Welcome to Week 1 of The Rubbish Diet Challenge, 2012.
Do pull up a chair and settle yourselves in. My name's Karen. I'm a blogger, housewife and self-confessed waste geek and over the next eight weeks, I am going to take you through a programme of talking about utter rubbish.
The aim of the challenge is simple: to slim your bin over the next 7 weeks before attempting a zero waste week. But we won't worry about that now. I don't want to give you the collywobbles.
And of course the reason for the challenge is to cut the amount of valuable resources that currently end up in landfill or indeed incinerators, as a result of a lack of recycling facilities, insufficient knowledge or insufficient incentives. We all lead busy lives, so I hope this challenge will provide a short break with opportunities to make long-lasting changes.
The Rubbish Diet will take you through this process gradually. The focus will be our Monday Meetings, highlighting mini-challenges each week. These challenges will hopefully get your brain whizzing, thinking about new ways in which you can keep your rubbish down. There will be links to useful resources too.
You will also be encouraged to 'weigh-in' just like any other slimming club, where you can measure your progress over the coming weeks and see that weight coming off. How you record it is up to you. You can either get on the scales, count your bags or just take photos.
So, are you up for the Challenge?
It would be great if you are. And if so, here are your tasks for Week 1.
1. Write a list of the top 5 things that fill your rubbish bin, e.g. cooked food waste, plastic, nappies. This will be your Hit List, that will help you in your goal over the next 8 weeks.
2. Try to recall the amount of rubbish that went out on your last collection day and record the level that you put out next time.
3. Phone your council, visit their website or visit www.recyclenow.com to find out EXACTLY what can be recycled at your kerbside, local bring banks or your Household Waste Recycling Centre (commonly known as the Tip). Even if you think you already know, you may be surprised about new services that have been introduced. And don't forget retailers such as supermarkets or electrical stores. Leave no stone unturned! Even TetraPak has its own recycling website.
4. Organise a proper place to sort out your recycling at home, even a few empty boxes will do or hang some bags on a hook behind the door. If you haven't got a compost bin, now's the time to consider one. Visit http://www.recyclenow.com/home_composting/
5. Think about ways in which you can reduce your waste, even before the need for recycling, e.g. reducing mail, (visit www.stopjunkmail.org.uk) reusing stuff, or simply making things last longer through repair or extending their use. If food waste is your issue, have a rummage over at www.lovefoodhatewaste.com.
If you want further inspiration and ideas, check out The Introduction section of the online Rubbish Diet Challenge guide, which also provides the background to this challenge and the one that I took in 2008. Then have a read of Week 1, where there is a lot more information to support the tasks listed above.
Other great sources are: My Zero Waste and Can I recycle this.
And if you can, do join in the chatter over on Twitter, either by following the hashtag #therubbishdiet or tweeting me @KarenCannard.
If you're joining in the challenge, you certainly won't be on your own. Eight households have volunteered - yes volunteered - to have a go and blog, tweet or show their friends their rubbish on Facebook.
So let me introduce you, along with any Twitter IDs and blogs that they might write. As their weigh-in results are recorded, they will be updated as they come in. I don't know much about their rubbish at this stage, but over the weeks all this will unfold as we get to know them better. Just bear in mind, their rubbish will be collected on different days and they have chosen to record it in the best way that suits them. This is okay as it's their personal challenge and not a competition.
Household: 2 adults, in Ipswich Borough, Suffolk.
Weigh-in: 1.5 large bags, filling one third of a wheelie bin (fortnightly)
2. Ness. @NessyThompson
Household: 2 adults & 5 children, a rural village in Mid Suffolk
Weigh-in: 2 full wheelie bins (fortnightly)
3. Donna. @Donna_De
Household: 2 adults, in Tower Hamlets in London. www.beatinglimitations.com/blog
Weigh-in: 1 30L rubbish sack. (weekly)
4. Amy. @AmyMarpman
Household: 2 adults in New York City. www.beyondthebluebin.com
Weigh-in: 2 bin bags - estimated 9kg / 20lbs. (Weekly)
5: Kate. @BusinessPlumber
Household: 2 adults, in a rural village in Mid Suffolk : www.businessplumber.co.uk
Weigh-in: 1 unusually full wheelie bin - incl Christmas waste. (fortnightly)
6: Jax. @LiveOtherwise
Household: 2 adults, 3 children & a baby on its way, in Suffolk Coast. http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/
Weigh-in: 7 small bin bags - filling one third or half of a wheelie bin (fortnightly)
Household: 2 adults, 2 children, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire
Weigh-in: 3 large bin bags, almost filling a whole wheelie bin. (weekly)
Household: 2 adults, 3 children, Lincolnshire. www.bringingupcharlie.co.uk
Weigh-in: 1 full wheelie bin (fortnightly)
So, I guess that means that The Rubbish Diet Challenge 2012 is officially launched and it's no coincidence that it's the same week as I set up the blog four years ago, so this forms pretty much of a blogging celebration too.
Thank you too all who take part. There'll be more coming up on the blog this week, as we find out more about the issues and challenges that two of our participants, Terry-anna and Ness, will be facing.
In the meantime, if you're around at 10am, listen in to The Mark Murphy show on BBC Radio Suffolk, where I will be talking more about the challenge and the households that are taking part, live from the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Bury St Edmunds.
If you have a blog and are inspired to take up the challenge, I'd love to follow your progress, so do let me know about it by adding your blogpost in the linky box below.