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.


___________________________________________________

Thursday, 26 March 2009

And the winner is..............................

Presenter Lauren Laverne announcing the winners


Oh my word, never before has any sentence sent me into a swirl of surrealism, where a noisy room filled with champagne-fuelled excitable chatter and award ceremony music suddenly becomes internally silent, allowing the mind to shut out everything apart from the voice of the presenter.

There was a loud buzz of excitement in the air.

But to the nominees waiting in anticipation, the only thing to do was to ignore the noise and hold onto every syllable that came over the microphone.

The time had come

"And the winner in the Independent Media category is...."

There was a pause, anticipation and build-up.

And then the answer...with bated breath.

"..........Demotix!"

Huge applause went in the direction of the worthy winners.

Hugs and heartfelt kisses came in the direction of me.

Good friends commiserating but also celebrating that The Rubbish Diet had made it that far.

As the Demotix guys were busy receiving the coveted MediaGuardian Innovation award from presenter Lauren Laverne on stage, my feelings were playing a game of dodgems with Disappointment, Relief, Excitement and Pride all bumping against each other to see which one would come out on top.

And I'm so glad to say that relief quickly bumped the feeling of disappointment out of the picture and excitement soon kicked back in. With the stress of the awards out of the way, we could at last get on with the party and feel proud that The Rubbish Diet was a finalist at The MEGAs.

Wahey....so the champagne flowed and the laughter continued as we partied on, enjoying the venue which was the amazing Sketch restaurant in Central London.

Amongst all the fun I managed to snap the winners in my category and here are the chaps behind the fantastic site Demotix. It's a citizen journalism website that also acts as a photo agency, which markets photos and content from journalists and amateurs to the mainstream media. You can see how they won. Their project is a worthy winner and guess what...I'm even planning to join the site myself. Congratulations guys you deserve it.




I also caught up with the other "runners-up" Artisan Food, a fabulous website highlighting the best of Cumbrian food. It's got some brilliant reviews, beautiful photography as well as wonderful multimedia content. So congratulations too to Cecilia and Martin for getting this far. It was really great to meet you and next time I travel up to the Lake District I will be looking to your site for advice on where to shop and eat.




So after the couple of introductions we simply continued to enjoy the rest of the awards party. Here are a few more photos to set the scene.


Here's me with my gaggle of rubbish friends...Tracey, Ruby and Dorothy. Thanks ladies...you made the awards party truly special. The support you've given me is really amazing.





Next is the man of the moment, who I must really thank for putting up with my blogging.
He's the bloke behind the blog...the one who you have come to know as "Mr A". Hooray for my one and only.





Next is the most funky bathroom ever.




And here's that right rubbish lass - Tracey Smith - posing in probably the most funky bathroom ever.


Later Tracey and I just couldn't resist chatting up the official photographer.



Or indeed the manager of Sketch.

And yes...he did confirm that they recycle all their plastic and glass bottles......PHEW




Here's the DJ laughing at my request for anything by Take That, Madonna or Dexys Midnight Runners. Good job that chap knew I was joking. Just imagine if he had interrupted the cool ambient tunes he was playing with a blast of Come on Eileen.




Here's Tracey with Ruby - examining the rubber crockery.
Yes is was really bendy and the saucer really did have a hole in it.




And finally...Guess what Tracey showed me at the end of the night on the way out?



It was a sculpture made from rubbish full of broken toys and dolls.

"That's a Robert Bradford" she said, referring to the artist that she interviewed not so long ago for her blog.

And what a fitting end to a wonderful night out.

So huge thanks to the judges at MediaGuardian and the organisers at Seventeen Events for a fabulous night. Thanks too for all your messages of support which came flooding in through the blog, SMS, email and Twitter. I really appreciated it.

The Rubbish Diet at the MEGAs eh.

Now that's one evening I won't forget in a hurry or indeed what has been a real whirl of a year.

So please stay tuned...as there will be other highlights from the last 15 months appearing on here over the next few days. In the meantime, I'll be busy attempting to respond to all of your wonderful messages...

....between sorting out the kids, the laundry and the recycling.

Yay....there's nothing quite like coming back down to earth with a bump.

But I love it!

Did I mention I'm on Three Counties Radio again later - 1.30pm, talking about food waste.

LOL...Down to earth...eh?

Eh oh...such is life in the recycling bin.

_________________________________________________________

Saturday, 21 March 2009

The Rubbish Diet Awards 2009

(Photo Credit: Boeke)

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to The Royal Albert Hall in London, the perfect location for The Rubbish Diet awards 2009.

Why such a venue?

Well of course, it's the oft-quoted feature when references are made to the amount of rubbish we create in the UK. Apparently, between us we generate enough waste to fill up the whole place in just two hours.

Two Hours!

Crikey.

Well it looks like we'd better get on with the show before we get covered in last night's dinner, a good few truckloads of plastic, dirty nappies and goodness knows what else.

Yes folks it's the official Rubbish Diet Awards night, which has been launched to celebrate the last 15 months of new friendships as well as the fighting spirit and frivolous attempts at dishing the dirt on landfill (if you know what I mean).

