Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Jo Beaufoix's Rubbish Diet Plan

Do you remember the Beaufoix Bin from Mansfield?

The key problem is that it is always full to its 240 litre capacity. On top of that there are often extra bags of rubbish that can't even fit in, which owner Jo Beaufoix has to take to the dump on a regular basis. That all works out at an estimated 260 cubic litres of waste, every fortnight.

This bin needs some help and the aim is to slim it down to around half its size.

Jo kindly provided me with a lot of detail about what goes in her bin and is now ready to tackle her rubbish head-on.

Her Rubbish Diet Plan includes the following recommendations:


One of the priorities of Jo's Rubbish Diet Plan is to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that goes into the landfill bin. As her local recycling facilities aren't as extensive as those in my neck of the woods, this will be a tougher challenge for Jo and her family.

Jo carried out an audit of her rubbish, which revealed that things like margarine tubs and yoghurt pots couldn't be recycled. However, the great news is that as recently as last month, the local council has included these in their recycling facilities, so they can be ticked off the list straight away.

For anyone who attempts to slim their bin, progress like this always offers a sense of relief.

A call to the council today also revealed that as the pots of jellies and some of the sauce pots used by Jo are made of the same material as the yoghurt packaging, these can be added too. All this shows an encouraging start for the Beaufoix household.

Other news is that Tetra Pak recycling has also been available for some time at the local Household Waste Recycling Centre, so these can be dropped off when the family is passing by.

Further opportunities for recycling additional materials may also be available from November when a new Materials Recycling Facility is introduced near Mansfield. However, not much is yet known about this and should not be seen as the solution.


It is important that Jo should try to replace products that have packaging with where possible loose items (e.g. satsumas). Where packaging cannot be avoided, Jo should look out for items that can be recycled (e.g. glass jars) or those that may be composted.

The key is to look at changing just a few habits, just tackling one thing at a time to make things easier.

As Jo often uses a supermarket Internet site to do her shopping, it's worth visiting the supermarket for her next shop to try and look for alternatives to over-packaged culprits that she regularly buys. Even flimsy plastic bags from the deli-counter help to reduce waste when compared to more solid materials associated with pre-packaged produce, which cannot currently be recycled in the area.

When buying chocolate bars, she could consider replacing the products wrapped in plastic film with those that use paper and foil. Paper can be recycled or composted and foil could be used for junk art at home or donated to the local school.

If tinned food is normally bought in multi-packs, it's worth checking if buying single tins is just as cheap and order those instead. This way, the plastic wrapping that is used for multi-packs can be avoided. Pet food, baked beans, tomatoes and tuna are regular culprits.

Of course, if Jo feels she can incorporate it into her lifestyle, shopping at a local market and at local shops to replace some of the supermarket products would be a great step towards reducing excess packaging.


On the culinary front, Jo often makes use of pre-prepared sauces, which come in pots. Some of these can't be recycled in her area. I've suggested that she experiments with making her favourite sauces from scratch. Simple chilli sauce can be made from fresh\tinned tomatoes with fresh chillis or dried spices. Some of her other favourites could also be created in minutes.

Jo already cooks frequently and loves engaging with the readers of her blog, so it might be an appealing idea to ask them to suggest some quick and fast recipes for some of her favourite sauces. She could then test them out and even feature them on her blog.


Last week, I also recommended that she should take advantage of Compost Awareness Week and buy a home composter at a bargain price.

Jo’s garden is big enough to accommodate a composter and once “installed” she will be able to remove fruit & veg peelings from her landfill bin, as well as tea bags & coffee grains and old bedding from her gerbil cage.

She is keen to do this, so there should be further news on this soon.

Cooked food waste should be handled by trying to reduce portion sizes if possible. Alternatively, if it continues to be a problem, a Bokashi system could be considered.

A Bokashi system is an indoor bucket that can be filled with most food waste, including cooked meat products. Active bran is added to the food in layers and left for two weeks to ferment. The liquid must be drained off regularly and can be poured down the drain or diluted with water as a fertiliser for plants. After 2 weeks, the fermented food can be put into the composter.

