Why not ask your council to have a go?

Filed in Blog by on March 17, 2009 21 Comments
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zero waste week challengeHere in Gloucestershire we were doing it with our council at the end of January. St Edmundsbury did it with their community a year ago. Bath and North east Somerset have done it twice, Essex did it last week and Norfolk had a go at the end of last year.

What am I talking about?

You’ve guessed it; zero waste week challenges!

Getting householders involved in thinking more about their landfill rubbish and encouraging them to recycle, reuse or compost as much as they can is a great way to increase awareness of the impact of our rubbish. It can help us to take more personal responsibility in the way we deal with it too.

Not content with waiting to see if it would happen in her area, one of our readers, Maisie, contacted her local council and suggested the idea of a zero waste week campaign to them.

What a woman! While most of us wait for things to fall in our lap and then complain when they don’t, Maisie went right ahead and put the suggestion forward.

Did she get a favourable reply? You’ll have to have a look on her blog and find out what happened. You can also take a peek at all the rubbish her family have put in the bin since the beginning of the year!

What about you? Has your council already run a challenge and if not, why not contact them and see what they say? Who knows; in a couple of months you could be taking part in your very own county-wide zero waste week challenge; inspired by you!


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 (21)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Maisie has done well to promote a local Zero Waste Week and we should all give her full support.

    My own view, based on entrenched local resistance to change, is to promote the trend UK wide, meantime. National campaigns have a role as well. If we look back, last September was a fantastic effort by all concerned. We should prepare for a rerun this year. It will certainly be a bigger event.

  2. Carole Blake says:

    Hi Mrs G,

    North Cornwall had a Zero Waste week last year, and I emailed them a week or so again to find out when this year’s is taking place, but so far have had no reply.

    I took part fully in last year’s, filled out all the feedback sheets, and had a nice letter in reply along with a free recipe book for using up your leftovers (not used as such yet, as with three growing boys I never have any!!)


  3. Thankyou for your encouragement on this.

    I won’t let it lie if I haven’t heard anything about an actual campaign in the next few weeks I’ll be following it up.

  4. Poppy says:

    Mmmm, that reminds me …. whatever happened to our feedback for Gloucestershire? Are you still out there trawling through it Aunty Rubbish?

    It would be great if more councils got involved. Perhaps the message might then get through to those that are choosing to turn a blind eye to it all.

    Well done Maisie 🙂

  5. That’s brilliant news Maisie – and it won’t be long until most councils follow suit. Good luck and I can’t wait to hear what happens. 😀

  6. MrsJ says:

    I like how gloucestershire county council put it in their leaflet that came with the council tax bill – as if they were really pro-active in encouraging it!

  7. Michelle says:

    We tried to do the one here in Essex. It started with us all having a sicky bug which for me was closely followed by my period. The bug meant it wasn’t necessarily the first thing on our mind and my collection of washable san pro is only just enough for one day at the moment. Despite that, oh and the hot water bottle that decided to give up and perish, we still managed to get down from 11.1kg to 2.8kg. Not as good as I’d hoped but not too bad considering. We are trying to keep going with it and cut it down even more.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, a national zero waste week is on the cards, you’ll be pleased to hear. Last year was far too much work, so I’m planning something that is easier for me, but which still gets the interest. I’ll email you later about it.

    @Carole Blake: Hi Carol, it’s good to hear about all the councils that have run campaigns. As you say, an annual event should be the norm. It sounds like you enjoyed the week 🙂

    @maisie dalziel: Good for you Maisie; I tend to chase things up too, otherwise people forget and things get overlooked. do keep us posted 🙂

    @Poppy: I’d like to know too, Poppy. I’ll chase it up now and see what I can find out.

    @MrsJ: Mrs J – I didn’t see that. Comments on the site were that not enough was done to promote the event. Interesting!

    @Michelle: Hi michelle, considering the difficult circumstances you had to work with, you didn’t brilliantly to get your rubbish down by so much – well done! Do you feel you could consider the option of reusable sanitary products, such as the menstrual cup or washable pads?
    There is some more information on this article:
    Keep us posted on your progress, it sounds like you are determined to get your landfill waste down even more.

  9. Michelle says:

    @Mrs Green: I am slowly building up a collection of washable san pro. Got some more pads on the way. I got the first few from the Living Green shop in Bourton on the Water as I am orignally a Glos girl (why oh why did we ever move away?!) and my family all still live there.

  10. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    I am pleased to read that the national week is on. As you rightly say, it was a lot of work and no doubt it will be bigger this year. Thought will be required to reduce the workload but with all the excellent new posters I am sure there will be plenty of volunteers to help.

