Monday, 30 June 2008

Birthday Musings: Part 1 Neurosis sets in

It's that time of year again, when it should be an occasion to relax, wear a big smile and celebrate.

One year older, with another 52 weeks of memories to look back on...reminiscing about the wonderful times and they have been great.

So why am I feeling tense?

It's not as though it's my birthday.

No, mine's not due for another couple of weeks and this year it will be the big 4.0. Yes you read that correctly...FORTY YEARS OLD!

But strangely I'm feeling more neurotic about the birthday of the Junior Saboteur, who will be turning just a tenth of my age on Wednesday.

Yes, little T will be celebrating with four little candles on his cake.

The party's booked and he's invited his little friends to paint ceramic cars at a kids' cafe in town. It's the first time he's had a party "off-site" so to speak. I normally enjoy organising birthday parties at home, but this year he wanted to celebrate his special occasion elsewhere. And I'm not going to say no to cappuccinos on tap for two hours and people on hand to help.

So last week, we made the invitations and handed them nine children...

...and yep, that's when the neurosis set in!

Well I suppose I really was laying my reputation on the line for all to ponder...

I've thought about it before, but it wasn't until last week did I feel brave enough to dare say it..

...brave enough to utter the five little words that on the surface seem so simple...


which have the power to make you stand out from the crowd and stick out like a sore thumb in the modern age that is the 21st Century!

Yes five simple, well meant words...that go something like...

"Please don't worry about presents"

There, I've said it!

That felt so much easier than when the words stumbled out of my mouth whilst handing out the first three invitations.

Lovely as my friends are, when I uttered those words and witnessed the double-take I did feel somewhat like an alien who had landed from outer space or like a lunatic that had escaped the asylum.

I guess, it is pretty unheard of...a birthday party with no presents.

How could a mother be so cruel?

How could a four year old understand?

The truth is that I don't feel cruel at all. Little T has got loads of toys to play with, whether they're his own things, his brother's hand-me-downs or odd bits of pap that he's collected from fairs and comics in years gone by. His bedroom is already too small to cope with it all.

But could he really understand if friends didn't give him any presents? I suppose I've never made a big thing of taking him shopping to buy a present for a friend's birthday party. It's always been easier to go off and get it myself, so the gift thing has pretty much gone under his radar.

As ever, this birthday he's going to have lots of presents sent in the post by relatives that live far away, from aunts and uncles who see him infrequently but who want to still play a part in his life with gifts on special occasions. There'll also be a present from his brother, for them both to share, and being his loving parents we've got a little surprise for him too.

That already seems like a lot of things to keep a little boy amused. So I don't think he'll feel underwhelmed. In fact, I'd hope that he'd feel happier that his old mum's sanity was kept in order.

But is this sufficient justification to break away from the modern tradition of guests bearing gifts at parties?

It feels like tough love, trying to move away from consumerist patterns of owning lots of things that clutter up the house and eventually get worn out or broken and discarded off to landfill.

And then there's the perspective of the guests, or rather their parents, who want to teach their children to be kind and how to celebrate special occasions. After all, society almost expects gifts to be offered at events such as birthday parties whether it's out of kindness, appreciation or duty.

Take that option away from someone and it can look like a personal affront, with a big slap of ingratitude.

Which of course it isn't.

If you take a step back and think about it logically, it all seems sensible...well it does to me. It's 2008. We're right in the middle of a credit crunch, with soaring oil prices, higher food costs and more expensive mortgages. What better opportunity is there to break the cycle of copious amounts of stuff.

I'm already feeling like an unnatural radical by suggesting cutting back on presents for my children, but maybe it is time for parents to stand together and all agree to cut the crap, throwing caution to the wind along with the guilt. mother would hardly recognise me...blimey, am I really a recovered shopaholic? Is it my age I wonder?

All this and I haven't even mentioned the "Party Bag Crisis" yet! Ah well...that's another day!

In the meantime, I'll leave you with with some more STUFF AND NONSENSE (quite literally) soon to be published in my monthly column for our local magazine. I told you my reputation was on the line...perhaps I should be heading for my blue rinse now.


Whether you’re young or old,
love it or hate it,
have little or lots,
one thing’s for sure we’ve all got some.

And it’s everywhere!

All around the house and in every room.

Nowhere’s safe,
especially the garage.

There’s even stuff in the loo!

There’s stuff that has a home,
stuff that should be somewhere else
and stuff that belongs nowhere at all.

There’s his stuff, there’s mine.
There’s new stuff and old.

We flash the new stuff and hide the old
– in the loft, the tip and the charity shops.

And it’s multiplying,

You have kids and it breeds.
2.4 children and a mountain of stuff.

There are even days to celebrate it.
“Happy birthday” and “Merry Christmas” we say,
as we hand over the stuff!

Oh the memories,
ah the decades gone by.

Some of mine is 40 years old.
I hope I’ve got another 40 to go.


Will I need a bigger house?
Just for the stuff?
Will a bigger house have cupboards?
Could I use the garage as a garage?
Could we just pile it all into a spare room?

I haven’t used half of it.
There are gifts,
and bargains.

There’s cheap stuff that’s broken
and old stuff that’s gone out of fashion.

I feel like I’m being buried alive.
I can see my epitaph now...

“She was a happy soul, but the stuff and nonsense got her in the end”


Friday, 27 June 2008

Something for the weekend

If you need more convincing about the benefits of Zero Waste and why it's worth slimming your bin, then pull up a chair, grab a coffee and delight yourselves with...

One Empty Bin, 23 Brushes...and a Very Bendy Man!

Just think... slim that bin and there could be a whole new career ahead of you...and don't forget the financial gains. Just one gig a week and you'll have enough money to beat the credit crunch!

I know my bin is empty but I certainly won't be trying this at home. For one thing... I haven't got enough brushes.

Have a good weekend and Enjoy...

Thursday, 26 June 2008

A Bury Happy Place to Live

Welcome to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, which is the home of my Almost Average Household. It's a gentrified town, full of history and vibrancy, where visitors from the North, South and East are welcomed by the beautiful sight of the cathedral tower, which was only added at the turn of this century.

The three buildings shown below are all located on the historic Angel Hill and include The Athenaeum, (which was designed by the famous architect Robert Adam), the Abbey Gate, (which was burnt down in 1327 and then rebuilt by the townspeople) and The Angel Hotel, (which was regularly frequented by Charles Dickens).

So what's with the tour?

Well I thought it would make a nice break from the usual talk of rubbish and thought it would be a great opportunity to put The Rubbish Diet into context. So far, the only thing I've revealed about our wonderful medieval town is how great the council is at recycling. But there's so much more to the place than St Edmundsbury Borough Council's wheelie bins and the Household Waste Recycling Centre.

As it was market day yesterday, I took some photos on my travels, to give a pictorial account of a fairly typical shopping day in the life of Almost Mrs Average.

I know I am such a lucky girl to have all this on my doorstep. Maybe this is the reason I am always happy. It would be hard not to smile when surrounded by such beautiful buildings on such a sunny summer's day.

Above is the gorgeous building which plays host to the stationers WH Smith, which I use for greetings cards. Of course, I always choose cards that don't come with plastic wrappers and this is one of the rare stores that have such a range.

