Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Meet the bin slimmers in London & New York

It's been great catching up with the volunteers who have taken The Rubbish Diet challenge, and finding out more about the specific issues that they are facing, as well as the new opportunities that they are discovering to help them reduce their household waste.  So, having introduced you to a couple of households in Suffolk last week, this week we're heading for the city, or rather two cities, and saying hello to Donna in London and Amy over in New York.

Meet Donna

Living in London, with a challenging job that involves spending a lot of time away from home, means that with most aspects of her personal time, Donna has the "balance challenge".  Taking on The Rubbish Diet is no exception to that rule!

For things to work for Donna and her husband (who also has has a time-consuming job) they really need efficient systems.  Efficiency and ease are highly important to them.  They don't have a car so for "bin slimming" habits to stick, their efforts need to be practical for the true urban dweller!

Donna tells me that their local council Tower Hamlets has really embraced recycling and makes it very easy for residents, and they also have a kerbside food waste collection programme.  Since starting The Rubbish Diet, she has also discovered that a green garden waste collection is available for homes in her area, and was able to request for her street to be included, which will now be effective from next week.

She's found that local shops have been extremely helpful too, with facilities to recycle plastic bags, batteries and Brita water filters.  A visit to her mobile phone provider prompted her to look into the Electrical Waste recycling that companies are obliged to provide and following a search on Google, she also learned about Sky's programme to take back older electrical satellite decoding boxes via a Freepost address.

Although Donna didn't tell her husband about this project at first, he was supportive from the moment he read her initial blog post.  He has had some great ideas, including better labelling for their bins at home, and ensuring they verify with the council what should be included in each bin.  For Donna, it will be interesting to see his reaction to changes as the weeks progress - and to figure out together how they can keep things simple, straightforward, and a part of their routines once the eight weeks are over.

Read more about Donna's progress on her blog:

Meet Amy

Amy lives with her husband in New York City and they already recycle a lot, so for them waste reduction is going to be the key challenge, and in particular food waste.
As well as having a regular waste collecton service, the couple also installed a garbage disposal unit in their kitchen, when it was remodelled last year. These used to be outlawed in NYC, but regulations have allowed them in recent years.  
However, Amy tells me that although it has decreased the amount of food waste going into their rubbish bin, it doesn't address their actual food waste issue and this is something she would like to work on.  She's also considering starting home composting by week 8 of The Rubbish Diet, which at the moment seems like a huge step.

This week, she's decided to take measures and ditch the disposables too, including tackling her coffee machine and switching to the reusable k-cup filter and buying coffee in bulk. She's also making the switch from disposable paper towels.

Amy tells me that her fellow rubbish dieters have inspired her to look further into the plastic bag recycling over in New York and she's now found that she can also take other types of plastic bags to participating retailers! 
You can find out more about Amy's progress on her blog:


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