Monday, 17 May 2010

Four pounds, really? Well that's music to my ears.

"I really want a guitar", said the little man, a few months ago, in amongst his list of other things that a five year old really, really wants.

"Yes, yes" I said, adding it to my own mental list known as 'yeah, yeah, that's nice...mention it five more times in the next six months and I'll know that you really really - yes really really - want it'.

Now guitars don't come cheap and even second hand ones on eBay can be a small fortune if they are just left to gather dust when a child's keen interest amounts to nothing more than a flavour of the month idea.  So even though a guitar has been mooted around three times already, I've been biding my time for a little longer, just to test the water.

But strike a chord will you, because whilst paying a visit to the recycling centre yesterday, I turned my back to return to the car and there in the Reuse Bay, was a classical guitar, in excellent condition, for just £4!

Of course I snapped it up, brought it home and put it in the hands of the keen little musician, who surprisingly didn't launch into the expected rendition of Early Years thrash metal, but actually created some chilled-out sounds, even though he's got no idea how to play it yet.

But the budding guitarist has got his wits about him you know.  When I put in a request for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, he quickly whipped out an empty jar, requesting donations!  Blimmin' cheek!  I thought I saw him taking a longer than usual interest in the buskers of Bury St Edmunds the other day.  Crikey, who knows where this £4 find will lead.  It might amount to nothing or it could turn into a very satisfying hobby.  Watch this space, Simon Cowell...

So if your recycling centre hasn't got a Reuse Bay, it really is worth suggesting to your council that they include one if space allows. They can offer lots of potential for keeping stuff in circulation and all sorts of things out of landfill.   Maybe you've already got a great one in your area and have picked up some excellent finds yourself.  If so, I'd love to know what extraordinary finds have also been music to your own ears.

And on that little note (excuse the pun)'s what I've disovered can actually be achieved with a classical guitar.  I'll show Little T this video when he comes home from school later.  I'll also mention that if he ever reaches this standard, his tip jar could be filled up quite quickly.... enjoy.


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Look who's decluttering for EACH's Treehouse appeal!

I hope BBC Radio Suffolk's James Hazell isn't planning to sell off his producer Sally Burch at the massive car boot sale they've organised  [So James, you'd better ask Sal to get off that table pretty sharpish, before someone snaps her up!]

Regular listeners will already know that BBC Radio Suffolk is supporting the East Anglian Children's Hospice Treehouse Appeal, to help raise £3 million for a much needed new hospice to be built in Ipswich. Presenters have been getting up to allsorts including dragonboat racing, cycling challenges and getting into training to climb Mount Kilmanjaro.  And now, James & Sal have put their heads together to come up with an idea that can involve everyone across Suffolk, in the shape of the BBC Radio Suffolk Big Summer De-Clutter.

They're asking listeners to start sorting out their drawers and cupboards and dig out all those unwanted items that are lurking in forgotten corners and sell them off at their huuuuuuuuuuuge car boot sale, which will be held at Ipswich Trinity Park on Sunday 8th August!  So, not only do you get a chance to help your own piggy bank, but you can do so knowing that you're helping a really good cause.

Pitches are just £10 each  and booking forms can be downloaded via the Each Website.  But interested peeps have to move quick.  Pitches are going like hotcakes, with bookings already arriving today, having only been launched yesterday.

Well, I've certainly registered my interest as it's about time I sold off all that valuable treasure I've uncovered from my own decluttering escapade earlier this year.   

But I don't want to just give a tenner to EACH.  I've decided that I'm going to donate all the proceeds of my boot pitch to the Treehouse Appeal, which I'll be announcing when I appear on the James Hazell show tomorrow at 11.10am tomorrow.  Yes, I know I'm on again, but this time I won't be talking rubbish, I'll be talking about blogging, thanks to this little article I discovered quite recently, where I seem to have had a little mention.

More information on the EACH Treehouse appeal can be found at the EACH website.  Details about BBC Radio Suffolk De-clutter are available at the BBC's news pages.  To listen to the James Hazell show, you can tune in online at


Monday, 10 May 2010

Swapping rubbish for compost with Dev and Dave

As Compost Awareness Week comes to an end, I thought I'd take the opportunity to partake in a spot of awareness-raising of my own ....and you some of my compost.

And here's a closer look....starting with the new bed I planted up this afternoon with some fantastic soil improver, courtesy of three chickens who love to poop and a compost bin called Plastic Dev that can take it!   After a year of breaking down, it's lost all its fragrance and simply looks like good quality compost, which I mixed with earth from the garden and spread onto the bed, ready to transplant some day-lilies from an overgrown part of the garden.


And on the subject of poop, here's our first wormery compost, thanks to our first batch of worms who have munched on all sorts of crud such as  pasta, mashed potato, rice and Weetabix leftovers, which I began diverting from landfill just over two years ago at the beginning of the blog.

It's been put to great use around the garden, mixed up with horticultural sand and earth to create a potting compost for seedlings, including the courgettes that you can see in the centre of this picture, which are now beginning to flourish.

