Friday, 31 July 2009

A Summer Holiday Surprise

It's been a tad tricky getting to the blog this week as things have been far busier that I could have ever planned. Not only have I been enjoying the school holidays with the children, but I've been busy whizzing across the country attending a family funeral, celebrating a new pregnancy [not mine, I should add], speaking at a regional climate change conference, meeting a very important councillor, pickling beetroot for the very first time, enjoying a friend's birthday bash as well as another friend's hen night for whom I've also been busy making a gorgeous sparkly tiara.

So it is a welcome surprise to return home and find that the wonderful Baba has just entered The Rubbish Diet into the very yummy Dorset Cereal's Little Blog Awards and that a few folk have already started to vote. I feel very honoured indeed to be listed among some really wonderful blogs, so do pop over and have a gander and if you vote, you're in with a chance of winning something too.

So for just a few moments I can relax and breathe until...

I catch up with emails, with Twitter, with blogs and with friends who have left me some lovely messages, before it's time to pack for our big family holiday to Switzerland. I feel a huge multi-tasking exercise coming on, don't you.

But first things first...if you're missing the Big Green Gathering which was pulled at short notice and want to do the next best thing, then pop over to Emma Cooper's fabulous blog at Emma is author of the Alternative Kitchen Garden and is busy hosting the Big Green Blog Gathering, which is already brimming with lots of entertainment and thought-provoking ideas on water, energy and transport.

Tomorrow's theme is waste so it will be my turn to join the gathering and add my two penneth. And if you visit Emma's Blog on Sunday, there'll be plenty of discussion about the climate to look forward to.

Well it's all go isn't it but it's fun...and for anyone who read my last post, all I can say is thank goodness there is more to life than pants!

So I hope to see you back here tomorrow, when I will be catching up with your recent comments and doing my turn on the stage for waste.


Thursday, 23 July 2009

There's more to life than pants - or is there?

Perpetual pants on the washing line.

Now rumour may have it that I have been lost in landfill counting the number of hen party doodahs, but trust me, life's not been that exciting and I have a whole range of excuses why I've been absent for the last 10 days.

As well as celebrating my birthday and the effects of getting older, I've actually been busy catching up with my regular routine of washing more pants!

I know it's the school holidays and I should be getting out more, but summer holidays or not, between kids' activities and birthday celebrations there are always pants to sort out. And in the Almost Average Household a family of four can easily generate a washload of 28 pairs in just a week plus the extra stock to cope with emergencies. Indeed if I dared risk a survey, I'm sure I'd discover well over 100 of the blighters stuffed in drawers, washing baskets and the airing cupboard.

Big ones and little ones, not to mention the enormous Bridget Jones affairs that need tent pegs to keep them in place during the more blustery of days. Between us, we've probably got enough to last us for a whole month!

No wonder I'm beginning to feel like Widow Twankey with my perpetual washing line, both indoors and out. All weather laundry facilities for one of life's necessities.

Now it's all very well me washing my dirty laundry in public, but what about the other stuff, you know, the unspoken issue about what you do with your old pants when you've er... "done with them"... when they're all frayed or moth-eaten and couldn't possibly cope with another outing?

Bunging them in the landfill bin might be the easy choice, but is it the right option?

Well it's certainly not the done thing to donate them to charity shops, is it? Think about it. Have you ever seen undies for sale in your local store? Even if some folk actually do dump their old pants onto charity stores, they really don't want them and volunteers don't relish the task of sorting them into the rag bag along with other unwanted items.

Of course, kids' pants that are in good condition can be passed onto friends with younger children and adult ones can always be repurposed as dusters. Cotton ones or those made from bamboo fibres can even be composted.

And my hat really goes off to some creative folk in Langton Herring, Dorset, who have adopted a credit-crunch theme for their village fete, using their skills to transform villagers' briefs into bunting. If you're in the area, no doubt you'll see them flapping about this weekend.

But if using your frillies to spice up your cleaning routine is not your kind of thing and you have no need for alternative bunting, there are at least other options than simply dumping your old bloomers into landfill.

I never really considered the issue before, much preferring the more discreet option of throwing our old undies in the rubbish bin. But since the zero waste challenge I've adopted the policy of hoarding them ad infinitum.

So I can't believe it's taken me this long to realise that the answer to recycling old pants is very simple indeed.

Of course it's obvious now....

And the solution is the textiles recycling bank, which can be found at my local Household Waste Recycling Centre.

