Welcome to Week 5 of The Rubbish Diet Challenge.
This week, the focus is on the garden and with Spring almost in the air, it's perfect timing to start thinking about how your garden can help reduce rubbish, as well as how you can reduce waste whilst gardening.
Even if like me, you're not a particular useful gardener and are more likely to fall into the category of willing but hapless, there are still things that you can do, to inspire you to keep slimming that bin.
So for those who are ready to embark on Week 5, have a think about this week's mini-challenges.
1. Stop buying those bagged salads and grow your own instead. You don't need much space. A couple of pots will do for planting a few seeds of mixed mediterranean leaves. So when you're out shopping this week, look out for a packet at the supermarket or garden centre and get planting. Then plant some more in a few weeks time and keep going throughout the summer. You'll probably never have to buy expensive salads again.
2. Think about other easy things that you can grow in the garden, such as herbs that you use for cooking. There are lots of sites that advise on how to grow, harvest and store them for use out of season. I love the online guide at Growing Spaces, which provides very simple advice. So, if you haven't started a herb garden yet, make this the year to do it, even if you've only got a window-sill. Not only will it save you money, you won't have to worry about recycling all that plastic film or even pots. If you've got a garden and love cooking, I'd also recommend planting a bay tree. The leaves are brilliant for adding flavour to sauces and soup and the branches are great for floral decorations too. Of course if you love cut flowers, and have the space, consider growing some of your favourites, for you to bring indoors.
3. If you are a fairly keen gardener, think about ways in which you can reduce waste in the garden. It's possible to reduce the number of plants you buy from the garden centre, simply by splitting a plant in two, or learning to harvest seeds as well as propogate. Of course, plant pots can always be reused, or passed on via sites such as Freegle or Freecycle, but if you find yourself with too many, it's also worth checking if your garden centre will recycle them. Some recycling centres, such as the ones throughout Suffolk, will also now accept them as part of their hard plastics collections. Other waste that can be recycled as a result of garden purchases includes compost bags etc. Often these are made from the same material as other plastic bags, so check the labels and recycle with your carrier bags if your local facilities provide such services.
4. Get composting. Many people are afraid of composting, but my own experience has shown that even with a cheap plastic bin, it's possible to create something that has nutritional value, even it it doesn't look much like compost or if the only place you can use it is under some shrubs at the back of the garden. And I am in constant awe of how difficult it is to actually fill a compost bin, thanks to the speed in which its contents break down. When it comes to composting, there are many options to consider, whether it's the traditional compost heap, a plastic bin or a wormery. Wiggly Wigglers is a great site for comparing the costs of various options. Also Get Composting works in partnership with local councils and often has offers available on many solutions.
5. Bury your food waste in your garden. I know that sounds gross, and I don't really mean that you should just go and dig a hole and bury the remains of your Sunday dinner, just like so. Of course, having waded through the challenges in Week 3, you should now be on the path to minimising food waste. However, for whatever remains, there are now plenty of solutions that can help you turn any leftovers into compost. Perhaps the simplest is a wormery, which will accept all sorts of mush except for fish or meat leftovers. BBC gardener and Guardian columnist Alys Fowler has also recently published a review of the Bokashi bin, which enables you to collect scraps, including meat, and uses a fermenting process to allow it to be added to your compost bin. Alternatively, the Green Johanna and the Hotbin use hot composting to enable you to add all sorts of food waste directly to other compostable materials. These are more expensive than your average compost bin, but if you have the space and the determination, they are worth considering.
For more information about the ideas listed above, take a look at the accompanying online guide for The Rubbish Diet Challenge.
Some of our participating households have already got stuck into composting, with others planning to try it soon. I know that Tim is already seeing a real reduction in his waste as a result of getting a compost bin for his garden. It was tricky trying to catch up with everyone during half term, but now the holidays are over, the weigh-in data is starting to come in and it's already making positive reading. The results below will be updated as and when the information is available.
Household: 2 adults, in Ipswich Borough, Suffolk.
WK1 Weigh-in: 1.5 large bags, filling one third of a wheelie bin (fortnightly): WK 5: 3 quarters of a bag.
2. Ness. @NessyThompson
Household: 2 adults & 5 children, a rural village in Mid Suffolk
WK1 Weigh-in: 2 full wheelie bins (fortnightly). WK 5: 4 bin bags (one bin)
3. Donna. @Donna_De
Household: 2 adults, in Tower Hamlets in London. www.beatinglimitations.com/blog
WK1 Weigh-in: 1 30L rubbish sack. (weekly). WK 5:
4. Amy. @AmyMarpman
Household: 2 adults in New York City. www.beyondthebluebin.com
WK1 Weigh-in: 2 bin bags - estimated 9kg / 20lbs. (Weekly) WK 5: Not enough rubbish to put out during week 4 but estimating that combined with WK5, this is like to amount to 2 bags for the fortnight, weighing 4.08kg/9lbs.
5: Kate. @BusinessPlumber
Household: 2 adults, in a rural village in Mid Suffolk : www.businessplumber.co.uk
WK1 Weigh-in: 1 unusually full wheelie bin - incl Christmas waste. (fortnightly): WK 5: 2 bags.
6: Jax. @LiveOtherwise
Household: 2 adults, 3 children & a baby on its way, in Suffolk Coast. http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/
WK1 Weigh-in: 7 small bin bags - filling one third or half of a wheelie bin (fortnightly). WK5:
Household: 2 adults, 2 children, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire
WK 1 Weigh-in: 3 large bin bags, almost filling a whole wheelie bin. (weekly). WK 5 1 bag
Household: 2 adults, 3 children, Lincolnshire. www.bringingupcharlie.co.uk
WK 1 Weigh-in: 1 full wheelie bin (fortnightly). WK5: 5 small bags, with a few days to go until collection. Currently looking like half-a wheelie bin.
Don't forget, just because the Rubbish Diet challenge is already in WK 5, 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.