Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Life after Zero Waste Week: 6 months on

Look what came through the post this morning.

A plastic sellotape reel, in a re-used envelope, with a message that read "Don't say I never give you anything" on a card decorated with pretty flowers.

What a lovely piece of mail to arrive through my letter box on what is the 6th month anniversary of the start of my Zero Waste Week challenge.

Even regular readers are now probably thinking I've definitely lost it, you know in a sandwich short of a picnic kind of a way. But honestly I haven't because this little pressie was from Mrs Green, who suddenly ran out of sellotape during her recent Zero Waste Week. When I heard the news I was hit by a bright idea.

I'd received an email from the wonderful artist Fran Crowe at, to collect some of my rubbish for her latest project. So I thought this would be a fitting solution for Mrs Green's dilemma. So now that it's arrived, I will dutifully add the plastic reel to my shoebox of other rogue items, which include Mr A's vitamin blister packs, the packet of Quavers that I indulged in yesterday as well as a dodgy old slipper. (more on that later).

The other fabulous news that I discovered today is that my lovely friend Tracey Smith's book The Book of Rubbish Ideas is finally out in the shops. So you can at last go and buy your copy, hooray. It's what I call the perfect zero waste present for your friends, family and colleagues.

What a great end to a wonderful day.

I can safely say I am truly amazed how a zero waste challenge has changed family life since I signed up for it back in January.

Here are a few examples.

Then: 6 huge bin bags, approximately 300 cubic litres of waste was the amount we used to throw away in an average month. I used to stuff our bin bags so full that it was almost impossible to pull out from the kitchen bin. It was so heavy that it was Mr A's job to put the rubbish out.

Now: 1 small carrier bag worth of rubbish is what we now throw out every 4 weeks. Sometimes it takes 6 weeks to fill with sweetie wrappers, crisp wrappers, small amounts of leftover cat food and the odd broken toy. Mr A never puts the bins out anymore. It is my job and as we hardly use our black wheelie bin, it's now tucked up in the garage and shows its face only every couple of months when we've used cat litter.

Then: I used to recycle because I knew I should and followed the rules accordingly, but never really thought about the effect of rubbish on the environment. I was sometimes lazy and hardly ever thought about what could be recycled beyond the doorstep collection.

Now: Not only am I now aware of the environmental effect of residual waste buried in landfill, but it deeply concerns me, which is why I continue to buy so few items with packaging that can't be composted or recycled and feel so committed to spreading the message.

Then: I used Clingfilm like there was no tomorrow

Now: I have stopped using clingfilm and now use sealed containers, because there is a tomorrow.

Then: I used to throw the odd used slipper in the rubbish bin, not caring that it would end up in landfill

Now: Having found the other slipper, I wash it and save it in the hope that I'll find someone with one foot who might need just one slipper. Then after eight months feel the relief that I can hand it over for an art project.

Then: My children never really understood the concept of food waste or recycling.

Now: They now understand the message and what a Bokashi is for. My eldest understands recycling so much that if he sees the bin has so little in it, he just tells me I'm crap at recycling and I should do better.

Then: Grocery shopping was a burden, once a week in the supermarket.

Now: Grocery shopping is a pleasure, shopping as I go, picking up most of what I need from local shops and the market. I now enjoy the infrequent visits to the supermarket.

Then: I used to be a shopaholic. Spending lots of money on clothes and accessories that I admired in the shops.

Now: Now I can look and not buy, enjoying the moment of denial instead.

Then: Mr A would give me a disappointing look when I came home with a new handbag.

Now: Mr A gives me a bemused look, if I come home with another reusable bag.

Then: He would bring home shopping in plastic carrier bags.

Now: He has learned to juggle.

Then: I had friends.

Now: I also have rubbish friends.

Yes rubbish friends who I never even knew eight months ago, who now entertain my witterings whether they share the same enthusiasm about rubbish, or are just simply bemused.

So after rabbiting on for all these months, throwing the odd party here and there, I would like to thank everyone for sticking around and reassuring me that I'm not as mad as a hatter, especially those who have taken up the challenge, including Mrs Green, Jo Beaufoix and Ruby.

Most of all, I would like to thank everyone who has taken on the odd idea, shared ideas, spread the word and who might now be inspired to have a go at Zero Waste. The latest news is that Just Gai is going to give it a go to support her council in Bristol and has a new blog here. So please go and support her.

And while you bury your head in Tracey's new book, I'm taking myself off to a remote cave to bury my head in mine.

So carry on enjoying yourselves, don't be naughty and remember to wash out your yoghurt pots and if you're up for some fun, don't forget to send a contribution to the Carnival of Trash, which this month is being hosted by Beth over at Fake Plastic Fish.



Anonymous said...

Waaheeee! Congratulations on your 6 months anniversary.

And you had a packet of Quavers to celebrate - go you :D

Enjoy your day safe in the knowledge that in the past 6 months you have done much to change the world of rubbish and inspire others.

Mrs G x

Anonymous said...

Yay you! It's been such a journey! Today would have been my 2 yr anniversary @ St Eds and I'm enjoying a reminisce! I hope Fran's not going to be counting on you for her new display, otherwise it's going to be tiny!!!

Well done! Spk soon, Kate xxx

dandaworld said...

Hi! 6 months are a long time! And how many improvements!
Here's my support to go on and don't care if someone thinks you are mad! No, you are a very strong and conscious woman!
It's a sin for me not living there in your country... I would like to start my zero waste week too! But here in Italy I feel like a in a desert: some friends appreciate me in reducing waste but there isn't still the same feedback as I want. But I will never stop to do my little effort!
Sooner or later someone will follow me! ;-)


Ps.: I'm booking my copy of The book of rubbish idea! And have a good time in the cave with your manuscript! LOL

Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs A,

A quick six months and a huge amount of permanent change. At the start there were so few Zero Waste Enthusiasts. Now there are more and more every Zero Waste Week.
No one has mentioned a Zero Waste Christmas yet. Give it time.

Almost Mrs Average said...

Hi Mrs G - thank you. I've got a confession though... this Friday, not only did I get a packet of Quavers, but I also bought a pack of Hula Hoops. Oh no, what's happening to me? Better have another ZWW I think. :-D

Hi Kate - nice to hear from and we MUST catch up. Hope you had a good holiday and as for Fran, as you can guess, she'll get a wonderful line in crisp packets. :-D

Thanks Danda, I appreciate it. Should you be brave enough, we could work on your Zero Waste Week together. One thing it would highlight is what can be achieved against a backdrop of difficulty. No pressures though, just a suggestion. You never know what could happen. Anyway hope you enjoy Tracey's book :-D

Hi John - I know, it is so lovely to see all these people coming on board. I've recently been in touch with someone who went through the challenge a few years ago and am interviewing her next week for the blog. Her story should encourage others.

Thanks for the prompt about Christmas. It was a huge reminder to get on with my plans and I spent some time working on my Christmas list yesterday....needless to say, I've blogged about it, to share my specific thoughts. With what I want to achieve this year, I need to start early. ;-D

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