Today's post is a guest article from Mel at Bean sprouts, who is much more experienced in matters like this and has some fantastic ideas for a novice like me. Thank you so much for some great advice Mel. I'm sure that most people will be able to make use of the top tips listed below.
"Congratulations to almost mrs average for placing her bin on a diet, and for blogging about it so other people might be inspired to follow suit. I have to say our household isn't zero-waste, so I almost feel a fraud giving advice. But we do try to "slim our bin".
The most important thing to do is to pay more attention to the "reduce" and "reuse" parts of the old maxim "reduce, reuse, recycle". I think too much attention goes onto recycling our waste, when we'd all do better not to create so much waste in the first place. As Mrs A is finding, this means shopping less and shopping cleverly. Another blog I enjoy is www.fakeplasticfish.com, where Beth writes about her quest to eliminate plastic waste from her household by not buying it in the first place. You can imagine how hard that is. She's struggling to find somewhere she can buy cheese that isn't wrapped in plastic and has had to give up pitta bread and tortillas altogether, for example.
But we're all going to produce some waste. Even prehistoric hunter gatherers left dumps of waste, much to the delight of archaeologists who study their waste to learn about their diets and lifestyles. So recycling is important. I've got some suggestions for Mrs A concerning the things on the "hit list".
Aerosols - You can largely avoid buying these in the first place. There are alternatives to most things that come in aerosols. For example www.lush.co.uk sell deodorants in solid and powder form, and they really work. But we still use a few aerosols (mainly WD40). I recycle them with the metal tin cans and so on, which my council collects from the kerbside fortnightly. Can you recycle your aerosols this way, Mrs A?
Batteries - Find out where you can recycle them http://www.recyclenow.com/what_more_can_i_do/can_it_be_recycled/batteries.html and for heaven's sake get a recharger and switch to rechargables.
Cooked and uncooked food, meat, fish and bones. Get a Green Cone. I haven't used one myself, but they claim to be able to compost most things.
Cooking oil or fat, egg shells, shredded paper and vacuum cleaner contents - These can all be composted in a regular compost bin. I know because I do it. Solid fat I would feed to the birds instead. Melt it into a cup, a clean empty yogurt pot, or half a coconut shell if you happen to have one, then let it set. Hang it up (piece of string through the yogurt pot or coconut shell), or get it out of the cup and hang it in an old mesh bag, the kind you get onions in, and hang that up with string. Or you can smear the solidified fat and seeds into an old pine cone, and hang that up.
Glass and textiles, including clothes, porcelain/ceramics. Good items that are no longer needed, such as cups and glasses, can be given to a charity shop or Freecycle. Broken ceramics can be used as drainage in the bottom of plant pots or you could make a mosaic. Worn out textiles can be made into other items, such as quilts or rag rugs.
Disposable nappies - These have to go if you're aiming for zero waste. Disposable nappies make up 4% of the UK's household rubbish and 50% of all the rubbish in a one-baby family. Switch to washables instead.
Plastic Bags - These can be reused for shopping until they're bust, then they can be recycled at most supermarkets. Alternatively you could cut them into long strips and knit them into a sturdy reusable shopping bag.
Dog Waste - Make your own pet waste composter.
Shredded Paper - This can be composted, as I said. It can also be made into briquettes to burn on an open fire. I've done this. It's easy, and they burn really well. I also use shredded paper as chicken bedding. If you don't have chickens of your own, perhaps you know someone who does (or rabbits, guinea pigs or any other animals) who might be glad to have your shredded paper instead of buying bedding straw. It also makes great packing material. You could try offering it on Freecycle - my local Freecycle often has keen eBayers asking for packing materials. The same goes for polystyrene.
Cartons - Post them back to Tetrapak for recycling or you might be able to find a local place you can drop them off for recycling.
I hope these ideas help you reach your goal of a size zero bin by Zero Waste Week, Mrs A. It's the only instance of "size zero" I can really approve of".
One family's search for the good life.