Thursday, 25 March 2010

The Rubbish Diet goes on virtual tour

After packing my virtual bags to eat my way around the county last week, I've had only a moment to air my laundry before setting off again, this time to set up camp at The Green Living Forum, where I am inviting members to join in The Rubbish Diet Challenge to slim their bins in just 8 weeks!

There will be opportunities for participants to discover what those recycling labels really mean and try out new ideas to reduce waste at home, work or in their communities, following an eight week slimming plan that culminates in a Zero Waste Week.

Members will be able to share ideas each week at the regular weigh-in sessions and hopefully have a giggle, while they're concentrating on slimming their waste.

So, if you'd like to join in too, whether it's to slim your bin or join in the debate, you are more than welcome to sign up to the forum and get ready for The Rubbish Diet Challenge, which starts on Monday 5th April.

For more details, just click on this link.


A note to moderators:  If you'd like to book The Rubbish Diet Challenge for your forum too and get your members talking rubbish, just drop me a line at karen[at]therubbishdiet[dot]co[dot]uk.

Monday, 15 March 2010

From the Rubbish Diet to the Suffolk Diet and other news!

Today marks the final weigh-in of the Waste Reduction Fortnight on my street and as I type, the recycling officers are busy monitoring the success of the project in this part of St Edmundsbury.  Our street is the first to reach the end of the project and over the next couple of weeks will be followed by the other participating streets throughout the rest of Suffolk. 

So has it been a success in our Almost Average household?  Well I can confirm that it has.  Regular readers may remember that two weeks ago at the beginning of the project, our fortnightly rubbish weighed in at 700g, which for us was unusually heavy.

And our challenge was to reduce it by 50%

Two weeks later, the official weigh-in is...dum,dum,dum.....50grammes!

And that's a fine result, given that it's half the size of what we would normally throw away.  The bag you see contains stuff like Weetabix wrappers, a few pieces of food soiled cardboard and some fiddly bits of broken kids toys, which are too small to recycle.

So, having had another astounding challenge on the waste reduction front, what's next?  Putting my feet up and having a rest?

How I wish.

But of today, I am embarking on a brand new challenge which will see me taking a break from talking rubbish and instead embarking on enjoying local food.

For the next seven days I have been challenged to see how easy it is to live off nothing but food that is either grown, reared or produced in Suffolk.

And I am really looking forward to it.

However I won't be blogging about it here.  In fact, I've launched a brand new blog, appropriately called The Suffolk Diet, which will feature updates about how I get on.

So do visit if you can, as it would be lovely to see you.  And who knows, you might even feel like joining me in the challenge - whether you live in Suffolk or not.  And if you've got any recipes you'd like me to try or can even advise on the most delicious ways to use up my fridge full of  Kale, then please feel free to join in and keep me company.

You can find the new blog over at  There are a few introductory posts there already, but you haven't missed much as Day 1 of the challenge actually starts today.

And don't worry, I won't be taking my eyes off the bins.  I'll be back next week to tell you whether my Suffolk Diet has created any extra rubbish.

I suppose you could say, I'm just having a little holiday and I hope you have fun too.  It would be great to hear if you spot any new local food in your own neck of the woods.

The only problem I think I'll have, with all the good food in Suffolk, it's not just my bin that I'll need to keep slim.  I've got a feeling that I'll need more exercise too.


Thursday, 11 March 2010

From ring pulls to a stylish evening bag

I recently spent an evening out with a group of girlfriends, where we were discussing what I was going to wear to the Greenest County awards that are taking place next week.  Although I'd sorted my dress, I hadn't quite got around to thinking about my bag....

Well I've got loads of bags to choose from but it was quickly obvious my Waitrose bag-for-life would be a far too big for the event and my Recycle for Suffolk bag just didn't match my shoes and I do have a Greggs bakery reduce, reuse, recycle one, but it's a bit long on account of accommodating baguettes.

So it's a good job that Fi my friendly fairy godmother waved her magic wand and pointed me in the direction of ring pulls, saying they made beautiful stylish bags.  If I had a few spare I could have thrusted a needle and cotton in her hands to get a demonstration, but she didn't have her magic wand anyway.  Instead, she popped up on Facebook the following day and sent me a link to the wonderful Bottletop site.

