Tuesday, 17 March 2009

It's not just how, it's also about why!

"I don't know how you do it." folk often say when they hear my tale about The Rubbish Diet.

So I tell them the story, how it all began with a zero waste challenge and how I looked in my bin and worked out what went in there.

After all, when you know what you throw in the bin, it's easier to find solutions to keep it out. And just like any other slimming plan, The Rubbish Diet has focused on avoiding the things that once made it fat and heavy.

"But what do you do?" they ask.

So I tell them how I try to buy products that are loose or have minimal packaging, supporting local trade where I can. And I mention the refillable items that I have discovered on the way, including cleaning products and cosmetics. Then there are reusable solutions that reduce the need for disposable clutter. And as for food waste, I relate how I shop more regularly, buying little and often and whatever little food waste we have goes in the Bokashi.

So they smile and nod, perhaps laugh at my funny story, then talk about other things, their latest project or their children.

But the one question they never ask is WHY? And I never push it, lecture or preach.

And in truth, it took me a while to understand the relevance of the zero waste challenge myself.

You may remember when I started The Rubbish Diet I was more concerned with the huge inconvenience requiring the strength of Samson to extract the overloaded rubbish bags from the kitchen bin. Dragging the wheelie bin to the kerbside was also a struggle that I wanted to resolve.

And the blog was just a bit of fun that recorded the challenge. We weren't green, or environmental, just your typical average family, looking at the world in the way we had become accustomed and just getting on with life as happy as Larry.

But how things have changed.

Until I set up the blog I never really thought much beyond the bin. My only contribution to the environmental agenda had been to remember my reusable bags.

But gradually I began to realise the effects of rubbish in landfill and the impact of wasted food and other biodegradable matter on global warming.

Now that in itself was a major wake-up call to a housewife trying to slim her bin.

And the more I found out about the impact of rubbish on the environment, the more I thought about how I accumulated the trash in the first place, starting to look carefully at the things I bought and the relationship between that and what I was throwing away.

Whether it was an item of clothing, a luxury treat or food, waste was also being created somewhere along the distribution line. And reducing that waste was out of my control, unless I chose not to buy it.

SoI began to change, reducing the amount of crap that would have once filled my life. I learned how to say no to the kids and began switching my own consumer behaviour buying with longevity in mind, rather than out of boredom or a simple whim.

But today I am aware that The Rubbish Diet is no longer just a funny old story about a much-photographed bin and a bored housewife's challenge. Things are far more serious than that and it's not just about waste, it's also about our dependency on oil to create the things that get thrown away.

I now realise that my experience on the homefront is also a vital piece in the jigsaw for helping society tackle climate change.

But I am not an environmentalist, an eco-warrior or an activist, I am simply an ordinary woman who has woken up to the dangers that lie ahead if we don't play our part now.

And it's not enough for society to expect just governments and manufacturers to show us the way. It's more urgent than ever that consumers also take the lead in redressing the imbalance created by our disposable and consumption-led culture.

So I've stopped burying my head in the sand hoping that the problem will go away on its own and in doing so I believe I've finally grown up.

When I look to the future, I don't know what we will see. The only image I have is a little girl doing her history homework.

The little girl turns towards an older version of me with wrinkles and grey hair and asks

"Granny, so what did you do to help prevent climate change?"

So I tell her the story of how it started with a bin, and how I blogged about my dwindling rubbish. I'll also tell her how folk who read my blog did the same thing too and how I discovered other blogs, all over the world, each and every one telling their own stories along the way. And I'll mention that no longer did I feel on my own and how so many other ordinary people were also doing their bit.

Then finally, I will tell her about the occasion when I attended an important film premiere in Cambridge and met a leading environmentalist.

That film premiere was The Age of Stupid and the well-respected environmentalist I speak of is Tony Juniper, former director of Friends of the Earth and author of How many lightbulbs does it take to change a planet?.

Well if there is anyone who can draw authority on the subject, I believe it is this man, so I am delighted that he accepted my invitation to share a message of encouragement to everyone who is working hard to slim their bins.

And if anyone should ask for the reason behind your actions, here is the definitive answer that you can give them.



Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs A,

It is great to see you get backing from personalities in the green movement. Waste is a worldwide issue. Zero Waste is the trend to change to sustainable lifestyles.

