Monday, 4 January 2010

2010: Looking Backwards & Forwards and Onwards & Upwards

It's been two years since I made a tiny new year's resolution to smarten up my domestic landscape and stated unassumingly that I intended to reduce the amount of waste we sent to landfill.

With a memory like a fish, I needed a system to remember my reusable bags, I wanted to cook more and find a way to stop my husband from throwing so much crap in the bin including holey socks and unused presents. In short, I think I needed a miracle.

"It's decluttering" he'd say.

Witnessing unworn slippers being chucked away, my defence was limited to gurning and with an imaginary kick up the backside and a slap around his head with a wet fish, I would just slope off and leave him to it. Who was I to argue? After all it was me who topped up the rest of the rubbish with food waste and my lazy ways. And that was our life!

Then in January 2008 up popped St Emundsbury Borough Council with its Zero Waste project, offering a helping hand. It's almost as though they'd heard my plea for sanity. And I can't thank them enough, because two years later I've now thrown away in one year what I would have done in just one wheelie bin's worth of rubbish.

And by shopping more carefully, using up leftovers and switching to reusable products, we've also saved around £2500, a £1000 of which has been by reducing food waste. I was never really frugal, but when I look at these figures, I can't help rubbing my hands and shouting "LOADSAMONEY" despite it bringing a shudder down my spine with memories of that obnoxious Harry Enfield character from the eighties!

It really has been an amazing couple of years and back then I had no idea how important this thing would become. And having succeeded in reducing my own rubbish, I've enjoyed challenging others along the way too.

Take last year. I had a great time with my friends over at British Mummy Bloggers, helping to inspire them to take part in WRAP's Recycle Week, which was a fabulous success thanks to all the bloggers involved who helped spread the word. Even James Hazell and Sal from BBC Radio Suffolk were up for a laugh with their rubbish too, with lots of on-air fun and frolics. Although James didn't quite give it his full oomph, Sally managed to get to zero waste.

And do you remember Ruby, Jo and Mrs Green, the original "Recyclettes" from 2008? In each case, all I did was get them to do a bin audit and offered some initial suggestions, then left them to their own devices.

While Ruby and Jo successfully managed to slim their bins by 50%, Mrs Green went onto achieve rubbish reducing levels of immense proportions. With environmental concerns at the heart of her ambitions, she even set up her own website at MyZeroWaste and worked hard to move from a full bin load and several side-bags each week to just one small bin in the last year! And for 2010, Mrs Green aka Rachelle Strauss is aiming for total Zero Waste.

Now that will be amazing to follow. I on the other hand, have long since found my comfortable weight and I daren't even try to slim our own rubbish beyond our monthly carrier bag's worth. With my husband's very settled habits it could make me a prime candidate for divorce. And I am not sure who would file for it first.

But for 2010 I will be supporting that hubby of mine in his urge to declutter. After stopping him in his tracks for two whole years, I the Queen of Clutter have finally signed up to some top tips from and will be going head-to-head with he who rules: the King of Declutter himself. If you've ever watched Kramer vs Kramer, you'll get a sense of what life will be like in the Almost Average household, only this will be about rubbish, or the intended lack of it. We've already had cross words over what should be binned or recycled, so for the next three months you can expect war.

So what else can you expect from The Rubbish Diet this season?

On a calmer note, I will be getting away from the blog a lot more, still talking rubbish of course. With more speaking engagements on the horizon and a few collaborations in the pipeline, I'll be hoping to get people revealing their rubbish in the most unlikeliest of places, including having a nosey behind the scenes at one of London's most prestigious hotels to show that a luxurious lifestyle doesn't have to create waste.

And of course the exciting Seven Suffolk Streets waste reduction project is going to be a huge focus for this spring, with Suffolk County Council encouraging my whole street - and six others around the county - to reduce our rubbish by half in March.

But my priority over the next few months is to do what I love doing most and that's to help even more people slim their blimmin' bins AND have a giggle while they're doing so. Whether it's to save money, make life more convenient, learn more skills or become greener, I'll be lending a hand to help folk kickstart this year with a lighter load and enjoy cost benefits too.