The photo to the right is of the Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, another building designed by Adam, which I try and frequent as much as possible when time permits. It provides space and inspiration for bursts of creativity when needed and it's the place where I often bump into the fabulous artists of Rojo Art, who make some beautiful things from junk.

Here are some photos of our award winning market, which comes to Bury St Edmunds on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Some days there are around 10 fruit and vegetables stalls offering a really wide choice, from your bargain "£1 a basket" through to more expensive goods.

My favourite is John Webber's stall, where you are guaranteed very friendly service with a really warm welcome. Jenny who you see below is always a breath of fresh air even on a cold rainy day.

While wandering around the market, it is noticeable that many of the customers are of the older generation, partly because of the weekly coach trips that come in from far and wide. And as you can see amongst the older folk, there's a fairly good mix of those who bring their own shopping bags and those who don't.

"Say Cheese", to our local cheesemongers, which is always a popular stall. Even so, it only took about 5 minutes of waiting patiently to get served.

I love these two stalls below, picking up some fresh bread from one and local sausages and eggs from the other. To the right, you can see the new Abbeygate Gates, the latest "Marmite topic" to be featured in the Bury Free Press, our weekly paper. The local townsfolk are often split over stuff like this, either loving or hating them and never the twain shall meet.

So having bought a load of apples, bananas, tomatoes, carrots, satsumas, strawberries, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, grapes, grapefruit, spring-onions, cheese, bread, sausages and eggs, you might wonder how I could possibly get it all home.

In my beloved trolley of course, full to the brim as ever and it's what a girl needs to tackle a market shop. I used to push a metal trolley around the supermarket. I now regularly pull my gorgeous handbag-on-wheels around the open-air market. How things change eh!

And the best bit! The contents in my gorgeous trolley came to just £23. Much cheaper than the supermarket and with no excess packaging apart from the small plastic bag for the sausages.

So to celebrate, I couldn't resist the opportunity to drag it along to a regular haunt to treat myself to some cake!

Yes, it's a big piece of cake I know...

But's the bin that's on the diet and not me!


Further info:

  • More photos of Bury St Edmunds can be found at the Suffolk Cam website.
  • Visit the Tourist Information site for the full lowdown on Bury St Edmunds.
  • Stories about life in the town can be found in the local paper the Bury Free Press.
  • My favourite (and less serious) take on life around town can be witnessed at the Living in Bury St Edmunds blog, written by my wonderful friend Ruby.
  • Bury St Edmunds is also home to the Greene King brewery. A visit to this area just has to include a tour of the brewery.


Wednesday, 25 June 2008

No Sex Please, We're British

I know I'm turning into a girl with a one track mind, (not to be confused with THE girl of course), so for a change, I thought I'd break away from the subject of rubbish and focus on worms.

Last week I emptied out the "liquid gold" from the wormery and noticed that yet again, there were quite a number of the wiggly things in there, all dead.

Since I got the wormery in February, I must have emptied out almost as many as came with the can'o'worms.

Forever feeling remorseful for the number of dead worms that get scattered in my garden, I thought I should order some new ones to keep the spirit of the wormery alive and wriggling.

Yet, when I poked about in the crumbly rich compost, there were hundreds of the wriggly wiggly creatures. All looking very happy indeed.

I felt relieved, but how were there so many? Somehow, I couldn't stop my thoughts wandering in the direction of how worms breed.

I know it seems a bit rude to barge into their personal lives, but I thought I'd have a poke around with an old stick to try and find some evidence.

But there was nothing fruity going on in wormland. They were just all going about their everyday business, as little single worms do.

I am not surprised really. After all, what worm wants to meet his beloved for a date with some cold peas and rice under the watchful eye of their keeper? Let alone get it on after their romantic interlude.

So there was nothing for it but to ring up the experts, Wiggly Wigglers, and pose the question "How do worms breed?" They made it sound so easy.

Worms as you know are Hermaphrodites, which means that they all have male and female reproductive organs. They breed by sliding through each other's saddle, which is the thick part of the worm. An egg is formed and fertilised as it travels along the worm's body where eventually it drops off its nose. It then takes around 4-6 weeks for the little worms to emerge...


Anyway, I think I've got that right. I know it's the simple version, but for someone like me who never even attempted O'level biology, this is just the right level.

So having dug deeper (excuse the pun) into the issue at hand, I think that's enough sex for me thank you. After all, I am British and will have to hide my blushes when I next visit the worms.

Yes from now on, I think I'll just stick to my rubbish, happy that the worms seem content enough to multiply.

Anyway if you're interested in finding out more about my adventures with worms and waste, I've written a guest post for the Wiggly Blog, which which will be published this week, so please wiggle over for a nosey.


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

The Bin Monitor`

Have I ever properly introduced you to my eldest son?


Perhaps it's now time. After all, he deserves a proper introduction.

He's six years old and in three months time he'll be seven.

Thanks to his teacher as well as life in the Almost Average Household, he knows a thing or two about recycling.

And he certainly likes to do things properly...

...which is why he's become our self-appointed bin monitor, indeed our very own Jedi Knight of the waste stream.

The problem is he sees things as black or white and doesn't yet understand the grey bits in the middle.

And because of this he delights in nothing more than throwing around false allegations.

Like the day he told me I was bad at recycling!

Yes, that's right! My six year old darling has accused me of being terrible at recycling... Yes me...! Oh dear, I can see the headline in our local rag now....

Zero Waste Woman Branded Fake - own son dobs her in.

In my defence and to uphold my reputation he has thrown this accusation a few days AFTER the bin men had been and emptied our well-endowed recycling bin.

He peers in, sees it's empty and tells me I'm crap!

How to feel offended eh. After all my efforts!

So that the rumour doesn't get out of hand, I now show him the contents of our recycling bin BEFORE it gets collected.

But all I get now is:

"That's better mummy"

As if there was a problem in the first place.

Can you believe it! I'm being monitored by a six year old.

If that's not bad enough there was another scandal to hit the Almost Average Household this weekend.

Yep. This weekend I was on the receiving end of another one!

"Mummy, do you really want to kill more trees?"

I can see it now: Zero Waste Woman - Tree Murderer!

Where did this one come from?

Well this time... he'd only gone and peered in the compost bin.

Is nowhere safe? I've certainly got nothing to hide but if I were six, the last place I'd want to poke my nose would be in the compost.

But then, I'm not a member of the intergalactic bin police am I?

You see, as he was conducting his investigations, he'd discovered a combination of paper bags, some newspaper and an expired party invitation all mixed up with the fruit peelings.

Apparently, by diverting the paper products from the recycling waste stream I am now responsible for more trees having to be cut down...

OMG - I can't take this kind of responsibility. My shoulders aren't broad enough!

All I was doing was balancing the biological nature of my compost.

How selfish do I feel now? My compost versus the world's trees!

How I wish things were as simple as a six year old sees them.

However, he did get me thinking. Although he doesn't quite yet understand the balance of materials needed to make good compost, he did have a point about the paper products. I happily throw in all sorts of things included toilet roll tubes, paper bags, pieces of paper, newspaper, thin card etc, primarily diverting them from the recycling bin.