Bottletop is a  UK charity that helps to alleviate poverty in developing countries, including providing training and education opportunities for young people as well as trying to address health issues.  The Ring Pull project began in 2007, teaching residents in Brazil how to make beautiful products including bags, belts and purses, out of something that we take for granted and that most people dump in the bin or send for recycling.

But look what a collection of humble ring pulls can be turned into.

Yes, this is indeed my brand new bag that I ordered straight away and which arrived this morning. I  love it, and am now fully prepared for the gala event that is only a week away.

Here's a You Tube video of the Ring Pull project at work in Brazil. For more information about the great work of the Bottletop charity, visit


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Baglady comes to Suffolk

Does anybody recognise this lady?  Perhaps not.  So let me introduce her as Shirley Lewis, veteran environmental campaigner from Northern Ireland.  If you are still drawing a blank, here's another photo that might help, especially for anyone who might have been in Bury St Edmunds today...when Shirley Lewis visited the town in her alter ego as Baglady.

Baglady is a well-known campaigner in Northern Ireland and works with schools and campaigners to promote the idea of living ASAP (as sustainably as possible), encouraging children and adults to take up pledges to do something positive about the environment.   Reducing waste is one of her key priorities and with the news of the huge anti-litter campaign that's currently taking place as well as the Seven Suffolk Streets project focusing on waste, she thought she'd visit the county to find out more.
And here she is making her grand entrance into Bury St Edmunds.

Of course with an outfit like that, it was no surprise that Baglady attracted quite a bit of attention during her official walkabout in the town centre, especially as it was market day.

She expected a few funny looks - and there were plenty - but as ever her personality shone through and she received a warm welcome from many local residents, including Sheila and Arthur from Thurston, who are regular listeners of BBC Radio Suffolk's Mark Murphy breakfast show and had heard her talking to Mark on his show earlier this morning.

And our local community officers were also pleased to have a chat. 

Apparently we'd missed the the Chief Constable by minutes, otherwise we could have got him in the shot too, which would have been great as Suffolk police are really behind the anti-litter campaign this year, aiming to tackle other anti-social behaviour such as grafitti and fly-tipping.

And with news of a  Baglady in town, it can't escape the attention of the local press.  It was fabulous that Laura and Roger from the Bury Free Press were keen to drop into the market for an interview. 

And that's how I left things, with Badlady going for a photoshoot with the photographer and a proposition to take him for coffee, while I disappeared out of the cold to write up this blogpost.

So now this is done, I'd better nip back out into the cold afternoon to see if I can retrieve Baglady from her official walkabout and find somewhere for a nice spot of lunch.

I think she'll be easy to spot, don't you? 

To find out more about the work of Baglady, aka Shirley Lewis, visit


Monday, 8 March 2010

Nothing much to report here...except....who stole my recycling?

I'm amazed that I'm still with you today, especially after this morning's surprise, when I went to put out our recycling bin and discovered it was hardly worth bothering about.  There was so little in there, I almost fell inside with shock.  You get the image: head first, legs dangling upwards, crying for my neighbours to come and rescue me.   "Almost fell"  I said, just almost, but hold onto that vision while it lasts.

It was a very surreal moment. When I first opened the bin it was empty.  I then tipped the contents of my kitchen recycling bin into the wheelie bin and it still only came a third of the way up.

Two weeks recycling taking up so little space.

It just didn't seem right, especially as it's mostly 50% or 75% full.

And before you I haven't had a lazy half hour and just dumped it all in my black bin. You know I would NEVER do that AND it's Waste Reduction Fortnight, which means I'm keeping a closer eye on my rubbish than usual.

So a peculiar situation indeed and just shows it really is possible to slim your rubbish bin without tipping your recycling bin over the edge...well that's if you know the secret of course.

And I've been scratching my head to figure out what that secret might be.

I realise what it is now as I look out of the window towards my car.

My little Fox-mobile is still not working, having been stuck on the roadside with a flat battery for almost two whole weeks, which means I haven't done much shopping with the exception of picking up fresh produce from the market. 

But we haven't gone without.  We've still been emptying our cereal boxes.  The cats have been nibbling on their Whiskas and we've enjoyed the odd tin of beans and bottle of apple juice so perhaps that's not the secret ingredient after all.