    You deserve the reward for the family’s great efforts and I will give a massive plug on SkyNews forum to aid the event.

  11. Layla says:

    Great post & thanks for letting us know!! 🙂

    Yes, I was thinking about this for a while now, not sure how to go about it though-?
    I was thinking to maybe ask a few neighbours & local people & if they’re interested, ask the sub-Mayor? (who lives in the street..)

    Would it be better to label it ‘minimizing waste’ or ‘zero waste’? hm! (some people at the Slovenian forum were scared of the ‘zero’ label, especially initially..)

    I asked Maisie who she wrote to.. Who would be best to contact? The garbage department or the Mayor or…?

    And maybe it would be good to be prepared with some handouts etc, examples of what people have done elsewhere.. (?) I don’t think if there ever was such a thing here in Slovenia yet (?)

    I don’t expect much interest from recycling companies and local councils (since price for recyclables has been bad, some British councils even had to get storage facilities for recyclables-?!) so this would need to be quite grassroots oriented.. I would be happily surprised with councils jumping aboard or doing it big time though!! 🙂
    And a national – or international (!) 🙂 campaign/week would be even better!! 🙂
    Is anyone else aiming for EarthDay week?

    /I know it’s awfully close & all, but I said I’d try for my own personal zero waste week, and 2 people at a Slovenian forum sort of have jumped aboard already, some others have shared awesome experiences about minimizing waste already!! 🙂 I was very happy to hear about it!! :)/

    Another good week could be around anti-incinerator day, I’m still a bit puzzled about when exactly that is though.. 14th July (Slovenian NGOs said GAIA & other NGOs chose it) or..? (one site said May 17th, by Greenpeace activists?) Or both?

    Oh, and please check: Story of Stuff banned in a US school??!! very dangerous precendent, no?!!

  12. Layla says:

    Oh, and this is the link for Story of Stuff banned: http://www.no-burn.org/article.php?id=650

  13. @Layla: Layla, it was the general contact us email contact at the district council customer services.

    For you it would probably be best to contact both your garbage dept and your Mayor. hth

  14. Layla says:

    Maisie, thanks! 🙂

    I’m a bit intimidated by both lol, so I’ll try to maybe talk to some other people first, see if there’s interest for that sort of stuff here.. and then it’d be easier to contact others..

    Did you talk to any neighbours or other local residents before?

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @Michelle: That’s great Michelle. I’m yet to visit the Living Green shop, but I have heard about it. Is it worth a look? I didn’t realise you were local; it’s great to see you here 🙂

    @John Costigane: Thank you John; support is good and there is no way I can organise it by myself this year, so I’ll have to put my delegation head on 🙂

    @Layla: Hi Layla, i read about the story of stuff being banned. Yes, it’s bad, but it’s only one incident at the moment and you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
    From my experience I would go for minimise waste, not zero waste – the term can be overwhelming. Why not just go ahead with your own week and the support of the 2 people who are interested and go from there. Do your week, contact local media and see if there is an interest in your story. Our zero waste week will be during the first week of September, as last year.
    Having a chat with the major if he lives in your street is surely meant to be? 😉

  16. Michelle says:

    @Mrs Green: It has a lot of great stuff in it. When we are back visiting my family I usually have to pop in to either get things or just to have a look. For now we just have to settle for coming back every month for a weekend, one day we will move back as my lovely hubby is as in love with my home as I am.

  17. Layla says:


    It’s the sub-Mayor, I never had a problem talking to him before, but now that he has a legal function I’m a fair bit intimidated!

    Also, some of the stuff is a bit tricky, would not prefer to speak about it in public, though I’d appreciate any input..

  18. Mrs Green says:

    @Michelle: Thank you Michelle – perhaps I’ll take LMG there for a day trip in the summer. I used to love going there and paddling in the river that runs through the town. But I guess change takes place everywhere and I might not recognise parts of it now.

    @Layla: Layla, you know you have my email address to bounce ideas, should you need to. Why not broach the subject, just in your regular small talk and see what his response it – maybe it will be favourable! The most unlikely candidates have been very interested in the things we are up to. It just gets dropped into a conversation and they pick it up and run with it. You never know who your allies are going to be.

  19. Poppy says:

    It’s a beautiful place Mrs G. I don’t think it’s changed much. Fantastic hot chocolate at Birdland 🙂

  20. Michelle says:

    @Poppy: Couldn’t agree more. Don’t know how long it will last but it is one place that is trying hard to resist ‘progress’.

  21. Mrs Green says:

    how lovely to hear that. A summer trip it is, then 🙂

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