In fact the corner of the garden that you see here, is our postage stamp veg patch, which is also packed with "home-grown" compost produced by the double act affectionately known as Plastic Dave and his Bokashi Side-kick, which sorts out the meaty chunks of waste that Dave can't possibly touch, for fear of being surrounded by vermin.  To keep the mix in good order, Dave sometimes gets Dev's portion of chicken poop and Dev gets the veg peelings in return,.  This has indeed sorted out Dave's sloppy ways and put an end to Dev's dry wit!

I just hope that after a good start to the growing season, they get on with converting all the "rubbish" we put in there into even more lovely compost, because the pressure's on....especially as the images you've seen here are not of a beautiful suburban garden.  Indeed no!  They are simply snapshots of a garden makeover that's currently in progress.  

We're busy replacing part of our dead lawn with a small central paved area, surrounded by lots of interlinking beds, which will triple our growing area and help upgrade our "snacking garden" to one with more edible substance!

So Dave and Dev had better get on with it, especially as the landscaping will be finished soon and I'll be itching to get on with more planting.

Well, that's my contribution to Compost Awareness Week. If you fancy a crack at composting, vermiculture (wormeries to you and me) or using a Bokashi, have a peek at Week 5 of the Rubbish Diet Challenge, where you'll find much more info as well as links to a whole range of useful resources.  And if you're already making good use of your own crumbly stuff around your garden, do share any links to your photos or blogposts in the comments below.  As you can see, this garden is very much a work in progress and I need all the inspiration I can get.


Compost Awareness Week is an annual event, promoted by Recycle Now and whether you're new to composting or an experienced composter, it's always worth checking at this time of year if your local authority has launched any offers on composting equipment.  For example Suffolk residents can take advantage of the deal offered by The Suffolk Waste Partnership and Evengreener.  For more information see:


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Guest Post, by Julie Day on her Rubbish Diet Challenge

Author Julie Day, with her debut book, Rosie and the Sick School

Today I am delighted to feature a guest post by Romance and Children's writer Julie Day, who stumbled over the Rubbish Diet Challenge, via Mrs Green's blog at My Zero Waste, and decided to give it a go.  As well as slimming her bin, Julie has been putting pressure on her local council to improve plastics recycling.  Over on her blog, she has been busy documenting the progress of her Lewisham household, which comprises herself and her mum and has already reached Week 5 of her challenge.   Aiming to slim down to just one bag a week, this is how she's been getting on so far.

My Rubbish Diet Challenge Weeks 1-4.

I’m a keen recycler, who likes to recycle as much as I can.  I thought I was doing very well until I came across Karen’s Rubbish Diet Challenge on the website, and read weeks 1-4.  I now realise what else I can do and here is what I’ve learnt and now do.

I recycle the usual at home inc batteries, Tetrapaks and metal clothes hangers, and had been recycling lots of plastics, until recently when I found out my local council only recycles plastic bottles.  So I did some contacting at work, and any plastics that have the Mobius Loop on I now take to work and recycle there. Problem solved.

I read week 1 and realised I could recycle more plastics at Sainsbury’s.  I have seen the bring bag banks but never actually took notice of them but now I do.  I read the label on the wrappers and if it says ‘can recycle at larger stores’ then I keep them with our shopping bags and take them when we do our weekly shopping trip.  We always use our own bags in store, and wherever I go I usually refuse plastic bags.  Any we do get, we reuse as bin bags.   I always read the label on plastic covers now and if the plastic isn’t recycleable then try to ignore it.  Unfortunately the bag of carrots Mum wanted last week wasn’t and I had to take it.
The other thing I do now is peel off foil from medicine tablet packs.  I have various medical problems so have lots of tablets, and instead of just throwing the empty blister pack in the bin, I peel off as much foil as I can then throw it away.

I didn’t realise that biodegradable plastic bags don’t really do much for the environment, not that I use them anyway but won’t now.  And I didn’t realise that some of the symbols on plastics don’t mean anything and the only one to take note of is the Mobius Loop.

Karen is wrong, you can recycle crisp packets.*  Here’s how.  I learnt from the myzerowaste website, that any shiny wrappers you can keep and send to the Philippine Community Fund in Southampton, who then ship them over on a ship that’s already going to the Philippines, who will then recycle them in to purses and bags, that help the poor make a living and afford schooling for their children.  So any shiny wrappers, inc Ryvita packs and cereal bars, I keep and when I have a bundle send them to Southampton.

Since my mum and I went natural and organic with our toiletries in 2008, we use Ecover products and soap nuts.  My mum recently bought the ecoballs but isn’t sure about them as they bang against the machine.  She has also tried the vinegar in the drawer but didn’t like it because it gave a too strong smell.

My mum and I don’t waste that much food and if we do then it’s usually cooked stuff such as meats and carbohydrates.  After reading week 3, I shall try to get Mum to weigh pasta and use less meat.  We had a left over potato the other day and kept it for the birds but I don’t think they ate it, even the fox didn’t like it.  If there’s any left over sauce from a tin, then if there’s enough for another meal, then keep it in a pot in the freezer for the next time.  This we do with our pasta sauce.