So maybe, just maybe, someone really has stolen my recycling.  And if they have I'm watching!


Friday, 5 March 2010

The Landfill Prize 2010

This has to be my favourite time of year, when John Naish, author of Enough, announces the winners of The Landfill Prize, to hghlight all sorts of novelty gadgets that form Britain's cleverest rubbish.    Having succeeded to get my nomination for SatNag in the 2009 Top Ten, I failed to get around to even nominating anything this year, but I am enjoying the results all the same.

I've included the Top 3 here, of which there are already a couple that are really making my sides hurt with laughter, much due to the nominators' comments as well as the items themselves. I just wish that it was really that funny, given the amount resources and our money that's wasted on stuff that gets hidden in a drawer when the novelty's worn off.

A Bra Dryer and an Ear Dryer, blimmin' 'eck, they'll be coming out with a Pants Dryer next...hmm now that might just be of interest....

Here's that Top 3:

1. Digital fridge magnet

Is scribbling notes with a pen on a whiteboard to complex, too onerous… too 20th century? Here’s the Digital Video Memo, a fridge magnet on which you can record a 30-second video message. Look into the camera, press the record button and start talking. You’ve only added a digital screen, a rechargeable battery system, a computer and a camera to the planet’s landfill potential. According to users’ reports, the screen is tiny and the volume’s too low, so you have to stick your mouth right near the camera… so all people get to see is a quietly talking ear.

Nominated by Karen Varga, who says, ‘You can just picture the workers in overseas factories going "What the **** are these for and why do these mad westerners need them?’

2. The Bra Dyer

The makers say the “Bra Dryer is a simple device which is based on the presumption that the best way to dry bras without ruining their fabric, wiring and padding is to dry them on a shape which resembles female breasts. That's why Bra Dryer is shaped like a female torso”.

Rea Cris, who nominated it, remarks: “What women is seriously thinking: ‘YES! Fantastic, this is what I have been waiting for: metalic dismembered hot breasts, they'll match the wallpaper perfectly!’”

Nominated by Rea Cris, Edinburgh,

3. The Dryear Ear Dryer

Wave goodbye to towels (almost). Here’s how you can spend a lot of cash, use electricity and create lots of energy waste – with a battery-operated hot-air ear dryer. 'Drying your ears has never been simpler or more effective'. Or, at £69, could it be more expensive? The device slots into the ear canal and blows hot air. Oh, and the instructions advise you to dry your ears with a towel first.

Nominated by Anna, London

To see the rest of the list that was judged by John Naish, Anna Shepard, Carl Honoré and Ben Davis, visit  And if you know anyone who's got bored of their gadgets, do remind them to WEEEcycle them won't you, via the waste electricals bin at the HWRC, instead of dumping them in the bin.


Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The Rubbish Diet Challenge, Week 8: Your very own Zero Waste Week

I've shown you mine, so will you show me yours!

At last it's the very week you have been waiting for, or well at least I hope you have.  It may be 36 hours late thanks to all the comings and goings this week, but finally I can present you with your very own guide to help you plan your Zero Waste Week.

But before rushing on with the job in hand, you might want to grab yourself a cup of tea first or -  if you're still up late - a large brandy to settle your nerves.   Because this is no quick memo.  In fact it's packed with more than 13,000 words of advice, links and anecdotes, helping you to plan your Zero Waste Week from start to finish.

It even includes some top tips on working with the media, for those who want to throw an extra spotlight on their challenge to raise the profile of waste awareness in their local communities.  I've also thrown in a few stories of my own to hopefully reassure even the most bashful that having a microphone thrust under one's nose isn't as painful as it might first appear.

But most importantly this week is about enjoying yourself.  I wouldn't want you to live like a hermit all week, tempting as it is as a strategy for avoiding rubbish.  Instead, your Zero Waste Week is all about getting out there and living it up in restaurants, cafes, cinemas and anywhere else you fancy.  All you have to do is just keep an extra eye on the rubbish you might generate whilst you are having all that fun.  And if you're planning a really special occasion, it might be good to read this guide first.  I'd best not say anything else for fear of revealing all its secrets.

Well, I promised you I'd come up with a plan to slim that bin in just 8 weeks, so without further ado, I present to you the finale of your Rubbish Diet Challenge, Your very own zero waste week, with bells on. I'd love to hear how you get on.