The compost bin probably doesn't need this amount of paper and he is right, I am diverting it away from being recycled into other products.

And I wonder how many others are doing the same.

Perhaps the only way to find out is to hire out my six year old monitor to the local council. He can go on an undercover mission, tell people off and report back accordingly.

I'm sure he'd be good at it.

He might even be able to help prevent possible riots over waste.

But I think I could put him to better use on the home-front.

Hmmm. Yes he could come in handy.

Instead of following me around, I need someone to keep a closer eye on his three year old brother, otherwise known as the junior saboteur, who loves nothing better than contaminating the recycling.

And then there's the King of Declutter, Mr A himself. that's where the Bin Monitor will be of most use. Mr A needs a shadow, especially when he's in the middle of one of his decluttering episodes.

So, perhaps my little Bin Monitor is a good thing after all.

One thing's for certain. He's got a future ahead of him and at this rate it has to be in waste.


Monday, 23 June 2008

It's Carnival Time

(Photo of Steel Band by Flickr's Virtual Farm Boy)

Can you hear the steel band playing the rousing upbeat music?

Yey...I want to see you with your hands in the air and swinging those hips in time with the beat, because....the summer's here and as promised it's......

Carnival Time.

It was such fun at last week's Garbloggers Party talking about rubbish, garbage and trash that I thought it would be exciting to get us all together on a regular basis at a monthly carnival.

But not any carnival...

Oh No..

This is one where we can get down-right filthy, party on at the landfill, celebrate recyclates and have a whale of a time in garbage!

Yes, this carnival will be dedicated to Rubbish!

Because it's the Carnival of Trash!

And every month it will contain a digest of links to engaging articles and blogposts about the subject that touches everyone. If you've never seen a blog carnival before, then it's worth taking a look at the excellent Carnival of the Green or Carnival of Green Gardening.

The Carnival of Trash can be hosted by anyone interested in the subject of rubbish and the great thing is your blog doesn't need to be entirely focused on trash in order to host it. The only requirement is that you have already contributed a post about the subject.

To get things kicked off, I will be delighted to host the first issue, which will be published on 14 July 2008. So if you are interested in featuring an article\post from your blog or website, please go to the Blog Carnival site, or email the link of your post to: carnivaloftrash{at}gmail{dot}com, with a brief summary.

Submissions should be examples and inspirational stories about how you or anyone you know is helping to eliminate landfill waste. Items can be anecdotal accounts or examples of good practice of how frustrations are dealt with. Please feel free to share news about fabulous products, people and organisations that promote recycling. Examples of poetry, photos of trash or trash as an artform are also welcome.

The deadline for submissions is 5 July 2008.

If you have a waste-related blog and would like to host future issues of Carnival of Trash, then please email me at enquiries{at}therubbishdiet{dot}

In the meantime, tell your friends that there's a new carnival in town. Get your gladrags on and bring them along to party.

(Photo of Recycled Daisy by Flickr's Meeshy Meesh)

Friday, 20 June 2008

You say Tomayto I say Tomahto: but none of us would throw one away.

(Photo by Flickr's Alincolt)

Since emerging from my bin this week, I decided to make the most of my new-found freedom.

Yes I know... give the girl an inch and she'll take a mile and all that.

And indeed I have. I am oh so guilty m'lud, but I am not sorry! I have been having way too much fun.

Over the last few days, I've taken a virtual tour of New Zealand, Canada and the U.S. to catch up with some fellow trash-talkers and get us all together to ruminate about our rubbish, garbage and trash.

So pull up your chairs ladies and gentlemen. Grab a drink and come and join us for the first international gathering of garbloggers.

Yep, according to an article on the North American Take Part website, this is what we're called. And there are growing numbers of bloggers all over the world talking rubbish. We may use different words or pronounce them differently, but we're all talking about the same thing, waste, whether it's general waste, food waste or plastic.

The world's garbloggers are truly amazing people and I am so pleased that I've caught up with four of them to take part today. I can't wait to introduce them. So come and join the fun as it's time to say hello.

All the way from Christchurch, New Zealand, we have Matthew, who along with his other-half Waveney, are following the most amazing challenge by living rubbish-free for a whole year. Yes a year!

When you consider that my own personal challenge was a Zero Waste Week, a rubbish free year sounds incredible. Having begun the challenge in February, you can follow their progress on their website

Please say a big "Hi" to Sarah from Toronto in Canada, who along with her partner Kyle, decided to go garbage-free for 31 consecutive days back in Spring. They each achieved their goals in different time-frames and the great thing is they're still keeping it low.

Just like me, the only thing that Sarah threw away during her challenge was a plaster, or band-aid as they say in Canada. What an amazing coincidence.

To find out more about Sarah's and Kyle's experiences, pop over to their website Say No to Trash, which can be found at

I'd also like to welcome Beth from Oakland, California over in the U.S.

Beth is celebrating the anniversary of her blog this week, which she set up out of concern over the effects of plastic on nature and the environment. Inspired by EnviroWoman's Plastic Free Year, she wanted to explore the possibilities for eliminating plastic waste, looking at alternative uses for plastic that already exists, finding ways of recycling and reusing as well as exploring non-plastic substitutions.

Beth has managed to reduce her use of plastic packaging and other products to an amazing level. You will be truly stunned at her achievements but I shan't give the game away. Go and have a peek yourself at

Last but certainly not least, I'd like to introduce Jonathan, a journalist from Boston, Massachussetts. Jonathan's specific interest is food waste, which he has been researching since 2005. This is a major issue in the U.S. with statistics revealing that 40% of food is needlessly wasted.

Jonathan's research experiences include volunteering in a homeless shelter that rescues wasted food from restaurants and supermarkets and has worked in the produce department of a large grocery chain. As well as writing a book on the subject, his research and personal experiences can be found at his website

With the introductions out of the way, it's time for me to get nosey.

So guys, this really feels like you're the A-Team against landfill. What incredible achievements! Tell me what has been the hardest thing about your individual challenges?

Matthew: No nachos! We can't buy the chips, sour cream or cheese! Other than that the hardest part was starting, our apathy had a strong gravitational pull.

Sarah: The hardest thing for us was going out, and also receiving gifts from others.

Beth: For me it was giving up convenience foods and remembering to plan ahead. I used to live on frozen meals and energy bars and other individually wrapped snacks. The snacks and energy bars were the first things to go. It took a while to let go of the frozen meals. I thought I could buy only meals that came in cardboard boxes (instead of plastic trays) with only a thin layer of plastic across the top. But then I learned that any cardboard container that holds food is also lined with plastic to keep it from leaking. So at that point, I just let go of all frozen foods except ice cream.

Another tricky thing has been to remember to bring my travel containers with me (water bottle or travel mug, bamboo cutlery, leftovers container) to avoid disposables. It's a habit now, so I don't really have to think much. And if I do leave the house without them, I either make sure to sit down and eat somewhere that provides durable dishware or I go without. I've learned I won't starve if I have to wait a bit to eat.

Jonathan: Regarding food waste, the hardest task has been convincing businesses to change their ways. Getting a restaurant or grocery store to donate or compost food is an uphill battle, because it requires them to do things a little differently. If that requires spending money, even if it's an investment that will pay off later, you'd better hope that the people running the company have their heart in the right place.