I am delighted to host tonight's event and share in the excitement of the past year. And what a year eh. What started out as a lonesome voice has become a fabulous forum for optimism, discussion and a whole bucket full of positive action to change habits of a lifetime.

There are some wonderful people out there doing some fabulous things and I am delighted that those who I have inspired and those who have inspired me have been able to congregate over here from time-to-time and enjoy the fruits of such change.

So it's time to thank you all and pass on a special award for you to pop on your virtual mantelpiece. It's been designed especially for tonight's event (out of a Pringles tube and other bits of trash) and I hope it will give each and every winner a warm glow when they look at it, and a feel-good factor knowing that no matter how small an action you take in the fight over rubbish, it's one step closer to reducing overall waste.



There are loads of nominees and some of the awards will have be shared amongst joint-winners because in most cases it was unfair to differentiate between the talent and the impact you have all made. But I have tried to ensure that the awards are equally distributed and even though I could have shortlisted lots of winners for more than one category, it was easier to stick to one - after all how many of these awards could you fit into your reusable bag.

So I will ramble no further and instead introduce the all important categories.



The It's Entirely Your Fault Award

This is the first award of this evening and is indeed probably one of the most special of them all because if it hadn't been for these folks, The Rubbish Diet blog would never have even got started. It was all down to an email that I received from a friend, giving me a tip-off about the council's Zero Waste Week as well as the enthusiasm of the professionals who ran the campaign.

So a huge round of applause please and welcome on stage Louise G whose email dropped into my mailbox one cold January day, followed by Kate McFarland who was responsible for drumming up zero waste volunteers while she worked at St Edmundsbury and accompanied by Daniel Sage, the strategy manager who was not just in charge of it all, but had the wisdom to call me 'average'.
Thank you guys - just look at what you started.


The Kicking It Off In Style Award

There is no hesitation over the recipient of the next award of this evening. She's been an inspiration to many and indeed was the first person to write a guest post with lots of guiding advice within weeks of setting up this blog and it is thanks to her, that I was brave enough to even switch to reusable sanpro.

She's talented, versatile, creative and enthusiastic. I know this statement could apply to many bloggers and readers out there hence I can't keep you hanging on for much longer, so please be upstanding for the most wonderful Melanie Rimmer, who many of you will know is the lady behind the brilliant blog Bean sprouts.

Thank you Mel. Your early advice provided the motivation needed and even got me pondering about making yogurt.



The Sticking With It Award

The great thing about blogging is getting to know folk who you meet along the way and the gratitude that they stick by you. And from what I can tell, there is one particular person who has followed this blog and shown his support even before my vocals were broadcast on Woman's Hour. In fact I remember him broadcasting to the readers of his own blog, that my WH appearance was forthcoming. And to this very day, he still pops by to say hello.

Yes, I'd like to show my appreciation and award the Sticking With It prize to Cowrin...otherwise known as Suitably Despairing. A round of applause please. He deserves it for putting up with my backchat for so long.


The Try Something New Award

This award goes to someone special. She probably won't know how much she inspired me, but when she made strawberry jam for the first time last year and then agreed to send me the recipe, she did something to my confidence. Thanks to a carefully chosen recipe and her very clear hints, my own first attempt at jam making was a real success. Now there's no going back.

So thanks to the wonderful Strawberry Jam Anne, I am now keeping hold of all those jam jars for my first strawberry picking opportunity of this year.

So please give Anne a huge round of applause for her part in making me more creative in the kitchen, as well as stickier too!


The DIY Genius Award

This award has been inspired by two men who are creative and can turn just anything into ....well...just anything. Their work has encouraged me to reuse stuff as well as repair broken objects. And for a girl with a previous disposable nature, that's an incredible development.

They even share the same name.

Can you tell who it is yet?

If you haven't guessed yet, then I won't keep you guessing any longer. Yes folks, please join me in a round of applause to thank Peter and Peter, from Junkk.com and Fr Peter's DIY Environmental Ideas for all the DIY advice and the chance to save some valuable cash.

But please don't stop your applause, because DIY is not just for the chaps, it's also a girl thing too. This is the age of equality after all, so please welcome two inspirational ladies to the stage. Namely Lisa over at Condo Blues who creates some fabulous designs on a really tight budget and last but not least Cara over at Repurposeful who has so many amazing ideas for everyday things you could get caught for weeks. Thank you ladies - you're great.


The Bokashi Backup Award

There is no getting away from it. It's certainly no secret that when you decide to take up Bokashi composting, the one thing you need is a good dose of faith. How do you know if it looks right, smells right and is going the right way? Yes, there are times you need back up!

So this award goes to someone who was more important in my introduction to Bokashi than he might have realised and probably had the biggest influence on helping me to reduce the amount of food waste that we were throwing away.

If it wasn't for this man commenting on this blog, I probably would never have considered a Bokashi bucket in the first place.

So please Ladies and Gentlemen, do give it up for the utterly fantastic Simon Sherlock, whom I regard as a real authority on the subject and to whom I am delighted to offer this award. A round of applause please because if it hadn't been for Simon there might have been more in my bin than just a plaster.


The Eco-Friendly Credit-Crunching award

Now it is no coincidence that reducing rubbish and greening up can have a jolly good thrifty impact, which during the current climate is an exceedingly good outcome. So I'd like to thank several ladies who have a huge part to play in this and they are utterly fabulous in their own individual ways, sharing knowledge that can inspire other folk with their wisdom. And even when it's not practical advice they're offering, it's care and thoughtfulness for others.

So please join me in thanking Sue at Healthy Cheap Meals, Minimum Waste, Margaret from Margaret's Ramblings and Gill from That British Woman. Ladies, you're great!



The Keeping It Positive Award


This award goes to some special ladies who whenever I drop by always have a positive vibe. Their blogs couldn't be any more different but one thing they have in common is that they are both full of action and versatility.

So please welcome to the stage the fabulous ladies, including Fi from Fuelled by Tea, Fiona from A pot, a thought and a smidgeon of dirt, Sam from Feel the Rhythm Inside and our Maisie from Our Year of Greener Living. A round of applause please.


The Hen Party Award

Now those who know me might have thought I'd gone clucking mad when I said "I want chickens", but it's thanks to some lovely bloggers as well as non-bloggers that I've felt perfectly safe in welcoming some feathered egg-laying friends into our suburban garden.

So I would like to say a huge thank you to Michelle and Graham for the introduction to their very own hen party as well as the following chicken supporters Coopette, Spicy Cauldron, Faites Simple and Karin's Notes on a Garden. Somewhere along the way, you have all made a real impact.


The Compost Converter Award

The next award goes to a very special lady who took up The Rubbish Diet challenge last year and decided to slim her bin by composting. I'd never met her before, but we have since become good friends. Not only have we now met up a couple of times but I've also been introduced to some of her friends and family, who thanks to this lady spreading the word, have even taken to composting themselves, all doing their bit for saving the planet from some extra methane.

Again, as far as this lady is concerned, there'll be no guessing that she's the worthy winner of this award.

So Jo Beaufoix, stop your blushing. You've done a grand job converting half of Mansfield (okay, perhaps 1%, but even that is fabulous). A huge round of applause please as we welcome the lovely lady to the stage.


The Compost That Award

Hot on Jo's heals is the Compost That award, given to a lady from whom I've been delighted to take extra advice over what can go in my compost bin. There are certainly no arguments here as it is the one and only Mel B- not that Mel B - but the lovely lady from York who happened to indulge herself in one of York Rotters' courses and popped back with all sorts of useful information.

So thank you Mel. I've appreciated your advice so please come and accept your very own Rubbish Diet Award.


The Ditch The Plastic Award

If you think zero waste is a challenge, try going plastic free. I can only stand up and admire those who work really hard at ditching the plastic. It makes such sense. Not only will you have less stuff to recycle but you'll be less dependent on oil-based resources too, which is so important during times of transition.

So I'd like to offer this award to two fantastic ladies who live either side of the Atlantic and who are both working hard to demonstrate that limiting the use of plastic is a true reality.

Please give it up for the amazing Beth at Fake Plastic Fish, over in the U.S.A as well as the UK's very own Polythene Pam who's doing a fabulous job over at Leave Only Footprints.

Once you've visited their blogs, you won't see plastic in the same light ever again.


The Eurovision Award

This award celebrates the power of the Internet to bring together a European voice in the fight against waste. This is another tough category because how can I choose between three lovely ladies who in their own territories are doing their bit to equally promote a life less wasteful, highlighting that it's not just a problem here in the UK.

The folk who have represented their share of the European landscape all deserve worthy recognition. So please put your hands together as I ask them to accept an award each.

Yes it's time to welcome on stage three amazing ladies in the form of Esther from France, Danda from Italy and last but definitely not least Layla, all the way from Slovenia.

Thank you ladies - you're doing an incredible job.


The Global Reputation Award

There are a whole host of contenders for this award, who have done so much for waste in their own countries across the world. But there is one man whose project has built up such a global reputation that although based in the United States, his work has even been discussed on local UK radio. I know, because I took part in the discussions on the topic, live on BBC Three Counties Radio last year. His story also popped up in Switzerland.

I would like to pass on this award to one great guy who spent 365 days collecting all his rubbish and recycling in his basement, to explore how his consumer choices would change if he had to keep hold of his trash.

Yes, you've guessed it, the chap in question is Dave Chameides, also known as Sustainable Dave and even though his challenge is over, the great news is he can still be found over at his blog 365 days of Trash.

So Dave, please accept this award on behalf of the growing global community. You are most definitely the man!


The Most Amazing Rubbish Convert Award

This is a truly special award, which honours the least expected converts, folk who have surpassed expectations. Again, this is an award that just has to be shared by some fabulous ladies who are special friends of mine, which is why I am amazed at how they now regard rubbish.

So without further ado, let me introduce my friends Baba, Dorothy and Ruby, who have not just stuck by me right throughout The Rubbish Diet challenge but have been inspired to make gradual changes to their own lifestyles, from cutting back on plastic packaging to growing their own herbs.