So I now recycle more and am more alert at what plastic wrappers can be recycled, even frozen packets.  And because I am more label alert my mum often asks me if it’s recycleable before throwing things in the bin, and where to put the recycleables for sending and taking to work.

Another thing, since starting the challenge is I’m always checking the symbols on plastics and have discovered lots of things I can recycle that I didn’t realise before, eg a tictac box.

I am blogging about my progress on my own blog, either through my website, or directly on on a weekly basis and hope to let you know how I got on at the end of the 8 weeks.

These are photos of my rubbish and recycling bin over a week.  If you calculate this amount times four for a month’s rubbish then it can come out as about 8 bags of rubbish a week (although most of the time one bag is only half full) and a bin of recycling.  I hope that it means we recycle more than we send to landfill, as that is my aim.

One and a half bags of rubbish in one week: Target = 1 bag per fortnight

Amount of recycling exceeds landfill waste

*It's always great to hear people's stories of their efforts to reduce waste and updates like Julie's makes me glad that I finally put the Rubbish Diet Challenge online.  Although news of the Philippines Community Fund crisp upcycling scheme was included in Week 8 of the guide, thanks to Julie's reminder, I've now also updated Week 2 which was originally published before the details came to light.  The updated version can be found at\therubbishdietweek2.

Thanks very much to Julie for her guest blogpost. It's great to hear of the changes made so far and I hope she will be back in a few weeks time with news of her progress as she reaches the end of her Rubbish Diet Challenge.  In the meantime, please do visit her blog at to share words of encouragement.

And don't forget, if you've got a story to share about your waste reduction antics, please do get in touch via email at karen[at]therubbishdiet[dot]co[dot]uk.


Saturday, 1 May 2010

Submit a renewable idea to win £1000 and support the WWF

I love a clever and worthwhile social media campaign don't you? And the latest one to hit my radar is the Renewable Idea website that has just been launched by carton producer Tetra Pak and WWF, the environmental charity that you might also recognise as being the creator of the highly successful Earth Hour campaign.   WWF-UK is working to save the unique Russian Caucasus forests, habitats of rare and unique species, through developing and promoting sustainable forest management.

The aim of this new website is to raise the profile of the significance of buying products made from renewable resources and features a competition to encourage participation from the public.

WWF-UK's Forest & Trade Network manager, Julia Young commented:

"The Russian Caucasus boasts a unique mixture of species yet has a worrying lack of sustainable forest management. To date, WWF has undertaken limited work in the region, yet it is one of our priority habitats in Russia, so this competition will help generate vital funding for the start of work there. Tetra Pak has committed to support the growth of FSC forest management in critical forest habitats, and together we are aiming to raise awareness of the need to manage production of forests as renewable resources to provide economic, social and environmental benefits for the foreseeable future."

The campaign is supported by Naturalist and TV wildlife presenter, Steve Backshall, who sums it up in a nutshell.
"We've got just one planet, bursting with people - twice as many now as when my folks were kids.  We all use an incredible amount of stuff, and when we're done with it, it gets dumped.  Would anybody out there look forward to a future of vast overflowing landfills, oceans filled with floating plastic, desperate plans to bury trash or fire it into space?! Of course not. Well there is one simple phrase you can start off with. Renewability: the fourth R. Reduce, reuse, recycle, choose renewable... supporting Tetra Pak's campaign with WWF-UK is the perfect way to get started!"

So how can you get involved?

It's simple really.  When shopping, take a closer look at labels to see if the product you are buying is made from a renewable resource.  For example paper, wood, cotton and wool are all renewable so long as they are managed in a sustainable way.  Products that are made from these renewable materials include furniture, fences and out-buildings, books, building materials clothing and cartons.  A sample list of products featuring all sorts of categories can be found at

So it would be great if you could show your support in other ways too and help spread the word.

The Renewable Idea campaign is inviting you to submit your ideas that will help increase awareness of the importance of buying products made from renewable resources.  For each idea entered on the website Tetra Pak will donate £1 to the WWF-UK charity.

All ideas will be open to a public voting system and for each vote received Tetra Pak will also donate 10p.  The funds generated will support a project to help conserve the forest habitat of a number of rare species including the Persian leopard and other important conservation projects.

Also every fortnight, with every idea and vote, you have a chance of winning great prizes such as £100 worth of WWF shopping vouchers or a WWF adopt an animal adoption gift. At the end of the competition, the overall winner will have the chance to see their idea become a reality with an investment of up to £25,000, as well as winning £1,000 for themselves.

Well you won't be surprised that such news got me leaping out of bed this morning to submit an idea that I really hope could be turned into a reality.

And if you want to see what I've submitted, you can find it at:

Of course if you think it's a good un, it would be great if you could vote. And while you're there you could always add your own ideas too.  Even if you think it's half-baked, others might think it's a smasher!

So what are you waiting for?

Find your inner renewable energy and pop over to the site now!

More information can be found at  Twitter fans can follow latest updates from Facebook users can become a fan of the site at


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin