Happy New Year – it’s the countdown to Gloucestershire zero waste challenge week!

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love christmas hate wasteHello lovely people; welcome back to the site. The New Year is upon us and we’re raring to go!

We have two rubbishy New Years Resolutions here at Chez Green. The first is to get through the entire year without putting our dustbin out (remember, we have an old fashioned metal bin, not a wheelie bin). The second is to take part in the Gloucestershire zero waste challenge which takes place 26th Jan – 1st February 2009.

We put our dustbin out for collection this week; it was the first time since last June! You’ll be able to read all about it  tomorrow. Mr Green has been busy contacting local press to share our story locally; we’ll let you know how we get on with that.

Our council supported the “Love Christmas, hate Waste” campaign and have lots of tips for avoiding waste over the Christmas season. With suggestions for recycling wrapping paper, Christmas trees and cards to ideas about leftovers and freezing food, it’s worth having a browse to see if you can pick up any great ideas yourself. I’ll be doing my own version in a couple of days on the site.

Our council have worked out that over the festive period in our beautiful county, we generate more than 30,000 tonnes of waste. That works out at 5 extra sacks per family or 10% of our annual rubbish! They reckon that we spend an average of £170 on food; one third of which will be wasted.

Well, ya know we don’t do things in the ‘average’ way around here, and you’ll be pleased to hear we did NOT create 5 extra sacks of rubbish over the Christmas period. We’ll be sharing all about our Christmas and whether it was rubbish or not in future posts.

If you’re local and not yet signed up for the Gloucestershire zero waste challenge then why not sign up as one of your resolutions? You can find all you need to know on a downloadable pack and you’ll get emails full of tips and support to help you. You’ll find a resource pack and a sign up form on the zero waste challenge week page. If you’re not local, then why not join in anyway? It’s a great way to begin the new year and you know you can come here for support, help and advice!

How was your Christmas? I’d love to hear about your successes and what you’ve learned about doing things differently next year! Let us know if there is anything you’d like us to cover on the site over the coming year too. We have lots of ideas and will be revamping the site over the next few months, but we’d love to hear your thoughts and get your input 🙂

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 (24)

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  1. Happy New Year Mrs G, Mr G and LMG. Well done on last year. It was a really great one, a year that we’ll remember for a long time and I can’t thank you enough for joining in the rubbish reducing revolution. As you know, I’d encourage anyone new to this site to take part in Gloucestershire’s Zero Waste challenge. With all the support on hand it really is easier than it looks and participants are always surprised by the results. I’d also encourage folk to start preparing now and if they can find the time, to blog about their thoughts too. Forget Celebrity Big Brother it’s Bin Brother that’s the way forward.

    Now on the subject of bins, we say some mighty looking monsters on our travels, almost looking like rubbish sculptures but not as pretty. But I’m pleased to say all we had was half a carrier bag this Christmas, which means our rubbish for the past month was just 1 1/2 carrier bags plus some cat litter from our trip away. And as the recycling bin, we were still able to shut it with room to spare, thanks to carefully chosen presents which had very little wrapping or packaging.

    Happy new year to everyone and here’s a reminder that if you have a blogpost about resolutions that will help slim your trash, why not submit it to this month’s carnival of trash, which can be found at http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_4478.html

    😀 xxx

  2. Hi Mrs Green,

    A very Happy New Year to yourself and the whole family.

    Your resolutions are excellent choices. Keeping the bin unemptied for a full year sends Zero to landfill during that time, Zero Waste gives Zero landfill(and Zero incineration). The Gloucestershire Zero Waste Week can only give impetus to more positive change.

    After the Christmas waste debacle, mentioned elsewhere, I have developed a new Zero Waste Christmas strategy:

    1. Buy turkey and trimmings early to avoid the mayhem nearer the big day.

    2. Encourage others to respect the Zero Waste stance with regard to gifts. I used furoshiki-style cloth wrapping for 1 present. This is an excellent choice from Japan.