So if this sounds like a challenge that appeals to you or your friends, then make sure you pop by each week for a whole load of tips that could help you slim your bin in just eight weeks. Yep, eight weeks! That's how long it took me and you'll be amazed how easy it can be to knock things off your Rubbish list. But what's needed are small, gradual steps, not to attempt everything at once. This is a gentle diet, not a full-blown crash diet!

But as with all diets, you'll need to do a weigh-in first, so click below for my online guide to conducting your very own waste audit. There are some words on Rethinking Rubbish too, which may just keep you motivated should you happen to get the wobbles.

Here it is. You'll find everything you need at

Please feel free to share extra tips in the comments below and once you've sorted out your rubbish, pop by next Monday for the beginning of Week 1, where I will be sure to ease you in gently.

And the great news is we've got one volunteer already, Pippa from A Mother's Ramblings, who's challenged herself to take up a Zero Waste Week in March. So if you have a mo, do pop over to her blog to offer your support.

You know, I have a feeling this will be a very exciting new year.


Anonymous said...

Okay. The trash and recycling went out today. I've set aside some time on my calendar this weekend to look at our rubbish. Not sure if I can get my spouse on board, but what the heck. I can try.

Anonymous said...

Good luck! My DH (AKA the Grown Up Bin Saboteur) is slightly better than he was, but we've hit a "It was only the pan scrapings/1 bit of paper/1/2 dustpan of dust and dog hair" wall at the moment. I'm trying to show him that it all adds up as my target this year is the carrier bag a month rather than the carrier bag a week we're on at the moment.
Mrs A,
That declutter site looks interesting. I could do with that, but I think the GUBS and I will end up in similar arguments to you and Mr A....We both agree we have too much stuff, but what needs to go?! We'll see...


Hi GFG - That's brilliant news. (Jumping around in great excitement). Now as for getting the spouse on board, I know what hard work that is. For now tell them you'll be making their lives easier....well in the long-run at least. And think of the money too. That's another one that might just do the trick. I look forward to hearing your news :-D

Hi Hazel - I love that about your DH..."It was only" is a true classic. The site is really worth a look at. There's loads of free stuff on there as well as ebooks too. I'm going to use the web advice to keep me motivated for now, but who knows, I might get so desparate I need her to come over. Good luck with your GUBS. I think we might need joint support on that one :-D

John at Cell Phone Recycling said...

Since I have successfully turn my life into green, my goal for this year is to challenge my friends to be green as well. I know it's a hard task but with correct information and briefing, I will be able to convince them. Wish me luck!

Anonymous said...

Dang! He took the rubbish out of the kitchen bag and into the big scary outside trash can yesterday. Wish me luck, I'm going in while my kid naps this afternoon. Hmmmm, maybe I should post pictures. Gulp.

Anonymous said...

Dang! He took the rubbish out of the kitchen bag and into the big scary outside trash can yesterday. Wish me luck, I'm going in while my kid naps this afternoon. Hmmmm, maybe I should post pictures. Gulp.


Hi John - Oh indeed I do wish you luck...I most definitely find it easier with strangers than friends LOL. Although, little by little, some are starting to shift by their own accord :-D

Hi Growfamilygrow - LOL good luck...I can't wait to see what you find :-) So please, do post pictures :-D

Layla said...


"It was only..." My Dad (and Sis, I think!) have used that too!!

(And he also says, "But we must be reasonable..." Trying to justify his continued purchases of the occasional plastic bag or paper bags etc!! Aagh!!)

Brilliant post & Introduction, I think I will be following aboard too, a bit, as some stuff at home I'm not happy with!! :)

I'm afraid to delve into the (very slimmed) kitchen bin, though Mum said I wouldn't need a face mask??

The 1st time around (last year) I only made inventory of the fridge and bathroom cabinets, and may have skipped some things!!


Hi Laya - Thank you. And it really does sound like you've had some amazing improvements at your place, even if you do get a few "It was onlys" LOL. :-)

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