Our trend is to end the unthinking chain of waste with its many wasteful elements.

Zero Waste Easter Eggs is just the latest example with Cadbury and Nestle taking up the challenge.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi John - it is great and I really appreciate Tony Juniper's time in spending a few minutes with me to record this message.

It's interesting that you mention Easter Eggs. I've been busy this week checking them out and I am delighted to have found the Cadbury's Treasure egg without a box and the Nestle Smarties egg without any plastic whatsover citing 25% reduced packaging.

The problem is I've taken my research so seriously, I've eaten them all. Well, a girl has to find out the truth doesn't she :-D

Transition Housewife said...

Hi Mrs A,

I did wonder whether that was you, but was concentrating on finding my way out of that shopping centre! Glad to see you made it to the Age of Stupid too.

Anonymous said...

Hi Again Mrs A,

That is the trouble with investigating the Zero Waste Eggs. You have to remove all the packaging to check for hidden waste packaging. In doing so, the chocolate is open and before you know it you eat a bit, then another....

It is indeed a positive development for Zero waste. The only missing item was a Mars Egg, but that may appear later.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi TH - shame I missed you. You should have come to say hello. Glad to hear you made it out of the shopping centre - that place is a bit of a rabbit warren when it comes to finding your way around. :-D

LOL John - you've got it in one. :-D

Unknown said...

Hi Mrs A,
this movie seems so interesting! I hope that it will come here in Italy soon! Tomorrow I'm going to see An Inconvenient Truth, which I've never seen before. Lots of events are coming... perhaps people are moving and wondering 'why'... I strongly hope ! :)

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Danda - it was a great movie and made things more personal than An Inconvenient Truth, which is brilliant in itself. I think you're right. There is a trend that more and more people are realising what we are up against and there is a lot more discussion and events happening than before. :-D x

Maisie said...

Having just checked out the links I've just purchesed a 2nd hand copy of Tony's book from www.greenmetropolis.com (still one left) and will be looking at the dvd of Age of Stupid when it comes out.

Anonymous said...

I love your train of thoughts, Mrs A and how one things leads to another. Before you know it; that awareness of our lifestyle is wide open and up for review.
it's great to see your own personal journey taking shape and to see the changes you are making. All very inspiring and exciting stuff.

mrs g x

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Maisie - that's great. I bought it last year and it is a very interesting read. Hope you'll be a ble to see The Age of Stupid soon. :-D

Hi Mrs G - LOL, you can say that again...it's definitely been a case of broadening my horizons and you've been a huge part of that too...goodness knows what's next :-D x

Layla said...

Oh Mrs A, you make me cry!! :)

That's exactly what we have been talking about, isn't it?!! :)

I hope you won't leave us alone without your blog & daily wisdom?!!
You're such an inspiration & well, starting my own zero waste week on Earth Day, I must admit I'm quite frazzled!! :)
will need all the help one can get!! :)

Transition Housewife said...

Hi Mrs A,

Yes, sorry to have missed you too. I was walking out of the cinema as Tony Juniper was having his photo taken (so your back was to me). Thought it was odd that there wasn't anyone else in the picture (I'd had my photo taken with him only moments earlier, see my blog). Then when I got round to the otherside of the balcony he was still in front of the camera. I thought that was odd, then wondered if it was a snazzy video type phone. Found the exit puzzling "who'd be videoing with a camera phone", then just as I got to the car it hit me "I wonder if that was Mrs A?!" And it was!! Well done you - a great endorsement for the rubbish diet and all things sustainable.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Layla - thank you so much for your kind words and for joining in with all your enthusiasm. I think that's a great day to start your own Zero Waste Week and I'll be right behind you, supporting you as much as I can. So don't worry, as you'll soon see, I won't be far away. :-D x

LOL TH - Oh my word, that was most definitely me, because as soon as I finished filming and had a quick chat with Tony Juniper he was soon on his way. I just can't believe you were so close. Just think, if we had changed the angle slightly I would have caught you going into the car park doors...waving....LOL. So glad you had a chance to meet him too. I'll be popping over for a looksey very soon ;-D x

Tracey Smith said...

LOLOL....I knew those tickets would come in handy......lolol...

Love and respect always,
TS x

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