Well, here we are, the penultimate week of The Rubbish Diet Challenge.
Over the last six weeks, our bin-slimming volunteers have got to grips with local recycling, looked for ways of avoiding waste whilst out shopping and have focused on habits and areas around the home where certain rubbish can now be banished for good. And this is the last week before they are ready do tackle their zero waste challenge.
This week's focus is on decluttering and getting prepared for those risky moments when in the midst of a clear-out, impatience can easily take over and stuff ends up in the rubbish bin. But with a little forethought, a dose of patience and extra knowledge, that bin full of stuff for landfill can be easily avoided.
So, if you're able to invest just a few hours sorting out your stuff this week, and fancy a spot of decluttering - even if it is just one drawer - roll up your sleeves and read on.
Of course the motto when it comes to decluttering is "Be Prepared". Even if it's a small clearout, you need to have an action plan of what you're going to do with your stuff. If you don't, your patience will soon crack. Try these mini-challenges below and for more background information, check out the online guide for Week 7, The Big Declutter.
1. Think about things that are currently decluttering your home and mentally organise them into different categories, e.g. things that you are going to give to a charity shop; Items that can be given away via sites such as Freecycle; Items that you wish to sell; Consumables that should be recycled; Things you regularly use, but need to put back in place; Goodies that you can’t bear to part with and stuff that needs repairing. Now start putting an action plan in place. First allocate a time in your diary for taking to the charity shop, recycling centre, or organising selling or repairs. Make it imminent. Then, find some empty boxes or bags and start collating your unwanted clutter.
2. Don't tackle it all in one go, start with a mini-treasure hunt. Allocate just a couple of hours and immerse yourself in a clutter hotspot, guiding your actions by the categories that you've allocated.
3. Think about repair or reuse first. If something is broken or in tatty condition, think about how it can be repaired or reused before even pondering replacing it. Even if you don't want the responsibility yourself, pass it on via groups such as Freecycle instead of recycling it. Hopefully the Self-Repair Manifesto at ifixit.com will provide extra inspiration. I love their manifesto poster, which applies to all sorts of material goods and the site offers great advice for dealing with electronics in particular.
4. Decluttering lots of paper? Of course, old magazines can be distributed to other people before they end up in the recycling bin, e.g. friends, schools, community & craft groups. If you find yourself needing to recycle a lot of paper, please spare a thought for you and your bin crew and spread it out across a number of collections, as a recycling bin that's full of paper is very heavy.
5.Think about ways of reducing future clutter. There are all sorts of ways of reducing that clutter, from avoiding impulse purchases, to focusing on how to keep unwanted things out of your home. Thanks to faster broadband and digital technology, downloads and streaming facilities are replacing physical collections that are traditionally associated with multi-media, so books, music and movies are typical things that can be streamlined in the future. Also, do you find you and your friends or family are constantly swapping gifts that you don't want? There are many ways of addressing gifting that can help reduce the amount of future clutter, e.g. asking for membership, cinema tickets, or experiences instead. Reducing the amount of stuff that comes into our homes will not just help you in your mission to declutter, but it will help minimise the world's material resources and the waste associated with production. If you've got a spare 20 minutes, take a peek at the popular video The Story of Stuff, by Annie Leonard.
So how have the Rubbish Diet 8 been getting on recently? The great news is they've been keeping that rubbish weight down, but the big announcement this week is that Jax from Suffolk has got a different type of weigh-in on her mind today, with the arrival of her new baby boy only this morning. That's far more exciting than thinking about rubbish and I'd like to take the opportunity to wish her and her family huge congratulations on their new arrival.
As for everyone else, their regular weigh-ins are starting to come in and their WK 7 results will be updated as they are received, while they get prepared for next week's Zero Waste challenge. If you'd like to join in the challenge, take a look at the online guide to find out what you'll be letting yourself in for.
Household: 2 adults, in Ipswich Borough, Suffolk.
WK1 Weigh-in: 1.5 large bags, filling one third of a wheelie bin (fortnightly): WK 7: less than half a small bag.
2. Ness. @NessyThompson
Household: 2 adults & 5 children, a rural village in Mid Suffolk
WK1 Weigh-in: 2 full wheelie bins (fortnightly). WK 7: 1 wheelie 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 7: 1 30L rubbish 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 7: 2.3kg/5lbs
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 7: 1 & 3/4 small kitchen bags.
6: Jax. @LiveOtherwise
Household: 2 adults, 3 children & a baby, 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). WK7: Still only a third full after 3 three weeks.
Household: 2 adults, 2 children, Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire
WK 1 Weigh-in: 3 large bin bags, almost filling a whole wheelie bin. (weekly). WK 7
Household: 2 adults, 3 children, Lincolnshire. www.bringingupcharlie.co.uk
WK 1 Weigh-in: 1 full wheelie bin (fortnightly). WK7:. 7 small bags. Wheelie bin estimated 1/3 full.
Don't forget, just because the Rubbish Diet challenge is already in WK 7, 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.