economical.

    I’ve seen children who are fed on puffed air for breakfast (because it comes with a free plastic toy) and Pot Noodles for lunch (29p each for a meal) and the poor kids are asking for food half an hour after their meals because there is no sustenance in it. It’s a challenge to help people realise that spending a little more in terms of money might get them a lot more value when you look at the overall picture.

    That’s a tough one to crack isn’t it?
    and I admire your honesty with the tortellini ๐Ÿ˜‰ Next time I give Little Miss Green smash and nuggets for tea I’ll hide the post from you ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. LOL Mrs Green…I am still dancing and I’ve been telling all my friends. Just wait until tomorrow, I’m organising a standing ovation for you in the morning…because I really am so proud of what you’ve achieved and in such a short amount of time. See you in the morning ;-D xx

  7. Hi Mrs Green,

    Raising your MyZeroWaste profile to cover the local area is a great idea. As you rightly say a certain number of households do not recycle at all, though a majority do. As Mrs Average wrote on her blog today other like-minded families should take up the Zero Waste challenge. Both of you would certainly be able to help newcomers get off to a flying start with your wealth of experience.

    John.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Hi John,
    Thanks for the vote of confidence. We’re really looking forward to the county-wide challenge in January and have lots of ideas up our sleeve to discuss with the council ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope that we can provide a source of encouragement and support for others, as Mrs A has done for us and others.
    I feel at this stage it’s important not to overwhelm people, but to show them how to take small, comfortable steps.

  9. Poppy says:

    Fantastic news. I’ll be watching closely ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Great news!! Look forward to more info nearer the time – hope the local media pick up on the story – they ahve been pretty supportive in the past but I wonder if it is worth setting up a meeting with them as well?

  11. Rob Whittle,Nail2 says:

    Good luck with this.

    The biggest zero waste impact that can happen in Gloucestershire is total weekly kerbside food waste collections, treated via Anaerobic Digester; or have access to home composting. Like South Shropshire, Glocestershire needs 10,000Tpa=15,000Tpa decentralised county capacity.

    IMO most other initiatives are largely peripheral, fragmented, piecemeal to have long term effects.

  12. Mr. Green says:

    Hi Rob, thanks for that comment. I do agree that food waste is a big problem, but maybe a better way is to attempt to ecourage/educate people not to waste so much in the first place. I see bio-digesters in the same light as incinerators: they attempt to solve a problem rather than prevent it in the first place. Maybe I’m expecting too much? but with the appalling western problems of food profitering and over-consumption, I think this underpins a bigger marketing and cultural issue that needs tackling deep at source.

  13. Rob Whittle,Nail2 says:

    Hi Richard.

    I hear what you are saying; People change habits/culturally slowly, and hate idealogical revolutions they done want. This is where ZW idealistist/fundimentalists tend to part company with ZW pragmatists. ZW company Brightgreen in the East of England is strongly promoting Food Waste collections, Anaerobic Digestion modules, Califorian style ZW Recovery Recovery facility in South Norfolk. Because both are on the council’s to do list; the chances are of a real thing happening on the ground with results. Its easy to hammer the problems of consumerism without realising one is carrying a pittiful 10% with you rather than a desirable 90%. The cold turkey food prevent direction is great (re WRAP’s Love food,Hate Waste) but will only reducee so much. Also on a practical side many city folk live in flats/no home composting; so one needs a food waste collection scheme for scraps/teabags. Speaking with Rik Antony (ZWallince/Rikantony associates) he said he had become more pragmatic with collections, promoting 3 bin (Blue/Food/Residual)solution and AD modules, with 15% that couldn’t be 3R’d or composted. Closing the loop is important and AD with other complications like animal bi products regs acheives this loop, better than composting:re GHG Eunomia report.

    My experience is Councillors really wish to engage with pragmatic ZW iniatives; especially if they come with expertise and a business plan.