They normally accept all forms of clean clothing. All donations are then sorted for reuse or recycling. And even if there's no second-hand market for your smalls, the good news is they can be shredded for stuffing. Who knows what they could come back as.

But as you know, all council services differ. Where I may be able to get rid of a drawer full of old drawers at my recycling centre, it's always wise to check your local facilities first.

And the best person to help is your local waste and recycling officer. You can find their telephone number here.

So don't be shy. Ring today. I'm pretty sure you'll brighten up their day and they'll probably be delighted to tell you that all you need to do is bag them up separately before you drop them into the container.

And if local facilities are available - do tell your friends.

Gee - this could even be the start of a movement to save pants from landfill all around the world!

Holey Pants! Just imagine.

Yes yes, I know. There is more to life than pants. I've already acknowledged I should get out more.

And as ever, I promise there'll be an official debrief as soon as I do!


Monday, 13 July 2009

Free Willy Anyone?

Today I am speechless with the exception of just a few words. Psychiatrists, feel free to regard my personal ad as a cry of help:

Wanted: A loving home for a reusable straw, delicately shaped in the form of a male appendage. Rescued from a hen party. Unused, but could be repurposed as a plant support, nostril cleaner or milkshake stirrer. Available free to the first person who wants it.

When my brain has recovered from working out the number of plastic willies that could be potentially buried in landfill, normal service will resume. Until then, I welcome as many of your recommendations as you dare to suggest for reusing my free gift. Just remember to keep it clean. I blush easily you know.


Thursday, 9 July 2009

A mother's lecture: A response to Prince Charles

Last night, I watched Prince Charles present the 2009 Richard Dimbleby Lecture, entitled Facing the Future, a talk which emphasised the plight of the planet and humanity and forecasting the bankruptcy of nature's resources if we don't act fast enough.

His Royal Highness didn't offer any news that I hadn't heard before. However, I was transfixed by his delivery, a confident presentation that was evidently coming from the heart and backed up with both an academic and a practical vision of the future. The risk was clear, if we continue to consume as much as we have over the last three decades, our natural resources will be out of balance with the needs of our population and our children face a future of a "living hell".

People criticise Prince Charles for what they refer to as "meddling" in politics, but from what I witnessed last night, he has my vote to meddle as much as he likes. After all, as his introduction by Jonathan Dimbleby indicated, our heir to the throne has access to people, resources and experiences that go far wider than even many of our politicians could ever dream. As a UK citizen, I hope that he is able to take a lead role and work with our government, agencies and our communities to take us into the future.

Meanwhile, I hope as many people take time to watch the video of last night's lecture and even if you have only the slightest concern - or even doubt - over climate change, I ask that you watch it and if you support the ideas, to share it with others too, either on your blog, via Twitter, Facebook or email. The iPlayer video is available online, and can be accessed by clicking the photo above or through the following link:

If you don't agree with what he says, that's fine, but if you do, I'd like you to start thinking about the other small changes that you can make, to help ease what he calls a time of transition.

I like to think of it as an opportunity to rewind, to revisit the knowledge of our forefathers and adopt the habits of older generations that have dwindled with their passing; appreciating what we've got now, understanding how to make things last longer and connecting back to a state of social inter-dependence in local communities instead of the culture of independence that currently thrives.

As a western society we are lucky that we have more resources on hand to feed and clothe us than every before and opportunities to make us the individuals that we are and the freedom we enjoy.

And the only way that we can hand-down the same opportunities and freedom to our sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren is to slow down our consumption, which in turn will save energy further down the line. Thinking twice about whether you really need that extra T-shirt, even if it is in a sale and whether it really a good idea to jump in the car for that emergency bar of chocolate whenever the mood takes.

That part is not a lecture by the way. It's simply my own wake-up call to continue the journey that began with reducing our waste at home and I now need time to think about what else I can do to preserve what we have and hold dear.

And if by sharing my thoughts on this today can help realise a legacy of a balanced natural world that future generations deserve, I am simply glad to be of service, even if it is only one small drop in an enormous ocean

Thank you Prince Charles for sharing your thoughts in your lecture and to everyone else, thank you for listening.


Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The 8 Things Tag

Well here's a refreshing change from talking rubbish. I've been tagged by Tasha at Wahm-Bam and more recently Cartside over at Mummy Do That, to give a personal insight into my past, my plans and other random doo-dahs that occupy my thoughts.

