Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Ring in the cash with your old phone

If you've got a drawer full of unused mobile phones hanging about your house, then you'll love this website, which allows you to instantly compare the resale value of your old technology from up to 29 mobile recycling companies.

At you simply search for the make and model of your old gadgetry and within seconds you can see which companies provide the highest price even if the phone is broken.  Useful eh, especially at this time of year, when you could be in line for an upgrade this Christmas. You just follow the instructions and send off your phone and you'll soon receive your cash.  And if you're a generous type, the site even shows which companies allow you to donate the proceeds directly to charity.

I can't wait for the day when I get to swap my old Nokia N97 smartphone for some cash.  I missed the opportunity three months ago, when my mobile contract was up for renewal and I decided to stick with my old phone and save money instead of upgrading.  Typically, within weeks of that decision my phone started to play up, rebooting itself in a sporadic fashion combined with memory problems that stop text messages coming through, as well as blocking access to the Internet.

Now that I know I can get cash even for a phone that doesn't work properly, I'll be champing at the bit to send it off when I upgrade in 15 months time....that's if it lasts that long.  If not, I'll be sending it sooner so I can invest in a reliable carrier pidgeon to deliver my messages.

It's easy to think that just because a piece of technology is outdated, broken, or isn't working properly, that it no longer has value, but this site helps to show that even very old models can fetch in a couple of pounds.

But don't just take my word for it.  Go and see for yourself and check out what you could earn for recycling those mobiles that are just gathering dust at home. Take a quick gander at and you might be pleasantly surprised.


Blogger disclaimer:  This post has been sponsored by as part of Karen Cannard's fundraising activities, where the full proceeds have been donated to the EACH Treehouse Appeal to build a new children's hospice in Suffolk.  The sponsorship arrangement has not impacted on the publishing of this post or the tone in which it has been written.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Let's not waste this Christmas: Adopt Baglady for 2011

Would you like to live more sustainability but need a helping hand from an experienced old drama queen? Maybe you're an eco-minded blogger who wants a great excuse to offer even more inspiration to your readers in 2011.

If this sounds like you and you fancy making your mark on creating a more sustainable society, please consider giving bonkers old Baglady a place in your home for 2011. To put it frankly, she's been hanging around here for much of 2010 and it's about time I moved her on. She won't take up much of your time I promise and in good olde Irish tradition, you can kick her out and send her on her way after you've helped her out a bit and when she's finished the washing up!

Baglady, aka environmental film-maker Shirley Lewis, hails from Northern Ireland and has pledged to help individuals and communities to live ASAP, i.e, As SUSTAINABLY as Possible. In her inimitable style she has been busy sorting out her local MPs and in 2011 she's planning on chatting up some more. In readiness she's collecting as many personal pledges as possible to take to her local assembly in June 2011 to help influence government policy and encourage politicians everywhere to take the lead in their own communities.  So she really needs your help!

What can you do?

It's very easy and won't take much time at all, no matter where in the world you are. Just spend a couple of minutes visiting Baglady's website and pledge to Take Up an idea that is sustainable and Give Up doing something in your life that isn't. Christmas is a great time to reflect on this and the new year is the perfect opportunity to set yourself some new goals and the children can get involved too.

There are also other ways in which you can help in the new year.  Baglady's campaign Round 2 ASAP is being officially launched by her PR company on 11/1/11 but she is an impatient old bag and wants to get the party started sooner than that. Well she is 590 million years old and has waited long enough, so who could blame her.

So if you are a blogger who would like to join Baglady in her SECRET INTERNET LAUNCH, sign up now! Taking place between 1st-10th January, all you need to do is blog about your own ASAP pledge and invite a few friends to do the same and help keep her going. It'll be fabulous to see how far she'll end up before she needs to be back in Northern Ireland on June 21st. 

Oh I love nothing better than a super duper secret launch party. If you would like to be involved as an ASAP Secret Launch blogger, please email me at karen[at]therubbishdiet[dot]co[dot]uk and I'll be happy to send out the official press release and blog badge and answer any questions that you might have.

So please let's not waste this Christmas: ADOPT BAGLADY FOR 2011 TODAY!


More information about Baglady and Pledge ASAP can be found at .
Blogger's disclaimer: Karen Cannard is currently working with Shirley Lewis as an adviser for Round2 ASAP.

Friday, 5 November 2010

TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch streams live this Saturday

This Saturday 6 November you have the opportunity to take part in an amazing worldwide live screening of the TEDxGreatPacificGarbagePatch conference, which has been organised by the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

The theme is the Global Plastic Pollution Crisis and will be a forum where issue experts, youth leaders, visual and performing artists, actors, musicians, politicians and many others will share observations on how plastic pollution affects ocean/environmental health and public health; explore solutions for reducing our plastic footprint, and begin to develop ideas about eliminating plastic pollution through individual action as well as public- and private-sector innovation.

Beth Terry from Fake Plastic Fish will also be contribibuting to the line up through her presentation, aptly titled Leading by Example.

So what can you do to contribute?  Well, you certainly don't have to trek all the way to California. to take part.  In fact, you don't even have to leave your comfy seat.  Just drop back here at 8.30am Pacific Time (that'll be 3.30pm GMT) and simply sit back and watch the live-stream.  And if there's anything you'd like to share, just tweet or facebook the news.

Here's the trailer, but on Saturday this little piece of  IT magic will be streaming the conference live.

tedxgp2 on Broadcast Live Free

Monday, 27 September 2010

Baglady's ASAP pledge programme

It's amazing what kids can achieve when given the right resources and inspiration.  Last week, I wrote about an amazing lady who is trying to change the lives of children and their families on a dumpsite in South Africa.  This week, it's the turn of another fabulous woman, from just over the water in Northern Ireland, who's working with schools and politicians to help create a sustainable future for all.

The lady I'm talking about is none other than Baglady, aka broadcaster Shirley Lewis, whose action-provoking ASAP pledge programme not only inspires kids to adopt sustainable choices but encourages adults to take the lead too.  Pledge ASAP was launched earlier this year and is going from strength-to-strength, with round 2 starting very soon.

Have a look at the video below to see the effects of the pledge programme in Northern Ireland, and when you're done it, would be great if you could consider adding your pledge, no matter where you are.  Just visit, where you will find out how you can make a difference.

I took my pledge in the summer too.  To "read all about it" pop over to my fairly new blog at, where I'll be keeping you up-to-date with my various attempts at living ASAP in the almost average household!  My poor husband.  I bet he can't wait to find out what's in store for him this time.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Can you help Blue Crane Recycling help people in need?

One of the children who Blue Crane Recycling are trying to help

Have you ever had an email from someone overseas asking for help?  Like me, you've probably had many, marked them as spam and deleted them from your mailbox for good. But one message stood out earlier this year.  It was from a lady called Megan Cockroft, who is fighting to set up a recycling initiative to help some of South Africa's poor and this is what she said.