Thank you ladies for your unflustered enthusiasm and allowing me to bore you to death with my phonecalls. A big round of applause please. Please give Ruby an extra round of applause for being my inspiration to set up my very first blog which I created two years ago.


The Blogging Officer Award

It is fantastic news when local authority officers start blogging on waste. It's great to get the news from those on the inside who are so passionate about their work. And Alex Bone is a fine example, inspired to blog as part of Norfolk's Waste Free Week last autumn

She's got a fabulous voice and it's been a privilege to have her join the blogosphere and the best news is she's kept her blog up-to-date when the Waste Free Week was well finished.

So please welcome to the stage the wonderful Alex Bone. You can normally find her over at Journey to Waste Free. Thank you Alex for your support and your writing. My only message is...keep on blogging.


The Rubbish Blogging Bug Award

This award goes to two particular individuals who also caught the rubbish blogging bug. They are two great ladies who can be found talking about rubbish, as well as other bloggy occurences.

Inspired by The Rubbish Diet and MyZeroWaste Just Gai set up Zero Waist to record her Zero Waste preparations in Bristol and has been going ever since. Katy set up her blog, Aiming Low, to record her Waste Free Week results after hearing me speak at the Norfolk Waste Partnership conference. It was like grease lightning. No sooner had I arrived home, Katy was talking rubbish in the blogosphere.

So please, give it up in a lively fashion for Just Gai and Katy, who have started their rubbish challenges have kept on blogging!


The Healthy Competition Award

This award goes to a group of housemates in Canada, who are going for a consumer free year. Not only are they attempting to go withouth buyin any consumer goods but are going head-to-head in a competition to see who has the emptiest bin.

So I'd like to give a huge round of applause to Jen who represents her room-mates Grant and Rhyannon over at The Clean Bin Project. There's nothing like a bit of competition to keep the motivation up.



The Rubbish Newcomer Award

One of the best things about The Rubbish Diet has been welcoming new folk and hearing about their efforts to reduce their household waste. In recent months it has been a real pleasure to welcome Don (who could also join the hen party), Lunarossa as well as Transition House and Transition Housewife, the latter of whom are working jointly to reduce their contribution to waste in Suffolk.

So folk, especially the veteran rubbish reducers amongst you, please give a huge round of applause to the lovely folk as they come and pick up their award.



The Twittering Award

Many of you might know that The Rubbish Diet isn't just a blog, it also happens to have a random presence on Twitter. Now most of my tweets are nonsense - probably much in common with most of the twitterverse then - but sometimes I manage to offer a golden nugget or two.

So with no hesitation, I'd like to offer the Twittering Award to two fantastic guys who generously retweet any 140 character nuggets that have relevance to the rest of the world - and not just mine but others too.

Please give it up for @altepper (who is also the genius behind ooffoo) and @greenpep (aka known as Paul from the fabulous Green Pepper).

So thank you guys. A huge round of applause for everything you do for Twitter and beyond.



The "Voice of Charlie" Award for Support and Encouragement

Now for anyone who remembers Charlie's Angels, you'll appreciate the context of this next award and it really is a special one. And I can't think of anyone more deserving than the man I would like to welcome to the stage.

He's another Scotsman, so you have to imagine the "voice of the elusive Charlie", coming over the speaker phone with a Scottish accent. He applauds, congratulates and over the last twelve months has suggested a wide variety of zero waste missions, some tongue-in-cheek, but most rather serious. He even has his own 260 week bin project. That's how long he estimates will pass before he has to put out his bin.

Until now he's remained incognito, but I have it on good authority that very soon he will reveal the face behind the internet voice.

I think he knows who he is and I'd like to say how very much I've appreciated his support.....so Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a round of applause for John Costigane. Speech John...please...and don't forget to let us have our next mission!


The Most Amazing Result Ever Award

With most of the awards having been handed out, we've come to the point in the evening when the ceremony is nearly over. However, there are still a couple of awards to be celebrated.

Now this one, is a truly special award and is certainly not one for sharing with anyone else - except within their own family of course.

When I first embarked on The Rubbish Diet and then started challenging other folk to slim their own bins, I had no idea how contagious it would be and how quickly the zero waste messages could trickle out through the Internet.

There has been one particular family who has taken on the enthusiasm and busted a gut not just to make sure that slimming their bin worked for them, but have grabbed the baton and have created their very own community of like-minded folk, all pledging to do something about their own bins too. It's been a real honour to have supported them in what feels like a relay and witnessed them jumping through hoops and over hurdles to achieve such fabulous success.

I think that the winner of this award is obvious don't you.

That's right. It can be none other than the wonderful Mrs Green and her family - including the gorgeous Little Miss Green - who can all be found keeping their old bin nice and trim over at MyZeroWaste.

So folks, please be upstanding and offer a huge round of applause to Rae, Richard and Verona as they come on stage to accept their award for the most amazing result ever.

All I can say is I'm proud to have got to know you and thank you so much too for the support you have given me. It really has been a blast and you've truly helped to create the wave that will carry the zero waste message very far indeed.



Enough Is Most Definitely Enough: The award for telling it how it is.

So, with the final award of the night, I would like to welcome three fantastic people, who have tackled the issue of waste head on and have used the power of surprise, humour and collaboration to address a very serious subject.

These folk can't help inspire through their written work and spoken actions, demonstrating that enough is most definitely enough.

I wish I could choose between them but I can't, because each of them really does tell it how it is and truly inspire others to do something about the problem of waste.

If you haven't already been introduced to their work, you really should. So please give a huge round of applause to:

Shirley Lewis: creator of Baglady Productions who through the power of multimedia and story telling is fighting to end to global waste.

John Naish: who through his book Enough:breaking free from the world of more and his website The Landfill prize is doing his best to reduce waste by tackling its source.

and last but definitely not least

Tracey Smith: founder of International Downshifting Week and author of The Book of Rubbish Ideas who is inspiring folk all over the world to slow down, green up and reduce their rubbish.

Three inspirational people, who through their excellent media work are doing the most astounding job in raising awareness.

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So that Ladies and Gentlemen concludes what has been a very long evening - not just for you reading but for all this writing I've been blimmin' doing.

If I've missed anyone out, I am so sorry. It's not deliberate. It's just that it's almost 10pm and I need my bed. After all, I've only got three more sleeps until the MediaGuardian Awards and I need all the beauty sleep I can get. And if you're wondering about Mr A and the boys. I've got something special lined up for them as a thank you for all the support they've given me.

I suppose tonight's awards ceremony is not just a frivolous post. It is my way of thanking everyone who pops by for spending time here, whether you leave a comment or not. And it's also a way of thanking those other folk who don't even visit for their hard work and effort in pushing the agenda and the inspiration that they leave behind.

After all - we're all in this together.

So before our special venue gets filled with the UK's next truckload of rubbish, I guess it's up to me to say one last thank you. I'll be thinking of you all at the MEGAs next week and will be back as soon as I can to report on the results of that other special awards night. If you can't wait, you can always pop onto their website, where the results will be published on 25th March.

In the meantime....just keep slimming those bins and remember to keep it fun.

The world will be a much lighter place thanks to you.

See you soon.

Good Night!

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Wednesday, 18 March 2009

It's time to wind down



A year ago I planned to stop this blog, but something kept me going. I had just completed the Zero Waste Week challenge with absolute amazement over how little we managed to throw away.

It was an incredible experience because the idea of living an ordinary life creating minimal waste had felt so impossible, yet I somehow proved it could be a reality - even with two kids. It felt great. And I was hooked.

And with a bucket-load of excitement I couldn't help but spread the word. I realised there was much more to rubbish than met the eye. It was not just about bins, it was a lifestyle makeover. And it was exciting!

It's been a real blast enjoying the everyday challenges of shopping and cooking and the not so fun task of cleaning, finding zero waste challenges along the way. Even birthdays, Easter and Christmas brought the rewards of an almost empty rubbish bin. How incredible is that. So having "been there done it", I can't wait to do it all again this year and I have a feeling that thanks to progress from the manufacturers, it will be even easier than before.

Also the friends I have met during the last year and a bit have made this the most amazing experience ever, including folk dotted all over the world, all sharing ideas of what is possible. And I can't wait to visit your blogs more often than I have been able to.

So I really couldn't have asked for more and I am truly glad that I didn't stop blogging a year ago.

But there comes a time, when a girl has to step away from her virtual comfort zone and get back to the needs of the real world and practise everything she's learned over the last 15 months, including making more bread, yoghurt and pasta as well as jams and cakes. All those yummy scrummy things that I don't have time to do when at the computer.

And there's growing vegetables too, as well as looking after the hens.

I still can't believe we've got chickens.

The almost average family has come a long way since I announced my presence on the blog last January.

So I feel like I am truly leaving the party on a high.

But it is really hard to step away especially as the interest in the blog is at an all-time high and there's the MediaGuardian Innovation Awards next week too. It will be an amazing occasion that I will be proud to attend and I can't wait to report on what happens. Will The Rubbish Diet win or won't it - we'll just have to see.

In the meantime, in true Almost Mrs Average style, you can be sure I won't be going quietly. In fact I'm planning my own awards night for the weekend and I'll be publishing the past year's highlights sometime next week. I'll also be updating you with my plans too, the next chapter of The Rubbish Diet I guess.

So please join me in the celebrations. Grab your party frocks and evening suits and take your seat on Saturday evening for the one and only Rubbish Diet awards night. My way of thanking you all for joining in the fun.

Don't buy anything new though will you. Something from your wardrobe will do.

And on that note, I'd better rifle though my own collection of dresses. A girl needs to be properly prepared you know.

I can't wait to see you on Saturday.

Now where did I put that feather boa!


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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.





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Monday, 16 March 2009

Whittling the rubbish away


So here it is, that picture of rubbish again. Except that it isn't rubbish is it?

It's actually a table full of resources, a by-product of an average week's consumption.

However, what you see here is not a typical picture of our usual recycling bin. You wouldn't normally see the ready-meal trays, yoghurt and dessert pots or the plastic milkshake bottles. In fact all that plastic would be reduced by at least 50%. There'd be no pile of drinks cartons and as for the aluminium trays, it would take us two months to collect so many. The pile of paper is lower these days too thanks to me having reduced our junk mail (see MyZeroWaste's most recent blogpost on this topic)

But what this table does represent is the type of stuff we used to have to deal with before I started to focus on reducing our reliance on packaged goods when I started The Rubbish Diet. It also shows the kinds of things that fill the bins in many other households in the UK.

So when faced with this, how do you get rid of it wisely?


Lets look at what's widely recyclable.

The photo below represents the materials that are left after I've removed the items that are widely recyclable across the UK.

You'll see the pile of paper has disappeared, as has the group of steel cans and the aluminium food trays. All these can be recycled through our local collection. However, some of the paper will be scrunched up to add to our compost and the aluminium trays will be kept for our seedlings.


Tetrapak (waxed) cartons are also recyclable across the most of the UK, so that's another item that can be removed from the rubbish bin. The Tetrapak locator map identifies the services that are available and for those areas where recycling facilities can't be found, they can be sent to Perrys in Somerset. Address labels can be found on the Tetrapak website. In Bury St Edmunds, they can be taken to the Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) at Rougham Hill or to Waitrose. The advice from Tetrapak is to wash and squash the cartons and you are also advised to leave the lids on

So with the cartons out of the way, the other item that can be easily removed from the table and put to good use is the collection of polythene bags. We can't put these in our kerbside collection, but we can take them to our local HWRC or drop them off at each of our supermarkets, including Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury's.

And it's not just carrier bags, it's anything that's made from polythene including toilet roll wrappers, bread bags, frozen vegetable bags and even the wrappers that you get around fruit juice cartons. The true test is whether it stretches when you push your thumb through. If it does then it's polythene.

However you still have to be careful, if the packaging says it's oxo-degradable that should be for landfill only. Also beware of compostable bags, which you should pop into your compost instead. If you don't have polythene bag recycling in your local area, the items can be collected for sending to Polyprint.

With the polythene and Tetrapaks out of the way, we're still left with a table full of potential trouble. Look at all that plastic packaging that is still in need of squirreling away.



Mixed plastics: not so widely recyclable

We are lucky in Bury St Edmunds in that we have excellent facilities for collecting mixed plastics. Admittedly it is reliant on waste management contracts managed by Viridor with the key recycling market based in China.

Shipping this material to China is met with controversy, but I am pragmatic on this issue in that as long as UK consumers are demanding plastic goods from China, it is a viable market for our recycled resources reducing the need for virgin oil.

Of course it would be more sensible if better facilities were available in the UK and indeed research is taking place to make this possible.

But being an impatient old girl, I have taken the trouble to reduce the quantity of plastic packaging that we have in our home by removing our dependency on certain items (e.g. commercial yoghurts) as well as shopping for things - including toiletries and cleaning products - that are either loose, refillable or unpackaged. And I also try to make more things at home as well as sourcing as many reusable products as I can.

So eighteen months ago the amount of plastic packaging in our recycling bin would have been at least double what you see in the photo above and the more determined amongst you can get away with even less than that. However, I am more than comfortable with what we've achieved.

If you are unable to reduce your own dependency on such items and you don't have a mixed plastics collection nearby, help is at hand through services such as GHS, a company that Mrs Green at MyZeroWaste uses for sending packaging such as yoghurt pots.

So with the mixed plastics out of the way, there's no longer much left on the table.



However there is a bag of film that I need to deal with but once again, there is not much there compared to what you would have witnessed before. We used to stuff our rubbish bin full of film packaging like this, which is easily found on packets of pasta, rice and fruit punnets.

Buying loose fruit avoids the film altogether as does switching your choice of carbohydrates. Where I once used to cook a lot of pasta and rice, I now buy more potatoes, so we hardly have much of this packaging any more. What's more it is cheaper, as we can get a 12.5 kilo sack of locally grown spuds from our nearest farm shop for just £4.50. As well as reduced food miles, there's the added bonus that they last us for six weeks.

Who would have guessed the humble yet versatile potato could have made such a difference.

And again, through the waste management contracts available, we are lucky that we can recycle the film that remains and it can be simply dropped off at our local Household Waste Recycling Centre at Rougham Hill in Bury St Edmunds.

So with the broken plate taken away to be used as plant pot crock and the net bags and plastic strap being repurposed as plant ties, the kid's yoghurt pot project destickered, the banana popped into the compost and the aluminium bottle tops rolled into a ball, what's left on the table is this:



And that's last week's rubbish, featuring the tops of the takeaway containers, a few ice lolly wrappers, a foil lined plastic blister pack and some yoghurt top lids as well as some scrunched up yellow tape.

And look, it fits into a really tiny bag, weighing just 128 grammes.



That's not bad eh. And for a Maximum Waste Week, I'd say that was a real result!

So after everything I've learned over the last twelve months it looks like my habits are now pretty well formed. I don't think I could ever go back to my old ways, do you?

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To find out more about what you can recycle in your area, visit www.recyclenow.com. Better still, see what changes you can incorporate into your own lifestyle identifying new choices that reduce the need to recycle in the first place. There are lots of links in the sidebar that can help.

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Sunday, 15 March 2009

Day 7: What a load of rubbish! Or is it?



Well, it's the last day of my Maximum Waste Week challenge and a whole week spent pondering whether I could go back to my old ways, and throw away the same amount that I used to before I did the Zero Waste challenge last year.

It's been one heck of a week and from a maximum waste perspective, I have to report it's been a bit of a failure.

It started off with "good" intentions when I went shopping around the supermarket and tried to create a whole load of unrecyclable rubbish to boost this week's challenge. But that was tough, due to the fantastic recycling facilities in Bury St Edmunds as well as the range of alternatives that the supermarket provides.

And when it came to food waste, there was no way I could ditch my composting Bokashi bin in favour of bunging my slops in the rubbish bin.

No worries I thought, as Mr A was bound to use the opportunity to throw out as much as possible. He's like that you see...or so I thought. But when I looked in the rubbish bin today, there was hardly anything there. At one point this afternoon, he even warned me off throwing away our aluminium takeaway containers.

"You can use those for seedlings," he insisted.

I almost fell off my chair.

So, with a whole load of potential recyclable packaging on my hands and being the decision maker when it comes to the bins, it's up to me to decide what goes to landfill and what doesn't.

But before I do that, why don't you check out this vid:



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Saturday, 14 March 2009

Day 6: Just imagine what could have happened

Yesterday now seems a long way away. I am left with aches and pains that leave me unable to get up again if I've had a long sit down. But it was worth it!

And after the antics of Friday's bin round, I came home to a copy of our local paper the Bury Free Press. And there it was, a huge write-up about The Rubbish Diet on page 4, with a photo of me and the little ones posing with our empty black bin.




It was Wednesday that the photographer visited.

"Could we take a photo of you dangling a plaster over your wheelie bin?" she asked, as soon as she arrived at the door.

I agreed but warned her it was around the back.

"That's okay" she said.

But it wasn't just around the back of the house. That would have been too easy.

It was up the garden, along the back path, fighting against the garden foliage, through the back gate, across the communal drive and finally in front of the garage stood the bin!

As soon as we got there, the kids grabbed the wheelie bin in excitement and pulled it into position.

After a few shots, the deed was done and we could return to the garden, across the drive, through the back gate, along the short path, beating down the foliage and then through the garden to the house.

And that's what it's like every time I need to put out the rubbish bin. I can't believe it's been almost a year since I moved it. I figured that we were hardly putting out any rubbish, so we moved it from the side of the house, where it was in the way, to the garage where it was nicely out of sight.

It's a good job I hardly have to do it eh as it's certainly a disincentive keeping the wheelie bin that far away from the house, especially when it's raining.

Because at times like that, the journey can feel like a re-enactment of that book "We're going on a bear hunt" especially the bit that goes

"Uh oh mud, thick oozy mud

We can't go over it,
We can't go under it
Oh no we have to go through it!

Squelch squerch
Squelch squerch
Squelch squerch
Squelch squerch!"


So thankfully it was a lovely sunny day when the photographer came to visit, otherwise she would have needed a pair of wellie boots and calves that could defeat quick sand.

But I am even more thankful that Mr A hadn't lived up to his reputation.

On showing him the article and the photo of the nice black empty bin, he piped up...

"So you were lucky I hadn't emptied out the garage then!"

Emptied out the garage!!!!

Could you imagine the shock that would have given me.

You can just picture the headline, can't you!

"Zero Waste Woman hits Maximum Waste."

With the plaster dangling over a binload!

But don't forget, the other big news is that this week is supposed to be our Maximum Waste challenge, to see if we can go back to our old habits and chuck an enormous amount of stuff into landfill.

And Mr A has been given free rein to do what he wants, without me standing over him telling him what goes where. This bin - that bin - t'other!

But I think he's actually forgotten. Either that or he is now a true convert!

I hope so.

Because I don't think I could really let him fill up the black bin, not like how he used to.

Especially when we have a local Freecycle where things that he would have once thrown away could be put to good use.

And aside from my worries about waste, could you imagine how embarrassing it would be if we had any other visitors from the press.

"Let me introduce you to our almost empty bin" I'd say.

"Think you've got the wrong one there love" They'd answer, thinking they'd got a scoop!

Then there'd be the cost of therapy!

Hmm. I think I've got to keep a close eye on that Mr A, especially as there is just one more day to go in this mad challenge.

And tomorrow is a Sunday, always a dangerous day for throwing out clutter.

I know it would mean he'd pass the Maximum Waste challenge, but I think I might just have to keep him tied-up.

And I don't mean busy either.

I prefer the literal alternative.

With a ball of string and a post!

Ah that should do it.

[Cue evil laughter]

Mwahahahahah.

Mwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah!

