Monday, 30 January 2012

Monday Meeting: The Rubbish Diet Challenge Wk 2

After such a great start to Week 1, which saw our bin slimmers sorting out their recycling systems at home and getting familiar with what can be recycled locally, this week's challenge will take them to a whole different level when it comes to their waste busting mission.

Whilst last week's challenge was to recycle as much as they could, this week's focus moves to eliminating other waste through what they buy. 

There are even more mini challenges to contend with this week, which will have the rubbish dieters scouring the shelves of the supermarkets and checking the packaging to see which products will suit their recycling bins and their rubbish bins alike.

This is the week, where I'd recommend that you allow an extra half-an-hour for your grocery shopping, or if you normally do it online, make some time to go off the store for just this occasion.  It will be worth the effort.

So are you still up for the challenge?  Great, then here we go:

This week is all about getting used to shopping with waste in mind, becoming knowledgeable about packaging and your own shopping habits and asking yourself some questions before you buy.  It won't be easy because, against the aim of reducing waste you will also need to weigh-up other factors such as budget, convenience, values and personal taste.  There is lots of information in the Week 2 of The Rubbish Diet Challenge guide, but these mini-challenges will get you started in the right direction.

1: Before you buy anything, ask yourself the following questions:

  • If I buy this product, will I definitely use it?
  • Can I buy it without packaging?
  • Can I reuse, recycle or compost the packaging?
  • Are the reycling options convenient?
  • Do I really need the product if the packaging ends up in landfill?
  • Without this packaging, will the contents end up as food waste?
  • Are there alternative products that create less waste than my usual choice?
  • Is the product\packaging made from recycled materials?
  • Can you make it at home?

2. Become familiar with recycling labels: The first thing you need to understand about recycling labels, is that they should NEVER replace advice from your local authority.  Only your local council can tell you exactly what they are able to recycle.  Packaging labels only offer extra reminders about which materials can be recycled in the UK and the extent of the sevices available.

More information is available in The Rubbish Diet Challenge guide, but even without that, my top tips are:

  • Ignore this symbol, as it means nothing to UK recycling guidelines. It has no value in this country and just makes me want to spit feathers, so just pretend it's not there.

  • Look out for these labels instead, developed by WRAP and the British Retail Consortium and which have become the retail sector standard.  However even if the label says it can't be recycled, e.g. Film, as shown below, you should check with your local council first.

3. Learn to lift and separate. This particular exercise is for those who live in areas where plastics such as yoghurt pots and margarine tubs aren't recycled.  If are looking for off-the-shelf alternatives which enable you to throw less plastic into landfill, try and identify products that have been designed to use less plastic, ie developed with a thin plastic inner and a stiff cardboard outer. Brands such as Yeo Valley have redesigned their packaging in this way. It just means that before you recycle, you should split and separate the packaging.

4. Remember prevention is better than cure and here's a list that might help.

  • Pick up an old bag before you head to the shops.
  • Buy loose, where possible (Bananas don't need bags)
  • Take a container, if the shop allows (and follows in the footsteps of Unpackaged)
  • Buy concentrated products.
  • Look for refillable options.
  • Supersizing your purchase can sometimes help reduce packaging, so look for larger packs.

So, it will be interesting to see how our 8 volunteer households get on this week, throwing these extra decisions into their already busy lives.  However, as experience shows, once you become aware of how much waste results from our purchasing choices, it really does become easier to shop with waste in mind as a subconcious mindset, just as we shop with any of the other values that we carry with us.

So, without further ado, it's time to reintroduce our bin slimmers and see how they are getting on.  I think they're doing really well and the results of this week's weigh in will be updated as the results come in.

1.  Terry-anna.
Household: 2 adults, in Ipswich Borough, Suffolk. 
WK1 Weigh-in: 1.5 large bags, filling one third of a wheelie bin (fortnightly):  THIS WEEK: half a bag, with another week to go before collection.

2.  Ness.  @NessyThompson
Household: 2 adults & 5 children, a rural village in Mid Suffolk
WK1 Weigh-in:  2 full wheelie bins (fortnightly).  THIS WEEK: less than 1/2 a wheelie bin, with another week before collection.

3.  Donna.  @Donna_De
Household: 2 adults, in Tower Hamlets in London.
WK1 Weigh-in: 1 30L rubbish sack. (weekly).  THIS WEEK: 1 30: rubbish sack.

