Thursday, 23 October 2008

Jam or Norfolk? The significance of blogging about waste

Today I'm making Jam.

I am also co-hosting a seminar this afternoon at the Norfolk Waste Partnership Annual Conference.

They are both major milestones in my life.

It is the first time I've ever made jam and it's also the first time I've been a speaker at a waste conference.

But I'm not sure what's more nerve-wracking. Making jam has always seemed too scary to contemplate, but as I ponder addressing an audience of at least 50 professionals....well...jam seems so easy.

It really is bizarre how things happen. About a year ago, I was wondering how I could waste less and how I should cook more. Then came the St Edmundsbury Zero Waste challenge.

So I created The Rubbish Diet and blogged. I blogged about rubbish and landfill, packaging and recycling, food waste and cooking, composting and bokashi bins and have somehow emerged from an average disinterested recycler into what WRAP refers to as a "super committed recycler".

The blog has been significant in this process, attracting a virtual community of people who have come together to share ideas. The Zero Waste Week may have provided the purpose and the goal, but it's this virtual village that has encouraged momentum, enabling new ideas, new skills and new thoughts to be discussed as each week goes by.

It has also been amazing to witness the growth in the number of blogs that discuss waste. Even waste professionals are now poised to blog about their own personal challenges. And whether they act as temporary diaries or become something more permanent, I believe blogs have a key role as a catalyst for social change.

But why is blogging about waste so important?

For the blogger it is an opportunity to raise issues, confront challenges and appeal for advice. It creates a forum to pull together useful information and feature recommendations that can help a community of interested people, whether it is local, national or international. It also acts as a cheap form of therapy when the going gets tough and you wonder whether you're alone in the world with your mad ideas.

For the reader it offers an insight into someone else's thought-patterns, disovering ways of doing things that you've never considered before. With this comes a reassurance that ideas are safe to try. For some there is a also sense of voyeurism, an opportunity to delve into other people's lives and become a nosey neighbour from the comfort of your own home. Some blogs are so compelling, it is hard to leave them alone.

Blogging about waste is the equivalent of word-of-mouth marketing and as rubbish is something that affects us all, there will be something to interest most readers. Yet every blogger who discusses the subject will offer their own unique perspective and attract a group of readers that differs from the next. And this is the key, an opportunity to share ideas with many different communities across the world.

So back to today and Norfolk's Waste Conference. The subject of this afternoon's seminar is Setting up a zero waste village, which is being led by David Roman of Monmouthshire Community Recycling and my role is to offer support on promoting the importance of community champions.

I believe that local community champions are highly significant to zero waste projects, providing a human face to demonstrate and promote best practice. From a marketing perspective, an average family is a profile to which most other "average" households can relate.

But wouldn't it be great if community champions blogged about their experiences too. Just imagine if every county across the country had its own zero waste bloggers, focusing on personal challenges at a local level but engaging with an audience in a national or indeed international context?

And who knows where blogging can lead.

I know there's the book deal but on a more levelling note, let's face it, if it wasn't for blogging, there'd be no way I'd be making jam. And for inspiration in this area, I can only thank none other than Strawberry Jam Anne, a fabulous blogger who writes about anything but rubbish.

Seminars and Jam eh? Who would have guessed how life can change on the road to zero waste?

So it's huge thanks to everyone out there for making it so enjoyable. I didn't know you 10 months ago, but I'm glad I do now. And that is the significance of blogging about waste.



Katy said...

Hello! I was at the conference too and I really enjoyed your talk. I wanted to say hello in person at the end but I think you had already left... I was the one who suggested (tongue in cheek!) it was "cheating" at zero waste to live in Bury with its plastics recycling ;) Would have liked to have had the chance to talk more, but anyway, thanks for the food for thought!

Alex Bone said...

Hey there Almost Mrs A! Great talk today. Very inspiring! You'll get booked for a few more of these events at this rate! I'm joining you too on the blogging quest.

Danda said...

I love the idea of blogs as "catalyst for social change". Yes, this is the right way to go on and think that we are doing something important! So don't worry if someone could laugh reading our posts about waste!
Hope you had a great day! ;-D


Hi Katy - thanks for popping by and for your great feedback. LOL - Oh yes, we're dead lucky in Bury with our plastics recycling. It's fantastic. What's great about seeing everyone taking up a zero waste challenge is the differences that exist across districts and counties.

It is incredible though how once you go through a ZW initiative even your recycling reduces. It would have been great to have had a good chat after the conference. I'm sorry I wasn't able to stay longer but I had to get back to pick up the children. However, if you're in Bury and fancy a coffee, do get in touch as I would be happy to meet up...or drop me a line at the email address on my profile. :-D

Hi Alex - great to meet you and thanks for coming up to say hello earlier. It was good to get the opportunity to show what is possible and to highlight the growing interest in zero waste. I'm glad to see you've joined us on the blogging front. Are you going to make it a public blog? If so, I'll happily list it next week when I promote the Norfolk events. Thanks so much for the feedback, much appreciate it. :-D

Hi Danda - yes I think the message is to keep on blogging, LOL - I bet people have had a good laugh, even if it wasn't intentional :-D

Mrs Green said...

I want to know what happened to the jam - was it a success?

It sounds like the conference met with some new fans, Mrs A ;) Well done on spreading the word......


Hi Mrs G - I was just blogging about the jam when your comment came through. Yes, it was fab and really easy. You should try it.

And eh - it's great to have a few more bloggers on board isn't it. I love it :-D

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