What have you found to be the easiest thing?

Matthew: Once clear of the aforementioned gravitational pull, the whole thing has actually been surprisingly easy. It took us about three months to really get into the swing of things and to find alternatives to products and items we've been consuming for years, but now that that is done we are finding it surprisingly easy to not have a rubbish bin.

Sarah: Giving up things like chips and tooth floss.

Beth: Giving up plastic produce bags. Easy easy. I carry a few cloth produce bags in my backpack and have learned that most produce doesn't need a separate bag anyway.

Jonathan: Saving leftovers is the easiest way to cut food waste. You'd be surprised how many people elect not to keep the remains of their meal, whether at home or a restaurant.

What has been the impact upon yourselves and your habits?

Matthew: It is very unlikely that we will go back to having a landfill destined rubbish bin in our house again now that we have formed new habits. Also we have been impacted by how often there are complementary bonuses of being rubbish free, in that products where the manufacturers have thought about packaging often seem to be fair trade and/or organic. By focusing on one aspect we are finding it easier to consume more ethically generally.

Sarah: Our project had a huge impact on us. It changed the way we live. It taught us a lot about balance, patience, humility and change. We are still learning how to live happily within a world we are not happy with, and how to make changes within our own lives.

Beth: It's generally made me more aware of what I buy and the choices I make. It's not just about the plastic, although noticing plastic has helped me to slow down and shop more consciously. It's about paying attention each day as I live my life to the world around me: what's offered for sale in stores; what's being littered on the ground; what others are doing to contribute to or help alleviate the problem. I think giving up plastic has made me a more conscious person all around.

Jonathan: Since I began researching the topic about three years ago, I've made a few changes in my habits. First, I plan the week's dinners before shopping. I make a grocery list and, within reason, try to stick to it. I also try not to overeat, as that leaves more of each dinner for the next day. In addition, whatever I don't eat or isn't edible (peels, scraps), I compost in my backyard (or feed to my dog).

What you've done has generated a lot of interest from the media. How do you think you've influenced others through your writing and media coverage?

Matthew: We have been blown away by comments from folk and their assertions that we have inspired them in some way. I think that people find environmental militancy, or a guilt trip, unattractive and a turn off, and that the majority of people respond best when encouraged and supported.

Sarah: Ummm, er well we've gotten mostly positive responses and people say we are inspiring. Some people have also said we're weirdy beardy sideshow freaks, but hey beards are good and I like sideshows, so that's cool. It was really a project for ourselves. I made it public because I hoped to help other people who were interested in doing similar projects. We learned a great deal over the few years it took us to achieve one garbage free month and I didn't want the knowledge to go to waste (no garbage!). I like to share. It was hard work, and I thought people could benefit from our discoveries instead of having to do all the research and mistake making themselves.

Beth: I hope that I have shown them that if someone like me can do this, they can too. Because I'm not a professional environmentalist or professional writer. I'm just a regular person with a regular job who woke up one day to some horrific facts about what we are doing to our world and realized I had to do something to help.

Jonathan: I would hope that I've convinced some folks to examine their behavior and think about how they can trim their waste. If everyone does their part, we can make a massive dent in the amount of food that goes for naught.

So what would be your top tip for anyone else who was thinking about reducing their garbage or rubbish?

Matthew: Move your rubbish bin out of your house into a shed, garage or trash can outside. This means you start becoming acutely aware of what it is you are throwing out and more likely to consider this when purchasing items. Especially if it is winter and you have to trudge outside!

Sarah: Treat it like a budget or a diet and somehow (keeping a list, taking photos, keeping your garbage in view etc.) keep track of all the garbage you obtain.

Beth: Just one tip? Try to shop in stores that have bulk bins where you can fill up your own containers instead of purchasing pre-packaged items. Give up bottled water. And when you need new durable goods, ask yourself if they really need to be new or if borrowing or buying used would work instead. There. That's three tips!

Jonathan: Start composting. You'll be amazed at how much less garbage you'll have. By recycling paper and food—the two largest materials discarded in the U.S. waste stream—you're almost halving your trash output.

Before you throw away anything, think about whether there's a better place for it than the trash. Think about whether it can be repurposed, recycled or composted.


Wow, what fabulous advice guys. It's at times like this I wish I had a podcast, so the whole world can hear you ... hmm now there's an idea for next time.

It truly highlights that the issue of waste is an international one and that more and more people in all corners of the globe are not just recognising the problem but are taking responsibility for their own actions. And what actions eh! Despite my best efforts, I can't imagine what it must be like to live rubbish-free for more than a week, let alone a month or a year. Reducing plastics is another challenge in itself and as for tackling the subject of America's food waste, what a feat.

I've had a great time delving into everybody's experiences. It is a real privilege to have gathered everyone together in one virtual place and I would like to say a huge thank you to Matthew, Sarah, Beth and Jonathan for their valuable time.

I wish there was both time and space to include other "garbloggers" but it would have got really crowded on my little blog, especially as most people would hang out in my experimental kitchen and you know how small that is.

However I recommend that when you have a spare few minutes, pop along to one or more of the websites listed below, where you will find encouraging stories from many other people about reducing waste. You'll also find a few artistic inspirations along the way.

And don't forget, if you do want to find out more about the projects featured above, please visit and introduce yourself. You'll learn loads and get a huge welcome at the same time. Also if you want to see Beth's Flickr stream showing her weekly plastic tally visit:

Oh...what's this coming in the room?

...oh wow it's a birthday cake.

I wonder who that can be for?

Eh it's time to celebrate Beth's first anniversary...

Don't be shy Beth...And don't worry, it's all home made! The butter came in a wrapper not a tub and I've ditched the plastic candle holder.

So while Beth blows out the candle...perhaps it's time for a toast or three...

"Congratulations to Beth and to Sarah & Kyle on their amazing achievements. "

"Good luck to Matthew and Waveney for their rubbish-free year."

"And to Jonathan, best of luck with your book and to raising awareness across the pond."

And before you go folks, I'm sorry I was stingy on the food but you know I don't like to over-cater. If your tummies are still rumbling, I suggest you join me at Jonathan's for his weekly Friday Buffet. Beth, you bring the cutlery and Matthew and Sarah go round up Waveney and Kyle quick.

...And I'll bung that rotten tomato in the compost.

Oh.... and before I forget... if you've enjoyed today's gathering, let's make it a regular event. Why stop at a party when we can go the whole hog and have a carnival. How exciting is that...a carnival! Drop by next week for your invitation. I often say that other people's rubbish is fun and it really is!


Some other incredible rubbish sites with fabulous trash content
(and in this game that's a real compliment) The Green Family's Zero Waste Challenge (UK) Ruby's Rubbish Diet (UK) Jo Beaufoix's amusing post about her Rubbish Diet (UK) Sue's account of healthy cheap meals and minimising waste, (UK) John Costigane's 104 week bin bag challenge (UK) Artist Fran Crowe's challenge of walking to save some sea (UK) exploring the more quirky side of trash (U.S.) A photo collection of trash in New York City (U.S.) Ari Derfel's collection of 12 month's trash (U.S) Leila Darabi's closer look at what we throw away (U.S.) Sustainable Dave's attempt at throwing nothing away for a year (U.S.) Now into its second year, follows EnviroWoman's progress of living without plastic (Canada) Thoughts on the waste situation in Italy (Italian) Danda's musings on waste and other things (Italian)


Thursday, 19 June 2008

My Top 10 Myth-Busters!

Oh the intrigue!

"How the heck did you throw away just one plaster?" my friends often ask.

Which is followed by...

"Go on...was it really just a plaster?"

Well yes it's all true, it was just one plaster, but it's not the plaster that's significant here, it's more to do with the fact that our weekly rubbish now amounts to just a quarter of a carrier bag.

That in itself appears to be just as amazing to all those who listen.

You can see the eyebrows raised, the lips pursed and almost hear the cogs going around in their minds.

The questions flow and flow and flow, while friends ponder how they can possibly fit a Rubbish Diet challenge into their own lifestyles.

They ask all sorts of buts, hows and what ifs, tripping over every reason why they would fall at the first hurdle.

So, I thought it was about time I pulled these together and try and bust some of those myths in one fell swoop...and here are my top ten myth-busters

1. Isn't it expensive?

No, not really. Before slimming our bin the weekly supermarket bill used to be around £90, with an extra £30 or so spent on a top-up shop. Now, I spend around £40 a week on the market, with a couple of top-up visits to our local Tesco Express or Waitrose, costing about £40.

Better portion control and buying basics like washing-up liquid and toilet roll in bulk means fewer or shorter trips to the supermarket and fewer temptations to buy things that I don't really need. So on average, we're now saving ourselves around £30-£40 a week. I'm not the kind of person who takes a written shopping list, but if this method works for you, even better!

You don't need to buy things like a bokashi system or a wormery, especially if you have a dog or live in an area with a food waste collection. However, savings made on our regular food shops have already paid for these extra "luxuries" which means we no longer have to send wasted food to landfill.

2. But don't you have less choice?

Because slimming your bin means cutting back on things that can't be recycled in your area, people often assume that this means less choice and perhaps in some circumstances it might be true.

However, I have found that the Zero Waste challenge has opened up a whole new range of choices. Take chocolate bars, which is my particular specialist subject. Before I started the Zero Waste challenge I was a creature of habit, I would always buy a Flake or a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk for me and chocolate buttons for the kids. When I found out that the wrappers can't be recycled in our area, I looked for other choices.

I've since discovered other chocolate bars in all kinds of flavours, like the Lindt range and have switched over to these because both the cardboard and foil packaging can be recycled. They might seem more expensive, but we just share a bar amongst the whole family, which means it doesn't actually cost us any more. Talking of sharing, maybe it's also time to share my new addiction for Rolos. Where I could once resist the chocolate covered caramel delights, sadly it's now the paper and foil packaging that tips me over the edge.

The odd packet of buttons might slip through the net, but it is now only once in a while.

The one big lesson I've learned is this: If you are stuck in your ways, your choices are few, but if you look for alternatives, a whole range of opportunities become available.

3. What about space? Don't you need lots of room for recycling?

How I wish I was blessed with a garage or annex where I could organise my recycling beautifully. A cellar might be nice too.

Instead I am "blessed" with a kitchen with insufficient room to swing a cat and a garage which is only accessible in an emergency, involving trudging along a muddy lawn, having to unlock the back gate and meander across a shared driveway.

Indeed some might add that I visit my family in Wales more often that I venture out to the garage.

So, I guess I'm living proof that you don't really need much space at all. In my tiny kitchen I have bags on hooks for aerosols, which can be taken to the recycling centre and another bag for well.. er bags. The Bokashis are tucked away at the side of my fridge and my old 50 litre gorgeous Brabantia has been promoted from rubbish bin to recycling bin. We also use a trio of matching green bins for rubbish, kitchen waste and glass.

I only keep the last two bins because I am too lazy to step outside the kitchen everyday to visit the compost bin and keep forgetting to take the odd bottle to the bottle bank. I wouldn't need them if I was more organised.

Outside we have a modern but small suburban garden, in which we have hidden a compost bin and a wormery, both of which have helped us reduce our kitchen waste.

The most important thing is that you have a system that works for you and your lifestyle and that you exercise your choice accordingly. For example we don't have enough space to collect Tetra Paks, so we don't buy them. Instead we buy juice in plastic\glass bottles, some of which is even delivered by the milkman.

So if you feel your own system is in need of a shake-up and you want to flash some cash, it might be time to get some new bins. Who can't resist a shopping spree? But before you do, make sure you buy the right one for you.

4. But can I really reduce my waste if I live in a flat?

This is a tricky one because it will depend on your lifestyle and local collection services. If you live in a flat, or apartment and have the privilege of co-mingled recycling it is much easier, because you just gather all your things in one bin without the need to sort. If your food waste is collected or you have access to a compost bin even better.

However, if you don't have the pleasure of either and you feel that your hands are pretty tied, then there is still hope.

The best way of tackling the problem head-on is to rethink your shopping and see if you can reduce the amount of things that would otherwise put you in recycling hell.

If food waste is a problem, experiment with shopping more regularly, perhaps dropping into a store on the way from work or picking up a few things when you are out and about. Try buying only the things that you need for the next few days, so you don't have to throw so much away. Cook smaller portions and reuse leftovers more creatively.

If your recycling facilities are poor or you haven't got enough space, look for alternative products with minimum packaging. Try to focus on reusable products and loose produce where available.

If you rely on recycling centres and you have a car, store your clean recycling in your car-boot and it will be ready to drop off next time you're passing.

5. But I'm not a great cook and don't have time to cook from scratch?

Well the good news is you don't have to. Obviously, cooking from scratch can be healthier and can mean a saving in both money and surplus packaging, but it isn't always necessary to reduce your landfill waste. You can always supplement your purchases with portions of fresh-fruit and vegetables.

If you're not a domestic goddess or a culinary god in the kitchen and rely on ready-meals, simply look for the options that have reduced packaging. Seek out healthy choices, where the packaging can be recycled in your area. For example, I can recycle the foil and cardboard from a ready-made quiche, but can't recycle the polystyrene base from a pizza, so for me the quiche wins every time!

However, if you're not a confident cook but want to give it a go, try and take some small steps. Grab a lab coat instead of an apron and start experimenting. Begin with some simple things and swap ready-made custard in cartons for custard powder in tins. All you need to do is add milk.

If you want to go further, butter up your stale bread and layer it in a dish with some sugar, raisins and nutmeg. Soak in some whisked egg and milk and you have a bread and butter pudding ready to bung in the oven.

My top tip is to discover just five short-cut recipes that will make you look like a master chef even if you think you're not.

My personal top five are bread and butter pudding, fairy cakes, sweet and sour balti chicken, fish pie and bolognese sauce.

6. But don't you need a car to recycle so many things?

It can be difficult to take materials to a recycling centre without a car, unless it is located on a significant bus route.

So you need to think outside the box! Or should we say the recycling box?

I have discovered people who SWAP recycling as a solution to not having access to a car. One lady I know in a village outside Bury St Edmunds, gives her mum Brita cartridges which can be recycled at the local chemists and takes away her mum's tetra paks, which she can recycle in her village.

