Mrs Green’s six stories

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Sustainability is more than just recycled packaging

Sustainability is more than just recycled packaging

It’s time for another Sunday Round up.

This is my excuse to share some link love with some great reduce, reuse, recycle and compost articles that will help us achieve zero waste.

From banana waste to plastic

Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast are studying how to turn by-products from banana plants into plastic.

Almost 20 per cent of the bananas consumed in Europe are produced in the Canary Islands and the plantations throw away 25,000 tonnes of banana plant from the banana harvest every year.

The new technique being studied at Queen’s University aims to find an alternative use for this waste, processing the banana plant fibres, then treating them and adding them to a mix of plastic material that is sandwiched between two thin layers of pure plastic.

Read more about it with “Researchers look at turning banana waste into plastic“.

Customise your old t shirts

T-shirts have a lifespan, they don’t last forever, they stretch, they fade, they get stained, and sometimes the tees stay the same but the owner changes size, or just changes their taste.

This got Andy thinking about reusing t-shirts and he has gathered heaps of tutorials for how to recycle your t-shirts into something ‘new’.

Be inspired with “How to customise and recycle your old t shirts“.

Reducing landfill waste

Lucy Siegle penned a great article in the Observer about reducing food waste.

As she points out, instead of getting upset about the ‘slops bucket’ idea, we should focus on the tools available to us such as wormeries, bokashi bins and kitchen caddies.

She then goes on to say that stopping food waste at source is the best option; buying less, cooking proper sized portions and storing food well are the keys.

Have a read of her “how can we reduce the 4m tonnes of food we pour into landfill each week?

Cutting landfill waste creates new jobs

At last the voice of reason! Friends of the Earth have pointed out something that Mr Green and I frequently have a natter about. Cutting landfill and incineration will not result in a loss of jobs in the waste managament industry, it will create jobs in collection, sorting, reprocessing and reselling of recycled items.


The environmental campaign group argues that dumping and incinerating waste is not only an environmental mistake, it’s a commercial mistake too – costing the UK more than £650 million every year.

View Friends of the Earth’s report “Gone to waste. The valuable resources that European countries bury and burn

Reduce landfill waste – one easy tip

Re Nest are asking whether you could use something for one more day; one more time? I think it’s a thought provoking question and one that is certainly habit here at zero waste towers.

Take a look around your home and take a look at the things you normally discard – plastic bags or deli containers for example. Reusing things is a great first step towards reducing your waste.

Read the rest of the article; “Simple green; use it one more day. One more time.”

Kimberley Clark launch ‘Reduce Today, Respect tomorrow’ campaign

Kimberley Clark, manufacturers of washroom products such as toilet rolls and paper towels has launched a global ‘Reduce Today, Respect Tomorrow‘  campaign to persuade its customers that sustainability is about more than just a product’s packaging.

The campaign is designed to illustrate the importance of looking at the whole product. For example using a more absorbent wipe means you use fewer which means less product and packaging to be disposed of.

Read more with “Sustainability is more than just recycled packaging, says Kimberly-Clark

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 (19)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Using waste banana plant fibre in packaging has value in that it is a recurring source of waste material. Reducing the use of plastic to linings, only, would be a benefit.

    Kimberley Clark are right about sustainability being more than packaging. There is also Producer Responsibility where companies bear the cost of waste treatment for their waste outputs across the board, from production to consumer end point. I hope this is part of their argument.

    On the subject of packaging, Nestle are selling large card drums of various sweets, Smarties, Fruit Pastilles etc. The only waste is a small plastic cap, possibly recyclable, and a piece of sellotape to secure the cap. It is ace to see this type of packaging to add to Easter Egg and Selection Box plastic-free options.

  2. Poppy says:

    Sort of tagging this query on the end of John’s comments –

    Mr P bought a new computer!! He ‘needed’ it apparently!! We had a discussion about needs and wants, but hey ho, the man was on a mission 🙁

    The point is, this computer came wrapped in the usual plastic bags (not a problem), cardboard (not a problem), and what is usually polystyrene ….. however, this is some kind of shaped expanded plastic and has PE – LD 04 stamped on it.

    So what can I do with it? Is it one of these recycle where facilities exist things or should I just take it back to PC World and so No Thank You?

  3. Poppy says:

    Grrr …. *say* No Thank You?

    I need an editing facility for when my fingers run away without me Mrs G 🙁

  4. janet says:

    Did you know that any plastic (not just their plastic bags), with the symbol 04 inside a triangle, and LDPE, or LD PE under the triangle can be recycled in Sainsburys plastic recycling bins found in their stores.

  5. LJayne says:

    Janet, thanks for that. I asked Tesco if they did similar – so I could give it to the Online delivery driver with my returned carriers, but they don’t. But my sainsburys in town DOES have those plastic recycling bins so that is now something else I can start saving up. My landfill waste consists mostly of unrecyclable plastic that I’ve not been able to avoid (either by lack of choice or sometimes laziness, oops!)

    So this will really help.


  6. LJayne says:

    John, I hope other manufacturers follow Nestle’s lead. We don’t buy Nestle products at all although I am willing to applaud them for taking this attitude to such packaging.


  7. Sarah says:

    Damn you Nestle, I so wish you’d sort out your baby milk marketing and then I could support you by buying your chocolates!

  8. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    After mentioning the plastic cap waste from a Nestle drum of sweets, today I visited the Renfrewshire Council Roadshow introducing the new commingled recycling system for households. It was no surprise to see 2 gals running the mobile event after all the trend is mainly of the fairsex.

    The first thing mentioned was the non-recycling of aluminium foil which just shows the public awareness of the tinfoil issue. With the aim for the public generally, the message was as brief as possible to make it easy to pick-up. Of course, our background knowledge is far greater and I had to ask some specific questions. Plastic caps can be recycled, which will allow some collected waste to be removed from the waste total. I also enquired about plastic tubs, all tubs can be recycled though I am still doubtful about black plastic tubs. Tetra Paks are all recyclable which will help the returns to the company as well as the video competition effect.

    An A-Z was also mentioned, for the future, which will allow total clarity.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, I must get on to Nestle and see what they have to say about their packaging. it would be great if they would come here and write something. It sounds like you had a really profitable day at the roadshow too.

    @Poppy: Hi poppy, I would take it back to PC World if you can and raise their awareness. I find that lots of retailers can recycle things that householders can’t, so it’s always worth passing back the responsibility to them.

    @janet: Hi Janet, thanks for sharing this. I did know, and might have mentioned it on the site, but it’s always good to talk about these things again because we have new visitors all the time who are looking for tips. 🙂

    Lesley and Sarah; I have the Nestle thing too 😉 , but I do applaud their packaging efforts; they are definitely leading the way

  10. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: Contacting Nestle will be a boost for their efforts. Of course, I am more than happy to give you the latest findings to help future topics.

    The roadshow was fine but as usual there are always more questions, on further consideration. The seasonal plastic associated with most selection boxes, all biscuit tins/packs and toys are probably not covered as these tend to be longtime standards, and unrecyclable. I will still have to be as strict as last year to prevent a ‘mountain’ of waste.

    Beth over on FakePlasticFish has started a Discussion Board. After joining, I posted about Tetra Pak to help with topics, just mentioning the sustainable aspects. Tetra Paks are used over in the US but the outcomes are not as acceptable as here after the video competition and better recycling facilities.

  11. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Schogetten have added seasonal flavour with a new Marzipan chocolate variety. The liquid centre also has some alcohol. Both are found in Stollen cakes and Black Forest Gateaux.

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, thanks for telling me about Beth’s discussion board – I hope that goes well. We’ve thought about that in the past, as you know, but decided it was just one more thing to have to take care of. We quite like the interaction of keeping conversation within topics on the site as comments always help fellow readers to find out more information about certain things.
    I shall be browsing Lidls this week and will look out for the new lines!

  13. John Costigane says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Beth’s Discussion Board is worth following in that California is probably the closest to Zero Waste, with cities there banning plastic bags. The anti-plastic activities are more vocal with the Pacific Ocean a focus due to the environmental damage caused by the ‘convenience’ of plastic.

    Recently there The Zeitgeist Movement was mentioned. I looked at it and found Jaque Fresco in particular, had some of the sustainable aspects we promote. They aspire to change the whole world system to a resource based one shared by all, equally. There are some negative aspects like conspiracy theories (eg 9/11), and inaccurate recalling of history, particularly the religious aspect, but Jaque, in his 90s, argues a reasonable case, having lived through the Great Depression of 1919.

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, ah yes, that makes sense – being so near the Ocean ‘garbage patch’ I guess awareness will be higher. The Zeitgeist Movement sounds intriguing; I’d better go and have a read and catch up!

  15. Sandie says:

    Online Petition at ‘No 10’ for Centralised opt in system for phonebooks. If you’re a British Citizen you can sign, even if you don’t live in the UK

    75 million phonebooks are produced and delivered each year, amounting to an estimated 75,000 tonnes of annual waste, enough to cover Hyde Park twice! Add in the cost of manufacturing, delivering and recycling phone books, this equals a totally unnecessary and avoidable environmental burden. The estimated amount of resources wasted include:

    • 680,000 barrels of oil (not including petrol wasted during delivery) • 2 billion litres of water (not including water wasted in the recycling process) • 437 million kilowatts of energy (not including the recycling process) equates to enough energy to power 112,000 three bedroom houses for a year

    From production to recycling, 75,000 tonnes of phonebooks equates to 96,000 metric tonnes of wasted carbon emissions!

    We’re asking for a centralised opt-in system for phonebooks, giving the UK population the choice to reduce the cost of producing unwanted and un-needed phonebooks.

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @Sandie: Hi Sandie, this is such an important topic because it wastes so many resources. We have covered this story a few times on the site, see for more info, but it’s vital that we keep reminding people and encouraging more people to sign up.
    Thanks for raising this issue again; it will always reach someone new or remind someone to sign up 🙂

  17. Poppy says:

    Yes Mrs G, this needs pushing more. I was disappointed to see that the numbers haven’t yet reached 7000. It’s going to need a really big push to get it up to the sort of numbers that the government are going to listen to.

  18. Sandie says:

    @Poppy: Hi Poppy, I keep checking the numbers of signatures too! Slow going at the moment though……….

    Does anyone have any creative ideas for getting the number of signatures up? I’d love to hear about them.

    I’ve posted the ‘Opt-in System for Phone Books’ link on my facebook and twitter pages and also on this wonderful ‘My Zero Waste Blog’, but can’t think what else to do.

  19. Mrs Green says:

    @Poppy: Not yet 7000, that’s not good is it? I wonder how much publicity the campaign is getting 🙁

    @Sandie: Sandie, this campaign would need a big company or organisation behind them which is prominent in the public eye. I’ve not seen anything in newspapers about it and perhaps this is why there is little interest.

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