Wednesday 31 August 2011

Making 2020 Zero Waste Work: UK Conference 9th September

Wherever you are in the country, if you're interested in how the UK can develop an effective Zero Waste economy, you should try and get to Coventry on Friday 9th September for the conference Making 2020 Zero Waste Work: Achieving a low carbon resource efficient future.

With a keynote speech from the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman MP, Secretary for State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, the event pulls together some of the country's key thinkers and international change-makers in the zero waste sector, including policy makers, retail representatives, local authority services and waste management companies.

Workshops will offer opportunities to explore topics that include:

  • Best practice for business resource efficiency
  • Closed loop recycling of food waste
  • Accelerating the pace of industrial design
  • How local authorities can drive zero waste
  • Community engagement & eco parks.

The event promises to offer an exciting programme, which will see plenty of opportunity for networking with the thought-leaders from the Zero Waste sector.

For more information and to register, please visit:

Monday 29 August 2011

National Zero Waste Week 2011. Just one week to go.

Just like the kids starting a new school year, I can't believe that Zero Waste Week has come around so quickly or indeed that it's in its fourth year.  It doesn't seem that long since Mrs Green at held the very first National Zero Waste Week back in 2008.

Back then, it felt like a huge challenge and I thought I'd take a walk down memory lane to the preparations that Mrs Green was making for her very first ZWW three years ago.  I remember packaging being one of the key problems, as it still is for many people who'd want to have a go today.  However, undeterred, Mrs' Green's Zero Waste Week saw over 160 people pledge to increase their commitment to reducing waste, reusing, recycling or composting, providing a great platform for her Myzerowaste site to host its second National Zero Waste Week in 2009, encouraging supporters this time to tackle their food waste.

Last year's Zero Waste Week returned with an even greater emphasis on food waste, with Mrs Green's campaign week gaining official support from celebrity chef Brian Turner CBE, who shared tips on how he uses up ingredients and how he composts while he cooks.   For me it was a great excuse to find my own local chef and hang out at one of my favourite eateries, picking up tips on how good food can go a lot further with some extra imagination and fabulous recipes.

And so to this year.  As ever, National Zero Waste Week 2011 comes with another waste-busting topic, with this year's challenge "Reducing waste while away from home".   This theme holds a special significance for me as it was the same unexpected twist that came with the local council's ZWW challenge back in March 2008, where any waste that I created "on-the-go" had to be brought home and added to my rubbish bin's booty, which would be declared later that week.   With such a personal challenge back then, is it any wonder that I get excited about the "recycle-on-the-go bins" that feature in the 1000 bins campaign.

So, what are we asking you to do this year?

That's simple. Whilst getting on with reducing waste on the home front, Mrs Green and I would love you to become more aware of the rubbish that can be created whilst you're out and about and take measures to reduce such waste that would ordinarily end up in landfill.

From tackling disposable cutlery to recycling drinks containers, there are loads of tips over at the National Zero Waste Week 2011 information page, where you can also share your own ideas in the comments section.  If you're on Facebook and want to receive further news, there's also an event page, which already has 190 people attending.

Don't forget, National Zero Waste Week is also the finale of the 1000 bins photo\video challenge.  Thanks to all who have submitted photos and videos this far.  There are now only two weeks to go to submit your entries and be in with a chance of winning a gorgeous Luciana clutch bag from, or a fabulous waste-busting goodie bag from Onya Bags, which includes an Onya Back, Onya Bag, Onya Lunch, Onya Weigh, H2O Bottle and a People Towel.

So please send in your entries by Midnight (GMT) 11 September, either at or email me directly at  Mrs Green and I will then get cracking on voting for the most interesting bin photo as well as the one that made us smile the most and will announce the winners as soon as we've stopped laughing.

Here's one of my own photos taken whilst out and about at a festival in Staffordshire....go on, surely you can do better...............

Thursday 18 August 2011

Shedwyn goes to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Shedwyn posing with the lads from Jam Jar'd Off the Top Of Our Heads.

Of course I could tell you what happened in this latest chapter of the 1000 Bins Challenge, but it's much more fun to watch the video:

Thanks to all the performers who have supported the campaign to raise awareness of recycling on the go.  You can find more details of their shows at the following links: Squirrel Party, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The World of Shrimpology, Off the top of our heads, No Pants ThursdayMe Myself & Iona, and The Chris & Paul Show.  Shedwyn & I had a great time and after such a whirlwind of a visit, I can't wait to go next year.

In the meantime, more information about the 1000 Bins challenge can be found at   Also, there are lots more photos of Edinburgh's bins now available at Further news about the tie-in with My Zero Waste's annual Zero Waste Week will also be announced soon at, including details of this year's very exciting competition. Please enter if you can, because not only is it a great cause, there will be some wonderful prizes too.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Farewell my lovely hens. The end of a chapter!

Speckledy, Snowflake & Chickie meeting their new pals

While everything's been busy on rubbish front, there's been a lot happening in the background too.

A few weeks ago, I took the really difficult decision to rehome our chickens, our three lovely hens which we introduced to the family around two and a half years ago, and which had become well-loved pets.   However, since the spring, coinciding with a lot more bird activity in our garden, the hens had become very lively and loud and I have spent much time trying to calm them down and living on tenterhooks that we'd get compaints from the neighbours.

Then one day we did.  An apologetic appeal from a neighbour asking if we could quieten them, particular at dawn.  Don't get me wrong, she's a lovely lady.  She didn't want to complain, but I understood what she meant. We live in a tightly packed modern housing development.  They probably weren't making any excessive noise for chickens and if the houses were more dispersed I may have felt less conscious, but and that day marked the turning point for a very difficult decision which was to find a better home for them.  I'd been spending months feeling tense, darting into the garden whenever the clucking got louder than normal.

But, geez did I feel that I'd failed.  I'm a person that believes in commitment.  These chickens were our pets and even at the beginning of the year, my expectations were that we would have them until they passed away.  They were good layers, were full of character and brought something special to our lives.  The day I decided to rehome them, I knew I'd miss them, but I also knew that I couldn't continue with neighbourly disturbances either. 

Moving Day came two weeks ago.   A good friend of mine, who lives in the countryside, said that she could take them.  She's kept hens for a long time and had plenty of room for more. So with floods of tears to accompany the dismantling of the coop, we set about moving the threesome to their new a chicken run, which was the size of our entire garden, with the opportunity to spend their days foraging in a neighbouring field.  Once the new pecking order would be established, I just knew their new home would be more suited to their needs. However, that didn't stop the tears during the drive back home.

It's certainly quieter around this way since they've left.  The garden still feels empty and my routines haven't quite got used to their absence.  The first time we had leftover scraps, I automatically reached for the kitchen door to take them down to the chicken run.  I know our youngest misses them too, even though the run has since been turned into a den with its own jungle camp and shelter,

In different circumstances we will most definitely return to hen-keeping.  Should we ever move into a house with a bigger garden in a more spacious neighbourhood, we would gladly welcome more feathered characters into our lives.

In the meantime, I've got plenty of opportunity to visit our three lovely girls and can't thank my friend enough for having them and making this possible.

And as for the food scraps, for us, it's back to the art of worm-keeping.  Not quite as much fun, but certainly quieter.  Thank goodness we've got a seven year old who also loves worms!

Sunday 7 August 2011

Sorting rubbish. Things take a new turn with a comedy litter pick

Volunteers gather at the start of the litter pick and councillors Pat & Frank Warby, regular litter pickers themselves, stop by to show their support. Other people joined in throughout the day.  Unfortunately, Claire the event's organiser was unable to make it due to illness.

Ever since the launch of the 1000 Bins Challenge, Shedwyn the campaign's mascot has been a busy bee, not least travelling around the country to find out all she can about recycling on the go.

However, yesterday, she took a break from proceedings and got involved with Bury St Edmunds' first ever Comedy Litter Pick in a manner that was more like recycling on the go-go.

Organised by Claire Lowe of the Bury Fringe Festival team, the litter pick was created under the theme of Soaper Heroes, encouraging people from across all generations to take an interest in keeping the community clean and tidy.  Today was the first event of its kind, with many more planned, the aim of which is to inject a huge dose of fun and comedy into an activity that many find uninteresting, by providing on-tap entertainment and encouraging folk to wear their fancy dress garb and join in..

So equipped with litter picking grabbers and Big Tidy Up bags for sorting rubbish and recycling, Shedwyn and I took it in turns to pick our way through the Abbey Gardens, having a go at the odd hula-hooping and chatting to onlookers while we went about our litter-picking business.  And what an interesting day it was too.  Just check out those hula-hooping skills for starters.

Shedwyn, getting a mini-lesson from Circus Freaks very own Lucia

I was privileged to have the company of Chris Holmes for the day, the local community manager at Bury St Edmunds' Asda store.

It was interesting to hear how Asda stores are working closely with local communities, and having recently been approached by Claire from the Bury Fringe, Chris is particularly keen on exploring ways in which his store can help the local community to reduce litter and recycle more.

The litter pick gave us a great chance to talk through ideas and opportunities and chat to a whole range of visitors, including the older generations and teenagers.   The teenagers were a very interesting group indeed, not least because they have gained a reputation for littering the areas where they regularly hang out, in particular around the Abbey ruins.

Teenagers clearing up their litter following a visit from the park ranger.

Some admitted that they have left litter and the key reason that they gave was that there aren't enough bins and that the bins in the local vicinity were often full.  While some offered self-acknowledgement that they were too lazy to go further afield and hunt out an empty bin, they also understood why adults took a tough stance and why it was their responsibility.  Some people also quoted that they were often told off for leaving litter when it wasn't actually their fault and felt aggrieved at having to clear up other people's mess, wondering why they should then bother themselves. 

This was a particular theme and it was very clear in our discussions that in their experience, many adults and those in authority appear to class all teenagers as the same and assume that they are going to be irresponsible, before even giving them a chance.  They quoted a number of incidents where they were targeted and told off where young families and similar-sized groups of adults would be left alone.

The feelings that were coming over seemed to be a mixture of defeat, ambivalence and a dose of rebellion, all of which I still remember from my own teenage years. There seemed to be no sense of hope amongst the majority of teenagers we spoke with, nor the immediate desire to change attitudes about litter.  However when I posed the question about whether they would welcome the opportunity to banish misconceptions and get involved with the comedy litter picks in some way, whether it be through providing entertainment, taking photographs or recording You Tube videos, there seemed to be a slight glimmer of interest. 

One thing's for sure.  I have learned a lot from today and if there are ways to engage young people in the Comedy Litter Picks in a way that benefits them and opens new opportunities for those involved, I will give it a real chance.  As well as wider concerns I admit to some self-interest.  In just three years time, my eldest son will be come a teenager and all too soon, he will be one of the many kids who'll be chilling out with his friends in the local park.  Having witnessed first-hand how the disparate groups of our community engage in conflict of responsibilities as well as misconceptions, (my opinions included), I think I need to be better prepared.   

The Soaper Heroes day was most certainly a taster event and a case of dipping our toes in the water, raising awareness of what's to come in the near future. The plan is to roll-out regular events throughout the year featuring comedy performances dotted around town and all sorts of entertainment to engage the public and participants.

Thanks to volunteers from the community, Chris Holmes from Asda, entertainers Circus Freaks and some positive role models from the younger generation, we did well on the litter count.  There were only a few of us, but we collected 5 bags of recycling as well as 6 bags of rubbish, with much credit going to Mr & Mrs Mills who targeted the Station Hill area.  Pictured below are some of the participants who joined in the fun in the Abbey Gardens. 

Entertainers & Volunteers, including Chris Holmes from Asda and members of the Circus Freaks performers.

More information about Soaper Heroes can be found at  If you would like further details or find out how to get involved in future events, please contact organiser Claire Lowe on 07545 286574.  In the meantime, check out Lucia's amazing circus skills where she shows off how she can pick up litter and hula hoop at the same time.   It will be a long time before I can do that for sure.

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