Monday, 14 September 2009

National Zero Waste Week: Grand Finale or Anti-climax?

What a funny old week it's been. And unless you've been walking around with your head in a bucket and your ears full of sand, you'll have been aware I've been taking part in MyZeroWaste's National Zero Waste Week, along with many other bloggers and Twitter users across the UK and indeed around the globe.

Now the first time I tackled a Zero Waste Week - in March last year - I was very well prepared. I had a plan and I was constantly on the ball, keeping my eyes peeled for any piece of rubbish to bite me on the bum at the least expected opportunity.

But this time around I've had a sprained wrist as well as such a busy social calendar that it could make your eyes pop with the velocity at which I've had to fit it all in.

So apart from the odd little lie to the kids "Sorry they had no crisps, have a packet of foil & paper wrapped Rolos instead" and the odd little fib to Mr A "Sorry they had no Minstrels, have a packet of foil & paper wrapped Rolos instead" as well as collecting a handful of disposable cotton handwipes from a bunch of folk I've never met before at a Twestival visit to an Indian restaurant, I haven't really given it a great deal of attention.

Yes as far as my personal Zero Waste Week contribution has gone, it's simply muddled along with the rest of my life.

Now this means it could have been an absolute disaster but the great news is my resident foodie fusspots have done an amazing disappearing act this week. With a husband travelling around the East of England living off buffets at every turn and kids now back at school returning home with a ravenous appetites, the bin has been in pretty good health.

It's been so good, we've had absolutely nothing for the Bokashi bin and as for the chickens, they've been looking so blimmin' disappointed at the lack of any spare scraps, that by the end of the week I was feeling emotionally blackmailed into cooking extra portions of pasta just for them.

Geez, it comes to something when you spend the best part of your forties trying to REDUCE food waste then suddenly find that you need to CREATE some, to ensure the whole menagerie are blimmin' fed.

So with no unrecyclable\reusable packaging during the last week and no cooked food waste to hit the Bokashi bin, I was feeling on top form, thinking I would have a completely empty bin...

... until our pair of black and white moggies got all sniffy and refused to eat the last scraps of their Whiskas cat food left in their bowl from Saturday.

So the amount of rubbish created this week has been just a few bits of the cats leftovers.

Not bad eh....especially when our usual weekly rubbish is normally about a quarter of a bin bag..

...and I am chuffed to bits I can fit it into the brand new wheelie bin that I dug out especially for National Zero Waste Week!

It's the one on the far right of the picture above....that's right...the one at the very end of the row!

Here's the photo again to save you scrolling back up.

And here it is being picked up by the friendly bin man ...

But don't get excited yet because amongst all this good news and celebration over our week's worth of waste, I am left with a HUGE dilemma because when we returned from a trip to the seaside yesterday, my King of Declutter, the beloved Mr A, shifted everything around in the dining room, so he could find room for a huge painting of Southwold that he commissioned for his 40th birthday.

It involved shifting out a load of crap from what's been a much under-used room in the last few months.

And in doing so uncovered this...

Yep, it's a bag of miscellaneous "rubbish" according to Mr A, which he sorted out about a month ago, but forgot to "throw out" - i.e. surreptitiously take to the tip while I was busy elsewhere.

Of course being the offical head of the household, he tells me that this doesn't actually count to National Zero Waste Week, because it is a bag of "old rubbish" and as it happens, I've not had chance to sort it yet and I am sure it will be smaller by the time I've finished with it.

But forget Mr A's excuses. I think I should leave it for you to decide what should account for our official weigh in?

My small bag of cat food or Mr A's unexpected bag of household crap?

Who gets your vote?

I know it could be tricky, so while you make your mind up, I'm going to enjoy a cup of tea in our nicely restyled dining room, where I will be getting ready to join in the Jonathan Vernon-Smith show on BBC Three Counties Radio this afternoon.

Today's debate is the issue of new wheelie bins for managing food waste.

Yep I'm talking rubbish again - for a change.

Hmm, I wonder if he'll show me his, if I show him mine. Question is, which bag should I show him?



Karin said...

I was hoping that with your sprained wrist and hectic schedule you'd have reverted to being a 'normal person' and have had much more waste, but you've obviously got into such good habits having next to no waste has become second nature to you. So I'm a bit disappointed, because there's obviously no excuse for me, and everyone else, to not slim our bin as much. However, I really can't manage it this week, I'm too busy, and we may well create a lot of waste with our party this weekend, as with thirty one people to cater for, we shan't be cooking everything from scratch. Perhaps I should make a note of how much of the packaging etc we can't recycle.

I'm sure our bin must be a fair bit slimmer than it was before we were able to recycle plastic margarine tubs and such-like, but we do generate at least a couple of carrier bags full of rubbish each week.

mrs green said...

Fab post, Mrs A; I really hear you on the 'anti climax' theme. I must admit I kind of wandered aimlessly through the week unsure of what we could really do to join in.

