How is your zero waste week going?

Filed in Blog by on September 6, 2012 6 Comments
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Nice butter, but can we recycle the packaging?

Any dustbin demons to report? Any landfill layabouts that need kicking into touch?

There was an interesting article in last week’s MRW written by Mal Williams of Clych. The first paragraph was extremely poignant. It read:  “It’s up to us as individuals to save the day – we cannot wait for the Government or waste companies to come to our rescue and it’s about time the industry got that message across

Personally, I couldn’t agree more. In an article in the same magazine I urged industry leaders to think about the following “I can continue to campaign for the next ten years and bring about small changes. But many of you have the power to make massive changes by putting your signature on a piece of paper. Do you have the courage to make a difference?”

Over the past few years we moved as a family from focusing on our own waste at home, to encouraging readers to do ‘their bit’ and on to working with manufacturers to bring about change.

Sally from Natural Spa Supplies is a passionate recycler and she shared a fantastic pledge for zero waste week. She wrote “I will write to butter manufacturers whose butter I buy (Yeo Valley and Rachels) and ask them to use recyclable packing. At the moment they use an aluminium-paper composite and it is not recyclable. I eat lots of butter so this should help thin my household bin as well as the bins of their other customers from landfill waste”.

Isn’t that wonderful? And it’s a subject that is close to my heart as you might remember from an earlier rant about the on-pack recycling label scheme.

We chose the theme of ‘One More thing’ because, as Sally shows, it’s inclusive no matter where you find yourself on your zero waste journey. If you’re right at the start then remembering to take reusable bags to the store might be the ‘one more thing’ you feel you can do. If you’re a bit further along the path you might spend time this week finding recycling areas for items that don’t get picked up from your kerbside. But what do you do if you’re already a recycling pro?

My challenge to you would be that there is ALWAYS one more thing you can do – how about getting together with neighbours and creating a rota for trips to the local Bring Banks or setting up a community compost scheme? Some people have joined the Facebook events page and said they don’t know how much more they can do, so we welcome them as ‘experts’ for other people to pick their brains and learn from! Sally’s pledge shows us that if we’re doing all we can perhaps it’s time to call on manufacturers to show some accountability and encourage them to step up too.

Sally really does practice what she preaches. She sells a range of high quality items that help you keep yourself and your home clean and healthy. She uses padded paper postage bags, wraps delicate items in cardboard tied with string and uses glass bottles instead of plastic. Check out her fantastic range of products at Natural Spa Supplies,

If you want to ‘return to sender’ check out my template letter which you are free to use and let me know if you’ve ever written to a manufacturer. Did you get a favourable response?

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 (6)

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  1. jen says:

    I completely agree. One more thing makes change manageable. My zero waste week: my boss rescued a bunch of cookies from sure landfill fate after a meeting yesterday (which was nice for the office staff), but on the downside, I have a flat of tomatoes that is nearly done. Will make spagetti sauce tonight.

  2. Compostwoman says:

    Can I just say that at the temperatures involved with recycling Al foil – the paper would be a trivial bit of carbon, much like the print. ..I have no worries about putting foil into the foil recycling bank.

    Just my opinion, but I DO have a Materials Science engineering degree so have a bit of knoeldge about this …but am happy to be corrected by someone who knows more about it.

    Still would be MUCH better if Yeo Valley used plain foil or plain waxed paper. Mixed materials are SO hard to recycle!

    My mamouth declutter and tidy of the Study, Guest bedroom, Polytunnel and Barn is filling up the recycling bins, I have a load of stuff to go to the charity shop, a load of stuff to list on Freecycle and a load of stuff which I can re use somehow – ( those 5 Kg feed bins are going to have holes drilled in the base and become containers for growing herbs/veg in the polytunnel…)

    Not much stuff for the Landfill bin so far ( hurrah!)

  3. Julie Day says:

    My pledge was to flush wipes instead of bin them, and that is what I have been doing. Also composting egg shells, which we’d started to bin because my mum said they weren’t breaking down properly in the compost bin in the garden.

    • Em says:

      Please don’t flush wipes. Sewage works cannot deal with them and they end up on our beaches and in the rivers seas and oceans. They also clog up sewers. Don’t use wipes at all – use a cloth and wash it out.

  4. Jane says:

    I had difficulty thinking of something to do, so in the end I decided to do 1 small thing a day that I would not otherwise have done. So far, I have saved some seeds from our red peppers, to save on buying seeds with packets that then have to be disposed of. Although the outer packets are recyclable paper, the inner seed packets are usually a foil and paper laminate that is not accepted for recycling round here. I have picked up some litter from the street and put it into our recycling bin. My husband had left an old blanket in the greenhouse all year, and it was covered in garden soil, and even had seedlings growing on it. It looked like it was only fit for the compost heap! However, I have now rinsed this out and washed it, and it is as good as new. Inspired by Mr Green’s zero electricity waste week, I have defrosted the back of the fridge. (It is supposed to be self-defrosting but got rather a thick layer of frost one hot day last week, although I am not quite sure how or why.) I have also changed the light bulbs in our 2 spare bedrooms for low energy bulbs. These were the only 2 rooms that had the old incandescent bulbs. However, that does now leave me with 2 old light bulbs cluttering up my cupboard!

  5. Kate Skilbeck says:

    @Julie Day: Dear Julie I wonder if you would re-consider your flushing of wipes, please? Please see the information about the ‘Bag it and bin it’ campaign, run by Water UK: . There is also an interesting report for the Consumer Council for Water, at this address: . I sometimes find the eggshells in my compost haven’t quite broken down when I come to use it. I just pop them back in the compost bin to spend a bit more time composting 🙂 Best wishes, Kate

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