Food waste friday and weekly weigh in, Year 1, Week 6

Filed in Blog by on July 10, 2009 27 Comments
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Mrs Green holding her tiny packet of landfill waste this week!

Mrs Green holding her tiny packet of landfill waste this week!

Did you miss us?

That’s the beauty of technology. I’ve been sunning myself in Devon while the computer has been busy putting up posts for me. What an amazing personal assistant!

So you’ll forgive me for answering your comments; the technology at zero waste towers isn’t quite that advanced yet!

Our weigh in this week is on the light side, as we’ve been away for half the week, but it has some hangers-on from before I declared we had to reduce our weekly landfill waste in order to fulfil our goal of one bin full of the year.

As for food waste, there isn’t anything.

Except there was.


You see; I’m used to my cooker. My lovely Alice who cooks everything to perfection and behaves impeccably.

My friend’s house, who we were cat sitting in, houses a gas cooker.

My understanding is that gas is much more controllable than electric.

Which it is. If you’re standing there watching it.

I, however, with my ceramic hob to which I have become accustomed,Β  favour the ‘leave it on a low heat and come back in half an hour’ approach. I can now tell you with a few days of experience under my belt that this does not work with gas.

You come into the kitchen to the smell of burning rice, or porrage over the hob, or char grilled vegetables.

So I created loads of food waste, BUT in East Devon, which is where I was, there is a cooked food waste collection!

Yes, nestled on the work surface was a kitchen caddy, complete with corn starch bags that feel remarkably like old condoms. Outside was a lovely blue bin to discard all my burnt offerings.

So, I kinda produced food waste, kinda didn’t.

I have to be honest; If I had that sort of catastrophe at home I would chuck it out for the birds. But being by the seaside, I would have been haunted by seagulls. I didn’t feel that was neighbourly as I happened to bump into my temporary neighbour as she was shooing some seagulls off the fence.

So into the food waste it went.

I’m not sure what East Devon council do with the food waste they collect – Energy from waste I guess. Not perfect, but there you go. Probably better than the landfill.

So onto our landfill waste; we have a couple of pre ‘good intentions’ sins to declare:

  • plastic tray and film from chicken
  • plastic tray from vine tomatoes and film
  • 2 lentils bags
  • 1 crisp bag
  • 1 large crisp bag – this is Little Miss Green’s new crisp regime for the week.
  • 1 cheese wrapper

Tomorrow I will buy cheese from the deli counter in my own reusable container, get a fresh chicken from the butcher in my own box and I’ve just bought another large bag of crisps, which Little miss Green makes last the week and I’ll be buying fresh, lose vegetables and fruit at the farm shop.

I’m feeling hopeful for a small count next week.

All in all our landfill waste weighs 46 gms

Not bad at all – how did you get on this week?

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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 (27)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Cooking with gas is a challenge when trying to slow cook anything. When I slow stew the liver every week there is a constant need to check the amount of boiling, adjusting gas up or down as required.

    Incineration is in the news again with ROC certificates being proposed for the technology, even though it is not renewable energy in the true sense. Greenwashing anyone? You say that incineration is preferable to landfill but at what cost to downwind locations and special landfilling for toxic waste. The truth is that neither is a good, sustainable option.

    Good to see the waste total down below target. If everyone was as conscientious there would be no waste problem. Zero Waste is the future but anyone can take up the challenge today: the more join in the stronger the impact.

  2. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: I was amazed John – the heat with gas just keeps on building! using a ceramic hob on a low setting is like using a slow cooker. I have a warming plate on there too, which is excellent for slow cooking.

  3. Paula says:

    Cooking w/gas is different than w/electric. I used to yearn for a gas stove, but I think if I had one now, I wouldn’t care for it.

    I had to laugh about the seagulls. We just returned from a trip to the coast and my husband and I call the seagulls “Piranha’s with wings”. They are such a menace!

    What a good idea to bring your own container to the store to put your deli meat & cheese. I swear, I would have never thought of it. I’m going to do this next week. Do you just have them put the price sticker on the container?

    Good job this week, even though you had to throw out the cooked foods. I don’t think it’s technically waste as you were going to eat it, not just let it rot in the fridge.

  4. DIz says:

    My weekly landfill bag weighs about 4lb. I can’t get more accurate than that, as I use an old spring balance to weigh it. It is mostly plastic wrapping and food waste that I can’t put in an ordinary compost bin.

