Weekly weigh in year 1, week 5

Filed in Blog by on July 2, 2009 9 Comments
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According to Mr Green, our waste is as small as a Havana Cigar!

According to Mr Green, our waste is as small as a Havana Cigar!

We had to hold a ‘family conference’ again last night. It’s clear that at our current rate, we are not going to manage a full year without having our bin emptied.

As John pointed out, we don’t have a wheelie bin, we have an old fashioned metal dustbin. The capacity is around 100 litres, compared to 240 litres for a wheelie bin.

This makes me feel better about our achievement; I would say that our dustbin is currently 2/3 full.

However, you know how it is when you’ve set yourselves a goal and it looks like you might not achieve it…

That tends to bring out the bloody-minded streak that runs through all four of the green family. It can be an interesting time when we are being strong willed in opposite directions! Fortunately, in this instance we want the same outcome.

We were totting things up for this week’s weigh in and looking at the amount of stuff in our bin when Little miss Green announced “Well that’s it then. We all need to give up something and I need to give up crisps!”

Silence fell across the room.

I asked her if she was sure.

She assured me she was.


Later on I told her I would bring her a snack to eat (she has two after schools clubs on that evening back to back) and she said wistfully “Could you bring me the pack of crisps in the cupboard; it will be the last pack I eat in my life.”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But she did have a glint in her eye which I couldn’t quite read.

There will be more on this story as it unfolds. For now, let’s take a look in our bin for this week:

  • 2 cucumber portion wrappers
  • 1 rice cakes bag
  • 1 small plastic bag from some LEDs
  • bananas bag
  • 7 crisps bags and outer
  • 1 rubber gloves pack
  • 1 piece of plastic from ripped sheep feed bag
  • 1 cheese wrapper
  • 1 oatcakes bag
  • 1 plastic tissues bag

All in all it weighs 42gms.

We are celebrating this week, but there are lifestyle changes we ALL need to make and we’ll be covering it over the next couple of weeks.

There is always room for improvementย  and we need to make some improvements if we are to attain our goal of one year without emptying our bin ๐Ÿ˜‰

How much stuff is in your bin this week?


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 (9)

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  1. Watch out she’ll be having you make homemade crisps so there is no packet.!!

    Our landfill bin is 180l or maximum weight is 90kg; our recycling and garden waste bins are 240l or max weight 110kg.

    So in that respect if your metal bin holds approx 100l then you have half the capacity of most people who are even considering reducing their waste.

    Alot depends as well on what item are exactly in the bin as if they are bulky they will take up alot more room than something very compact.

    Your family is an inspiration to many and no-one is perfect in all they do, so an occasional blip is allowed.

  2. Grandma Green says:

    Would it be viable for LMG to swap crisps for Pringles? I seem to recall that they are wrapped in cardboard tubing which is, surely, recyclable. Not sure about the plastic ends though. Just a thought !

    Maisie mentions volume of landfill stuff as opposed to weight. Is there any way of compacting your landfill? I think of those machines for making paper brickets (briquettes?) for fuel. Maybe Mr Green and LMG could launch a project to design and build such a device. That would be just up their street!

  3. Sarah says:

    How about a jumbo bag of crisps that lasts several days?
    Or maybe a whole year for a half sized bin could be compromised for twice a year? That’s still a huge reduction.

  4. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Thanks for the mention. If the bin is 2/3 full then it would be very difficult to set aside the remaining 1/3 for a long timespan. An alternative might be to simply fill the bin and record the time taken, in weeks. That seems a fairer way to proceed when your bin capacity is so much less. If you take 10 weeks the waste reduction is 90%. That is a massive drop from a standard weekly emptying.

    As for the youngster’s crisps, the occasional pack would not be great a bin filler, and could hold loose plastic scrap. Fruit is a great choice with summer strawberries, more enjoyable on hot dry days, or even ice-cream.