I had planned to share some of my adventures in my garden, but that'll have to wait for another day, while the nosey one's amongst you discover what goes on in my head and what lies ahead when I'm not washing out the tin cans.

So, here's the 8 things thingymajig. Are you ready for it?

8 Things I'm looking forward to

  • The school holidays - fun times and lazy days with the children.
  • Visiting my sister and her family in Switzerland.
  • Broody hens starting to lay eggs again.
  • Making a tiara for a friend's wedding and enjoying a hen night to celebrate another friend's marriage.
  • A night out with Mr A for my 41st birthday - only 10 days to go.
  • Being taken out for lunch by two very cool dudes in London - (chaps, you know who you are and yes, you are pretty cool).
  • Going to see Calendar Girls with one of my best mates in the West End.
  • Being interviewed for TalkRadioEurope next week

8 Things I did yesterday

  • Started a collection to buy a class present for my youngest son's teacher and assistants.
  • Dropped into the BBC Radio Suffolk studio as a guest on the James Hazell show.
  • Made an impromptu visit to a friend's house for a surprise play-date.
  • Rang my ex-publisher in shock after discovering the release-data for cancelled book is still winging its way around Amazon and other online catalogues.
  • Started working on interview for a feature in an Irish national paper.
  • Met up with some friends at the Bury LETS bartering group: swapped some of our home-grown salad leaves, broccoli, basil and a couple of eggs for some magazines, home-made card, jam and digital camera advice.
  • Washed pants.
  • Watched Torchwood

8 Things I wish I could do

  • Bring an end to poverty, abuse, war and global warming.
  • Become fluent in Italian, Welsh, French and German.
  • Move next door to me old mucker Tracey Smith.
  • Live closer to my sister, which makes the above wish a really tough choice.
  • Do the Dunwich Dynamo moonlit bike ride.
  • Be serenaded by Take That.
  • Go shopping with Dawn French.
  • Enjoy a lie-in on a Sunday

8 Favourite fruits

  • Strawberries - only the sweetest will do
  • Raspberries - firm, ripe but not too squashy
  • Blueberries - best cooked in muffins
  • Tomatoes - best picked from the vine in your own garden
  • Gooseberries - tart - not the cooked kind, just tart
  • Nectarines - firm but sweet
  • Satsumas - at Christmas
  • Lemons - especially when freshly squeezed and diluted with water as a presse

8 Places I'd like to travel

  • St Davids, Wales - to relive faint memories of childhood.
  • Ireland - for missed opportunities.
  • York, England - to visit Ruby.
  • Italy - for pizza and passionate language.
  • Scandinavia - for the fjords.
  • Liechtenstein - because it's small and European.
  • Strattons in Norfolk - for sheer organic luxurious indulgence, without the kids.
  • The Moon - the most adventurous way to see the world, with the kids.

8 Places I've lived

  • Treharris, Wales: memories of working colliery, chapels, terraced houses and pubs.
  • Mountain Ash, Wales...furnacite, ice-cream van, baby sister and moving house in a Mini.
  • Sutton Bonnington, Leics... sheep, quaint road signs; bistro and university campus.
  • Nottingham...polytechnic, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Inn, & Trent Bridge.
  • Hemel Hempstead, Herts ... train Station, Boxmoor cricket & Dunstable Downs.
  • Berkhamsted, Herts...Ashridge Park, canal, Home & Colonial shop and cafe.
  • London...South Bank, visits to Chelsea, researching music data standards in Stretham.
  • Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk... enjoying motherhood, rubbish fun and tractors.

8 Lovely people I'm tagging...because I'm nosey like that

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Eh! At least he tried...a bit!

I've just come back from more fun and frolics at BBC Radio Suffolk, popping into the James Hazell Show to see how James did with his Zero Waste Week challenge.

So, the big question is...did he make it?

Well...let's just say he didn't do quite as well as his producer Sally Goodwin, who only the week before managed to go zero waste with the exception of a chocolate bar wrapper and some bags and film that I took off her hands to drop off at our local HWRC.

James on the other hand managed ...

...cue drumroll...

....a day!

Even with the promise of a zero waste bar of chocolate as a reward.

Something tells me he didn't quite take it as seriously as Sal.

BUT - and I don't mean cigarette butts - his household bin is only half full each fortnight, which is fab.


...during the last week, he's discovered there's a recycling bin in the kitchen.


...he found a reuse for those cigarette butts, which led to some jokes about Hazell's Butt Couture.