  5. Deb from Boston says:

    I cut down on food waste this week – dear spouse was away for the weekend, and teens are gone visiting relatives for the month, so just me and lthe little cherubs. We had two nights of left over feasts and they where thrilled – I put all the leftovers on the table and they served themselves before I heated them up.Only rule – if you take it you eat it. They where trilled to have pancakes, waffles and ravioli in one meal. Going to try to convince spouse that we should do this weekly – which shouldn’t be too hard since I’m not even the cook.
    Challege this week – fresh veggies from the garden. Not sure we can eat as fast as I can harvest.

  6. @Deb from Boston: I do this monthly usually depends on what we have lurking in the freezer.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @Paula: Hi Paula, great to see you. I wouldn’t have gas now and it was a great learning experience because I always thought I would like it.
    Regarding the meat and cheese – yes, we get it put into the container and then the assistant prints off the barcoded price sticker and we take it to the checkout!

    @DIz: Hi Diz; that’s an excellent total; far below the average for a household – well done!

    @Deb from Boston: Hi Deb, sounds like your leftovers meal was a great success; LMG would have been delighted with all of that too! Enjoy the fresh veggies; what do you have?

    @maisie dalziel: I’ve always been inspired bu your leftover meals; I’m planning on getting around to that. At the moment I am doing a major kitchen clean and sort out – this will include the freezer. I’ve been promising myself a defrost and sort out for ages now πŸ™‚

  8. Deb from Boston says:

    I’m currently picking turnips, beets (red and golden), peas, broccoli, lettuce, parsley, cilantro, basil (and other perennial herbs). Spinach is done for now, I’ll re-seed in the fall. And will pick by end of week some yellow/summer squash, zukes and cabbage.
    Looking forward to few types of tomatoes, green beans, edemame, 3 types of carrots, parsnips, onion, winter and acorn squash, sweet green peppers, eggplant, cukes, and hopeful for pumpkins.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @Deb from Boston: Gosh, you’re growing heaps of things. I’ve never heard of edemame – what is that?

  10. Deb from Boston says:

    oops – spelled it wrong – Edamame. They are young soybeans. We steam them still in their furrly little pods and then salt. They look a lot like peas out of the shell. They are my son’s favorite veggie.

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @Deb from Boston: Oh ok; I hadn’t heard of them anyway – spelled right or wrong; so no worries! So are they soy beans as in the type you can make milk from? It would be awesome if we could grow them – I assume you let them mature and dry them and then process them. How intriguing!

  12. Poppy says:

    We had a strange assortment of leftover cooked foods this week and I was scratching my head a bit trying to work out how to transform them into something wonderful, Mr P came up with the magic solve all answer – if in doubt, smother it in cheese sauce and bung it in the over!

    It worked πŸ™‚

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: Wonderful poppy; soups and cheese sauces are a blessing!

  14. Deb from Boston says:

    I have no idea if the type of edamame I grow is the same variety as the ones used to make milk – or how much yield you would need to make your own milk – I imagine it’s a lot.

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @Deb from Boston: I imagine it’s loads too. It would be fun to have a go though; even if you only get a cup full I think projects like that make you more mindful of what goes in to the food we eat.

  16. Jane says:

    Our food waste collection started approx 4 years ago. I love it but was worried at first. We use newspaper to line the bin – we can’t use other bags (except paper). It is the size of a bucket, has replaced my under sink bin and has a lockable lid. Instead of a leaky black plastic bag being dripped through the house for collection, the food waste which didn’t go in the wormery was now carried through in a locked bucket with a handle, and the little remaining was easier to deal with as it was dry! Wonderful.

  17. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: I know the sort of thing – they have recently bought this online in Gloucester. They are not allowed to use compostable bags either and it’s causing a lot of problems with people who don’t like it. I’m glad to see it works out for you, jane.

  18. Jane says:

    @Mrs Green: I would HATE to have to use compostable bags! They would be an extra expense either to my Council (and so indirectly to me) or to me directly if I have to buy them. I have never found them necessary. You just line the bag with a sheet of newspaper – just like you do with a cake around the sides and then with a folded sheet in the bottom. Anything extra messy or smelly eg the boiled up chicken carcase gets wrapped up fish-and-chips-style in another sheet of newspaper. Another LA near me suggests using paper from your shredder in the bottom to soak up any wetness. Drink and dregs get poured down the sink just as before.