"I know I am taking a chance here but I was wondering if you perhaps know of a recycling organisation in your country that might be interested in sponsoring such an undertaking? At the 'dump site' there are scavengers, very poor people that live there and scratch though the garbage daily with their children, little babies walking in the filth. My first aim is to create a creche  for these children away from the dump-site, a clean healthy place with proper food and care and schooling. The second priority is to help these people to earn an income for themselves by creating self employment opportunities and job creation. When the recycling facility is set up a number of these people will be employed on a permanent basis, the rest will be used to sort the waste into different categories such as glass, tin, plastic, paper etc. this will be weighed and paid accordingly. As the business develops we will look to incorporate housing facilities for them as well".
Well, could you turn your back on such a request for much needed help?  I certainly couldn't, so short of flying out to South Africa I endeavoured to find out more about Megan's project via a series of lengthy emails and work out how best I could offer my support.  The starting point is to share her story here in the hope to link Megan with organisations and individuals who can lend a helping hand.

 Meet Megan Cockroft.

Originally from Port Elizabeth, South Afica, she and her husband Rick decided to move their young family away from the city to a small town in the Little Karoo after an experience of violent crime and numerous house breakings.  This was almost three years ago.

Within twelve months of moving to the country, they set up a small recycling business, Blue Crane Recycling, a great idea, but one that has been fraught with a number of stumbling blocks.  However, no matter how tough, Megan's journey has forged her inspiration to set up an enterprise that will help others who are in greater need than her.

"We initially got the business off the ground and started working," Megan told me, "but seven months later we had a terrible fire at our work premises and nearly lost everything. Our local municipality granted us permission to move the business to the local dumpsite and subsequently gave us a five year contract to process and recycle the entire town's waste on condition we got the neccessary permit". Following the change of location, Megan has been a regular visitor to the dumpsite and this is how she learned of the local people's desperate plight.
"There are about 15 - 20 people who live and scavenge at the dumpsite" she says " I now know most of them personally and always try to help them in any way that I can but I have realised that they are not benefiting from handouts, what they need is a source of income. Once we have set up the business on the site, I plan to give them the tools to help themselves."
"At they moment they are living on less than R50 per week, which roughly converted to pounds  is about £4.50 and most of them have families to support as well. Through our Environmental Impact Study,  based on the current volumes of trash and potential recyclable volumes we have estimated that they will earn R400 (£36)  per week or more.  Although this is not 'fireworks' it will assist them considerably."

Megan and Richard hope to employ 5 people on a permanent basis and create 20 -25 self-employment opportunities to support the people who live and scavenge on the dumpsite.  There is great support from the community to make this happen but the Cockcrofts have found it impossible to get funding from the local authorities. That's why she has turned to the international community to seek help.

Megan is keen to highlight that they are not specifically looking for handouts but opportunities to raise funding for a social enterprise project about which they are very passionate.  And she is committed to paying back every penny of any loans that are offered.

Blue Crane Recycling is not a registered charity, but is closely associated with  the charity organisation Afrikaanse Christelikke Vrouens Vereniging  (ACVV), which provides social welfare services for families in need.  ACVV will manage all funds allocated towards Megan and Richard's recycling project to ensure that monies are spent correctly.  Megan is already involved with voluntary work with the organisation, handing out bread, fruit and cold drinks every Friday to under-privileged children in their part of town.

I asked Megan what kind of support she needs.

"To start with we need about R150 000 (roughly £13,000).  This is mostly for the purchase of 2 LDV's which is crucial given the demographics of our town and distance to point of sale (210 km).  Fencing is also needed to enclose the area we work in so as to contain the garbage as well as basic equipment for the sorters, namely spades, wheelbarrows etc". For equipment and machinery etc, we require a further R200 000 (£17,500)  The sooner we can get operational the sooner everyone can start earning an income and improving their lives.
One of the benefits of this business is that there will always be garbage and always recyclable goods and profit can be seen almost within two weeks of operation. The most critical of all is a vehicle to get the recyclables to market,from then on we can slowly build up our the enterprise".

There is great scope for this project and once fully functional Blue Crane Recycling will be able to process cardboard, paper, mixed plastics and glass, putting an end to it being buried or illegally burnt on the dumpsite.

I am aware of a couple of organisations with whom I can put Megan in touch, but I know there are many readers of this blog who have greater knowledge than me about international fundraising for children and families in such poverty as well as contacts in recycling organisations that might be able to help.  Just sharing this story via Twitter or Facebook could even help.

If you have any ideas or connections with a recycling organisation that might be keen to get involved with social enterprise projects or are even considering investing in businesses overseas, Megan would be delighted to hear from you.  Her contact details are

Thank you so much in advance for anything you can do.

ADDENDUM, 15 Sept 2010: If anyone wants to make an individual donation, Megan has just informed me of the account details for the ACVV charity branch that is local to her, where direct transfers can be made.  All monies will be managed by the ACVV charity, but you need to reference any donation with BCRECYCLING to ensure the funds are allocated to this project.  Megan will keep us up-to-date with how much is raised and how the project is progressing.

Account Name: ACVV Somerset OOS
Bank: ABSA
Branch Code 334418
Account no: 2200140004
Cheque account

This post was compiled during National Zero Waste Week 2010, whilst I was blogging from Saints Cafe in Bury St Edmunds about their fabulous ides to help minimise food waste.  The Blue Crane Recycling project was never far from my mind and what struck me this week was the statistic that an average family wastes £50 per month, throwing away food that could have otherwise been used if it was stored or managed properly.  It's blue sky thinking but what if all that money could be used to help level the imbalance of poverty instead of food that's left to rot in landfill?   It just highlights that the food waste problem in the UK is not just an environmental problem, it's a wasted opportunity to help alleviate poverty too.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Friday Fishcakes

On Day 5 of National Zero Waste Week, today's pot-luck lunch at Saints was a fabulous example of why I really should sort out my relationship with the fish that's lurking in my freezer at home.

Don't get me wrong, I actually like fish, but my imagination only goes as far as making fish pie, baking cod steaks or getting a battered fish from the chip shop.  It's the kind of thing that I cook at home because I feel I should, but never get excited about otherwise.

Hence, I really do have around a dozen pieces of tuna and cod that have been left in a frozen state, waiting for their release date from the freezer.   But eh that's progress, whenever I used to buy fish before I started The Rubbish Diet, chances were that it would remain in the fridge until after its use-by date then get bunged in the bin with the packaging intact!

But that was back then and despite my former disposition, I now feel that I've got the inspiration to deal with my larder of frozen fish thanks to the fishcakes that were served today.

Now don't fall off your chairs will you, but I finally managed to capture the elusive Engin on camera today as he talked me through the contents of the fishcakes. And here he is, sharing the wisdom that just like soups, pies and stews, fishcakes are great for using up odd pieces of spare vegetables.

Today's fishcakes contained a mixture of salmon and sea bass, combined with mashed potato, chilli peppers, grated carrots and leeks.  I can also envisage they'd also be great for using up grated courgettes, cheese and any other bits and bobs that might be found in the average salad drawer.  The coating is something that I've never got my head around but Engin explained that he uses a light batter made from eggs, milk and flour.

So my challenge now is to see if I can have the confidence to recreate fishcakes at home.  If I can, I know I will be extremely popular with the kids....well, that's if I leave out the chilli pepper.

Today's lunch made a fabulous end to what's been a great week here at Saints. I'd like to thank owners Engin and Bernadette for being such great sports in supporting this year's National Zero Waste Week and for the delicious inspiration and fabulous hospitality of their wonderful staff.   It's been a great opportunity to share some of their professional expertise in minimising waste and I now feel reinspired to shake up the menu on the homefront and put my leftover veg to much better use

I've also had some brilliant company here too and I've been joined by some of my lovely friends, many of whom have been more than happy to talk rubbish with me.

