Friday, 28 January 2011

Taking the Rubbish Diet Challenge

In 2008, spurred on by a challenge from her local council Karen Cannard, aka Almost Mrs Average, decided to embark upon a rubbish diet and to set up a blog to chart her progress.  I heard her talking about it on Woman's Hour and decided to find out more.

Recycling: Cardboard, Tetrapasks and mixed plastics
Since then I have given my rubbish a bit more thought, recycled a bit more and tried to bring home less packaging.  However, I did not feel I could dictate what the rest of my family bought as they were either adults or very nearly adult, and my son was doing his own cooking, as well as spending his wages on various items that came with lots of packaging.

Now the kids are both at uni, I'm thinking it should be easier to control the amount of potential rubbish I bring into the house, so I thought I'd see what I can do to further reduce the amount of rubbish I create.

This week has been an ideal time to start as hubby has been away. Since I last emptied the kitchen bin on Sunday I have mostly thrown away the little plastic bags that dried goods come in as I can't buy everything from Suma.  I'm not really sure if I should be recycling them as I don't know what kind of plastic they are and I wouldn't want to contaminate the plastic bag collections at our local supermarkets.

As far as I can remember, I have also thrown away the skin from one cooked chicken breast, some bits of Parmesan cheese I cut off because it looked like it was starting to go a little mouldy, a few bits of burnt chips,  and today I emptied the contents of the vacuum cleaner in it.  I nearly put a piece of dry bread in there as it will attract rats in the compost, but as it isn't mouldy I decided I'd feed it to the birds.

Not very interesting or appetising stuff.

My sink-side bin for vegetable peelings etc.
We also have separate containers for raw, vegetable kitchen waste, cardboard, recyclable plastics not collected by our council, recyclable metal and plastics collected by our council, waste paper and also bottles for kerbside collection and tetrapaks. I put receipts and other personal papers in with the compost.

Now I know there are just two of us living here most of the time, but even when there were four of us being what I'd call extravagant in the amount of rubbish we created, one dustbin full a week was plenty, so I'm not sure why the Daily Mail think it is so terrible that some councils are only allowing residents 80 black bin bags a year.
Of course we always recycled our newspapers and glass, and more recently tins, but now nearly everyone has these and more collected from the kerb outside their house what excuse can they have for throwing that sort of thing in their bins?

So, all that remains is for me to weigh my kitchen bin bag.  The scales didn't move, so I emptied the other bins into it.  There wasn't much but the scales moved to near the two pound mark if I put the bag down firmly enough.  Mind you this is only 4 days' rubbish.  I'll try to weigh the bag again on Sunday.


  1. Well done! A friend of ours has a Bokashi bin, which turns cooked food into compost, but the bran additive costs quite a lot. In France, rubbish isn't collected from individual homes - but each road or small community has a rubbish & recycling point. It works really well, if UK councils could change to a similar system, perhaps they could put money into providing community composters, then we wouldn't need to throw so much in the bin.

  2. I imagine my encounters with bokashi will get a mention at some point, Kay.

    I wonder if the rubbish & recycling system is the same all over France, including in the towns and cities. I've not been aware of this happening, but I haven't been to France for a few years.

  3. Good luck Karin. I love reading accounts of other people's efforts to reduce their rubbish and often pick up useful tips I haven't considered.

    You mentioned a parmesan rind. I follow advice from Nigella (or was it Nigella) and boil it up with my chicken carcasse for added depth of flavour. However if yours was mouldy it probably wouldn't have been a good idea.

  4. Great to see you reducing your rubbish Karin. Do you have natural fibre flooring? If so, were you aware that your vacuum contents can go into the compost heap? Sounds like you've had a brilliant and successful week!

  5. The Parmesan was mouldy Gai. I don't make chicken stock as a rule, but if I do I will bear that tip in mind.

    Rae, I did think about putting the contents of the vacuum cleaner in the compost, but we don't have natural fibre carpets and there were other bits amongst it I didn't want in the compost.


All relevant comments to this post are welcome, so feel free to have your say.