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Huge thanks to the Bury Free Press for the article, and to the East Anglian Daily Times, Heart FM and James Hazell at Radio Suffolk for the other media coverage this week as well as to Suffolk CC and St Edmundsbury for sharing the good news. Thanks also to Radio Suffolk's Lesley Dolphin for yesterday's update on my Red Nose Day sponsored Bin Round. The Rubbish Diet reader community has donated almost £200 for Comic Relief, which is absolutely fabulous.
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Friday, 13 March 2009

Day 5: On the bins for Comic Relief


Well it's been a fab day on the bins. I must admit after such an early start I am thoroughly exhausted and am very much in need of a bath, especially as I've got guests tonight.

To raise some lovely cash for Comic Relief I've spent the day walking around the Howard Estate in Bury St Edmunds for almost four and a half hours in steel toe-capped boots, lifting up the lids on the recycling bins and peeling off the old recycling stickers before slapping on the new ones, showing all the latest recycling guidelines.



I must have lifted up the lids on well over 500 recycling bins today. Although it feels like much more.

There were huge bins and slim ones, smelly ones and clean ones too. Such variety in both usage and contents. Even duvets had been stuffed in one particular bin. Now that was most definitely not on the list.

Anyway more on that another time. It's suffice to say it was a real fun day, with tales that I could probably never repeat.

But here are a few photos and videos of my very funny and surreal day.

Here's John the driver, loading up the bins onto the back of the wagon.


Did you know the loading mechanism automatically lifts the wheelie bin onto the back of the bin lorry! It's weight sensitive - which is why I stayed well away. There was no way I was going to chance my arm or indeed the rest of my body being lifted into there!


So here I am, keeping a very safe distance and dutifully sticking those stickers. Check out that fab Hi-Vis vest, which was kindly sent to me by the lovely people over at the Preston based charity Recycling Lives.




Peeling off some of the old stickers was not a very pleasant job.




Neither was lifting some of the bin lids.



Fortunately most of them were cleaner than this, but some had bird droppings and gunky stuff, having been stored underneath trees.

But I didn't have to do it all on my own. Here's Dan Sage, the Strategy & Policy Officer for St Edmundsbury Council, and who was the person behind last year's Zero Waste Week.



At one point the chaps (John and one of his colleagues, Scouse) disappeared through this gate into a garden. There I was thinking we were off for a cup of tea. It was still early in morning and I was in desperate need. But talk about wishful thinking. It emerged they were flats and they were just collecting the bins from the storage sheds. Oh well - I should have taken a flask.



Being a bit of a sociable old bird, the most odd thing about today was that there was hardly anyone around. Either folk were tucked up indoors or had gone off to work. Apart from a group of schoolkids dressed in Red Nose Day gear, the estate was deserted and I could have counted the people I saw on one hand.

But I did manage to catch up with a couple of folk and ask their opinions on the local recycling scheme. They are real supporters of the facilities we have and agreed to pose for the blog.

So here's a huge hello to Bury St Edmunds resident Bryan,




and to Mrs Dennis, who I also bumped into.



So after a brief chat, it was back to the bins.

But after being distracted, it's just a shame I lost the bin lorry. Serves me right I'd say.







So I just kept on sticking instead.




And finally it appeared.



But there was no rest for the wicked. So I kept on slapping on the stickers before finally catching up with Dan and going off to find the crew.

And it was good to hop into the cab and get a well-deserved rest.




Then we were off to the Transfer Station, a few miles away in Lackford, to drop off the load. For the crew, it was the second time today.










What a load of recycling eh. Just over 3 tonnes of it in fact!

Here's Tim who estimates the levels of contamination at the Transfer Station, before it gets sent to the Materials Reclamation Facility (MuRF) for sorting into bales of different recyclates.



It's impossible to root through everything at the transfer station, but it is here where any noticable contaminates - stuff that can't be recycled at the MuRF - get removed and transferred to the landfill pile.

And the landfill pile can be seen below, in bin bags over in the corner.




Before I left, the chaps at the Waste Transfer Station showed me their latest invention, which I thought should be patented for one of the big supermarkets.

Can you see what it is yet?

Methinks it's half shopping trolley half bin bag. Perfect for ripping off your packaging at the shop don't you think.


So, it was back to the yard and a big thank you to John the dustman - I mean Refuse Disposal Officer, for letting me ride on the bin lorry, ooops I mean wagon.

You see, I've even got to know the terminology.



And it was time to leave the yard and head off home.





I can really say it was an absolute privilege to see behind the scenes and witness what it must be like to work on the bins. And one thing's for sure, I'm going to be kinder to the bin men in future. They do a real grand job. I'll no longer lose my patience when stuck behind a bin lorry and I won't be chucking out all our paper at once. It certainly makes the recycling bins very heavy. These guys may be strong, but I'm sure they could still do with a break.

So thank you to St Edmundsbury Borough Council for putting up with my mad antics and to all you lovely people for sponsoring me. It's been great and I've noticed my Comic Relief fundraising page is already showing you've already donated an amazing £145. You are contributing to the most amazing appeal to help support those striken by poverty in the UK and abroad.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. It's been a real blast.

But would I do it again?

Hmmm...with my achey legs, I don't think so. Too much like hard work for a soft touch of blogger like me.

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