So talk to your friends about their recycling problems and you never know what opportunities will arise.

You never know, one of them might already be a secret recycler, in need of a weekly fix. They could collect your things or you could join them.

7. I'd love to do it if I had the time, but I'm just too busy!

Now this one is the real toughie because we are all so busy... busy going to work, busy doing the shopping, busy looking after the kids, busy watching television, busy going out for drinks...

... off to the theatre... off to the to the playground...and when we're not doing that, we're busy catching up on our schnoozles.

Reducing your waste might be the last thing you think about when you're busy, but the good news is that it doesn't take any extra time just to simply think about it.

So when you're having a shower, washing the dishes or commuting to work, take 5 minutes for a ponder about what goes in your bin and how you could reduce it. Just 5 minutes, that's all.

The great news is that you don't need to be a brain surgeon or a genius to come up with the answers. When you're stuck for conversation or want to entertain your kids or friends, ask them what they'd do. You're bound to get loads of suggestions but be prepared for some rude ones too.

If you're too busy to do anything else about it, just try one thing... simply focus on what you're buying in the shops. The next time you're at the supermarket, give yourself just an extra twenty minutes to look for alternative products that you know you can recycle.

You see, you don't need to be obsessed or even see it as a major challenge. Just five minutes here and twenty minutes there might be all that you need to make a real change to your bin.

8. But what about my wife\husband\partner or kids, I'll never get them motivated?

You could be surprised. If you've got a waste saboteur in your house, it's time to get them converted. You never know, you might uncover their inner geek and find they are raring to go with the challenge. It happened to Mrs Green.

But if you're keen and they're not, just turn it into a competition. Pull out the old bribery and corruption if need be (as long as it's legal) and look for any favours that you might be able to dangle as a carrot.

You'll have a whole new learning experience in the making and who may find a reformed character under your roof, who ends up whipping you into action during a weak moment.

9. But doesn't it just go to landfill anyway?

Do you believe everything you read in the press? Occasionally some recycling will end up in landfill but it's a minority story even if it makes a big headline. Sometimes an odd cock-up in facility management or contamination may cause recycled materials to be condemned to the dark side, but the majority of items will be sorted, baled up and despatched to the relevant recycling plant for processing.

10. But we really don't have the right facilities!

I really love this one and is probably the easiest to deal with and you hardly need to lift a finger. If you would really like to have improved facilities in your area, the likelihood is that many other people would love them too.

Whether you're needing a tetra pak bank, mixed plastics or food waste collection, ring up your council and encourage your friends to do the same.

A solution might not be guaranteed, especially with the complication of the economics of cost and levels of supply and demand, but there's no harm in asking. Just think of that old saying..."if you don't ask you don't get"... so give it a go.

If you're already motivated and raring to go, just click on the LETS Recycle site now and look for your local recycling officer. Give them a call straight away and remember to smile and sound happy. It makes their jobs just that bit more pleasant.


So if you've got a friend who would love to reduce their own rubbish but has an if, but or whatever that gets in their way, send them over here and see if we can help with the answers.

Admittedly, it's not always easy and there's no "one size fits all". So if you live a lonely life in a tiny flat on a remote island with no recycling facilities and no-one to help for miles, you might have a bit of a problem. If you think I'm being extremist, trust me, I'm not. Neither sarcasm or extremism are my style. The reality is our glorious country can feel like a remote island sometimes and there are many people out there who are not blessed with the same fortunes as others, whether it's mobility, ability, facilities, support or finances

But imagine...if we could work together to help everyone save just one more thing from landfill each week, by avoiding it in the first place or turning it into a resource instead, that would be truly amazing.

If you need more inspiration, just take a look at Gail Porter's video that she did for Recycle Now's Recycle Week 2008. If you need the help of the kids, see if Cbeebies are on tour near you, as the lovely characters are helping to spread ideas to the young and old. Or if you prefer the "boot up the backside" approach, click here to read about my visit to landfill in April. I've just read it again, and it's certainly given me another nudge in the right direction.


Wednesday, 18 June 2008

There's a hippo in my cistern...and as for my bin...!

What a week! And it's only Wednesday.

But boy, have I been having fun.

Yes, I've been poking my nose into people's rubbish again. I know, it's becoming a bit of a hobby.

And the latest victim?

The very funny Pete May, author of "There's a hippo in my cistern: one man's misadventures on the eco frontline".

With hilarious tales of guerilla gardening on golf courses, crouching over compost loos and temporary cave dwelling in foreign lands, this book had me laughing right to the very end.

The only trouble is I am now left with the image of this immensely happy looking man defending his chickens at 7am and chasing a sub-urban fox with a broom, while wearing only DMs and a flapping dressing gown that doesn't quite cover his decency.

So how did this former Loaded columnist, with a life full of beer, girls and football fixtures end up on the "eco frontline"?

Love of course!

And the object of his affections?

None other than Nicola Baird, an environmental journalist and author of Save cash and save the planet and The estate we're in: who's driving car culture.

It really is a tale of Lads Mag Columnist meets Eco-bird. Lad falls in love. Eco-bird becomes his goddess. Lad becomes "Green"!

With the book behind him, Pete still gets new ideas thrown his way and as I discovered on their family blog, Around Britain without a plane, one of their latest challenges was to reduce their household rubbish.

Being the nosey old bird that I am, I thought I'd catch up with Pete and find out more. You could call it an exclusive interview if you like (well, I guess no-one else is going to be sad enough to interview him about his bin).

He was good enough to oblige and there are no surprises that the rubbish challenge had something to do with Nicola...

So Pete, what prompted you and Nicola to go for the challenge?

Other women just want chocolates and night out in a restaurant for their birthday present. Nicola wanted a month without waste!

So how much rubbish did you throw away before you started?

We were fairly green in our habits, but normally had around one bin bag of trash every fortnight.

One bag every fortnight is brilliant in itself, but how much was it reduced to by the end of the challenge?

After a month we only had a quarter of a bag.

Wow, that's fantastic. So what was the biggest challenge?

The worst thing was all the letters/magazines that come wrapped in plastic, and also the supplements from newspapers. I’m getting my late father’s mail forwarded and the Post Office sends everything in plastic bags. Sometimes they even bag mail already in plastic bags!

Am I very old fashioned, or is there something wrong with paper envelopes? We did take some the plastic in to Friends of the Earth to recycle, but it’s a drag.

It is really hard when you can't recycle stuff on your doorstep and plastic bags are often the main culprits. Was anything else tricky?

Bottle tops were difficult, but eventually we kept them in a box and discovered the kids love to play games with them.

The kids complained about no more ice creams and Kinder eggs though and I missed Tivali vegetarian sausages, although Holland and Barrett’s sausages are better, just coming in cardboard.

Also the bits of plastic that seal tubs of Marmite and the yellow top of a Marmite jar had to go in the bin.

Razor blades are impossible to recycle and also how do you recycle what Cherie Blair might refer to as “contraceptive equipment” without getting arrested?

Nobody wants to get arrested for recycling "contraceptive equipment" ooh, the thought..... So, err what was easier than expected?

It was also great to tell Nicola that going to the pub was ethical, because the glasses are reused.

Buying strong, flavoursome cheese from a deli minus packaging meant we had some lovely varieties and needed less.

Cutting crisps was fairly easy, we felt healthier and richer. And once we got used to it, it was fairly simple to stop buying plastic pots of hummus and yogurt.

We bought coffee beans and cheese and pasta from a shop called Unpackaged and that eliminated all the plastic/foil packaging. In the local shop I’d take their paper bags for croissants etc and put say mushrooms in them instead of using plastic.

Ah...I see the inner Lad is still there, with the focus on the pub and all that, but there's definite evidence that the lad's been "greened".

So Pete, tell me, have you gone back to your old ways...and what are they?

I still have an aerosol of shaving foam, but now think I really should shave with soap instead. I buy crisps and hummus again, but feel guilty about it. And sometimes I get coffee in packets when the beans run out and I’m desperate to wake up with a caffeine fix.

So, what have you taken from the whole experience?

We’re now much more careful about what we throw away, and still shop at Unpackaged as much as possible. A trip to the supermarket now has me gazing in disbelief at the rubbish wrapped around our food.

And have you got any top tips for people teetering on the edge of slimming their bin?

We actually saved money through eating less junk! ... So my advice would be to just go ahead so you can say 'bin there done that'.

So on the advice of Pete May, if you haven't already done it, give it a go. You can always get further inspiration by reading the family's waste challenge on their blog.

Of course, my advice is when the going gets tough, just pick up a copy of "There's a hippo in my cistern: one man's misadventures on the eco-frontline". As I've already found out, Pete will have you laughing all the way to your bin.... That's if you've still got one.

Available in all good books shops now, including Amazon.


Sunday, 15 June 2008

Spot the difference!

Have you noticed anything different?



Go on...Have another peek.

It's pretty subtle, so you might have to look more closely.

Down a bit more...that's it...keep going.

You're nearly there.

Yes nearly!


Hooray! You've found me, hanging about in the sidebar. (If it's after 15th June, you might have to scroll up again...or if you're reading an rss feed, come over and visit).


Or should I say "Hello, hello, hello"?

Perhaps it should be "Hi", "Bonjour, "Hola", Buon giorno", "Guten Tag" or "Hallo".

I hope I didn't scare you and sorry if I did.

As you can see, over the weekend I took the decision. Yes THE decision...not just any old decision!

Yep...THE decision... was to stop hiding behind my bin.

I've been there for months now...since January in fact.

Back then it was hard. The skies were gray, the wind was cold and my toes were freezing. To cap it all I had huge bags of rubbish to lug about.

Then Springtime came, with the twittering of songbirds and the pretty sight of daffodils in full bloom. Along came Zero Waste Week, when all I had to entertain me was just one plaster. But they were brighter days and much lighter on the wheelie bin too!

I emerged from the bin a couple of times for a photo here and a photo there as well as a trip to Radio Suffolk.

Then there was the BBC news on April 1st. But that was okay, because I hid behind my fringe.

I've since travelled to London, mingled with big people, ventured on holiday to Monmouthshire and was even brave enough to knock on Mrs Green's door in the Forest of Dean.

So having had a taste of life on the outside, I've decided to come out for good!

I know...other people come out of the closet, I come out from my bin!

I don't know about you, but I was getting fed up of looking at it anyway. And as it was getting slimmer, there was hardly anything to hide behind.

It's now tucked away in the garage because we only need to use it on special occasions.

It's much nicer being out in the open and I can see you properly now.

Thank you so much for keeping me company and for allowing me to witter on.

Don't worry normal service will resume soon.

What do you mean that my wittering is "normal service".


Anyway I'm off to have fun and explore the world beyond my bin. It's a big world out there, so I hope I won't get lost.

But don't the words of Arnie..."I'll be back".

See you in a few days.

Lots of love...Almost Mrs Average! xxx


Saturday, 14 June 2008

Rubbish Art?

At risk of my reputation going downhill, both artistically and culturally, I just couldn't resist sharing with you my latest and only contribution to Suffolk "art". Yes I know it looks like the work of a 10 year old but sadly that is where my sketching talents were laid to rest!

Anyway, I've "donated" it to the most wonderful and probably now bemused Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery as part of its "Make your mark" activity, where they encourage members of the public to unleash their artistic spirit in support of their annual Suffolk Showcase exhibition.

This year they are using the mini creations as CD covers for copies of the exhibition's images, which they are selling for just a tenner. I hope it's not a random selection. Otherwise some unfortunate art lover is going to be lumbered with my bin picture, which I've cheekily entitled "Duty of Care".

I think my artistic spirit now needs to be dampened, before I am tempted to submit a bin related "masterpiece" for the main event next year. Hmmm...a wheelie bin installation in the art gallery...I'm warming to that idea.

I'd better stop there, otherwise I'll never be let over the threshold again...and yes...they know who I am because my befuddling reputation precedes me.

Anyway, you will be pleased to know that my "work of art" is definitely not representative of the quality of this year's entries. Suffolk Showcase really does what it says on the tin and showcases the most amazing and talented artists of our region. So if you're near Bury St Edmunds, it really is worth a visit.

To find out more about the exhibition visit


Friday, 13 June 2008

Almost Mrs Average and the Recyclettes

After yesterday's news about the Bokashi and the Beasties, I think it's now time to stand up and show your appreciation for the Recyclettes.

The Recyclettes?

"Who on earth are they?" you might ask.

Well there are loads of different types of recyclettes that you can find on Google, but my recyclettes are the fab ladies (and their families) who have risen to the challenge of The Rubbish Diet, and my goodness they've shown some commitment. They've shared stories about ditching packaging at the supermarket, taking their own containers to the butchers and getting to grips with compost bins in their gardens.

After getting each of them started on their own personal bin slimming programme it's now time to catch up with the lovely ladies and find out what's been going on in their bins.

And there's no better place to start than the lovely Ruby from Bury St Edmunds, our first volunteer who was brave enough to reveal her rubbish.

We started Ruby's Rubbish Audit at the end of March and what a sorry state of affairs it was. Ruby revealed that she had too much packaging for her recycling bin, so the surplus was going into her landfill bin, which led to overflowing bins all round. Things were so bad that Ruby was more worried about the effect on her own environment than the world at large and by heck did it need some management.

Well the great news from Ruby is that she is now the anti-excess-packaging queen. She no longer uses packaging for her children's packed lunches, unless it's reusable or recyclable. She has begun to cook more meals from scratch instead of buying ready meals and has even gone as far as ditching her packaging at the supermarket!

She's also got a great site called Ruby's Rubbish Blog, where she focuses on all types of nonsense packaging and laughs at it in the same way as an organic gardener laughs at mutated vegetables.

Her latest blogpost reveals that she's now doing a bit of gardening herself. Ruby gardening? Growing her own herbs and tomatoes? My word, that's a turnaround!

At her request, St Edmundsbury Council gave her a brand spanking new brown wheelie bin for her kitchen waste so she no longer has to send her peelings off to landfill. The other fantastic news is that all her guinea pig bedding can go in there too, so even their droppings can be put to good use.