    My own effort is nearly done for the quarter. An empty plastic coffee bag, has been taken off reuse and added to the total, and will hold all the small plastic items collected. I just need to wash and dry the cap and cut-off tip of a toothpaste tube to complete the waste. Every bit of toothpaste will be removed before weighing. The tube body was cut and cleaned earlier.

  5. John Costigane says:

    Hi Again Mrs Green,

    The total was 1oz with everything packed into the commodity bag, with plenty of space for next quarter waste. The bag was quite worn after a period of reuse as newly ground coffee holder. I will just grind enough beans for the coffee pot.

    Next quarter will easily exceed 1oz, Waste will include compost bags and seed packs bought for the growing effort as well as the plastic caps from vinegar for the herring season. All 3 might have Zero Waste alternatives but that can wait for next year.

  6. Greenlady says:

    Pringles have not only got plastic ends but metal ends too. I think it has been mentioned before on this site about the problems of recycling/reusing Pringle containers. A large bag of crisps could still end up making a fair amount of waste, and there could still be the temptation to scoff the lot :P.

    Home made can be nice but also use up a lot of oil/fuel. As well as all the usual veg/fruit snacks, could I suggest home made popcorn – a 450g bag of popping corn goes a long long way, makes very little waste, its quick, uses hardly any oil ( and none at all if making air popped ) it can be flavoured to suit individual tastes, is fairly healthy and fills that ” dry savoury crunchy snack ” feeling.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @maisie dalziel: Thanks Maisie; I draw the line at home made crisps! Mr Green has been standing in the bin to compact it; but I’m not sure how helpful it was as he has recently lost weight ๐Ÿ˜€

    @Grandma Green: Hi Grandma Green; as stated, mr G has had his feet in the rubbish, but not got very far. Every week we try and compact it as much as possible, as you might have noticed from the photos.

    Regarding pringles, as Greenlady has offered; Pringle containers have been mentioned on the site before. Unfortunately, they are composite, like tetra paks; but not in the same way, so they cannot be recycled – they are made from cardboard, plastic and foil with both plastic and metal ends.

    @Sarah: Hey sweet lady; that’s exactly what we did today! We bought a 150g bag of crisps and agreed this was the crisps for the week. We found an airtight container and will trial it to see how things go ๐Ÿ™‚

    @John Costigane: well done John – that is a fantastic achievement. Imagine what the world would look like if we all lived like that!

    @Greenlady: Hi Greenlady; one thing about LMG; she is fabulous at portioning things out and making them last. Great for maths skills too ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think she could teach many adults a thing or two. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has actually counted the crisps and divided it by 7 to see how many she can eat a day LOL!

    Popcorn is a brilliant suggestion – thank you so much. LMG loves it and you’re right – all that air makes for a bigger snack with less waste. plus it’s great fun making it!

  8. John Costigane says:

    Hi Again Mrs Green,

    Thanks for that. The truth is my effort is only part of a bigger attempt by all Zero Wasters, including the Green family, a great example to other aspiring families.

    As I suggested elsewhere, the family approach could be detailed as a particular system. This consists of adults, children and pets each with their own plastic waste characteristics. There could be a formula to help others estimate the likely share contributed by each member. Adults could have a value of 1 each, children 2, pets 1. Assuming an individual, me for example, can use the bin for 1 whole year. The ratio would be 1. For a family of 4, scoring 6, the ration would be 1/6 (of a year), equivalent to 9 weeks for a full bin.

    Mrs Green, the way to test such a system would be to assess the family’s individual plastic waste to check the ratio. Your findings could be a realistic value for each, and would therefore carry some weight. Of course, no blame should be attached to any individual who scores a high figure. It is merely a way to find the truth of the situation. Newcomers could be given an estimate for bin filling which would be fair and not penalise bigger families who simply have more stuff to buy.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, that’s an idea, to look at waste across the family.
    We are yet to put up the video of us answering the questions our readers asked. Yours was about who created the most waste if you remember, and we’ll be answering it soon ๐Ÿ™‚

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