Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Oh the memories: Part 1

Phew what a crazy hazy experience last week was. It felt like a real party, an opportunity to celebrate so much. It's just a shame that as soon as we arrived home Mr A came down with a terrible cold which I caught too.

But it's given me a great opportunity to relax and have a ponder over the highlights of the last year and the lessons learned. I could have included so much because it's all been so fabulously delicious, but there are a few moments that have popped into my mind.

Some of the highlights can be illustrated by photos. For example, I recall the damp soggy day that I arrived home from dropping my little ones off at nursery and school. It was a Monday - our local bin day - so before I put the bin out, I decided to take a photo of the big black wheelie. I was planning to blog about the Zero Waste challenge on a different blog and during a lightbulb moment thought it would make a suitable header for a brand new blog.

Little did I know then that this anonymous wheelie bin would end up being filmed for national news, appear in local newspapers and would be viewed by thousands of people online too - bizarre eh! And it doesn't even have a number, a decoration or anything, just a plain black wheelie bin! I'm now beginning to think it deserves more. Dark glasses perhaps, so it can remain incognito for the odd occasion when it does have to socialise on the streets of Moreton Hall.

What Rubbish?

So there I was thinking this blog would be about bins. Shows what I knew eh! As soon as I did my first shop, I realised that there was much more to this rubbish lark than met the eye. I quickly discovered that The Rubbish Diet was not about bins but it was more to do with lifestyle changes, as well as minimising packaging and switching products at the supermarket...

...and even changing where I shopped, spending less time in shopping malls and supermarkets and enjoying the fresh air and the vibrant buzz of the local market.

Then there was making things, clearing a way into my kitchen, switching my apron for a white coat and unveiling my very own domestic science lab, all with the aim of switching from packaged goods in favour of home-cooked wholesome delights!

Remember these?

And this?

And then this?

And eventually there was my falling off the chair moment, when I actually made some of this - strawberry jam! Who would have believed it.

However, my all time favourite just had to be this - all hands on deck fighting with the pasta machine.

When I look back at those mini-challenges the one thing that they all have in common is that they were all so much easier to make than I had ever thought. Just like anything else, whether it's going out, off to the gym or watching TV, the only thing that's needed is a small amount of time to be set aside during the day, plus a small amount of space (apart from the pasta that is). I am still surprised at what can be made with some flour, butter, milk and eggs.

Reducing recycling at source!

Now some people might think that because my rubbish bin is slimmer, my recycling bin is naturally fuller. But another major highlight of the year is that our recycling bin has been slimmed down too.

That's because we have switched to many reusable and refillable products, which has had a real impact on the amount of stuff we have to recycle, including:

Making washing much simpler with these laundry balls:

and buying refillable products, which last for months:

There's so much more I could mention here, but remember this video? This mad dash around our house just has to be one of the highlights of the year - if not just to illustrate how I've overcome my embarrassment.

And as for the rubbish people

It's been a real giggle and a privilege to finally get together with some real rubbish folk. As well as enjoying the company of all you wonderful folk who keep popping by the blog, I also got a chance to physically drop in on some people and meet them in the flesh!

So here I am with the lovely Mrs Green, who invited me along to her home while I was on holiday with the family in Monmouthshire. She even allowed me to drop off all our compostable waste, at their Gloucestershire home, which was devoured by the horse at the end of their garden.

And here's Fran Crowe, the wonderful artist whose fabulous and beautiful work can be seen at Flyintheface.com.

After several years of emailing, I finally came face-to-face with the fabulous Tracey Smith and was presented with her Book of Rubbish Ideas.

And then there was the occasion I zipped down to London to meet Baglady, none other than the great Shirley Lewis, who does some fabulous work in promoting the urgency of reducing waste.

And what about the fantastic Summers family from St Arvans - Remember them? It was real pleasure to visit their home in what is Wales's first Zero Waste village and to find out what it is like living somewhere with such excellent recycling facilities.

The converts

One of the real highlights just has to be the way in which the whole family has changed so much and in so little time. From a family of four that created so much food waste that it made the bin stink, to one where we only have to cope with the youngest member's awkward eating antics. And even he's getting better. And at just 4 years old, he even now knows where all all the recycling goes as well as understanding what the Bokashi is for.

And as for Mr A. He's no longer the king of decluttering that he used to be. Perhaps it's because he's too busy but who knows. One thing's for sure is that these days, his first thought is towards fixing things before they get thrown out.

Now there's one thing that I haven't told you about Mr A. He's such a convert, he's still the only one in the family using the wooden toothbrush. I'm afraid even mine got chucked into the compost bin a few months ago, in favour of the plastic bristle variety. I know, I know. Shame on me!

Of course the other highlight is that we've converted to the Good Life and have become a bit of a Tom and Barbara since we took charge of three little hens. Here are Speckley and Chickie posing for the camera - Snowflake was a little too shy to join in the photo shoot.