Take my friend Fi for instance, who despite it being her birthday today, got engrossed in discussing how she is busy concentrating on ways to minimise waste in a new business that she's setting up on the outskirts of Bury.  But just in case you feel sorry for her having to gab on about rubbish, don't, we'll be out on the town later celebrating her birthday properly and gossiping about other interesting things.

And on the topic of other matters of interest, it just so happens that BBC Radio Suffolk's Rob Dunger dropped into town today, researching his new weekend show feature called "Looking Up", which highlights intriguing details about well used thoroughfares around Suffolk towns.  I managed to catch up with him for ten minutes, and was treated to a whole lot of fascinating facts about the history of buildings that line Abbeygate Street, where Saints cafe is based.  In fact, even the view from my favourite table at Saints reveals the pestle and mortar sculpture on the wall of what once was the old apothecary (currently a pasty shop).  And the clock face has an interesting fact about it too, which Rob will no doubt reveal when he covers Bury St Edmunds next week.

In the meantime, I think I may have blagged an interview with Mr Dunger on his programme tomorrow morning.   So if you're up between 6am-9am, do try and tune in.  Even if you're outside Suffolk, you can catch him online at  In fact here's the chap himself, the very lovely Dungerman snapped getting ready to take photos of Bury St Edmunds for his Facebook page.

And do pop by here tomorrow too, as I will also be revealing the more serious side of what I've been getting up to this week.   My focus has not just been on having a good time you know and tomorrow I'll be asking for your help in a blogpost which I've prepared in order to support a very worthwhile cause.

More information about National Zero Waste Week can be found at and details about Saints Cafe can be found at

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Sardine Surprise

It's Day 4 of my National Zero Waste Week visit to foodie heaven Saints Cafe, and today's "pot luck" lunch revealed another great use for ciabatta, this time served with sardine fillets, which were broken up and combined with a zingy tomato and pepper salsa.

So again, I can confirm that this was totally delicious and is indeed a fabulous way of serving sardines, a fish that so rarely gets on my menu at home that I can count the number of times I've cooked it on one finger!

And what you see to the right is a strawberry and melon lassi, made from the over-ripe fruit that I mentioned yesterday and blended with yoghurt and milk and a dash of lime juice.

I arrived at Saints unusually early this morning and the cafe was packed, so I squeezed myself onto the larger table where I was accompanied by a whole range of  regular customers including a man with a laptop at the other end of the table.

Being a nosey old bird with a penchant for talking to strangers, my line of questioning soon revealed that the man with the laptop, aka Will Bryant, happened to work for professional catering equipment company AKRO who supply a whole range of goods to independent eateries as well as larger organisations including hospitals, school and colleges.

Will is the company's International Sales Manager and we soon got onto the subject of waste and what particularly interested me from the conversation was the extent of "disposable items" that are sold within the sector that are actually made from recycled materials that have reached the end of their life due to their lower grade. I'd never come across AKRO before so took a look at its website and although my heart lies in reusable, it's good to see a mainstream company that serves a disposable-hungry catering sector with greener alternatives.

AKRO also works closely with the Carbon Trust, and caterers who wish to upgrade their ovens to a more fuel-efficient model are encouraged to apply for a carbon loan, where the monthly interest can be easily paid from the fuel savings brought by the new technology.

So as well as enjoying another imaginative and delicious lunch today, I've also come away with more food for thought about what goes on behind the scenes at our nation's eateries.  It's just a shame that Will from AKRO was as elusive to the camera as cafe owner Engin has been this week.

But guess what, I finally managed to grab a quick snapshot of Engin he was hot-stepping it away from the camera.   Better luck next time eh!


National Zero Waste Week is an awareness campaign organised by My Zero Waste.  For more information visit

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Feel Good Chicken Soup at Saints Cafe

For anyone who's looking for refreshing ways to use up any excess chicken from their Sunday Roast, here's some more inspiration from Saints Cafe on Day 3 of National Zero Waste Week.

Today's lunch was Feel Good Chicken Soup, which regularly features on the Specials menu, using whichever vegetables are available on the day. The contents may change each time but the flavour is consistent thanks to the delicious home-made stock.  This lunchtime, the ingredients included courgettes with onions as well as some leeks.  I've had this soup before and remember there being chunks of potatoes and carrots at other times.

Over the autumn and winter months I become a real fan of heart-warming soups, but tend to use stock cubes or my own chicken stock, which never reaches the taste quality of the soups that are served at Saints, so I couldn't resist tapping Engin for some top tips on making stock.

And the tips I am taking away today include a reminder to use potatoes and a balance of green vegetables as well as the usual bay leaf, herbs and seasoning.  But what's grabbed my attention today is Engin's advice to grate vegetables such as carrots, which really helps to release and intensify the flavour, and is a more eco-friendly style of cooking too as the flavour is brought out more quickly.

Today's soup was served with toasted garlic ciabatta, using perfectly edible loaves that would be too dry to live up to the quality of Saints' fresh ciabatta sandwiches.  Quite often these loaves are also toasted and used for making croutons too.

I also had a surprise treat this lunchtime, which was a smoothie made up of strawberries that were too soft to serve as a dessert, so were whizzed up with orange juice and a dash of lime - delicious.

So, I am totally feeling like a very spoiled customer, making this the most enjoyable Zero Waste Week ever.  However, there have been a couple of mishaps at home, which I will tell you about at the end of the week.

In the meantime, skirting away from my haphazard happenings on the domestic front, please do say hello to Sandy who dropped in to keep me company today.  I know Sandy from when I originally joined BuryLETS, but these days she is more heavily involved in the Suffolk's Wildlife Trust's Barn Owl project.

Sandy's taking an active part in this year's National Zero Waste Week too and has already made a pledge at to get creative in the kitchen.  While we sat over coffee I got the low down on how she made some fabulous muffins this week using some stewed blackcurrants that were still in the fridge.

After stewing the blackberries last week, Sandy added extra sugar to the top of the jar to preserve them for longer, and used the intact pieces of fruit (as a replacement for blueberries) to add to the muffin mixture, which incorporated 3 eggs, 6oz self raising flour, 6oz caster sugar and 6oz Bertolli's spread. 

This has definitely encouraged me to check out the remains of the stewed blackberries that I've got sitting in my fridge and have a go at making them at home. They only take about 15-20 minutes to cook so could be a lovely surprise for the kids later.

However my biggest challenge this week is to see if I can get a photo of the elusive Engin, cafe owner and chef extraordinaire, who seems to disappear every time I pull out my camera.  I'm sure you'd all like to see a snapshot of the man behind the fabulous food I've been enjoying this week.  So watch this space and see what happens.


More information about National Zero Waste Week can be found at   While you're there, please take the opportunity to visit this urgent post, encouraging readers to take part in an online Defra survey about how England should manage its waste. The deadline is 9 September, which happens to be this Thursday.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The one that doesn't yet have a name


Take some toasted ciabatta and add a delicious topping of grated parmesan, some over-ripened Suffolk tomatoes, Essex onions, red pesto and local organic free-range chicken and you've got a mouth-watering lunch made especially for me.