    A squirt and a swish when I get it back and it is ready to use again. The newspaper lining helps to make sure that everything leaves the bin when they empty it.

  19. My compostable wheelie bin got emptied for the first time since November on Monday, I had double lined the bottom with 2 full newspaper and anything that went in was wrapped also in newspaper, the bin was just about full but when I collected it from the kerbsideafter being emptied it was as clean as could be, and didn’t smell either.

    This means that in the future if my council decide to drop the collection over winter for cost cutting I can do the same again.

  20. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: I agree with you Jane; I’m just highlighting some of the complaints from local residents about the new food collection schemes. Because I’m used to swilling out a compost caddy in the kitchen, a food waste collection bucket would be no hassle to me. For me I can’t stand the feel of the degradable bags; they feel really icky and I would much rather use newspaper!

    @maisie dalziel: Well done Maisie; it sounds like everything worked out well after that long collections holiday! It just goes to show that these things can be done with a little thought and care.

  21. Antonio Pachowko says:

    In terms of compostable bag, here in Calderdale we are currently use corn starch bag, which are quite large and can hold around 2-3 pounds (around 0.9-1.3kg) easily.

    The system here in Calderdale is very easy. Firstly you line a food caddy Transporter in your Kitchen with one of these Corn starch bags. When it is full, you take the bag out and tie it up, putting a new bag on the food caddy transporter. The full corn starch bag is then put into a large Food Caddy, which can easily hold 6-8 of these food bags (as shown over the snowy period when the food caddy was not collected over 5-6 weeks). Every week Sita comes and collects your food waste that is generated, where it is collected with in Week A) Plastic bottles, cans and glass and in week B) plastic bottles, paper, and textiles. In that way the food caddy never gets full unless the collection service is stopped by extreme weather conditions. The food waste is treated locally in Todmorden using AD, where methane is used to power homes and the compost produced is used by the Council for its gardens and parks, so its Carbon food print is low.

    The service is nearly a year old and in the first five months 3000 tonnes of waste was treated, which is a great success.

  22. Jane says:

    Our bucket-sized food waste bin is emptied weekly but we can go for a month if necessary. If there were more of us in the house (currently 4) then we would just ask for another bin or organise something else as well. At my mother’s food waste if not composted has to go in a nose-high wheelie (yuk) which is emptied fortnightly and which is a fight to swish out in comparison!

  23. Mrs Green says:

    @Antonio Pachowko: Hi Antonio, welcome to the site and thank you for taking time to leave a comment. It’s great to see the corn starch bags working for you; your scheme sounds very similar to the one my friend has in Devon and I think that has been successful too πŸ™‚

    @Jane: It’s a horrible job cleaning out a wheelie bin I bet. These systems keep showing that if you can divert the food waste then bins aren’t nearly so nasty to have to deal with.

  24. Jane says:

    Ordinary plastic, degradable, biodegradable, oxodegradable, compostable … I tried a ‘compostable’ bag that my apples came in in the wormery. Nothing happened. All these types of bag seem to be a problem of one type or another – even compostable where the conditions have to be just right. To avoid the food waste bin collectors having problems trying to differentiate a suitable type from all those that weren’t we were told ‘no bags’. They have only a certain amount of time to do their pick-ups. Here if anyone puts anything in they shouldn’t they get a sticker on their food waste bin explaining that they have done so and that is why their bin cannot be collected.

  25. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Hi Jane, I agree about the different types of plastic. It’s all a bit confusing and there is a lack of understanding about how these different types are supposed to work. No doubt some greenwashing from companies takes place too.
    I’ve spoken to someone who may be able to offer us some help in the form of a guest post. He is one of the industry leaders in sustainable packaging design, so I’m really hoping he will put something together for us and help us end this confusion as consumers.

  26. Jane says:

    @Mrs Green: I see the Coop is to stop its degradable bags as they are apparently not considered such a good idea any more.

  27. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Hi Jane; indeed they are.I’m thrilled about this – it’s something we’ve been talking to them about for the past year or so. But of course it takes some ‘expert’ to finally get the message through πŸ˜‰
    Anyway, what’s important is that change is going to happen …

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