    3. The stars were immediate family, local butcher and baker. More of the same please for future years.

  3. Poppy says:

    Happy New Year Mrs G and family and to all who contribute here or mooch along the sidelines thinking of doing so 🙂

    Zero Waste Week is top of my agenda now and I’ve been thinking about how we can tackle it without falling flat on our faces.

    My puds are heading for tinned or fresh food, but their litter is still a problem.

    J has packed lunch for school, so I’m planning to up the yoghurt production so I can put some in a small pot for him and I intend to do some baking so he can have a biscuit to go with it. Rolls are a problem as they never, ever come out anything like the shop ones, so I’ll just have to see what I can find loose rather than packaged. Should be able to pick up some unpackaged ham or the like from either the supermarket or the butcher. DH is hoping that I’m going to double up the quantities so he can have the same(ish), as he usually buys packaged goods on his way too work or pops out at lunchtime.

    While in the butchers, I’ll get some mince, chicken and liver to see us through the week and the veg comes in a near naked state courtesy of Slipstream Organics, straight to my door.

    I bought some lightweight containers yesterday which should see us okay at the butchers 😀

    I don’t think there is anything else I can do. Time will tell 😉

  4. Di Hickman says:

    Since I started composting, recycling more (A lot more!) and cooking from scratch our waste has gone down by about 3/4. I plan on trying an experiment this new year to see how long i can go before I need to put my bin out for collection. It won’t be as long as you guys (wow 6 months! way to go!!) but I hope to get it to once a month for the landfill and every other week eventually for the recycle. I’m also hoping that soon once the garden is fully tamed after the rainy season I can go down to one yard waste bin. Just need to trim the trees, and dig up some stumps. Aiming for March on that one.

    As for xmas, well we didn’t 🙂 I opted for no gifting, instead I am doing time gifts. Dinners out, lunches with the girls etc. We ddn’t decorate the house, although we do have decorations. I’m trying to cut back on plastic so we tried doing without lugging the plastic decorations and tree out, and going more natural. We preferred it. I’m probably going to get rid of the tree and decorations next year and go natural with wood/handmade ornaments.

    Looking forward to seeing what you have on your blog schedule for 2009!

  5. so? may i join the carnival and run away laughing all the way to the bank with my new savings?

    i am not local to you, but i am local to the already thrifty Amish and to the already spoiled rich. therefore, i feel rather thrifty-ish!

    bonne annee, madame, monsieur and oh, mademoiselle Green-est.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Hi mrs A, Happy new year to you as well. You’re right, there is a lot of support in the information packs given out prior to council’s zero waste weeks and it would be great if everyone just gave it a go. Even a tiny reduction can help and lead to new habits. Well done on your own Christmas rubbish and thanks for the carnival reminder; I had quite forgotten again – eek!

    HI John, it sounds like we all learned a lot this Christmas – I love the sharing of ideas afterwards and well done on doing the furoshiki wrapping. I never got that far 😀

    Hi poppy, you sound well organised and like you have a lot of great plans in place for zero waste week. Good luck! and keep us posted on your progress. We might open up a page here for people to comment on if they don’t want to create their own blog for the week…… Do you think there would be any interest in that?

    Hi Di, your Christmas sounded wonderful and I love the idea of your special gifts. Good luck with your resolution too. Just imagine if everyone could go a month without putting out their rubbish; it would make such a difference.

    Hi Nadine, a Happy 2009 to you – may all your dreams manifest. Please do jump on board with your own zero waste challenge; the more the merrier I say and what are a few miles across the globe between friends. It’s working towards a common cause that is important.

  7. Karen says:

    I had such plans to prepare for Gloucestershire’s Zero Waste Week! I was going to be sooo organised!! But, guess what? All those weeks before Christmas got eaten up by Christmas (and general living) and I’m now feeling a little panicked!! OK, quite panicked actually!
    I do plan to make some thin calico bags to use for produce when I go shopping – instead of the plastic ones. I know we need another Bokashi compost bin – I’m afraid we fill ours quicker than a week (if only I could get my boys to eat their crusts!!) I have just started using a mooncup (sorry, chaps).
    I’m sure once the boys go back to school on Monday and I have time to think it won’t feel so daunting but I keep looking at my bin and wondering where to start!!!

