Gloucestershire zero waste week challenge – day 1

Filed in Blog by on January 26, 2009 22 Comments
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balloonsWahee! It’s celebration time. Over 1500 households across the county are now taking part in zero waste week. What a party!

Those of you who were following our blog last September might remember that we did a LOT of planning for our own zero waste week. We planned, shopped, bought a German Shepherd to keep junk mailers from the door. Ok, we didn’t do the last one, but you get the picture. It was planned with precision, and everything worked out a treat. In fact, we turned the whole week into a celebration, rather than deprivation by cooking great meals, spending a ridiculous amount of money at Waitrose on luxury items and generally having a bit of a knees up.

Now, however, during the last week in January we’ve maxed out on Christmas spending, it’s a bit dull and dreary out there so motivation and energy is lacking, we’ve been busy, ill, busy being ill, and to be honest, we’ve not done a lot of planning. In fact, I have to admit, we’ve done NONE. <gasp>

So this week’s focus will be on ‘how to go zero waste while taking full advantage of all the conveniences of modern life whilst winging it and getting through by the skin of our teeth’. This time I will not be slaving over a hot stove or putting my life on hold to get through the week. We have things planned for this week already, which means a lot of having to prepare meals quickly and minimum time spent in the kitchen.

We’re really looking forward to the week and I’m hoping we will touch on a part of the challenge that is crucial to a lot of people – time management and convenience. Let’s face it, we all enjoy a bit of convenience and unless you’re some kitchen Goddess who doesn’t mind making everything from scratch 365 days of the week, it’s great to be able to find quick to cook meals sans scary packaging.

We’re going to share some of the meals we eat throughout the week and take a look at how you can make them more or less convenient for a busy lifestyle and what the ‘cost’ of the packaging might be as a result of that.

Another thing we will be doing this week is focusing on people other than us. We’ve got some great people lined up who will be sharing their dirty secrets with you and talking about their own challenges. We also have some inspiring words from a local celebrity. Yipee!

So that’s about it. This morning Little Miss Green is off out, I’m catching up with some much needed housework and Mr Green is still nursing his man flu. We’ll be back throughout the day to keep you up to date with our zero waste week challenge. Later on, we’ll be putting up a link to our recent radio interview about zero waste week. I betcha can’t wait πŸ˜€


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 (22)

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  1. Sarah says:

    Sounds brilliant Mrs G, I’m looking forward to the blog posts this week!

  2. Katy says:

    Oh if only there *were* 365 days in the week! πŸ™‚

    Good luck, and here’s to a really interesting week on the blog (not that it’s not usually… oh you know what I mean!).

  3. Karen says:

    Looking forward to this week – in your house and ours!!! Our bin is tapped shut, the boxes are out and all is ready(ish)!
    However, I have spent a good part of the day in the kitchen and I don’t have time to do that every day – let’s hope my lot don’t munch through the homemade biscuits too quickly. So, your emphasis on zero waste and convenience will be most welcome.

  4. Poppy says:

    I set of this morning with glowing intentions, but had them knocked back a bit by the realisation that supermarkets really have taken over the world!

    The butchers I had intended to use, wasn’t open and the only bread was in the form of ready made rolls πŸ™

    I moved on to another area and a lovely wholemeal loaf and some rolls were handed to me in a paper bag πŸ™‚

    On to the butchers. Poor chap looked most bemused by my requests and knew nothing about Zero Waste, but still identified goods that I could easily buy with no extra wrapping.

    What a shame these shops didn’t know anything about Zero Waste, it could have provided a great advertising boost for them.

    Now to see how long we can last without going shopping again!

  5. Kris says:

    That’s a strangely heartening post as I was afraid everyone else was going to put me to shame… I did sit down and do some planning on Friday before I did my shopping, but since then have been struck by some lurgy which has left me miserably ill-feeling as I can’t shake it off. This has had several quite large knock-on effects for zero-waste – I generally feel better if I eat something savoury but can I stay on track and not reach for things like crisps (so far – yes. And trying to reach for water instead) My first bin item (aargh! already!) – the packaging for a cooling head strip, because I have tried fresh air, drinking water, painkiller tablets and roll-ons already. Also a quicksandy, sucking attack of the CBAs – I want to be up and enthused about this, but my head is killing me and I’m miserable.
    I’m really glad tea is already planned! We’re having pie (cardboard box, foil tray) with baked potato wedges and leek, broccoli and courgette, plus a piece of cheesecake (again cardboard box and foil tray).

  6. Mrs Jackson says:

    I was also disappointed to find that the bread I knew to be in a recyclable bag was in fact SOLD out when I did my shopping!! Thankfully I found another one!

  7. Di Hickman says:

    although not in your area (or heck the same country) I am so looking forward to the posts this week! I have news to share this week too that will make you all at zero waste very happy, but I need to prep the blog post for that πŸ™‚

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Sarah, Katy – thank you for your well wishes (and yep, I knew what you meant Katy LOL!)