A Green Cone is another option that could be considered if appropriate for Jo’s Garden. It is similar to a compost bin but will also accept cooked food, meat and fish. The idea is that contents decompose and drain into the surrounding soil. However, I have not yet tested this so am unable to comment in detail.


Jo is planning to complete her daughter's potty-training this summer, which will be great for removing night-time nappies from the bin. However in the meantime, she might want to consider getting a few reusable ones. If this isn’t practical, using degradable alternatives might be a solution. It’s not a perfect answer, but is one that could suffice in the short-term.

If Jo fancies a go at ditching the nappies, there is are products on the market called Eenie Undies, which are sold as part of the Weenies range. They are waterproof pants that can be used with compostable weenee pads. Jo will need to assess whether they will be suitable for her daughter and whether they could fit into her budget.

I have given her details of the Lollipop online store, so she can find out more about the Weenies training pants. The online shop also sells washable sanitary products, which may be of interest to Jo should she wish to eliminate disposable products from her landfill bin. Some are not as gruesome as they sound and are much friendlier on the environment as well as the pocket.


I have recommended that Jo invests in cleaning cloths that can be washed many times over and use these instead of kitchen towel and regular sponges. I have used E-Cloth products which have worked very well and now feel that I have got my money's worth. However normal sponges can be boiled to extend use if necessary. Also, used kitchen towel can be composted as long as it hasn’t been used to mop up spills and scraps associated with cooked food, meat, fish or indeed has come into contact with cleaning chemicals.

Priority targets: If Jo and her family focus on reducing the amount of packaging that comes into the home, they should be rewarded with a noticeable impact on the size of their bin. If composting is managed alongside this, they should soon be well on their way to cutting their household waste in half.

I'm going to leave the Beaufoix household alone with their Bin for a while. A little privacy is always useful. I'll catch up with them in a couple of weeks to see how they are getting on...and of course I will report back on progress.

Thinking about progress, I wonder how Ruby's rubbish is coming along. She's been in York for a few days and even managed to meet up with one of the site's regular visitors. I'm left wondering how much rubbish they talked. So while Jo's busy working on her rubbish, I'm going to track down Ruby.

More on that soon!


Jo Beaufoix said...

I have purchased my composter. Just waiting for it to arrive, and I may save up for the Green Cone as I think that's a good idea too. My kids eat like mice some days so there's nearly always waste.
Thaks for the plan, we're getting our head round it steadily. :D

mel said...

It was really nice to meet Ruby, though our chat was rather cut short by waiting customers! I'm sure she'll show you her photos soon enough,


Eliane said...

Your blog is always interesting and full of good tips. I'm using a Bokashi bin now and our main waste is down to one dustbin load a week (that's a dustbin not a wheelie bin) and it doesn't smell. So I highly recommend them.

Also if you don't have the time to head to a market but you want to cut down on packaging from fruit and veg then a box scheme is well worth considering. I get a box with almost all the veg and fruit I use in a week for a family of four, and it has one box (returnable) and perhaps 3 flimsy plastic bags in it. Everything else is loose.

Lastly, any ideas on night-time nappies for the older child? I'm working on my 5 year old but she is still contributing a Huggie's DryNites nappy a night to our bin, and all the reusable options (which might also get her out of them altogether) are for toddlers.


Hi Jo - Yay...can't wait to hear how the composting is going. Fantastic news.

Hi Mel - I'm seeing Ruby later this week. Have seen a photo of you with one of the bags..."nice to meet you" so to speak ;-D

Hi Eliane - Thanks for popping by and for your support. My Bokashi is still going strong too. It's great isn't it. Great tips so thanks so much for sharing...as for your little one by the way, it's worth speaking to Lollipop about the Weenies eenie undies. I haven't tried them myself but it sounds like they might be suitable for your 5 year old. If it works out, please do share your feedback. Thanks again and good luck.

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