4. Amy. @AmyMarpman
Household: 2 adults in New York City.
WK1 Weigh-in: 2 bin bags - estimated 9kg / 20lbs. (Weekly) THIS WEEK: 1 small bag - 3.6kg / 8lbs

5: Kate. @BusinessPlumber
Household: 2 adults, in a rural village in Mid Suffolk :
WK1 Weigh-in: 1 unusually full wheelie bin - incl Christmas waste. (fortnightly): THIS WEEK: 1 bin bag with another week before collection.

6: Jax. @LiveOtherwise
Household: 2 adults, 3 children & a baby on its way, in Suffolk Coast.
WK1 Weigh-in: 7 small bin bags - filling one third or half of a wheelie bin (fortnightly). THIS WEEK: 3 small bin bags, with another week before collection,

Household: 2 adults, 2 children, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire
WK 1 Weigh-in:  3 large bin bags, almost filling a whole wheelie bin. (weekly).  THIS WEEK: 2 Bags.

8.Tim @Dotterel
Household: 2 adults, 3 children, Lincolnshire.
WK 1 Weigh-in: 1 full wheelie bin (fortnightly). THIS WEEK: 4 small bags with 1 week to go before collection.

Don't forget, just because the Rubbish Diet challenge is already in WK 2, it doesn't mean that you can't join in.  Just visit the online guide to catch up with everything you need to do.  There's also lots happening on Twitter too, so to join in the conversation just use the hashtag #therubbishdiet, or tweet @karencannard.

And if you're a blogger, remember to share your latest blogpost on the topic using the clever little linky below.  If you're got any questions, please feel free to get in touch.



Karin said...

Having followed your blog for a few years I don't tend to throw recyclable items away, but still find a lot of plastic wrappings, a bit of food waste, such as bacon rinds, and a few other items that aren't recyclable ends up in our bin, destined for landfill.

I would love to be able to buy all my nuts, seeds, dried fruit etc from Suma, who clearly state that their packaging is recyclable plastic, type 4, but this is currently not possible. As I don't know what kind of plastic is what I don't want to contaminate the carrier bag collections with unknown substances.

My other problem is that having got into the habit of taking my own carrier bags I don't have enough carrier bags to line my bin, so what do I use? What is the most environmentally friendly bin liner? If I'm buying bin liners I'd like to buy degradable ones, but have only found degradable bin bags (for big dustbins, not smaller kitchen bins) on sale so far.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Karin, re the bags, type 4 is LDPE, Low Density Polyethylene, which is the same material as many carrier bags and can be added to a plastic bag collection (always check with the supermarket first though).

Re the biodegradable bags, Ethical Superstore have a wide collection. Maybe the compost caddy ones might be suitable:

I don't know how they compared to others so it is always worth shopping around.

Hope that helps. :)

Karin said...

Well, Karen, it's the stuff that doesn't say what kind of plastic it is and doesn't say it's recyclable that ends up in the bin. However, writing my comment made me think and I went gone to the Ethical Superstore to order a variety of Suma nuts, seeds, pulses and dried fruit, so that should mean I have less plastic bags that I'm not sure if I can recycle.

While I was there I also ordered some d2w pedal bin bags, but I'm not sure if they will be a bit small. I haven't measured the bin, but it's not enormous, just not tiny, either. I don't think we want compostable liners in the bin as they can get a bit soggy when wet. Hubby doesn't like them at all as he says they don't compost properly either.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Good luck with the bags. Re any packaging film that's not labelled, it will mostly be polythene (where you can push your thumb into the film and stretch it) or polypropylene (which makes a crinkly sound when you squeeze it). The polythene film is the type that can go in with carrier bags. Hope that helps :)

lunarossa said...

Hi Karen, Sorry I haven't been in touch for so long. That does not mean that I stopped recycling. On the contrary I keep on reducing my waste more and more and I'm quite happy about it. Since approx 6-7 months my county, East Reading of Yorkshire, has been increasing dramatically what they collect for recycling and I'm really happy about this, expecially because this means that i do not have to travel to get rid of carboard, glass etc. They even collect food waste in special (very thin) biodegradable carriers. What I'm tying to do now is - according to your second week of rubbish diet, to decrease even the recyclable waste. I've become a proper recycling freak! Ciao. A.x

Karin said...

Hi Karen, thanks for the tip. Sounds like a good rule of thumb (no pun intended), I'll try and remember it.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Antonia, how lovely to hear from you. I'm so glad things are still going strong...and getting even better. Good luck with Week 2. Hopefully Week 3 will help you too. :)

LOL Karin...I rather like the pun :)

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