Yes, it's Day 2 of my mission to pick up some inspiration from Saints Cafe for National Zero Waste Week and I have to say, I could get used to having my own personal chef.

Engin would have normally used these ingredients to create a fabulous house stew, but this Zero Waste Week is giving Saints a great excuse to test out some new ideas...and this dish is so new it doesn't even have a name.  Could this be an opportunity for suggestions on a postcard?

I'm really enjoying this Zero Waste Week and am beginning to feel totally pampered.  Having already indulged in a facial this morning, followed by another lunch of great local zero waste food, I'm also enjoying the company of some great friends, who will be both joining me at the screening of No Impact Man this evening at the Abbeygate Picturehouse Bury St Edmunds.

So do say hello to the lovely Lucy Middleton, who is a Marketing and PR Strategist, specifically working in the eco sector and the fabulous Alison Plumridge, winner of two Green Suffolk awards for her work as Director of the Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, soon to be renamed Smiths Row.  (Update: in my excitement, I almost forgot to mention that Alison and her colleagues are this week kicking off a scheme to swap excess supplies of home-grown produce in honour of National Zero Waste Week.  I bet Mrs Green at MyZeroWaste will be chuffed to hear that).

More information about National Zero Waste Week can be found and if you fancy joining me at Saints this week, do pop in even if you are at risk of appearing in a blogpost.  If you've never had the joy of visiting before, you can find all details at their website   Of course, if you're at the local screening of No Impact Man tonight, which starts at 8.30pm, please do say hello at the post movie Q&A session that I'm delighted to be hosting (MyZeroWaste are also hosting the one at Oxford, so if you're in the vicinity, be sure to give them a huge wave too).  Information about all screenings can be found at

Monday, 6 September 2010

Roasted tomato soup madam? Oh yes please.

Bernadette, one of the owners of Saints Cafe, where they always provide a friendly welcome.     

As well as its great food, the one thing I especially love about Saints is the fabulous atmosphere and very warm welcome. It's the kind of place where the owners and staff let you get on with your business in a non-intrusive manner, but if you're the type to seek out some friendly chat and humorous banter, there's plenty on offer, to make this one of the most engaging eateries in town.  

So, can you imagine how delighted I am to have a valid excuse to dine out at Saints Cafe to celebrate the National Zero Waste Week awareness campaign.  It's like home from home, but without having to do the cooking. And I'm here all week, learning some great tips in using up perfectly healthy ingredients that might not be obvious to an average householder. 

And today's lesson is the humble tomato, which when freshly delivered is great for summer salads but when the sides soften don't look so great on the plate. 

In the past, I would have just chucked out any tomato that didn't sport firmness worthy of a six-pack, but  I now know better and have since boiled up plenty of very ripe tomatoes to serve up an unidentifiable "Cannard Creation".   Anything to avoid waste, even if it did mean I'd be sat on my lonesome at the dining table. 

What I've really needed is a good dash of inspiration so when Engin at Saints told me that today's "pot luck" lunch was Roasted Tomato Soup, both my tastebuds and imagination jumped for joy.  No sooner had I sat down and settled myself in getting ready to blog and have a natter on Facebook, Kathryn arrived with the soup and accompanying garlic bread.

So for a proper look at what was on today's "pot luck" menu, and a game of  "guess the ingredients" here's the close-up shot!  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Roasted Tomato Soup, courtesy of Saints.

Being a tomato lover, this soup was just the ticket for my first day in the cafe.  It was delicious, full of mediterranean flavour and the texture was just perfect, and I managed to grab Engin for a quick run-down of  ingredients....although I am quite proud of myself that I guessed most of them, even if there was one ingredient that totally suprised me.

Aside from the vine tomatoes, which were roasted in olive oil for 20 minutes, the other vegetables included onions, carrots, celery, all softened on the hob with olive oil to release their flavour.  And the surprise vegetable was potato, which Engin introduced as the ingredient "no soup should be without" due to its fantastic thickening properties.

With the skins removed, the roasted tomatoes and pan juices were added to the softened vegetables and brought to the boil in a pan of regular home-made vegetable stock, seasoned with fresh coriander, a touch of basil, some parsley, salt & pepper and simmered for 20 minutes.  It was then whizzed up (my words not Engin's) and served with some fresh cream and a sprig of parsley.

So how easy is that!  It's definitely something I have the confidence to recreate at home.  And while I've been typing up this blogpost, I've already been contemplating this soup as a great rescue recipe for some squashy tomatoes and bendy carrots I have at home, as well as some onions and potatoes that have begun to soften.

The only problem is, those soft potatoes I mentioned.....well, er, I have an awful feeling that in my hurry to exit my holiday lodge at Center Parcs this morning I left them in one of the kitchen cupboards. My only hope is that I left my husband there to pack up the car while I dashed off to take the kids to school.

So as I end this post with a keen desire to make Roasted Tomato Soup at home tonight, the mystery of the potatoes might just thwart me.  And given that my hubby was close to throwing them in the compost bin last week when all they needed was a wash and the eyes removed, I've got a feeling that if he had found them, he might have left them there.

Oh well.  That'll get me back to the drawing board then.

In the meantime, my huge thanks go to Engin and Bernadette at Saints for a fabulous Day 1.  I look forward to coming back to see what's on the menu tomorrow.


It's not too late to join in the National Zero Waste Week.  For more information about how you can get involved, visit

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Guess who'll be hanging out with Saints for National Zero Waste Week?

I've taken my husband there, my children, my mother and most of my friends in Bury and friends who visit from further afield, not to mention an eco-friendly fireman and an incognito waste campaigner.  So I thought it's about time I introduced you to my favourite café to hit Bury St Edmunds too, where I hope you will join me next week to help celebrate an exciting week that's about to hit the blogosphere.

Yes, Monday sees the start of National Zero Waste Week, an annual social media campaign that promotes ideas for waste reduction. Developed and managed by the grassroots website, it is now in its third year, and for the first time is sponsored by Tetra Pak.

This year’s theme, ‘Cooking for Victory’, is supported by celebrity chef Brian Turner CBE, who will share how he views food as an asset on the MyZeroWaste website and will demonstrate “a compost while you cook” approach during National Zero Waste Week. The topics are a response to research by WRAP that reveals households throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food and drink every year, costing the average family in Britain £50 per month.

Enthused by the celebrity chef’s commitment to the national awareness campaign, I asked Saints Café if they would also be prepared to help inspire people at a more local level, serving me a daily “pot luck lunch” to showcase how delicious meals can be made from even small amounts of usable healthy ingredients that busy households might otherwise throw away.  Can you imagine my excitement when they said yes!

Saints Café owners, Engin Aga and Bernadette McAleer, said: "since launching earlier in the year, we have always placed a high emphasis on minimising food waste, sourcing seasonal and local produce where we can, cooking in small batches and fresh to order, along with running a careful stock control system to ensure that the ‘Zero Waste’ model is never far from being achieved.

“We are very excited about the project and are pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate that efficient use of ingredients can reduce household food waste and save families hundreds of pounds a year too”.

Rachelle Strauss, aka Mrs Green, from MyZeroWaste adds "I'm thrilled that Karen has teamed up with Saints Café to promote National Zero Waste Week locally. It would be great if other eateries across Bury and Suffolk join in too, inspiring their own customers with ideas to try ‘pot luck recipes’ at home in a bid to reduce the nation’s waste.”