So come on...don't be scared, you know you want to really........and good luck to all that do!


Monday, 1 March 2010

Don't be a tosser and other Suffolk rubbish news!

I interrupt this broadcast with the news that there will be a slight delay in publishing the latest guide to The Rubbish Diet Challenge, on account that I've been tied up in Suffolk all day.

When I say "tied up", I'd like to reassure you that I haven't actually been physically restrained or strapped to my wheelie bin and dragged around the county.  I've actually been busy floating between a whole range of exciting projects that have been launched today.
The morning kicked off with a live interview with BBC Radio Suffolk's producer Philippa Taylor, at my local bus stop, for the station's Breakfast Show.

The interview was part of Mark Murphy's annual "Don't be a Tosser" anti-litter campaign, which promotes the county's Keep Suffolk Clean project to raise awareness of the amount of rubbish that is dropped around Suffolk and to inspire local communities to tackle it.

Now I know that looks like my coat in the poster, but I promise you it wasn't me who dropped the litter guv!   It's just not my style to toss cans or bottles or indeed anything else in our street, so don't worry, I've not been up on a charge of being a litter lout.  I'm actually fully supporting the campaign and was being interviewed to help raise awareness of the litter in my locality and to see if I could pull together some community help for a local litter pick.  In fact, if you've been wondering what I'm doing in the photo at the top of the blog, I'm actually holding up a broken umbrella that was one of the many items that had been dumped behind the bus shelter. If only I'd had an old leather bag to accompany it, I'd have looked like a modern day Mary Poppins.

So having put out a call for some enthusiastic litter pickers and then sharing the good news that our council has ordered a bin for the bus stop, the next task was the Seven Suffolk's Street's Waste Reduction Fortnight, which also kicks off in my street today.   Hooray, after months of talking about it, it's finally here.

But there's no peace for the wicked you know and my first stop was to drop into our school's morning assembly, to see the Eco Team's presentation of new recycling and composting bins, which under their guidance will help the school reduce its classroom, staffroom and office waste.

The staff were also keen to weigh my latest fortnightly rubbish in public, which at 700 grammes was unusually heavy thanks to Mr A bringing the bread-bin back into service - without my knowledge, I hasten to add - and consequently leaving half a loaf in there to rot..  Typical eh, but shows that food waste accidents can happen even in a waste aware household and despite my most polite suggestion, he didn't really fancy chewing on it for today's lunch!

So if you're wondering what 700 grammes of rubbish looks like, I can shamefully reveal it below, before proudly stating that at least the size of that bag is still a tenth of what we used to throw away in a fortnight.  Just over two years ago, this bin would have been full.

And no sooner had I wheeled out my bin, the refuse lorry arrived, along with the lovely recycling officers from Suffolk and St Edmundsbury \ Forest Heath councils, who'd come to monitor the launch of our street's waste reduction project.

As I had my camera, I took a few more snaps for the cause, both on my street...

...and at our school.   Just look at the size of that bin - it'd take me a good couple of years to fill that!

Now although I'm keen, it's not as though I'm like a groupie or anything so I quickly left the professionals to their work and scooted back home for the next appointment in my diary, which was an interview with the lovely Anna Makepeace from Suffolk's Creating the Greenest County project...and Chris, her very patient cameraman.

Despite being distracted by camera envy, I tried to answer Anna's questions as best as I could, without gurning too much and ensuring that I managed at least one big blooper for the DVD, which will feature all the candidates that have been shortlisted for the Greenest County awards.  You can see the full shortlist here at

So amongst all this news I would also like to apologise for being unable to publish Week 8 of The Rubbish Diet Challenge today.  If you've been looking forward to the finale, I'm afraid we'll have to postpone that excitement until tomorrow, but I hope with the sparklers I've got planned, it will really be worth the wait.

What a busy day eh! I'm actually quite proud about what I've managed to fit in to help promote Suffolk's various campaigns.

The only irony of it all, is that I'm actually Welsh! 

So as it's St David's Day, I'm going to give a blimmin' huge plug for that too...and treat you to a retro look from my home village inWales, circa 1974.  Check out the little imp, third row up, second from left.  She's not looking bad despite having eaten the previous night's leftover Angel Delight for breakfast!


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin