The night before our bin collection

Filed in Blog, Videos by on January 13, 2010 27 Comments
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Mrs Green with her faithful companion bin for the past year

Mrs Green with her faithful companion bin for the past year

Tomorrow is the day! Our bin is due to be collected from the kerbside by the council for landfilling. We feel immensely proud of what we have achieved, yet it is tinged with sadness too.

For those of you who are new to the site; this will be our first rubbish collection for a year. We’ve put together a couple of clips so you can see exactly what a year’s worth of waste looks like for us.

For 2010, our goal is to send zero to landfill and now, more than ever, after rummaging through our bin, emptying everything out, taking a look at what is in there and thinking about its fate, we realise we’ve made the right decision.

I’m afraid I got a bit tearful on the second clip – I was suddenly struck by the fact that long after I have gone, and even my children’s children have died, all of this stuff will most likely be still sitting under the earth somewhere. We are all mindlessly and needlessly consuming and throwing things away; every day, relentlessly we buy more stuff – stuff that we don’t even want half the time, and when we’re bored of it, we throw it ‘away’.

The very earth that sustains us, we continue to abuse; taking what we want, polluting without care,  burying toxic substances in holes and burning up the rest without a thought for the future.

We must remember when we throw anything away, that there is no such place as away. If you only take one thing from this site, take that as your mantra. ‘Away’ is a hole in the ground, an incinerator or a ship to China … And sure, we need the manufacturers to make changes, we need the Goverment to change the law, but we, as consumers and custodians of the earth must take responsibility too. Don’t wait for someone else to take action, be part of the change you wish to see…



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. We (humans) are horrible. Thats all I can say about that. It really just makes me sick that people will not take the time to even think about what our next generations are going to have to deal with because of our lazy ways. Its all about convenience. Just toss it in the trash and its going to just vanish into the ground. Your amazing for putting yourself out there with all your emotions. I applaud you!
    Keep on inspiring all of us. Its people like you who are making a difference.

  2. Ben says:

    Something more could always be done, huh? Anyhow, thank you for doing what you do and congrats on the accomplishments!

  3. All I can say Mrs G is you are fab honey. When the bin lorry arrives today, I hope you tell the refuse team that this is a year’s worth. 🙂 xxxx

  4. Hi Mrs Green, that lot is amazing. Well done to you as a family

    One ? how does Mr Green get the packages so compact, as no matter how I try mine seem to puff back up with air.

  5. LJayne says:

    Well done. What you have achieved is amazing and I like the idea of looking back over what exactly is there so you know where to tackle next.

    I’m kind of doing this as my goal for January so that I can shop better in February where possible. My children are smaller than LMG so there are areas where I just have to go softly softly. I can’t change things overnight. But I like the idea of sending back packaging to the manufacturer where possible and making the challenge.

  6. Sarah says:

    Wow, that’s some achievement.

    Off to list things on Freecycle….

  7. John Costigane says:

    This is an excellent way to show the year’s outcome from the earlier poorer recycling to the present much improved systems we have. I too saved caps from mine well after the year end. The solitary orange plastic bag shows the reality of the trend. Was this wind-blown waste? My few blue coloured ones were all delivered to the doorstep, free of charge.

    As to posterity, still a long way off, being the first, and leading, family following the Zero Waste lifestyle is a great achievement. There have been many positive developments over the past year with more to come. AD will finally take-off with the latest idea to use convert the resulting biogas to natural gas for the grid.

    How cold is it? My recent experience is that after a hot bath, which gives a good warm feeling usually, the chill returned within half an hour, Your local snow may scupper the collection. If so, it might be wise to lengthen the year to 2 years to cover all weather possibilities. As for the 5 months snow prediction, 2 down 3 to go.

  8. sandy says:

    well done the greens, you put us all to shame, try as I might I still cant get to zero, I am really trying this year. keep it up.

  9. H0gg1t says:

    Thank you for a very moving and poignant broadcast! Definatley food for thought.

    Well done and thanks for inspiring all of us that follow you. If your family can do it then so, of course, can we all. We must all try harder and recruit more and more like, and unlike, minded friends, family and neighbours to really concentrate and scrutinisize their bins to recycle much, much more and stop being sooo lazy.

    It was a very interesting point about things becoming recycleable within your area over this period, so it seems a very worthwhile exercise to examine the year’s rubbish to see if more could be diverted from landfill and resourcefully used again by recycling.

    Keep going, as this group really is growing daily as can be seen from the posts of new people. More and more are becoming aware of this challenge and the reality of throwing stuff “away”.

  10. Poppy says:

    Mmmm, the question has to be asked … Are they collecting in your area? It has a certain humour to it don’t you think? You wait a year and then the collections aren’t happening!!

    We haven’t had a collection since Christmas Eve, when we did put the bin out just to clear the decks really, not because we neede to, but thanks to all the advice about Reducing, Re-using and Recycling that I’ve had from yourself and the others that have come to your site, this is absolutely NOT a problem. If it wasn’t for the huge growing piles of stuff that I have to witness outside other properties in the area, I wouldn’t worry if they stayed away for another 3 months or more!

  11. Layla says:

    WOW, and the bin isn’t even fully full!!

    lol about the glass bottle! Things can have mysterious ways of getting in, no?

    Thanks for inspiring us all!!

    It’s excellent that some more stuff is recycled these days in your area, hopefully everything will be recyclable or re-designed!!

    As for things staying ‘in there’ forever, I’m not sure… As soo many chemical processes take place in landfills, and little fires may erupt etc – so not sure if everything will be so neat & tidy as your bin!
    It depends, how a landfill is managed, of course…
    As a general thought, it’s sad indeed..

    About the toy – if it’s still around – could it be made into a business card or card holder or file holder (in a box) or something like that? Otherwise, maybe an idea for anyone else with one?

    I was surprised looking at some old rice cake wraps that they might actually be recyclable too, though not sure.. So good luck with everything!!

  12. Mags says:

    What an inspiration! I thought I recycled as much as I could but I have so much further to go.

    I came across the website after reading the article in the Daily Mail. It has had an impact already, our council don’t recycle TetraPaks but since seeing your website 7days ago I’ve found a collection point just over the county border. In those 7 days, we’ve saved 25 1litre TetraPaks from Landfill. I have 3 composters already and recycle glass, paper, card, aluminium, tin cans, foil, and as much plastic as I can ( our council only take 1’s, 2’s & 3’s) I save Milk bottle tops for our local hospice. I Freecycle, Cheapcycle and Ebay, I use our local Clothing Exchange for the kids clothes and browse Charity shops if I need things myself, and use the clothing banks when they are beyond even DIY & Gardening use. I even hung out a laundry net stuffed with nuts, apple skins, raisins and cereal (left over from the kids breakfast) yesterday for the birds. But due to the weather our Wheely Bin hasn’t been emptied for over 2 weeks and I am absolutely mortified to say I can’t get it shut and have had to resort to the black bag. Even worse, I now have 2 black sacks beside my wheely bin. OK, I have a 16 month old baby who’s in nappies and 3 year old twins who are dry in the day but still in nappies at night (we tried Reusable ones but it didn’t work as they caused severe nappy rash), so that accounts for a reasonable bit of it, also our fridge broke around Christmas time and we didn’t realise until after I’d done a large shopping, so we had to bin a lot of food which had gone off. (I borrowed a fridge and freezer from Freecycle whilst we got ours repaired, saving both theirs and ours from landfill). But it still horrifies me how I can have so much rubbish in just 2 weeks despite the amount of recycling I do. I dread to think about how much is thrown away by folks who just don’t bother. I hasten to add our Recycling bin is a large one and full to the brim too, which is good from a recycling point but still horrendous from a waste point.

  13. Layla says:

    Mags, great to see you aboard!!

    It’s great that you Freecycle, recycle, etc!!
    You’re an inspiration to us all!!

    Have you tried the ‘no nappies from birth’ method for babies? It’s fab! I can post a few links if you haven’t heard about it yet! It’s awesome and many Moms online report it really works!!

    Also, how many different reusable nappies (& washing powders) have you tried? (they can be used as ‘back up’ for no nappies thing!) Different washing detergents or softeners can cause allergies too! (So it’s just a matter of finding the right one!)

    You’ll find LOTS of tips here and on Rubbish Diet blog on how to reduce even amount of recyclables & minimize waste!! It’s so great to see you inspired!!

  14. Layla says:

    Oh & sorry about the fridge – things happen.. It’s important to move on! (Can you compost where you live, or do you know a gardener who does?)

    And about the nappies, a friend said the non-reusable brand-name nappies caused rash to her babies’ bums, soo…?!! (She’s muuch happier with washable nappies, and the babies are too!)

  15. Janet says:

    We get our bin empted every 2 weeeks, no Tetra Pak recycling, only kerb side plastic recycling, and that is bottles with 2 at the bottom, newspapers and mags only no cardboard, and glass bottles. Some supermarkets do have limited recycling. Thats what we get from Kent, we are the county that time forgot .
    You don’t know how lucky you are.

  16. Mrs Green says:

    Thanks everyone; you might have guessed, the bin is still here in all her glory – bad weather has stopped play. We’re sort of pleased as a couple of TV crews are interested in filming the big day, so at least we may have some notice and time to do our bin’s hair and make up 😉

    Mags, welcome to the site – I’m so pleased you have found a local bank for Tetra Pak recycling; that will make a huge difference to your landfill waste.

    @Janet: Janet, it sounds like things are tough in your area. Don’t give up hope though, my experience is that facilities change all the time. We only have limited kerbside collection, but nearly every time I visit the local recycling centre there is a new skip there. Keep checking the resource for up to date information too.

  17. alberta ross says:

    we have got to the stage where we can quite happily ‘forget’ to put out our reycyle bin for weeks and even then it is never full – our next door neighbour puts her overflow into it-with permission i like to see people reycycle -our other bin the smelly one we could not put out for weeks except for smell unfortunatly that one has the animals solid waste in ( good for land fill) bones and stuff like mouldy cheese. i’m quite proud of our bins although nothing as good as yours. i have even persuaded a few neighbours that i would really really like their rabbit wastes and grass clippings and any prunings so my compost heaps are brilliant if a little odd. i have to compost them in plastc bags!! as my wrists do not allow me to turn the heap any more but the bags are being recycled! and last for ever as we know.

    keep up the good work and keep smiling

  18. hi Mrs G,

    you may have missed my earlier ?

    how does Mr G get the packages so compact?

    mine always seem to puff back full of air


  19. David says:

    WOW! You’ve done such an amazing job in 2009, not just keeping your waste to such a small amount, but inspiring so many people and raising such awareness in the media. My very best wishes to the Green family for a truly zero waste year and lots more publicity. Just think, this time next year you’ll have an empty bin so you won’t be crying – you’ll be dancing!

  20. Mrs Green says:

    @alberta ross: Hi Alberta, great to see you. It sounds like you are doing marvellous work and I love that you are encouraging your neighbours to take part too. let’;s hope you get some more ingredients for your home composting!

    @maisie dalziel: Sorry maisie. ok, well I guess he has really strong hands because mine puff back up with air too. I do know that he has also stood in the bin a couple of times 😀 But I’ve also noticed that he puts a bit of sellotape on some parcels; so I guess that holds them in place. not sure whether that’s a good thing or not, but I’m lead to believe that sellotape is made from cellulose which breaks down. So perhaps an old bit of packing tape is the key to really compact parcels plus everything that can be is folded up inside rather than just squashed down. I do call him ‘Compactor man’ though 😀 Perhaps I should rent him out 😉

    @David: Thank you David – welcome to the site and yes, this time next year will be interesting and hopefully full of happy dances.

  21. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: Like Mr Green, I compress the loose plastic in a bag, fold the open ends of the bag tight and then sellotape to finish. One of the problems in weighing plastic is that it does not register a value when the waste is left loose. The tighter the fit the lower the resulting volume and therefore the more space for additional plastic waste.

  22. My eyes are tearing. You guys are amazing and you are right it is so sad that all this stuff we are trashing will still be here. I must do better this year! Thanks for sharing, keep it up.

  23. @Mrs Green: @John Costigane:

    Thankyou both for this, I shall try this on the bag I’ve got to go in the landfill bin on Monday.

    I had already been folding everything but it still didn’t cut it, so maybe the sellotape is the answer.

  24. Seamus Ford says:

    Thank you for this video. I am moved by your passion.

  25. Mrs Green says:

    @Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green: Awww, lisa, I didn’t mean to make you cry! It does have an effect though, so that’s good – emotion is a good motivator.

    @maisie dalziel: Let us know how you get on Maisie and John, thanks for sharing your ideas too.

    @Seamus Ford: Hi Seamus; welcome to the site – you have a great site yourself promoting low carbon living. Great to meet someone else who is passionate.

  26. Well sellotape seems to be the answer, as stated earlier I had everything folded in the bag to go to landfill so it was just a case of making the package as tight and compact as possible and then after folding over the ends adding a tiny bit of sellotape to hold shut.

  27. Mrs Green says:

    @maisie dalziel: Glad it helped, Maisie – may your bin for ever reduce her waistline 😀

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