Despite having reduced my waste by 95% since I started The Rubbish Diet in 2008, I know I’ve got lax over the summer and so it will be great to pick up some new ideas and inspiration from one of my favourite cafés in Suffolk. There is a real buzz in the UK at the moment, where professionals are even being signed up by production companies to share their knowledge with prime-time audiences on national TV.   It’s an exciting time for raising awareness locally.

Professional chefs are extremely talented in managing food as a resource and minimising waste and even Brian Turner believes there is a role for local chefs to promote their food efficiency skills amongst their own customer community in a way that is fun and accessible. He says “To all chefs - make the world a better place, buy well, waste 'nout and make a bit more profit at the same time, it'd be daft not to.”

So if you fancy joining me next week at Saints for a coffee or even some lunch yourself, do pop in.  I'll be there enjoying good food and blogging from 1pm every day.  If you do, and can share a top tip or two, I'll even feature you on the blog!   But if you live too far away to come along, don't worry, I'll be sharing their top tips and recipes on the blog throughout National Zero Waste Week, before I pack up and attempt to use up everything from my fridge at home.

So how excited am I to have a legitimate excuse to be a lady who lunches!   Well the answer is very, so do keep coming back for all the updates and if you've got a blog, why not blog about it too.

National Zero Waste Week takes place from 6th-12th September. Anyone can pledge to join in at, where there will be prizes for the most inspirational stories and opportunities to share news on Facebook and Twitter. For further information about Saints Café, check out their website at

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Clutter be gone! I now need a blimmin' rest.

Well that'll teach me to be more careful with my money and all the stuff that comes into our home from impulse buys and random gifts.

My arms feel like they're ready to drop off.  My feet detached themselves hours ago and my back is distinctively telling me that it is still there.  And it is never pleasant when one's back muscles begin to heckle!

Today was the day that the big event finally arrived.  The Big Huge Summer Declutter organised by BBC Radio Suffolk and EACH's Treehouse Appeal to raise money for a new children's hospice.  My goal was to turn up alongside 600 other participants to lay out my pitch at the biggest car boot sale that I've ever experienced.

I know many people love car boots sales, but personally I have never particularly warmed to them.  It's the early starts and bargaining over 10p here and 5p there that truly test my patience.  So today really had to be worth the effort, which is why I pledged to donate all the proceeds of our pitch to the Treehouse Appeal.

Of course I could have just donated our unwanted stuff to the charity shop.  That would have been much easier than getting up at the crack of dawn and sitting in a traffic jam in Ipswich, before being rained on and sunburnt within a matter of hours.  But that wouldn't have given me the lesson that I very much needed today, which was the kick up the backside in discovering the real value of  the stuff with which I - along with the help of others - have been cluttering up our home over the last decade.

And yes, it's no coincidence that the amount of clutter we've accumulated is in direct relation to having had two young children. Most parents will recognise the routine:  birthdays; rainy days; hobbies; keep them happy days; boring days; cheer-up days; keep-up-with-the-Jones days; guilty days and Christmas.Then there's all the stuff they make at schools and clubs.  But the more one acquires, the harder it is to keep on top of, especially when the kids really love their belongings or you don't want to offend someone by selling or giving away an unwanted present, or if you've paid a huge amount of money for something that is no longer needed or wanted.  Then there's the case of not having time to keep on top of your stuff until it begins to cripple your free space and your sanity!

Although many might regard car boot sales as a celebration of reuse, I can't help see them as a cathedral to discards and obsolescence.  The setting is perfect for the average buyer, as there are plenty of bargains galore with the opportunity to snap up essentials and luxuries for great prices.  However, for the seller, it's a wake-up call to see something that once cost £25 -  and which remains in perfect condition and still in trend - disappear into the distance for just 50p.

Don't get me wrong, I've not got any gripes over such transactions.  It's certainly not the buyer's fault that I was daft enough to pay through the nose for something I've hardly used and I really quite like seeing people enjoy their bargains.  If I was that bothered about recovering the cost I'd opt for eBay. And it has to be said, that convenience-wise, if you're missing the organisation gene like me, the advantage of car-boot sales is that a whole load of stuff can be taken off your hands within a matter of hours without the effort of nipping backwards and forwards to the post office.

No, the lesson from today was to continue to be mindful of the impact of every acquisition that comes into our home, whether it's bought brand-new or as cheap bargains, or even gifted or donated.  Even if something is free, it can still  remain under-used and unappreciated and left to age in a drawer waiting to be dealt with.  In such instances, I'd be better off overcoming my clutter bug nature and declining freebies, letting others put them to good use instead.  Likewise, with clothes and books being my particular weakness, it's perhaps time to reconsider what I really do actually need.

However, with all that said, I'm pretty pleased that all those presents we've bought ourselves or have been given to us by friends and family, were today converted into the princely sum of £75, which will help EACH build its much needed hospice.  If I'd just donated the items to the charity shop, I'd have no idea of their worth and their contribution to the fundraising goal, but at least now I know we have helped to pay for a few more bricks or some furniture. 

So for someone who doesn't normally do boot sales, this was a real worthwhile day indeed.  And even better, they'll get more cash from the remaining stuff that hadn't sold, which we left at their collection point on the way home. 

Now that's what I call a useful car boot sale!

And the satisfaction of leaving with a virtually empty boot.  Now that is totally priceless.

Huge thanks to my very own King of Declutter, Mr A, and our two helpful children today.  It's thanks to their contribution that we were able to make this happen.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Getting ready for the Big Summer Declutter!

At last - permission to get rid of old toys

I've just spent the last three hours immersed in a job that I've been avoiding for months, the task of decluttering Little T's bedroom.   Oh the joys of negotiating with a 6 year old over which toys can be extracted from the floor and offered to a new home, let alone tidying away lots of annoying little bits and pieces that have become separated from each other over the years that have gone by.

But at last we've got a box full of kids' stuff to sell at the Radio Suffolk's Big Summer Declutter car boot sale that's taking place on Sunday for EACH's Treehouse Appeal which is raising £3,000,000 for a new children's hospice in Ipswich.

I'm really looking forward to this event and have already got a fine collection of stuff that I pulled together when I started to declutter the house at the beginning of the year.  My pitch has been booked for months and I can't wait to get down to Ipswich on Sunday and see how much I can raise from the proceeds, all of which I'm planning to donate to the Treehouse Appeal. It's my choice to donate the funds, it's not an actual requirement of the car boot sale.  However I'm not sure if I can convince the kids to do the same, parting with their stuff will be tough enough!

Anyway the declutter's not over yet.  I haven't even ventured into the loft yet but can't wait to get the loft ladder down.  Can you tell I'm starting to really enjoy this process?

So, if you're in Suffolk and looking for a fun event on Sunday, do pop along to the Big Summer Declutter and come and say hello.  It would be great if you end up booking a pitch yourself.  Set up is at 6.30am, with sales starting at 7am and going on until 3pm.  During the course of the day, there promises to be lots of entertainment too,  BBC Radio Suffolk will  be broadcasting live and auctioning off the Ashes to Ashes script that I managed to acquire from the production company and Nik Kershaw will be on-hand to officially open the event.  It will be brilliant if EACH manages to break through the £1,000,000 milestone as a result of the day!

So, please pray for good weather and if you fancy coming along, more information can be found at the BBC Radio Suffolk website.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

New bags and new blogs!

Showing off my new bag with eco-designer Kresse at the Bury St Edmunds Eco Fair

If someone offered to sell me a piece of old fire-hose, I'd probably turn them down in an instant, but a gorgeous bag made from condemned fire-hose that would otherwise be buried in landfill, then that's a different story indeed.

And that's how this story begins, with me becoming a proud owner of a stylish bag made from rubber hose that was once used to put out fires across the UK.

The designs are the hot property of Elvis & Kresse (Eako), a very progressive eco business that turns industrial waste into luxury sought after accessories.  I first discovered them while researching gifts for a Recycle Now article last Christmas and couldn't wait to find out more.  Although decommisioned fire-hose is at the heart of many of their products, the designers also create fabulous accessories from other materials too, including waste coffee sacks, scrap sail cloth, used air traffic control flight strips, repurposed opticians' boxes,  reclaimed pewter, parachute silk and decommissioned office furniture textiles.  Even their packaging is made from reclaimed or end of line materials.

It was a real delight to meet Kresse and James who are the people behind the business and to have the chance to find out more about their plans and the fabulous opportunities in store. The Fire Station proved to be a wonderful setting to demonstrate the value in reusing such materials and what's great about their business is that they contribute 50% of their profits to the Fire Fighters Charity too.

Stocking up on lovely and useful accessories must have been the key thing on my mind on Saturday, as I was also tempted in the direction of the Onya Bags stall to pick up a roll-up back-pack made out of recycled bottles from Dan, who looked quite at home at the Fire Station with his VW Feuerwehr camper van.

After my little spot of retail therapy I also partook in some heavy reuse action myself, which involved five firefighters and some hydraulic machinery.  It was both terrifyng and exciting, and you can find about it at my new personal blog here.

That's's a whole new blog, revealing all sorts of mischief and musings that currently feature in my life.  With so much happening at the moment, sometimes a girl just has to take a break from the bin and you could say, it's got off to a bit of a "cracking" start.  To see what I mean, just follow the link below:

And after reading the tale, if you're tempted to help support the Firefighters who risk their lives to save others, it would be great if you could make a contribution to the Fire Fighters Charity at my justgiving page that I set up for the Eco Fair.  I'm appalling at trying to get sponsorship, always preferring to give than ask, but I've learned this is a cause worth nagging for,  So if you can spare a couple of quid, please pop over to, where your kindness will be much appreciated.

And as for me, after such a hectic weekend, I know a pair of feet that are still in need of an emergency rescue.   So with a cup of tea in hand and a stool as a footrest, for the moment it's over and out!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Cool Eco Fair at Hot Venue

If you want to find a cool place to hang out in Bury St Edmunds today, then drop into the Eco Fair that is being hosted by the Fire Station, thanks to Fire Fighter Paul Turner who has worked so hard to organise the event.

Yes you heard it right and apologies to friends on Facebook for having to listen to me mention it yet again, but this it the place to be to find about all things eco today.  I first wrote about it some months ago, in this blogpost here and a lot has happened since then, with a whole load of groups and people signed up to attend today, including the who helped me with my Suffolk Diet, Dan from Onya Bags, trendy fire hose upcyclers Elvis & Kresse,  local growers Nowton Park nurseries, The Suffolk Climate Change PartnershipWoodland WaysBury LETS bartering group and Greener Bury, the launch of a local transition town movement. 

There will be lots to keep the kids entertained too, including dressing up as a fireman, building bird or bat boxes and some children's yoga.

As well as promoting eco awareness, the fire and rescue service will also be raising awareness over safety and the event will also include a demonstration of an emergency car rescue, featuring me being cut out of a car.  Note how casually I mentioned that.  I'm actually more terrified of being the guinea pig for that demonstration than I am of giving a presentation later today about the Rubbish Diet.

As a result I've set up a couple of sponsor pages to help me through it.  Although free to enter, the event is trying to raise money for charity and all the proceeds will be shared by the Fire Fighters Charity and the EACH Treehouse Appeal, to help build a new children's hospice in Ipswich. These are two charities that can't help make you feel lucky to be alive.  So it would be really great if you could sponsor my emergency car rescue on either or both my Justgiving pages that have I set up specifically for the event.  You can find them at (EACH) or (Fire Fighters our Charity).  You know I hate asking for money, but boy do these two causes really need your help.

Well, I hoped this blogpost this morning would calm my nerves a little, but the butterflies are still there. So, if you're in Bury, it would be great to see you there today.  It's running from 10am -4pm. There's even going to be a showing of The Age of Stupid, which is another first for Bury St Edmunds too!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Love your Electricals and set them free for Recycle Week

So if your old man has reached the heights of being follicly challenged and doesn't know what to do with his redundant hair clippers or you're fed up of tripping over the broken strimmer in the shed, this is the week to go forth and show them the door for good.

Not "him indoors" of course, but his truckload of useless stuff!

Yes, it's Recycle Week 2010, which runs until 27th June, and this year's theme is Love your Electricals, encouraging us to finally part with our useless gadgets. That's anything with a battery or plug and could include broken toasters and kettles, old mobile phones or disused power tools, all of which could either be reused or recycled.

But did you know getting rid of this stuff is actually easier said than done!

According to a survey carried out  by ICM Research, many of us have deep-seated issues associated with ditching our electrical clutter and cling onto our wired smalls even when we no longer have a use for them.  No matter whether they are broken or have been replaced by a more recent model, we leave them lurking in attics, garages, cupboards and drawers.

Apparently we hold onto these items for both sentimental and practical reasons.  Indeed the results of the survey revealed the following feedback from participants.
  • 40% feel too sad to part with an item they no longer use
  • 41% hoped the item might come in handy some day, or that they might be able to pass them on to someone
  • 23% feel that small electrical items seem too valuable just to throw away
  • 29% hang on to them because they are not sure what to do with them

If this sounds like you or certain members of your family - and yes a few of mine come to mind - the folk at Recycle Now might be able to offer some timely assistance.

For the latest Recycle Week campaign, they've partnered with the British Heart Foundation, who are accepting at their furniture and electrical reuse centres, unwanted electrical and electronic products that are still in working order.  And by dropping off your gadgets you will be doing your bit for charity too.

But if your gizmo is totally defunct and can't be fixed, don't lose hope as there's good old fashioned recycling to hand, where you can drop off your broken electronics at your local recycling centre and the components will be saved to create new products further down the line.

So if you want to find out more, pop along to the Recycle Now website for all the information you'll need.  And if you really do have issues separating yourself from your beloved broken bits, there's even an agony aunt available to lend a hand, a nice old lady with curly grey hair who comes with an interactive set of cheesy  content that will help keep you entertained while you ponder your declutter.

Now where did I put that portable stereo I last saw circa 2003?  It's probably hidden in the loft somewhere, which means I've got little hope of finding it even if I have until the start of London Olympics.  But if I did, there'd be enough material to turn that outdated piece of kit into 267 yoghurt pots and 11 steel cans.

Not bad eh!  Far more useful than dumping it into landfill.  And if this video is anything to go by Mr A had better keep a tight grip on his games consoles, as I can see myself heading straight to the jewellers armed with a screwdriver.