  8. Kris says:

    Hello 🙂
    I had a lovely Christmas which included the gift of fabulous cheese in click-lock containers!
    Thank you for the info about recycling wrapping paper at the household centres – I know there was meant to be somewhere for it so have diligently saved any used for us and can take it along this week along with the cardboard wrapping used by most of the retailers I bought from.
    Right before Christmas I found a packaging company that includes various lovely bags in its range which I’m going to look into for next year as I love the idea of a practical but attractive bag tied with pretty ribbon.

  9. maisie says:

    Happy New Year to you all.

    We will have to put our bins out on Monday which is the first collection of the new year.

    Then I am aiming for the maximum of 4 times during the year for the landfill bin.

    Think I will be taping the kitchen bin shut again for the next few weeks.

    The boys have been fairly good and DS2 has decided his NYR is to not eat crisps, so that will be a big saving on the plastic rubbish.

    I have been a bit lax in monitoring the weight of rubbish going into the bin so will start with earnest again next week.

  10. Kris says:

    Just wondering if anyone has heard anything yet from the Glos Zero Waste Week organisers?

  11. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Karen, amazing how quickly this has come round, isn’t it? Don’t worry though; just jump in where you can and see what you can do. Even a small reduction in your landfill waste is better than none. I can assure you after this weeks weigh in, which will be posted about tomorrow, I’m not exactly feeling confident myself!
    Can your crusts go outside to feed the birds? Your boys went back to school yesterday, so I hope you are feeling more positive and optimistic now. Good luck!

    Hi Kris – lovely to see you again and Happy New year! It sounds like you had a good Christmas – the click lock containers are fab 😉 What is the company you found with the bags? I’d like to hear more about them. Regarding zero waste week, I had something a couple of weeks before Christmas. I’ll find it and email it to you. How are you feeling about the week?

    Hi Maisie – I’m so glad to see you too! I’ve been thinking about both you and Kris over the holiday season. Very cool about DS2 giving up crisps and I love your foal of emptying the bin 4 times a year; that would be fabulous. Good luck with everything and great to catch up with your new blog 🙂

  12. Karen says:

    Hi Mrs Green – re bread crusts to the birds: apparently if birds eat bread they fill up but don’t get the nutrients they need so I put out nuts and suet balls instead. A shame as we have soooo many bread bits but I don’t want malnourished birds on my conscience!!!!

  13. Kris says:

    Thank you for offering to forward that email – it’s odd that I’ve not had it, I gave both email and postal addresses when signing up in town a couple of weeks ago.

    I’m feeling quite nervous about zero waste week, though I intend to try to raise my game. The main target to cut is the packaging that still creeps into the house.

  14. Hi Mrs G – huge thanks for featuring this post in this month’s Carnival of Trash. It’s now published over at http://www.therubbishdiet.blogspot.com, along with other interesting submissions.

    Just a note to Karen about breadcrusts…LOL my name’s also Karen and I too have a Bokashi bin which often gets filled up with breadcrusts. However when I feel organised, I cut the crusts off the sarnies first and then freeze them. They’re then ready for use when a recipe needs breadcrumbs or I sometimes add them to bread and butter puddings. Hope that’s some help and good luck with the Zero Waste Challenge. 😀

  15. Poppy says:

    I was told to soak the bread before putting it out as this stops them from flyng off with chunks of it that could cause them harm. Not much good in the current climate though 😉

    If we have larger amounts of left over or stale bread, we whizz it through the blender and put the crumbs in bags in the freezer.

    For the moment I’ve been breaking up some fat balls that I’ve had for some time. That means those that don’t normally tacle them can have a go and some ends up on the floor for the ground feeders.

    I saw a sad sight today that reminded me of the pictures Mrs G put up at the start of this site. Flying across the fields, there was a bird with a long stream of something attached to it. There was nothing we could do 🙁 I hope it managed to free itself.

  16. Poppy says:

    Also wanted to add a big negative mark for Nabisco.. I had Weetabix down to be one of my Zero Wast Week saviours, but a bit of investigative packet opening instore revealed that they have changed the perfectly satisfactory paper inner packaging for plastic! Grrr 🙁 When did they do that and why? An email is needed I think!

  17. Poppy, had the same experience with Nambarrie teabags. These were previously unpackaged in a card box, now with tinfoil? This is a new material, supposedly recyclable?

  18. Poppy – Weetabix has had those annoying film wrappers for as long as I remember in recent years. Sainsbury’s sell a cheap own brand which uses a polythene wrapper and which can be recycled with other polythene bags. However, if you’re looking for a paper wrapper try Weetabix Organic or Shredded Wheat. I tear these up and put them in my compost bin.

  19. Katy says:

    I blogged my Christmas: http://aiming-low.blogspot.com/2009/01/that-was-christmas.html . We didn’t go radically zero-waste, but ideas of what makes a “proper Christmas” can be quite firmly embedded and so a few compromises were made in our household! But I can see us making more steps each year until we get there. There was definitely just one bag of rubbish for the 2 weeks, and no food waste. Well, apart from one mishap (see blog) 😉

    Poppy, if you don’t have a local baker that puts rolls in paper bags, I wonder whether a friendly greengrocer or market trader would sell you a string of bags, that you could then take to the supermarket and use for loose bread rolls there? Happy biscuit baking 🙂

  20. Karen says:

    Thanks for the suggestions for my bread problem everyone! I am feeling a little more optimistic about Zero Waste Week. I’ve had to change my way of thinking – I guess I (unrealistically!) thought that ZWW would be the END of a journey to less waste, now I realise it will be the START. We will do better than normal and then build on it over the next weeks and months. I guess for us it will be Less Waste Week!!!!

  21. Poppy says:

    Master P and I are doing a trial with Zero Waste packed lunches this week and we have hit a problem 🙁 Home made yoghurt goes very thin if it isn’t chilled 🙁 Any possible ideas or solutions will be appreciated.

  22. Karen says:

    Hi Poppy – I have read that adding milk powder to homemade yoghurt can make it thicker – I wonder if it would solve your problem if you made the yoghurt extra thick to begin with? Please let us know – I need to get on top of this one too!!!

  23. Poppy says:

    Thanks Karen, I’ll give that a go.

    With regard to the Weetabix, I’m sad to say that the answer from Nabisco, was the same as the one I received from McVities about their plastic wrap. Supposedly better for the product and can be *recycled* (!!) by burning for energy recovery! Oh dear! 🙁

    I responded that incineration was not something I was in favour of and I believed that most of the people trying to reduce their waste were of the same mind, so they are in effect alienating a large number of potential customers. 😉

  24. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Karen, oh no about the bread! I must admit, i do use it to bulk something out like seeds, cake mix and other scraps. But perhaps I should stop. Thanks for this. I love your epiphany about ZWW being a first step. That is so true; and from there we can build more steps until we achieve our goal

    Kris, I checked through my emails and couldn’t find it. Have you checked their website? Everything is available for download on there……

    Loving your idea for freezing breadcrumbs, Mrs A – that’s excellent.

    🙁 poor bird, Poppy; I hope it got free and was not injured. Sights like that are so sad and what a pain about the weetabix. Grrrrr I hope you sort out the yogurt issue. Does your LO like custard? Home made custard might be an alternative treat for zero waste week if you can’t thicken the yogurt. Or jelly! I made some over Christmas with a pack of gelatine (cardboard box and paper packets) dissolved in 1/2 pint hot fruit juice concentrate. Dd loved it.

    Hi Katie, well done on your reduced waste Christmas and thanks for sharing the link so we can keep up with your progress.

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