Reducing household rubbish sent to landfill – day two

Filed in Blog by on March 3, 2009 20 Comments
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household rubbishOnto day two then. This week we are tracking ALL the waste we produce and showing you how we can dramatically reduce the amount that ends up in the landfill each week by reusing, recycling and composting. It might be a bit tedious for the hardened zero wasters out there, but we hope, that with new readers coming to the site; it will provide some information and inspiration for newbies.

paper – 223g

2 scraps of paper from schoolwork
daily newspaper, given to us by our neighbour

metal – 13g

sardine tin and lid

cardboard – 35g

outer from meat packaging
toilet roll inner
outer from yogurt carton

Food – 500g

Fruit and vegetable peelings (not in photo, as Mr G has already composted it)

plastic – 50g

convenience curry tray and plastic film
yogurt pot and lid
wrapping from bacon and sausages

Misc / mixed non recyclable – 1g

1 crisp packet


What happens to all the stuff?

  • Paper and metal can be put out for kerbside collection. Find out what your council collect by contacting your local office
  • Cardboard will be stored for taking to our local recycling centre next time we are passing by. Find out where your nearest recycling centre is with Recycle Now.
  • Food is all raw food scraps such as fruit and vegetable peelings. These will be composted.
  • The 50 gms of plastic are mixed.
    The yogurt pots can be donated to local schools and playgroups for crafts / storage or can be stored up and sent to GHS for recycling.

    The curry tray I’m waiting to hear back from a recycling company – it’s black and unmarked. If we can’t recycle it, it we will reuse it for storing leftovers in the freezer or use it as a plant tray.

    Wrapping from bacon and sausages I’m really annoyed about. I asked for no packaging, but they still put it in a little plastic. I’ve a good mind to return it to the butchers (this wasn’t our usual butchers, I hasten to add) but Mr Green feels that is unacceptable – what do you think?

  • The non recyclable item; the crisp packet will end up in the landfill.

All in all it weighed 822gms of which 1g will end up in landfill waste. This may get upped to 16gms if the  meat packaging is not returned / recycled.

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 (20)

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  1. MrsJ says:

    You really are an inspirational family. I don’t suppose you have time to say what you’ve eaten on these days too so it could help people plan with their shopping/meal planning.

  2. Mrs Green says:

    Awww, bless you, Mrs J. I don’t have time to add the food this week, as this was all of last week’s rubbish and I’ve stacked up the posts already – we have some serious celebrating going on this week!
    But I could certainly do some meal plans at some point if you think it would be helpful. Great idea – thanks 🙂

  3. Grandma Green says:

    In the ‘olden days’, when I was a girl, a vast amount of rubbish was fed to the open fire. Is there a good reason why today’s crisp packets can’t be put on your wood burner? With LMG’s voracious appetite for crisps this might save kilos of landfill during the course of a year!!

  4. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Grandma Green. You make a good point, however there are three reasons for not using the woodburner in this instance:

    1 – the aim of this week is to show the ‘average householder’ what they can do to reduce their rubbish. I would make the assumption that the average household in the UK does not have an open fire.

    2- Crisp packets are made from plastic and aluminium which I would guess are bonded together with some kind of glue. None of these materials will burn down into ash. We use the fire ash on our garden, so we need to keep it as ‘pure’ as possible to avoid any chemical residue entering the soil where we grow our food.

    3- If everyone burned their rubbish at home, we might as well save ourselves the hassle and get incinerators. Plastic and glue give off toxic fumes which you don’t want in your home. At least incinerators, we are told, will filter some particulates. A house chimney is not designed to filter any toxins.

    We do burn the odd bit of paper or cardboard, but we try not to burn plastic or foil based products.

  5. well done again.

    We have an open fire and the only thing that gets burn’t on there apart from coal & wood is bones, these are the ones like chicken that can’t be given to the work dogs.

    We are now using the clinker and ash to make a couple of pathes rather than buying in paving slabs,sand etc.

  6. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Burning aluminium combination waste is messy. I tried it myself but the vapour was horrendous. As you rightly say we should not encourage incineration. Hopefully a process will emerge to reclaim the useful aluminium.

    I felt for that woman last night with fishtank full of plastic. The presenter took it away, to her relief, but later returned with it unrecycled. If people do nothing that is the mess they are left to clear.

  7. Sam says:

    Hi Mrs Green,
    Thanks to you and Almost Mrs Average yesterday for answering my questions. I’ve got another one 🙂

    You are composting your raw food scraps. What do you do with any raw meat/cooked food scraps? Or do you never have any?

    I saw the ITV program on catchup last night. It annoyed me that they didn’t take out the bits that could be recycled – the problem was that it was mixed, wasn’t it?

    My local council still asks for *all* plastic to be recycled, in a lovely mixed bundle. I have previously queried them on this, but they even told me to include items with no markings and which may not be recyclable. Presumably this is all being stashed or dumped?

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @maisie dalziel: Good idea about the paths; I wouldn’t have thought of that 🙂

    @John Costigane: I’m yet to see it John – I just tried to watch it, but it’s not available online yet. I’m getting inpatient as I wanted to write a review!

    @Sam: Hi Sam, we don’t really have any food scraps- the cat gets fed the very occasional scraps we have or we put it out for the birds. There are several options though – a bokashi bin (Mrs A uses one) or, if you have a large enough garden, you could buy a green cone or green Joanna – these three take cooked food scraps, including meat, fish and dairy.

    We’ve adopted a ‘take a little and clear the plate before taking more’ policy so that any leftovers are untouched and can be used again tomorrow. 😀

    Can I ask which council you are under? It does feel a bit concerning that you mix everything up. You could question them and find out exactly what happens to everything. Some of us did this after a recent TV programme called ‘A rubbish service’.
    If you get any answers, please add them to our resource:

  9. Poppy says:

    We had a discussion about plastics at a meeting I was at last night and our council say that the reason they have been able to maintain our recycling during the current slump, is because they keep it clean or pure, ie not mixed or contaminated and companies that recycle will persue these ‘easy’ loads over the mixed ones.

    Plastics other than bottles are likely to contain food remanants and are more often than not sent to places like China as the recycling process is more complicated and therefore more expensive. Apart from a small amount of paper that was sent to Europe, Cheltenham Borough Council have done all their recycling in the UK.

    I was horrified (but managed to keep it buttoned), when my sis-in-law said that she puts all plastics in as a protest, even though her council only does milk cartons. Whole loads could be rejected as contaminated because of this misguided protest. She would do better to write to her council/councillor and encourage others to do the same.

  10. John Costigane says:

    @Poppy: Poppy, comingled is put forward as the future but contamination is likely to be a factor with that type. The best strategy is to minimise plastic use by using containers for everything possible and taking loose items.

  11. poppy says:

    @John Costigane:

    You’re preaching to the converted John. However, in the real world we need to go one step at a time with those that are only just getting their heads around the idea of recycling anything.

  12. Layla says:

    As for ‘mixed plastics’ – it depends if it’s all additionally sorted or not.. In Slovenia, apparently things are additionally sorted (and some things get discarded/used for ‘fuel’ there..)

    As far as I know, better not put plastics polluted with food into recycling, especially ‘film plastics’.. the ‘film plastics’ are rarely recycled anyway, so it’s better to avoid.. (That’s why I try to convert my Dad into buying naked too!!) But please tell if they are taken in & recycled where you live..!

  13. Condo Blues says:

    As I read your last two posts I thought about my own tiny trash bin and if I could slim it down futher. The one disposable thing I do use is cotton balls for applying medicine to my face. A wash cloth won’t work for what I use. Do you know of a better alternative?

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: thumbs up for Cheltenham then Poppy 🙂 I have a friend who does the same as your SIL. unfortunately I was unable to keep quiet and I told her exactly what i thought of her. She retorted that it was up to the council to improve their recycling facilities. Grrrrr.

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @Condo Blues: It depends what you are applying Condo Blues; could you compost the balls after use or is the ‘medicine’ toxic? or could you use clean hands to apply it? I guess it depends on how sterile you need things to be.

  16. Dormouse says:

    This mixing of recycling is one of my concerns about our “new” recycling system as we are going from a system of separating dry i.e. paper and textiles from wet i.e. plastic bottles to mixing the whole lot so I dread to think what will be the end result as it will all presumably need sorting at some point?

  17. Carole Blake says:

    Wondering what I should be doing with the chaff from my budgies bird seed which I skim off every day. If I put it in composting, uneaten seeds I’ve missed will sprout grass all over my compost heap. On the other hand, it’s a natural product. Any ideas?


  18. What an interesting series of posts, Mrs. Green! Oddly enough, just today I was wondering exactly what you do with your waste. Now I know.

  19. @Condo Blues:

    Don’t know if it will help but both M&S and Co-op do Fairtrade compostable cotton pads for use with cleansers etc.

  20. Mrs Green says:

    @Dormouse: Hi doormouse – we can put out tins, glass and paper in the same container here. I have watched them pick the stuff up from the kerbside and the papers are picked out by hand and put into one receptacle in the lorry, while the cans are put into another and I THINK (not sure) all the glass goes into another. Maybe you need to start twitching the curtains on collection day to see exactly what goes on 😉

    @Carole Blake: Hi Carole, that’s an interesting recycling conundrum! I can’t remember if you have a garden – might there be a small area of garden you could put the seeds for a ‘wild’ area? I wonder if worms in a wormery would munch through them. I don’t know much about birds I’m afraid.

    @[email protected] Frugal Girl: Thank you Kristen – it’s interesting isn’t it; the posts you think will bore the pants off your readers are often the ones that generate the most interest. I’m sure you find that on your blog too!

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