...even if he didn't take it as seriously afterwards, he did manage a rubbish-free day,

...which is, what could be called a vital start!

With news of his partial failure, I'm just relieved that James didn't bring his rubbish bags into the studio, but just in case I was prepared with my safety goggles and rubber gloves.

Because you never know...!

So when it came down to the jury...did he earn his bar of chocolate? Well, call me an old softie, but I just had to say yes. Not sure it was the puppy look that swayed me or the fact that he was trying at the very start of the week [note to Sal - you're free to interpret that as you like].

But I wasn't going to let him get away with it completely, so gave him a couple of booby prizes, including a special souvenir from Felixstowe that I picked up from Fran Crowe's exhibition at the weekend....a piece of old rope that she rescued from the beach during her work "Walking to Save Some Sea".

So the final verdict?

Well James - at least you tried...a bit,

...but could do better,

so.... shall I come in and see you again next year?


With 12 months notice, we're bound to see further improvement.

But seriously, huge thanks to both Sally and James for everything they've done to promote the message about the range of recycling facilities that exist across Suffolk and giving me a chance to plug Recycle Now's Recycle Week.

It has been lots of fun!

So for me, it's feet up for the next couple of months until I'm back again for the Girls Talk session in September.

Who am I kidding. I'm afraid it'll be nose to the recycling grindstone as usual.

Update: You can hear it all for yourself on the BBC's Listen Again service. Just fast forward to two hours into the programme at:


Saturday, 4 July 2009

A Rubbish Surprise in Felixstowe

Well look who I bumped into today on a family visit to Felixstowe.

We'd just started walking along the promenade and no sooner had we arrived but I spotted my friend Fran Crowe, a Suffolk artist who was setting up her exhibition in one of the beach huts on the sea front.

I met Fran last year after going to see her exhibition Walking to save some sea and interviewed her for the blog a few months later. Since then, we've met up on several occasions for some rubbish chats, so it was really good to bump into her today.

Her mini-exhibition in the beach hut is called Cast Away and is part of Felixstowe's Felixstroll event, which uses the concept of art to encourage residents and visitors to rediscover the coastline while admiring the artwork and taking part in events as they stroll between Languard Point and Felixstowe Ferry.

The aim of Fran's work is to highlight the issue of litter that finds its way onto the beach, inviting visitors to take direct action during their walk and help keep the beaches clean. She is encouraging people to pick up litter that they find and add them to a rainbow picture and other images that she is creating in the small area in front of the beach hut. If people don't want to part with their findings, they can package them up and take them home as a souvenir of Felixstowe. There are also alternative souvenirs available at the beach hut.

Following Fran's advice we decided to take part in the Felixstroll event and walked three miles along the coast to Felixstowe Ferry, discovering places that we'd never visited before in our six years in Suffolk. It's given a whole new insight into what the resort has to offer, passing beautiful scenery along the way.

When we arrived at the more rural setting of Felixstowe Ferry, I couldn't resist dropping in at The Caravan Gallery, which is a travelling photographic exhibition, all neatly packed into .... a caravan...! It's most definitely a portrait of Great Britain with a difference, totally perceptive and thoroughly entertaining and was well worth the walk.

However, after a three mile stretch that took as almost as many hours at a childlike pace, we couldn't face the walk back so hopped on the free shuttle bus back into town, where we dropped off an item of beach rubbish into Fran's evolving exhibition.

The piece of "rubbish"we found is the multi-coloured item that you see us holding in the photo, a peculiar looking thing that possibly resembles a lost dog-toy, which was made out of an old juggling ball and old pieces of fabric.

Somehow, I think Fran might have a good use for it instead of it floating out to sea when the tide comes in.

The Felixstroll was a real fun event, which continues over the weekend. If you're in the vicinity tomorrow, it's well worth popping into the resort for a stroll along the promenade with a difference. Just remember to say hello to Fran. For now, I'll leave you with some of the other sights we spotted today.


For more information about Fran's excellent work, which can't help but get you thinking about human impact on the environment, visit

Updated with extra photos 4/7/09

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Bin Saboteur turns 5

Arrrr me hearties.

O'ive bin prakktising moi poirate speak today in honour iv the poirate paarty for our little bin saboteur.

He be 5 year old now, all 18.5 kilos of him. Gett'n old eh! An he'll be ready for them high seas before we know it.

He were only 3 1/2 when this here blog came into being. A zero waste bin saboteur if ever o'ive seen one.