    Just my feedback

    Rob

  14. Mrs Green says:

    Thank you Poppy and Philip – the council are setting up the media side of things, as far as I am aware; that’s their forte, not mine ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Hi Rob, great to see a new face on board – Your suggestions and information are interesting; you seem to know a lot about this, but I won’t embarrass you by asking how you are so knowledgeable ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know that one of our local councils has started to gather food waste and other area councils are watching to view any progress. So fingers crossed………… I’m still of the opinion that education is needed to stop the problem of food waste at source, however. We have virtually no food waste now.

  15. Kris says:

    Good comment Mr G about not wasting food if possible. My personal gripe is not with people who perhaps can’t control what is unused by little ones, but with things like the school of diet advice typified by comments such as ‘aim to leave some on your plate’ which makes me furious every time. I suppose it might have some mental retraining benefits for people who’ve lost sight of what a sensible portion is, but it would be much better if they just drew a hand shape on their crockery…

  16. Hi Mrs Green,

    Proper home food management is the ideal. There will always be some waste which will be binbag bound. Therefore, if you cannot compost it, council collection should be used to close the loop. Supermarket bogof’s are probably one of the worst sources of waste with consumers failing to use the item within a sensible timeframe. Home cooking, rather than ready-meal living, is the best way to organise your food, as well as being a healthier alternative.

  17. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Kris,
    Yes, food waste is a challenging one, yet I do understand the psychology of ‘leave some on your plate’ for training people with obsessional eating habits to help them break the pattern. Perhaps they could choose to leave a tomato or something that could be retrieved for another day, rather than a piece of potato slathered in gravy that doesn’t taste so good by tea time!

    John, one of the district councils in our county is now trialling food waste collection. Our district are ‘waiting to see what happens’ before saying or doing any more about it. I have an issue with the BOGOFs too and I suspect, as you do, that they are a large source of food waste. It’s a shame we have lost our reverence with food. When you grow your own you begin to understand what is involved from seed to harvest, so it makes you less inclined to waste things.

  18. Hi Mrs Green,

    Good news about the food waste collections. Applied universally, landfill contribution would eventually end. This would require 100% household cooperation. A difficult target but as with other recycling once you start you have changed forever.
    Growing your own should be another universal passtime. My leeks are starting to look like leeks at last. That is satisfying. Next year crop rotation will begin.

  19. Mrs Green says:

    Hi John,

    Yes I can see a time when landfill could end too. Especially when you think back to that inspiring town in Japan, Kimikatsu. I really don’t see any reason why every city in the world could not achieve this. They have a system which I admire greatly…..

    Good luck with the leeks; there is nothing like the taste of home grown produce!

  20. Hi again,

    Kimikatsu have shown a comprehensive way to deal with waste. This is lacking here with all the confusion around recycling. Zero Waste is a world movement and I see it growing well into the future.
    The leeks are no longer “blades of grass” and there should be further growth until the Autumn. I have used raised beds and will increase their size with new home compost in Spring.

  21. Mrs Green says:

    I really feel though, that if they can do it, then so can we. I know they have over thirty different containers for different types of waste, but honestly, is it that difficult?

    With some careful planning and strict guidelines, I see this to be a workable and feasible idea across the globe. When you look at it like that, we have too much choice! And that is where the confusion comes in.

    I feel that there is quite a lot of laziness around recycling in this country and yes, we can blame it on confusion, but if we can all pull together (Govt, councils, manufacturers and consumers) then we can find a solution.

    We need to step aside the ‘it’s my birthright’ idea of having a weekly rubbish collection that ends up in the landfill and start thinking outside the (recycling) box a bit.

    I fear we think that because we pay council tax it takes away our responsibility and householders feel that they ‘deserve’ something for their money. Maybe we should start to take back responsibility ourselves and look at the bigger picture and the potential impact of our continuing lifestyle.

    Ok, soapbox away………

  22. Rob Whittle,Nail2 says:

    I don’t think I’d cope with more than 4 containers. Recycling should be aimed at the lazy, should be simple, convenient, at the doorstep. Kimikatsu is in Japan, a village, different ethics and culture. Many Kimikatsu residents don’t agree with the mayors ZW dictact.

    Give people too many choices/bins they won’t recycle, one loses good will and capture rates drop. One has to keep habits simple.

    I’d keep recycling really simple and easy at the doorstep in the UK. Most people are just working out what the little triangles on plastic goods mean that have been there some years.

    1 blue bin for mixed dry recycling each 14 days
    1 black rubbish bin each 14 days
    1 green box for glass collected each 14 days
    1 Food Waste collection kitchen caddy every 7 days
    1 Brown bin for green waste collected every 14 days,ยฃ30 subscription
    Home composters/Green Cones free on request
    1)

  23. Hi Mrs Green, Rob,

    Kimikatsu is a small community and the principle of what they are doing is admirable, though not practical countrywide here.
    Rob, your idea is on the right lines. My concern is the lack of clear, unambiguous instructions on every recyclable item, leading to confusion as Mrs G rightly says. This must come from a top-down approach, possibly from WRAP.

  24. Hi again Mrs Green, Rob,

    Further explaining the link with Kimikatsu. Kerbside is best for most items, as we currently use it. However, it is the other items eg aerosols, cooking oil, yoghurt pots, margarine tubs etc, which could follow the Japanese model. Presently, these materials go to widespread locations and centralisation would be easier for the householder. It is an adoption of their practice to fit in with the UK situation.

  25. Rob Whittle,Nail2 says:

    Mrs Green, John

    Californian (Del Norte) style ZW Parks are one idea we are working up in Norfolk, especially items excluded at the Kerbside.

    Where we are empty aerosol can go into the blue bin.

    Looking at WRAP’s recent interesting work of collecting/recyclimg mixed plastics such as film/tubs, yogurt pots, wraping looks interesting. Report below

    http://www.wrap.org.uk/downloads/Mixed_Plastic_Final_Report-june.b35613fa.pdf

    This is non container plastics. 10% most people can’t recycle, easily.

  26. Mrs Green says:

    Interesting pdf, Rob – thank you.
    You’ve both caught me with my ‘idealist’ head on I’m afraid! I appreciate what you say, greatly, Rob, in that recycling needs to be made easier otherwise people get overwhelmed and paralysed.

    I like John’s idea of kerbside collection for regular items and a better organised ‘Kimikatsu’ style recycling for everything else. That would be a good compromise.

    I’m still amazed at how different everyone’s collections and facilities for recycling are, dependant on postcode. Your system in Norfolk sounds quite comprehensive, Rob

  27. Detta says:

    Small is beautiful – a few thoughts….change is uncomfortable and scratchy and depends on how we feel. You are so right Mrs ‘Queen of Green’ recycling does need to be easier – at least as easy as non-recycling! Small steps taken continuously over a sustained period of time helps to contain the ‘overwhelm’ feeling when trying to do it all. I am a small step re-cycle woman – with only faint guilt when I don’t do as much as I could, and lots of praise for when I do a bit more than normal – makes me feel good, righteous and more inspired to continue.

    When I was little (eons ago) plates were smaller, portions were smaller and rubbish bins were much smaller because the poor old bin men had to hod them up on their shoulders – maybe we could look to using smaller plates rather than the oversized trendy ones that grace many a table now, have homemade soup before our evening meal thus reducing both appetite and plate size and could you write a handy recipie book, Mrs QOG that is full of delicious recipies for leftovers that we didn’t mean to have but managed to manifest while we were trying to get rid of the stuff in our fridge that would have been wasted….I feel it would be a best seller!

    Thank you so much for your wonderful site, it truly does inspire a ‘means well but doesn’t quite get there’ wastrel. I am going back to baking our own bread…you’ve motivated me!

  28. Mrs Green says:

    Detta! How lovely to see you visiting us. Thank you for taking time to leave a comment.
    I find myself quoting you a lot throughout this site about taking small steps to avoid overwhelm. It was you that taught me that and it has been one of the most important things I’ve ever learned ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I love your idea about eating well and therefore needing to eat less. I find so many people exist on a diet of white bread, air filled cereals and fat free meals – no wonder they are starving hungry and producing loads of packaging waste! Like you say a bowl of homemade soup followed by a hearty casserole fills bellies and produces zero waste.

    Enjoy that bread of yours – feta, sun dried tomato and olive focaccia no doubt!

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