Well, wash me down with some soapsuds. We've hit Week 6 of the Rubbish Diet Challenge, which means after taking time out this week for some much needed personal care, and getting ready for next week's declutter, we will soon be hitting the Zero Waste Week and it will all be over.
But before you can put your feet up and give yourselves a well-earned rest, I'm going to get you to mull over your beauty regime.
So if you've got time for spot of pampering while you ponder your waste reduction challenge, roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath and relax....preferably in the vicinity of your bathroom.
Week 6 is really amalgamating all that you've learned during the last five weeks and simply putting it into context in the bathroom. There's lots of scope for introducing ways to cut waste, whether it's through reducing disposable items, recycling more or even extending your imagination to composting.
In addition to the mini-challenges shown below, more information can be found in the online guide that accompanies The Rubbish Diet Challenge. Be warned though. This is the week where it really does get personal.
1.Don't use the toilet as a bin! Of course, I know that most people who follow the Rubbish Diet will not use their loo as an alternative to landfill, but there are some products out there that positively encourage you to do so. Take "flushable wipes" for instance. The news is, if you're a wipe flusher - even if it says so on the packet - this is the week to stop. Don't take my word for it, take a peek at Water UK's Bag it & Bin it campaign instead, which includes a long list of things that should never get flushed into our sewerage systems. My advice is not to bin it, but to find an alternative solution to creating that waste in the first place.
2.Recycle It! It's easy to forget that many of the containers found on your bathroom shelves can actually be recycled, especially if they are plastic bottles, which are now widely accepted around the UK. In fact, toiletries are increasingly packaged in bottles that are made from recycled plastic. And even if you can't put aerosols into your kerbside bin, most recycling centres will take them as part of their metal collection. If you find that you can't recycle the packaging easily, follow the advice from Week 2 and either look for packaging-free products or switch to alternatives that can be recycled in your area, if it fits your budget. For example, some toothpaste products are now sold in PET (type 1) bottles, which can be recycled easily. Also, a selection of own brand medicines, e.g. Paracetamol, can be bought in plastic tubs instead of the more common blister packs that are tricky to recycle because of mixed material. So do check your local supermarket shelves for alternatives.
3.Go naked! Not you! Your products! Of course, the great waste reduction mantra is to try and "Reduce" before you even have to think about recycling. So even if you can recycle, you may wish to cut down on the amount of plastic you use. In which case, shops such as Lush will be able to help with their wide range of package-free products including soaps, shampoo bars and even deodorant bars (Lush also has instore recycling points for customers to return their packaging). There are also many artisan soapmakers across the UK, who will tempt you away from the plastic bottle, with products that last much longer than liquid soap. Even if they are not packaging-free, the materials used are minimal. My personal favourites are Royston and Hayes and The Bellingham Soap Company, which produce soaps made from natural ingredients.
4. Consider reusables: Shhhh, don't be shy. If you're a lady who bungs lots of personal disposable items in the bin, there is a better way. From cleansing wipes to the monthlies, ditching the disposables can save you hundreds of pounds, with no particular extra inconvenience! Take make-up wipes for instance. The Body Shop sells a neat little pack of muslin wipes, which are totally washable and can be used with make-up remover time-and-time again. And as for that time of the month, there are washable pads and all sorts of finery to make sure you don't have to send disposables to landfill ever again. A good place to start is Lollipop. Of course, if you've got young babies or toddlers, you may wish to think about switching to resuables. More information on this, including links to schemes that are available can be found at Go Real. And chaps, don't think you can get off lightly. Even when it comes to shaving, a traditional razor with replacement blades is far less of a burden on landfill than the disposable plastic alternative.
5. Compost it! If you've been getting into home composting, there are all sorts of things you can do to entertain your own imagination and use as a conversation starter amongst your friends. So in your efforts to reduce waste, you may wish to switch to cotton buds (Q-Tips), with paper stems, and bung these in your compost bin when finished. Of course other natural products such as cotton wool balls can be put in your compost bin too, as can more interesting items, such as the Fairtrade condoms from Oxfam. Now there's a topic for your next dinner party - or not - depending on the nature of your company. And we haven't even ventured into the area of hair from your brush, paper tissues and toenail clippings. Well that's what my composting friends tell me. So, while I leave you to think about all things natural that could possibly be composted, here's one more nudge to weigh this week's rubbish.
And on the subject of weigh-ins, our bin slimmers are still going strong. They've been very much left to their own devices over the last few weeks and have made fantastic progress. And this week, I hope to catch up with them to find out what's left in their bins, in preparation for their Zero Waste challenge in a few weeks time. They'll be reporting their Wk 6 results over the next few days and the results will be updated as they come in
Household: 2 adults, in Ipswich Borough, Suffolk.
WK1 Weigh-in: 1.5 large bags, filling one third of a wheelie bin (fortnightly): WK 6: 1 very small bag, the height of a HP sauce bottle! With a week to go until collection.
2. Ness. @NessyThompson
Household: 2 adults & 5 children, a rural village in Mid Suffolk
WK1 Weigh-in: 2 full wheelie bins (fortnightly). WK 6: 1/2 wheelie bin - with one week to go until collection.
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 6: 3/4 30L sack
4. Amy. @AmyMarpman
Household: 2 adults in New York City. www.beyondthebluebin.com
WK1 Weigh-in: 2 bin bags - estimated 9kg / 20lbs. (Weekly) WK 6: 5.4kg/12lbs (covering two weeks)
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 6?
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). WK6?
Household: 2 adults, 2 children, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire
WK 1 Weigh-in: 3 large bin bags, almost filling a whole wheelie bin. (weekly). WK 6: 2 bags.
Household: 2 adults, 3 children, Lincolnshire. www.bringingupcharlie.co.uk
WK 1 Weigh-in: 1 full wheelie bin (fortnightly). WK6: 3 small bags, 1 week to go until collection.
Don't forget, just because the Rubbish Diet challenge is already in WK 6, 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.