    @Karen: Well done on taping the bins shut, Karen. That was something that made a big difference here. Good luck with the week.

    @Poppy: well done Poppy; we had a similar morning ourselves; shut shops, everything shrink wrapped; you’ll be able to read about it later in the week. It sounds like things worked out for you in the end though. Wouldn’t it have been fab to get the local shops on board with this – we could have started off a few more plastic bag free towns and villages perhaps.

    @Kris: Oh Kris, it’s so hard to put time and energy into things when you feel unwell. I hope you will be feeling better soon and I hope you enjoyed your meal this evening πŸ™‚

    @Mrs Jackson: There must be something in the air, Mrs J – or maybe it’s a good thing, Perhaps lots of zero wasters went in there before you and bought up the stock πŸ˜‰

    @Di Hickman: Thank you Di – I will wait with anticipation to hear your good news!

  9. Kris says:

    Thank you – pie was very nice indeed and I think baked wedges probably count as comfort food! I did also manage zero waste lunch for both of us – packed for him, pasta and tuna for me, so I’m winning so far.

    I’m either braving the shops tomorrow – or getting hm lasagne out of the freezer and trying to think of some crafty use for a small piece of slightly used cling film.

  10. Poppy says:

    Waste today (yesterday even …. oops!) was 2 windows from envelopes and a small piece of plastic found on the floor – origins unknown!


  11. Mrs Green says:

    @Kris: Oh yeah – baked wedges definitely count as comfort food! Well done on the zero waste lunchboxes too – all that while you’re feeling ill; you’re a bit of a trooper really πŸ˜‰

    @Poppy: Poppy, we’ve had a postal mishap too – more on that later in the week.
    I keep window envelopes for reuse…..

  12. Poppy says:

    @Mrs Green:

    I would keep them, but they tend to be massively over printed and in fairness, I get more than enough that aren’t.

    Today has been a little heavier on the waste front with 2 more windows to add, a plastic lid from a gravy granule pot, a piece of sealing plastic tape from a drum of cheese spread triangles and the plastic wrap from crumpets and hot cross buns. Still heaps better than previous weeks though πŸ™‚

    I have an empty non-recyclable pot that everything is going in and hope to fit everything into that for the week.

  13. John Costigane says:

    Window envelopes are waste eventually. Because of their minimal weight, they do not impact much on bin contents. Simply remove from the paper wash to clear off scrap paper and then bin, using your own system.

    Alternatively, Return To Sender using franked envelopes. Waste should be in a cycle to encourage producers to reuse or to think about using better non-waste material.

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: That’s still an excellent day, Poppy; well done!
    We’ve had a couple of mishaps already too. I get what you mean about the envelopes and if you don’t get so many, then it’s no big deal. As John said the weight of those plastic windows is minimal

  15. Kris says:

    I hate window envelopes… it’s one of my least favourite jobs sitting down with a pile of them as there seems to be no easy way to rip them out or cut round them, not knowing how far they extend. I tend to look at each new one with distaste weighing up whether to get frustrated then, or save it up!

    However, I find John’s comment that in the end they are very small and light pieces of landfill curiously calming and zen. πŸ™‚

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @Kris: Maybe you should turn that task into a moving meditation, Kris πŸ˜‰

  17. Poppy says:

    I’ve found a home for my windows! One of the mums at school is heavily into card making and after a zero waste conversation, I asked her if she would like them and she said YES!! Yippee!! πŸ™‚

    Now, any one got a use for a used tablet blister pack? I removed as much of the foil as I could, but the remaining plastic is homeless and set for landfill πŸ™

  18. Kris says:

    Well done Poppy πŸ™‚

    For the first time ever (probably!) I got one window out in one piece today!! And ripped two – pah.

  19. John Costigane says:

    Envelope windows are fascinating! Some lift off whole without any difficulty, others tear. When I tear one I cut round the edge in the surrounding envelope paper and soak the cut-out in soapy water, after dishes. The paper lifts off quite easily and then the plastic is left to dry before setting aside for the next franked envelope. The 10 spare returns will last me a while.

    It is therapeutic to have a lifecycle of a kind for this plastic. Obviously, the people who make the stuff should deal with the waste.

  20. Poppy says:

    What are you doing with these windows John? No idea what franked mail has to do with it…

  21. John Costigane says:


    I just mean stamped enclosed envelopes, franked is shorter. Put any envelope windows into a used envelope. When full, fold top then side to fit into any available s.e.e. Then seal and post returning free-of-charge to a sender.

    This completes the cycle of use from sender to home, back to sender.

  22. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: Oh good news, Poppy! It’s lovely to think your’ rubbish’ will become something that brings joy to the recipient of your friend’s cards πŸ™‚

    @John Costigane: That cracks me up. I’m guessing you don’t include your contact details!?!?

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