Those early days of finding news ways of doing things have long gone and everything feels very 'normal' in the world of waste.

Still, I loved your post; loved your bin even more and hope the show went well today :)

Thanks again for everything - you were an absolute star.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, not sure whose rubbish you should count. Maybe see what's in the bag first? It might all be easy to divert.
One question- why couldn't you put the cat food in the bokashi? In this house we could have put them in the dog, but just wondering?!
We did OK last week. Not zero,that was never very likely, but a small carrier bag full of waste, and some of that wasn't even ours- a friends children put their sweet wrappers in it, and I ended up with a couple of Rainbows' picnic remains in my rucksack, etc.
About a half of what I would normally put out.
My email conversation with Tesco about plastic bag recycling has ended with me telling them they are useless, have no interest in either customer service or being 'green', only in jumping on bandwagons that make them look good and increase their profits :o) I asked why I couldn't put polythene bread bags or other bags like New York Bagel Co bags in their carrier bag recycling and they said ask NYBC if their bags are recyclable, it's nothing to do with us. I sent them the statement on the Sainsburys website about all the bags you can put in and got told it's business sensitive information- no comment as to why they can't give a similar reply. Funnily enough I haven't heard anything since my last email! Can't think why...


LOL, Hi Karin. I have to admit that sometimes I feel that way too ~ that I could revert back to normal again. and in a sense, I feel bits of that normality creeping back on certain occasions. But even when that happens, the waste we throw away is still a drop in the ocean to how things were before.

Now last week I was totally lucky. If it had been the summer holidays with the kids at home, it would have been a completely different story I guess. And as for Mr A, having access to buffet lunches instead of having to fend for himself (and the rubbish that comes with it) also meant that he was able to cut down on waste. And I also made an effort to make him lunch on a couple of occasions too, which helped.

But I shouldn't disregard the matter of practice and the new habits that have been embedded ever since I started my challenge last year. It has accounted for a lot. And if the old me ever had the opportunity to bump into the new me, I wouldn't recognise myself. St Edmundsbury Borough Council should take full credit for that having set the challenge in the first place. And don't forget, we have such fantastic recycling facilities here, keeping such a slim "wasteline" is very easy by comparison to other places.

Anyway,the important thing is that so many people like you are making efforts to reduce their waste. And with new opportunities such as the example you mentioned re margarine tubs etc, rubbish bins will continue to get lighter each year.

I really hope you have a fabulous do. And as for the food, I'd take the same approach as you anyday. :-D

Hi Mrs G - I know exactly what you mean. If you remember, when you did your Zero Waste Week last year, my only pledge was to give up crisps LOL and that was because of the reasons you stated. It's weird because there is almost a loss of momentum. And as for the show, it was most definitely trying to argue with the Daily Mail kind of arguments that wheelie bins are evil and a waste of money. Hmmmm, I bet the country's rat population agree with that argument entirely. Anyway, JVS gave me the usual run for my money but on this occasion stayed away from calling me a bunny loving tree hugger. Now that's what I call progress.

Congratulations on the success of the week and huge thanks again for organising it :-D x

Hi Hazel - go on, vote for me, please....(LOL). Anyway, when I have a moment, I promise to have a good rifle through that back because I know it can be reduced to a much lighter pile than it is now. :-D

You sound as though you had a cracker of a week and are making fantastic progress. It might sound odd, but are you taking photos of your rubbish each time you put out the bins? When I did my original Rubbish Diet in the run up to the Zero Waste week last year, I took photos, which I used for the blog, but it's great because you can actually see the physical progress of the rubbish coming down. It's quite interesting to look back on now.

You're doing some fabulous work with Tesco to... at risk of enticing a revolt.. I say sock it to 'em. As we all know Every Little Helps, especially when it comes down to recycling. It makes me wonder if other supermarkets of equal standing can introduce such facilities, why can't they. At least you're able to vote with your feet. So keep up the fantastic work :-D

Anonymous said...

I have had a reply from Tesco! My last email was such a rant I thought they'd lose my email somewhere, but no, a man called James has been given the task of pacifying the mad carrier bag woman! (I get the feeling they're taking it in turns to reply to me :0) )
A very apologetic and detailed email (they do take their green policy very seriously apparently), it has the different plastic API codes, what products they might be found on and what they can be recycled into (because I told them their code labelling was woeful), mention of plastic bags in the carrier bag recycling depot!!! They'll get fed up with me eventually and just tell me what I want to know :0)



Hi Hazel - I love it. Looks like you're doing well with Tesco. LOL. Keep going. Persistence does work. By the way, I'm so sorry I realise that I never answered the question about the cat food and the Bokashi. Last time I put the cat's icky leftovers into the Bokashi bin, I ended up with maggots in our compost bin afterwards. It could easily have been a coincidence but it's put me off ever since... :-D

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