After all this effort and following her "diet plan" she has managed to reach her target with resounding success and has reduced her landfill bin by at least 50%. This means that it is now only half-full every collection day, which translates to roughly 120 cubic litres of rubbish per fortnight.

All her recyclables can now fit into her recycling bin too, which is sometimes only three-quarters full these days.

So hooray for the Ruby Household for such a fantastic effort.

Something tells me they won't be going back to their old ways, so a round of applause please!

Next, smiling at us from up north...or rather the Midlands, is the gorgeous Jo Beaufoix from Mansfield.

Jo is really enjoying The Rubbish Diet challenge, which she started in May, and has had some fabulous adventures with a new compost bin to help reduce her rubbish. Jo was getting hacked off with not being able to close her bin, let alone fit all her rubbish into it. You can read about her woes here. The aim was to reduce her big fat bin by 50% and the most brilliant news is that she is well on the way to reaching her target.

She's been changing the way she shops, buying loose products, washing out yoghurt pots and has found a whole new excitement in nipping off to the recycling centre. The whole family has got stuck in too, sorting out the papers, bags and tetra paks. The girl's doing well.

The other outcome is that her bin now has a name...Yes a name! My bin has a name too, but I never told Jo this. My bin's called Dave. Apologies to all the Daves out there who might feel offended. No offence is intended. It's just a Rubbish Diet needs the humour! I think we need to put out an apology to all the Simons too because Jo's bin is called Stinky Simon! Personally, I think anyone who's called Simon has now got a bigger problem than all you Daves.

Anyway Jo has written about the adventures of Stinky Simon's diet on her very entertaining blog It's an essential read, which follows Simon's relationship with the bin lorry. In a very surreal way, I can't wait to find out if Simon gets his girl.

So it's time to applaud Jo and Stinky Simon as well as Mr B and the little Beaufoixs for such a tremendous effort. Well done!

To complete the trio, give a huge wave to the wonderful Green Family, all the way from Gloucestershire.

It doesn't seem that long ago since the most wonderful Mrs Green was despairing about her rubbish and I volunteered to lend a hand. They decided to sign up for the Rubbish Diet treatment straight away. They only started a couple of weeks ago but are making astounding progress.

The Greens haven't got the all singing and dancing wheelie bin down in their neck of the woods, or should I say forest (after all they live in the Forest of Dean). They have had to rely on a battered but beautiful old dustbin, who has developed a character of her own, being full to the brim and always accompanied by saddlebags! Their other challenge is that they don't have a mixed plastics recycling collection, so are having to make careful choices.

However Mrs Green and the rest of the Greens have risen to the challenge in a way that goes beyond the dreams of possibilities. They're ditching the mixed plastics where possible, taking their own containers to the butchers and experimenting with all sorts to get rid of that trash. They are recycling everything they can and are managing the daily drag to the compost bin at the end of the very long garden. Within such a short period they have already hit their 50% target head on.

So there is nothing stopping the Greens now and they are absolutely on a roll. They've already been featured in their local paper and have even got a whole website dedicated to their mission...yes not just a blog, but a website.

If you pop along to you will find competitions, as well as offers and discounts on all things that they can get their hands on. There are newsfeeds to keep you up-to-date with what's happening in the world and of course an hilarious account of how they've risen to this mighty challenge.

And they have truly risen to it, because not only have they surpassed their own expectations, but they've accepted my suggestion to attempt their very own Zero Waste Week.

Yes....Zero Waste. That means trying to go for one whole week without putting anything in their landfill bin at all!

But we must remember Rome wasn't built in a day and it wouldn't seem fair to just thrust it upon them this quickly. So they've got a few more months to finish their rubbish work-out before attempting to go rubbish-free during the first week of September. So watch this space for news of their progress.

I have every confidence they will do well. They've pulled together some fantastic support from people who are encouraging them along the way. They've even inspired another blogger to join in, the lovely Sue who also lives in Gloucestershire, who you may have also seen contributing to the discussions on The Rubbish Diet this week.

Inspired by all the rubbish gossip, Sue's now set up her new blog too, Healthy Cheap Meals, Minimal Waste, where she happily shares her progress at slimming her bin and pulling together healthy meals on a budget. So do pop over and say hello. It's a sure way of saving some money too.

So it's time to put your hands together again and give a huge round of applause for the Greens for everything they have achieved and so quickly. And Sue, please take your bow too. What a fabulous effort and thank you so much for joining in the fun.

Blimey, what have I started? Is it a new blogging genre, a lifestyle makeover, or a revolution?

Chuckle...Who knows? I guess only time will tell. But whatever it is, it's wonderfully infectious and all the families who have taken part are absolute stars.

So what's next?

Well Ruby's at a level where she feels happy, Jo is looking forward to cutting Stinky Simon's rubbish a bit more and Mrs Green has got the most amazing project ahead of her.

How exciting!

But what about the Almost Average Household, here in Bury St Edmunds?

Well it's been nearly three months since the end of St Edmundsbury's Zero Waste Week and the big question is have we stuck to it?

Er yep. It's not quite Zero or Zilch but we're still pretty close to hardly anything.

Apart from a couple of dead birds, a stinky old polystyrene tray and some half-term cat litter, our weekly rubbish still amounts to about a quarter of a carrier bag.

I'm not sure if I've ever revealed what we regularly throw away, so maybe the time has show the contents of the Almost Average bin bag!

Cue drum roll.....

.......the bright lights...

...........and heightened suspense!


...well, here it is!

You see, I still have SOME household rubbish, which is mainly the film from Weetabix cartons, small scraps of bubblewrap that are of little use to anyone and my junior saboteur's favourite cheese wrapper, or rather the wrapper from his favourite cheese.

Some weeks you might find the odd crisp packet too, as well as a few cotton buds (but those will soon be eliminated as I have now found ones with paper sticks, so they can be composted).

So what are our next challenges...well it's still rubbish related of course. One of my first priorities is to get myself organised so that Mr A can happily take a packed lunch to work. Call me a control freak, but I have got no idea what goes on outside these four walls as far as Mr A's diet is concerned, but I bet it's got something to do with packets of crisps, takeaways and other nasties. So you see, I've got to take control and it will bring benefits.

It's going to be hard as it means some forward planning, which is really tricky for me. What makes it more difficult is that Mr A has certain tastes, which exclude sandwiches. One might suggest that he is a fussy booger, but it could also be argued that I am a lazy apeth. Between us we might find a solution, so stay tuned.

However, the biggest challenge will be our household declutter. That's a project and a half, which will need patience and some careful management and a bit of bin defence!

You see, when my back is turned Mr A dons his crown to become the King of Declutter, whipping himself into action to bin all of the crap and clutter in his sight and if I haven't got my wits about me it will all be destined for landfill.

So I need to summon up the energy to tidy, sort and pass things on to good homes...

Now that for me will be a greater challenge than Zero Waste Week. So if there are any declutterers out there who can help me re-organise my chateau, (sorry my three bedroomed semi) you will be welcomed with open arms.

And on that note, I'm off to fight my way through the mountain of kids clothes.

I hope you have a great weekend. The fabulous Recyclettes and I are celebrating their fantastic progress in style and will be virtually partying all weekend (all waste-free of course). See you next week for some more rubbish updates.


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