Sunday, 23 August 2009

Some things never change - even on holiday

The hill was steep and the steps were plenty.

Mr A reached the top before me, a rubbish bag in one hand, balanced by a box of cardboard tucked under the other. I'm not sure how he managed the bag of plastic bottles too, but he did.

We'd already locked up the Swiss holiday house where we'd spent the week exploring the beautiful Lake Maggiore - all packed up just in time to hand the keys to the contracted cleaner.

Well I think she was the cleaner. She turned up at the exact time we'd been instructed to depart, but she didn't speak English and I hadn't mastered enough Italian to ask. But she managed to mime a sweeping action so I guessed she was the designated lady with the mop.

Dropping off our rubbish was the last duty before we left the popular resort of San Nazarro and its stunning views over the lake.

Catching our breath from the steep climb, we finally made it to the communal waste collection point. There was no luxury of a domestic kerbside collection in this part of the continent.

And in temperatures of over 30C, lugging our rubbish to the top of the hill felt more than a mere inconvenience. If truth be told, it felt like a real burden. The only relief was that after a week in the holiday home our rubbish bag was still quite small

So Mr A bunged the rubbish bag into the garbage container - in a plastic sack as instructed by the local council.

The plastic PET bottles went into a separate collection bank.

Then clutching the box of cardboard, he hunted high-and-low for the paper bank.

But there wasn't one.

Defeated by the lack of facilities, he headed back towards the rubbish bin and began to lift the lid.

"Don't you dare!" I squealed, not quite realising that it sounded like a major threat.

Well I know it was only cardboard and that it would have been used to create energy in one of Switzerland's incinerators, but I couldn't let him just drop it into the rubbish bin. Not when there were other options

"It's only a bit of rubbish" came the reply.


Blimmin' 'eck. I thought he'd got the message. It was time to dig in my heels in order to hold my ground.

"It's not flippin' rubbish it's a very useful resource!" I maintained. "Let's just bung it in the car until we get to our next destination, where I know there is a paper bank."

Then came the stony face.

"You're having a laugh!"

"Have you seen how jam-packed it is?"

The mood was definitely getting serious and with gestures worthy of our continental location he thrusted the bundle of cardboard into my arms.

"If you're that determined, you can bloody well sit with it on your lap!"

And that's how we left the rubbish bins, with me prepared to sit with a bundle of cardboard on a car journey around the lake, through Locarno, around the twisting bends of Centovalli, entering Italy and leaving again amidst the dramatic landscape of the Swiss Alps; a 5 hour trip culminating in a visit to the cardboard bank in Leysin, our next stopover on our Swiss road-trip.

I should be relieved that Mr A hasn't divorced me for my determination.

I can picture the scene:

"She insisted on recycling the cardboard Your Honour! It was the finale of an unhealthy decline and I could take no more."

It's a good job my brother-in-law made an unexpected intervention.

As we bid our farewells - or rather arrivederci - to my sister and her family who we'd travelled all the way to Switzerland to visit, he kindly offered to take the bundle off my hands and drop it into the recycling point at the local train station.

Such a simple gesture leaving me to concentrate on managing the passports and enjoying the view from the car window.

And enjoy the view I did...

...while feeling relieved that Mr A hadn't noticed the empty sweetcorn cans I'd sneaked into the car only hours earlier.

Perhaps I need another holiday. I know Mr A certainly does to recover.


Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Big Green Blog Gathering

Today is day 4 of the Big Green Blog Gathering and I would like to thank our host Emma Cooper of for not just hosting the event but for inviting me to get involved.

I'd also like to thank all of you who have popped by, whether you've just happened on the virtual gathering by accident or have deliberately dropped in with a keen interest in reducing waste and to find out more about The Rubbish Diet Experience.

No matter where you are in the push for consumer zero waste I hope my personal story will help inspire you further, whether it's starting from scratch or going that extra mile to slim your bin.

So without further ado, I will begin my presentation of how I managed to slim my bin last year in our local council's Zero Waste Challenge [just click on the play button to start]

The Rubbish Diet: The 8 Week Zero Waste Challenge

Of course the journey to reducing waste starts now and as we're very lucky at the Big Green Blog Gathering to have excellent recycling facilities, I ask you to help us by putting your plastic bottles, cans and paper into the separate bins provided as well as separating your tea bags, fruit peelings and apple cores for the compost bin.

And don't just stop there. When you leave this virtual festival and step back out into your local town or cities, please keep your eyes peeled for local facilities that help you recycle on the go too. If local facilities aren't available and you want to be really commited, remember you can always take your empty bottles and cans back with you and pop them into your recycling bin at home to ensure they don't go to waste.

Finally if you're organising your own festival, there are a whole host of recycling organisations that can help. A few that I discovered quite recently include the very appropriately named Event Recycling and the Maker Green Team, who will endeavor to make your event as rubbish free as possible, helping your audience divert as many recycling resources from landfill as they can.

And if you want to keep up with what the best eco-festivals are doing to manage their waste, pop over to the Waste Connect site for further inspiration, or stay a while and watch this video of how the Green Festival manages its waste over in the U.S.

Well I hope you've enjoyed your visit today and if you have any questions please feel free to ask. I'll be hanging about for a while and will do my best to answer them before I have to disappear off, otherwise I will be back in touch at the end of August. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the rest of the Big Green Blog Gathering over at


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