Monday, 11 January 2010

The Rubbish Diet Challenge Week 1: Starting with the basics

A simple recycling system: a couple of bins and some hooks

So, for everyone who's resolved to slim their bins this year, I hope you've weighed your rubbish and have now got your sleeves rolled up ready to kick off with the first week of your Rubbish Diet Challenge.

This week is all about easing yourself in gently. After all Rome wasn't built in a day and neither was your rubbish, so I'll be getting you to flex your muscles by tackling some basic ideas to get you started. It's a warm-up if you like for the weekly challenges that lie ahead.

This week's mini challenges are really simple and I hope that by addressing these now, they will create a foundation to make things easier for you further down the line, by gradually changing habits and introducing small changes. So to kick-start your Rubbish Diet, I will be asking you to especially think about:
  • Simple ways to reduce waste.
  • Saying no to junk mail.
  • Finding out exactly what can be recycled in your area.
  • Setting up or improving your recycling system at home.
And even though the advice given is mainly for UK residents, there are also some hints and tips for readers from the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

All this and much more can be found in the webpage The Rubbish Diet WEEK 1: Starting with the Basics at:

And if you've missed the introduction with advice about weighing-in and ways to rethink rubbish, you can catch it all here at

As you aim to slim your bin, remember you're not alone. There are plenty of folk who have done something similar and this week's guide includes a list of blogs by other people who have taken on their own independent challenges in the past. You may find it useful to visit them regularly and scour old blogposts for extra help. And be sure to use the relevant links in the Rubbish Diet sidebar too.

So I hope you enjoy your tasks and don't forget to "weigh-in" at the end of the week so you can measure your progress. I'd love to know how you get on and if you want to publicise your achievements on this blog, let me know, by emailing me at karen[at]therubbishdiet[dot]co[dot]uk.

In the meantime, if you need even more inspiration this week, especially relating to setting up a recycling system at home, check out this BBC report where Mrs Green from - aka Rachelle Strauss - demonstrates her recycling system. It makes me very grateful for my council's commingled recycling service, where I can put most of my stuff in one big recycling bin. More videos like this can be found at the MyZeroWaste website.

So happy slimming and remember to come back next week, where I'll be helping you out with your shopping.


Greg Eldridge said...

Hi there,

Fantastic web site and a great motivation for the wife and I to try and reduce the amount of waste we are prodcuing.

I just wanted to comment on your statement: "It makes me very grateful for my council's commingled recycling service, where I can put most of my stuff in one big recycling bin. "

This is an american web site but take a look at the report on single stream recycling:


It might make you change you mind.

Anyway keep up the good work.



Hi Greg - thanks for dropping by and for your very useful comments. The report at Container Recycling is very helpful and is very similar to the work of the UK's Campaign for Real Recycling which advocates the pre-sorted waste method, which has significant benefits for improved quality of recyclates. It's interesting to see Defra and WRAP quoted in the American report, highlighting the relevance as an international issue.

As householders with inconsistent systems across the UK, our hands are tied over which system our councils adopt.

I'd love to have a wider roll-out of pre-sorted recycling systems. That really would be the bees knees in recycling. But I would also ask the government to insist that housebuilder's include storage facilities in all modern homes.

I live in a 6 year old house and if our council switched to a consumer-sorted system, we would not have the free space to cope with more boxes, bins and bags than we do now. As well as the main recycling bin, I already have separate facilities for sorting glass containers, plastic wrap, tetra pak cartons and compost. We don't have the luxury of an annexe or even a conveniently accessible garage so in a tiny kitchen we have had to think creatively. I know that I would go that extra mile to accommodate pre-sorting waste streams, most probably by working harder to avoid them in the first place due to the lack of space, but I wonder how many other people in similar situations would, especially as many homes these day are built without garages or storage cupboards. The benchmark for even a laundry room and a store cupboard tends to be a 4-bedroomed house in the modern build market.

As you can see, it's an area that concerns me dearly.

What I would reiterate is that anyone with a commingled system should make sure they know exactly what should go in it and provide clean and dry packaging for their council to take away. It is much harder for refuse staff to reject the materials at the kerbside and leads to risk of contamination further down the line.

LOL, if anyone says recycling is boring, they are most definitely wrong. It is one of the most fascinating topics I have ever come across :-D

Anonymous said...

I weighed in this weekend. Or rather gallon counted. It was um, disturbing. We have our work cut out for us. I'm debating whether or not to post pictures of my trash/rubbish on my blog. Am I really willing to go that far?!Deep breath.

Karin said...

I like the idea, but not this week, there is too much else going on contending with the snow. Besides, the 'bin operatives' haven't managed to collect our rubbish this week. Also at the moment shopping is about buying what we can carry as and when and also buying what happens to be in the shops at the time. This may work out to be less wasteful, but time will tell.

A Modern Mother said...

What a great idea ... I'll try it and see how far I get... wish me luck


Hi GFG - LOL, it sounds like you've got a lot on your hands :-D Do post the photos....please.... It would be great to see them. Of course, you could just email them through to me and I promise I won't tell :0)

Hi Karin - The great thing about this is that you can do try it any time you like. I'll include links to all the sections in the sidebar when they're all done, so you can dip into them hwen you like The snow has kept me from the shops too. Hope your bins get emptied soon. We are very lucky and haven't been affected :-)

Yay Modern Mother - glad to see you joining in and good luck. Any questions just ask :-)

Anonymous said...

Recycling is a critical part of making our planet better for the future generation, one thing not mentioned was using a kitchen compost bin which will also reduce landfill but brilliant article


Hi Go Eco Store - it's great to see you here so thank you for your comments and the link. Indeed composting is a major component of waste reduction both in the domestic and commercial sense. You'll see more on composting coming up in the next few weeks and I'll make sure I include your link in the documents. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm going for volume rather than weight too.
I'm aiming for one carrier bag a month, which I think is very realistic for us. I'm quite pleased that we only have 3 carrier bags of rubbish in our landfill bin despite not having had a collection for 3 weeks, so that includes Christmas and 1 of the bags is cat litter. We will do better this year!
I've just spent £80 at Sainsburys (I can't get to our farm shop yet because of the snow!) and I think the only non-divertable rubbish is 3 wrappers from crumpets and 3 wrappers from flowers, so I'm pleased with that. I need the flowers for a funeral tomorrow, and it's these kind of choices that are less than straightforward. There is a florist in the next village, which I could have gone to and asked for no wrap, but their flowers are all imported (mostly from Holland I believe, rather than further afield) but these flowers meant I didn't have to make a special journey and were grown in Sussex...


Condo Blues said...

Funny story. I dug my trash bin out from the snow and wheeled it to the curb for pickup because I hadn't put it out in two months or so because we don't generate that much trash. I peeked inside after the truck came and went and saw that I still had three grocery size bags of trash still in my bin. They had been in there so long that they are frozen in a block of ice inside my trash bin!

I guess I should wheel it out with that one tiny bag of trash to the curb more often :)


Hi Hazel - you sound like you're doing great with shrinking your rubbish down and so helpful with the Christmas bin collections. It's worth checking whether the crumpet wrappers and the flower wrappings can go into your supermarket's plastic bag collection if they have one. Someone at customer services should be able to help you and if they seem hesitant they can always find out. I'm sorry to hear about the funeral and I know what you mean about flowers and importing them from overseas. I prefer locally grown too. In fact when sending flowers to people who live further away, I now use Wiggly Wigglers, who use local flowers and have minimum packaging. :-)

Hi Condo Blues -LOL - I can picture your shock now. How funny! With the ice that we've had here, it took me 15 minutes to get the damn thing out too and I'm surprised my rubbish wasn't frozen as well. Now there's a novel idea for anyone with a zero waste lifestyle. We could all reuse out wheelie bins as extra freezer storage in the winter. Now why didn't I thik of that before :-)

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