But he be gett'n tha hang of it these days. Only yesterdee he be asking the cap'n where the compost caddy lay, since it be moved to accommodate the sudden immobility of the QuarterMaster - who you be more accustomed in familiarity as Yours Truly.

Poirate speak?

Blimmin' 'eck more loike Bristolian - oi'd say. You'd swear Almost Mr Average had taken over this blog, wiv his underlying Wess Country tones.

Arrrr, shiver me timbers an his too, oi need ta get back to me ol'self.

Right! And here I am - back from the surreal world of kids' parties, where I've been busy hanging bunting, making a cake, enjoying a birthday picnic in the sunshine and dropping small change in the local woods for the kids to indulge in a treasure hunt....all 9 of them....!

I noticed that this year's party was more expensive than last year's party for his older brother, when I managed to cater for a whole army of children at home for about £35, including party treats.

However this year's was a more fancy affair all round mainly due to the pirate theme. But it was money well-spent thanks to a few georgous goodies that I picked up from eco-party company Little Cherry, including fabulous reusable cotton party bags that are made in this country. Even with the little treats, it still came in at around £75 including food, which is really not bad compared to the prices I've paid in the past.

And from where I'm standing, it doesn't look like there's going to be any waste. All the packaging from the presents is recyclable, and any food that was left over is being reused for tomorrow's packed lunches...except the half-eaten rolls which will be fed to the chickens and the garden birds.

It's interesting to look at birthdays with fresh-eyes and re-evaluate traditions, making changes where you feel comfortable.

For example, after last year's experience of borrowing a picnic set, I did the same again today, saving money on disposable products or buying my own set. Instead I used my money to invest in bunting that's perfect for boys' parties and as a result for the first time ever I avoided buying balloons, which create more waste and more arguments than they are really worth.

Also, little T's presents were pre-loved brio accessories from Raspberry Rascals in Bury St Edmunds. They were in excellent condition and saved us a fortune on brand-spanking new ones from the toy shop. He didn't even notice they weren't in a merchandised box and opened his presents with great excitement.

But yes, I did use wrapping paper I'm afraid...only because it was old paper that had been knocking about the house for a long time, including a roll of drawing paper that must be at least three years old. These days, I am so concious of using paper unneccesarily, I can't remember the last time I bought any - with the exception of the recycled christmas paper in December.

So after a busy day waving the Jolly Roger, it's time to open the Chablis and toast what was a very eventful day, with the pride of a parent observing their little ones growing up and maturing.

And if I can manage a second glass, I might even forget the pain of having to resort to a couple of emergency E numbers to rescue what would have been a disaster of a birthday cake. At least it was a rare occasion and no-one bounced off the walls and Little T was very impressed with my creation.

So I suppose it could have been worse.

I could have offered them grog.



Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Sal's Recycle Week Success

Huge congratulations to Sally Goodwin, producer of the James Hazell show on BBC Radio Suffolk.

For Recycle Week, which took place last week, Sal rose to the challenge of a Rubbish Free Day and found it such a fantastic idea, she went for the whole week.

Well, I dropped into the studio today to see how she got on and blimey, she's most definitely worthy of a zero waste medal. Live on air, she revealed that after a week of recycling more and avoiding creating rubbish, the only things in her rubbish bag were a few pieces of film and some polythene packaging.

These things are pretty tricky to recycle in most areas, but in Bury St Edmunds we can take them to the local Household Waste Recycling Centre. So I've taken them off her hands and will add them to my collection at home, even though many supermarkets will take polythene packaging along with their plastic bag collections.

So well done Sal. That was fab.

Now onto James' challenge and his promise to reuse his carrier bags.

It was a fantastic pledge, but the cheeky chappy managed to circumnavigate his challenge by avoiding shopping all week.

Admittedly it was a success and should be hailed because the less shopping you do, the less waste you create.... but both Sal and I felt he needed to work harder.

So to make up for it, we've challenged him to his own Rubbish Free Week....


Nothing like pressure eh.

You can check on how he gets on at the programme pages for the show, where he will be blogging about his progress.

And I'll be back in the studio again next week for an update.

So good luck James and don't forget that promise of the chocolate bar.

As you can tell, we've switched the motivation technique to one of incentives.

UPDATE: You can hear about how Sal got on with the challenge and how James took to his new Rubbish Free challenge on Listen Again. Fast forward to 2 hours in... James Hazell 1 Jul 2009


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