Three weeks in and having endured the damage to the garden and cleaning out the chicken poop, I can safely say that the hens have been a lovely addition to the family and we're already getting fresh eggs from one of the girls with the promise of more on their way.

Oh dahhhling!

And there's no escaping the adventures in media. Last year when the council sent over their photographer, I was a somewhat reluctant model for their community brochure, but understood their cause and posed for the camera all the same. Hold your breath, because here's my first outing - even now I so much prefer being behind the camera than in front of it. And look at that bin. You'd think I could have cleaned it eh!

It wasn't long after this that Radio 4's Woman's Hour got in touch. One of their listeners had alerted them to my blog and that they were interested in making some recordings for the programme. Well that listener was our fabulous local freecycle co-ordinator Cybele and look at what she started!

I soon found myself on the train to Radio Suffolk in Ipswich, where I sat in a cupboard for three hours - accompanied by my good friend Ruby - making five sets of recordings that were broadcast on Woman's Hour during last year's Zero Waste Week. You can't tell from this photo that I'd woken up with chronic backache that morning and spent the whole day walking around bent over like Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques. Thank goodness for radio I say!

Oh yes, thank goodness for radio. Especially because at the end of March last year, the BBC turned up on my doorstep to film my recycling activities. Who said there is glamour in TV? Just look at the fringe that was unleashed on the nation while they were enjoying their breakfast.

I know it was a breezy day which had my fringe blowing everywhere but I think the consensus is "With hair like that dahhhhling - stick to radio." And so I have thanks to the folks over at Radio Suffolk and Three Counties Radio who regularly give me a tinkle to talk rubbish.

In a funny old way, it's been the media that has had one of the biggest impacts on our life, but not in the way you'd think. Nothing to do with the perceived glitz and glamour. It's actually the opposite.

Indeed there was one experience last year, that really woke me up to the problems that this country is facing and if it hadn't been for the BBC inviting me along for an interview, I wonder whether I would have realised the urgency of the problems that we have when confronting the issue of waste.

There's far too much to include in this post and it feels quite fitting that I should address this tomorrow. But one thing I can say is out of everything that's happened during the last year, it is this event which for me was probably the most important of them all.

And on that note, I shall leave you with just one photo to ponder until the morrow.



John Costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

It has been quite a year with all the memorable highlights in your Zero Waste challenge.

The next year could see more emphasis on collaborative efforts. With increasing numbers of serious enthusiasts, we could achieve even greater progress.

sarah61 said...

your zero waste challenge is a credit to you and the photos of your journey are really brilliant

mrs green said...

:D :D brilliant - how could I forget our very own resident bokashi pony.

He is long gone; I expect he ended up with IBS!

great post Mrs A - thanks for the laugh...

Here's to another year of fun and nfrolicks

Tracey Smith said...

I can only say what a pleasure it has been, being part of your journey missus!

I'm still on my own migration truth be told.

Do we ever really reach the end of the road....I wonder.

Hope you're feeling better chick,

With love as ever,
TS xxx

lunarossa said...

What a wonderful and eventful year it has been for you! Well done. Wooden toothbrush? OMG, I do not think I could manage to get any of my family to use one of those!!! All the best. Ciao. A.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi John - yep, it's certainly been memorable. Now as for collaborative projects...you know what's cooking and I can't wait to share the news later this week :-D

Hi Sarah - thanks for dropping in and for your message. It is much appreciated. I just wish I could have had the chance to publish many more of the photos that I've taken, let alone some of the video outtakes...LOL, that would be fun. :-D

Hi Mrs G - that was a lovely visit and is one of my best highlights of last year, including the biscuits and the cake. Shame about the horse though. He did come in handy. :-D

Hi Mrs Smith - It's been a good 'un hasn't it and as for that road, I don't think there's an end for a long time yet. It all feels a little bit Wizard of Oz at the moment...now there's a comedy sketch for the taking if ever I've seen one. Excuse me while I burst into Somewhere over the rainbow before I follow that yellow brick road...la, la, la, la, la....(obviously I'm not fully recovered yet) :-D

LOL Antonella - I know, Mr A's done amazingly well under the circumstances...:-D

Layla said...

Fabulous year indeed!! :)

aww, Mrs A, great to see this blog is still alive!! :) - so happy!! :)

was really enthusiastic about Mrs G's horse too, too bad it's not around anymore..

Mr A seems really enthusiastic too, wow!! lol /wants to see the wooden brush!!:)/

& WOW, you've been on TV & everything!! You're braver than me, I guess!! :)

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Layla - it has been hasn't it and I'm so glad you've been able to be part of it. Quite right shame about the horse - it was a friendly fella.

LOL trust me...you don't want to see the toothbrush - not in its current state. But if you did a search for it on the blog you'd find it LOL.

Now as for me being brave...not quite sure about that. You should see my knees knocking - or then again, perhaps you shouldn't :-D LOL.

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