All this, plus news of a competition to win an Eco-friendly DAB radio is available at Right, on that note, I'm off to hunt out the old Playstation. A new gold ring, here I come!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Time for an ASAP pledge

Yesterday I received a call from Baglady.  Not just any old baglady but Shirley Lewis, the fabulous campaigner from Northern Ireland who's encouraging folk everywhere to live ASAP - As Sustainably As Possible.  And what better time to get involved as Baglady has just launched ASAP Pledge Fortnight.

The highlight of the awareness campaign is ASAP Pledge Week, which starts on Monday 14th June and leads up to ASAP Pledge Day when, on June 21st, children from Northern Ireland will take their pledges to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont to ask politicians to join in and support living ASAP.

Baglady is asking you to be involved too, by sharing your ideas on how to live as sustainably as possible.  You just need visit her website and tell her what you are giving up and what you pledge to take up. It's that easy!

I'm going to join in and I pledge to give up using my car so much now that it's got fixed.  Yes, I seem to have developed a few inconvenient habits since it's come back from its MOT.   But it's not just about what I am giving up, it's also about what I intend to take up.  And for that, I pledge to help out a charitable cause which is in need of some extra recycling assistance. 

I'll share more information on that soon, but in the meantime, if you'd like to take the pledge too, visit and if you want to get your kids involved simply go to

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The most rubbish hotel in Rome

So who wants to stay in a hotel like this?   Well, supermodel and eco warrior Helena Christensen for one!

Commissioned by Corona's Save the Beach campaign for World Environment Day, this pop-up rubbish hotel in Rome was created by German artist HA Schult to highlight the importance of preserving Europe's beaches. And it's built almost entirely from rubbish collected from the sands of our wonderful continent.

Although this two storey construction, which surprisingly can sleep up to 10 people, will only be in open until Monday 7 June, its message will last for longer.  The Save the Beach campaign is inviting people across Europe to report and nominate endangered beaches throughout the summer, by visiting  The winning beach will be recovered and cleaned later this year by brewing company Corona.  Last year, website users chose the Italian beach  in Capocotta as the recipient of the Save the Beach clean up.

It's a shame I'm not in Rome for World Environment Day, which is in fact today.  I won't be off to the beach either.  I'll be digging my garden rather than the sands of Suffolk.  But next time I go, I'll certainly pay closer attention and pick up even more litter than usual.  And who knows, I may find enough to build a trashy hotel nearer to home.   Now, I wonder who I could get to stay in my hotel. Alas, knowing my luck it would be the Chuckle Brothers.  So while I ponder that malarkey, I'll leave you with a photo of the world's first ever rubbish hotel with its first ever guest.

Helena Christensen at the Save The Beach Hotel in Rome

More information about the campaign can be found at

Monday, 17 May 2010

Four pounds, really? Well that's music to my ears.

"I really want a guitar", said the little man, a few months ago, in amongst his list of other things that a five year old really, really wants.

"Yes, yes" I said, adding it to my own mental list known as 'yeah, yeah, that's nice...mention it five more times in the next six months and I'll know that you really really - yes really really - want it'.

Now guitars don't come cheap and even second hand ones on eBay can be a small fortune if they are just left to gather dust when a child's keen interest amounts to nothing more than a flavour of the month idea.  So even though a guitar has been mooted around three times already, I've been biding my time for a little longer, just to test the water.

But strike a chord will you, because whilst paying a visit to the recycling centre yesterday, I turned my back to return to the car and there in the Reuse Bay, was a classical guitar, in excellent condition, for just £4!

Of course I snapped it up, brought it home and put it in the hands of the keen little musician, who surprisingly didn't launch into the expected rendition of Early Years thrash metal, but actually created some chilled-out sounds, even though he's got no idea how to play it yet.

But the budding guitarist has got his wits about him you know.  When I put in a request for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, he quickly whipped out an empty jar, requesting donations!  Blimmin' cheek!  I thought I saw him taking a longer than usual interest in the buskers of Bury St Edmunds the other day.  Crikey, who knows where this £4 find will lead.  It might amount to nothing or it could turn into a very satisfying hobby.  Watch this space, Simon Cowell...

So if your recycling centre hasn't got a Reuse Bay, it really is worth suggesting to your council that they include one if space allows. They can offer lots of potential for keeping stuff in circulation and all sorts of things out of landfill.   Maybe you've already got a great one in your area and have picked up some excellent finds yourself.  If so, I'd love to know what extraordinary finds have also been music to your own ears.

And on that little note (excuse the pun)'s what I've disovered can actually be achieved with a classical guitar.  I'll show Little T this video when he comes home from school later.  I'll also mention that if he ever reaches this standard, his tip jar could be filled up quite quickly.... enjoy.


Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Look who's decluttering for EACH's Treehouse appeal!

I hope BBC Radio Suffolk's James Hazell isn't planning to sell off his producer Sally Burch at the massive car boot sale they've organised  [So James, you'd better ask Sal to get off that table pretty sharpish, before someone snaps her up!]

Regular listeners will already know that BBC Radio Suffolk is supporting the East Anglian Children's Hospice Treehouse Appeal, to help raise £3 million for a much needed new hospice to be built in Ipswich. Presenters have been getting up to allsorts including dragonboat racing, cycling challenges and getting into training to climb Mount Kilmanjaro.  And now, James & Sal have put their heads together to come up with an idea that can involve everyone across Suffolk, in the shape of the BBC Radio Suffolk Big Summer De-Clutter.

They're asking listeners to start sorting out their drawers and cupboards and dig out all those unwanted items that are lurking in forgotten corners and sell them off at their huuuuuuuuuuuge car boot sale, which will be held at Ipswich Trinity Park on Sunday 8th August!  So, not only do you get a chance to help your own piggy bank, but you can do so knowing that you're helping a really good cause.

Pitches are just £10 each  and booking forms can be downloaded via the Each Website.  But interested peeps have to move quick.  Pitches are going like hotcakes, with bookings already arriving today, having only been launched yesterday.

Well, I've certainly registered my interest as it's about time I sold off all that valuable treasure I've uncovered from my own decluttering escapade earlier this year.   

But I don't want to just give a tenner to EACH.  I've decided that I'm going to donate all the proceeds of my boot pitch to the Treehouse Appeal, which I'll be announcing when I appear on the James Hazell show tomorrow at 11.10am tomorrow.  Yes, I know I'm on again, but this time I won't be talking rubbish, I'll be talking about blogging, thanks to this little article I discovered quite recently, where I seem to have had a little mention.

More information on the EACH Treehouse appeal can be found at the EACH website.  Details about BBC Radio Suffolk De-clutter are available at the BBC's news pages.  To listen to the James Hazell show, you can tune in online at


Monday, 10 May 2010

Swapping rubbish for compost with Dev and Dave

As Compost Awareness Week comes to an end, I thought I'd take the opportunity to partake in a spot of awareness-raising of my own ....and you some of my compost.

And here's a closer look....starting with the new bed I planted up this afternoon with some fantastic soil improver, courtesy of three chickens who love to poop and a compost bin called Plastic Dev that can take it!   After a year of breaking down, it's lost all its fragrance and simply looks like good quality compost, which I mixed with earth from the garden and spread onto the bed, ready to transplant some day-lilies from an overgrown part of the garden.


And on the subject of poop, here's our first wormery compost, thanks to our first batch of worms who have munched on all sorts of crud such as  pasta, mashed potato, rice and Weetabix leftovers, which I began diverting from landfill just over two years ago at the beginning of the blog.

It's been put to great use around the garden, mixed up with horticultural sand and earth to create a potting compost for seedlings, including the courgettes that you can see in the centre of this picture, which are now beginning to flourish.

In fact the corner of the garden that you see here, is our postage stamp veg patch, which is also packed with "home-grown" compost produced by the double act affectionately known as Plastic Dave and his Bokashi Side-kick, which sorts out the meaty chunks of waste that Dave can't possibly touch, for fear of being surrounded by vermin.  To keep the mix in good order, Dave sometimes gets Dev's portion of chicken poop and Dev gets the veg peelings in return,.  This has indeed sorted out Dave's sloppy ways and put an end to Dev's dry wit!

I just hope that after a good start to the growing season, they get on with converting all the "rubbish" we put in there into even more lovely compost, because the pressure's on....especially as the images you've seen here are not of a beautiful suburban garden.  Indeed no!  They are simply snapshots of a garden makeover that's currently in progress.  

We're busy replacing part of our dead lawn with a small central paved area, surrounded by lots of interlinking beds, which will triple our growing area and help upgrade our "snacking garden" to one with more edible substance!

So Dave and Dev had better get on with it, especially as the landscaping will be finished soon and I'll be itching to get on with more planting.

Well, that's my contribution to Compost Awareness Week. If you fancy a crack at composting, vermiculture (wormeries to you and me) or using a Bokashi, have a peek at Week 5 of the Rubbish Diet Challenge, where you'll find much more info as well as links to a whole range of useful resources.  And if you're already making good use of your own crumbly stuff around your garden, do share any links to your photos or blogposts in the comments below.  As you can see, this garden is very much a work in progress and I need all the inspiration I can get.


Compost Awareness Week is an annual event, promoted by Recycle Now and whether you're new to composting or an experienced composter, it's always worth checking at this time of year if your local authority has launched any offers on composting equipment.  For example Suffolk residents can take advantage of the deal offered by The Suffolk Waste Partnership and Evengreener.  For more information see:


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Guest Post, by Julie Day on her Rubbish Diet Challenge

Author Julie Day, with her debut book, Rosie and the Sick School

Today I am delighted to feature a guest post by Romance and Children's writer Julie Day, who stumbled over the Rubbish Diet Challenge, via Mrs Green's blog at My Zero Waste, and decided to give it a go.  As well as slimming her bin, Julie has been putting pressure on her local council to improve plastics recycling.  Over on her blog, she has been busy documenting the progress of her Lewisham household, which comprises herself and her mum and has already reached Week 5 of her challenge.   Aiming to slim down to just one bag a week, this is how she's been getting on so far.

My Rubbish Diet Challenge Weeks 1-4.

I’m a keen recycler, who likes to recycle as much as I can.  I thought I was doing very well until I came across Karen’s Rubbish Diet Challenge on the website, and read weeks 1-4.  I now realise what else I can do and here is what I’ve learnt and now do.

I recycle the usual at home inc batteries, Tetrapaks and metal clothes hangers, and had been recycling lots of plastics, until recently when I found out my local council only recycles plastic bottles.  So I did some contacting at work, and any plastics that have the Mobius Loop on I now take to work and recycle there. Problem solved.

I read week 1 and realised I could recycle more plastics at Sainsbury’s.  I have seen the bring bag banks but never actually took notice of them but now I do.  I read the label on the wrappers and if it says ‘can recycle at larger stores’ then I keep them with our shopping bags and take them when we do our weekly shopping trip.  We always use our own bags in store, and wherever I go I usually refuse plastic bags.  Any we do get, we reuse as bin bags.   I always read the label on plastic covers now and if the plastic isn’t recycleable then try to ignore it.  Unfortunately the bag of carrots Mum wanted last week wasn’t and I had to take it.
The other thing I do now is peel off foil from medicine tablet packs.  I have various medical problems so have lots of tablets, and instead of just throwing the empty blister pack in the bin, I peel off as much foil as I can then throw it away.

I didn’t realise that biodegradable plastic bags don’t really do much for the environment, not that I use them anyway but won’t now.  And I didn’t realise that some of the symbols on plastics don’t mean anything and the only one to take note of is the Mobius Loop.

Karen is wrong, you can recycle crisp packets.*  Here’s how.  I learnt from the myzerowaste website, that any shiny wrappers you can keep and send to the Philippine Community Fund in Southampton, who then ship them over on a ship that’s already going to the Philippines, who will then recycle them in to purses and bags, that help the poor make a living and afford schooling for their children.  So any shiny wrappers, inc Ryvita packs and cereal bars, I keep and when I have a bundle send them to Southampton.

Since my mum and I went natural and organic with our toiletries in 2008, we use Ecover products and soap nuts.  My mum recently bought the ecoballs but isn’t sure about them as they bang against the machine.  She has also tried the vinegar in the drawer but didn’t like it because it gave a too strong smell.

My mum and I don’t waste that much food and if we do then it’s usually cooked stuff such as meats and carbohydrates.  After reading week 3, I shall try to get Mum to weigh pasta and use less meat.  We had a left over potato the other day and kept it for the birds but I don’t think they ate it, even the fox didn’t like it.  If there’s any left over sauce from a tin, then if there’s enough for another meal, then keep it in a pot in the freezer for the next time.  This we do with our pasta sauce.

So I now recycle more and am more alert at what plastic wrappers can be recycled, even frozen packets.  And because I am more label alert my mum often asks me if it’s recycleable before throwing things in the bin, and where to put the recycleables for sending and taking to work.

Another thing, since starting the challenge is I’m always checking the symbols on plastics and have discovered lots of things I can recycle that I didn’t realise before, eg a tictac box.

I am blogging about my progress on my own blog, either through my website, or directly on on a weekly basis and hope to let you know how I got on at the end of the 8 weeks.

These are photos of my rubbish and recycling bin over a week.  If you calculate this amount times four for a month’s rubbish then it can come out as about 8 bags of rubbish a week (although most of the time one bag is only half full) and a bin of recycling.  I hope that it means we recycle more than we send to landfill, as that is my aim.

One and a half bags of rubbish in one week: Target = 1 bag per fortnight

Amount of recycling exceeds landfill waste

*It's always great to hear people's stories of their efforts to reduce waste and updates like Julie's makes me glad that I finally put the Rubbish Diet Challenge online.  Although news of the Philippines Community Fund crisp upcycling scheme was included in Week 8 of the guide, thanks to Julie's reminder, I've now also updated Week 2 which was originally published before the details came to light.  The updated version can be found at\therubbishdietweek2.

Thanks very much to Julie for her guest blogpost. It's great to hear of the changes made so far and I hope she will be back in a few weeks time with news of her progress as she reaches the end of her Rubbish Diet Challenge.  In the meantime, please do visit her blog at to share words of encouragement.

And don't forget, if you've got a story to share about your waste reduction antics, please do get in touch via email at karen[at]therubbishdiet[dot]co[dot]uk.


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