Thursday, 28 June 2012

Bloggers! Win tickets to the Olympic Games with Coca-Cola

Examples of Coca-Cola's colour-coded recycling bins designed for London 2012

I hope all you bloggers with some waste-busting credentials out there have got your fingertips at the ready, because today's news is that I'm judging a fantastic competition that's promoted by Coca-Cola as part of its Olympic Games Sustainability Challenge and which is inviting YOU to talk about my favourite topic.


And the prize on offer is an exciting package featuring two tickets to the Olympic Games for 4th August, as well as travel and accommodation, all of which are provided by Coca-Cola as as an Olympic sponsor.

All you have to do is publish a blogpost about easy ways in which you are reducing waste in your household and link it to the competition blogpost at the Coca-Cola Website

I would love you to take part and share some inspirational and entertaining snippets of how you juggle your waste at home  - and seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if some of the entries did actually feature some snazzy juggling action.

For more information about the competition, go straight over to my blogpost at their website, and follow the instructions there. I've included lots of ideas about ways in which you can take part.

But remember, to be in with a chance of winning, make sure you enter by the closing date which is midnight Friday 13th July.

And with any luck, if you're one of the winners, I will see you there.

I won't be difficult to spot, I'll be the one snapping photos of the colour-coded recycling bins as well as some of the other examples of waste reduction featured around the Olympic Park.  I may even drag along Shedwyn, my roving reporter from last summer's 1000 bins campaign. After all, it's right up her street.

Until then, good luck to all who enter. I can't wait to visit your blogs and be inspired by your talent.

Now, get ye gone from here and go over there instead.


Disclaimer: I will not be paid by Coca-Cola for launching, promoting and judging the Olympic Games Sustainability Challenge. However, I have been invited to attend the London 2012 Olympic Games along with some of the competition winners and a Coca-Cola representative as a thank you for working with them.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cheering myself up with zero waste flower power

I've been feeling totally rubbish today, possibly overtired following the weekend's BritMums conference.  I've got a busy few days coming up, Mr C's at a long conference and to be honest, I'm feeling overwhelmingly disorganised and quite glum!

After a morning of sweeping and mopping the floors like a charlady - no, we don't live in a huge house, it just takes my procrastination that long to get into the swing - and working my way through the emails and four cups of tea, my mood still hadn't lifted.

There was nothing for it!

I took to the garden with a scissors. Not even my pruning shears.  Honestly, there was no time for such precision in getting the proper tools.

I was on an urgent mission to find something cheery amongst the flowerbeds!

I know I could have sat down on a bench and admired the Sweet Williams outdoors, but I was after mood-lifting prettiness, to give me a visual energy boost and supplement those mugs of tea, indoors!

As I dropped the cuttings into the vase, I acknowledged that this was something I now take for granted, but here I had a vase of flowers with:

no plastic packaging;
no rubber bands;
no plastic packet of flower food;
no paper wrap;
and zero flower miles. 

That's very different to the regular bunches of flowers I used to bung in my trolley at the supermarket.

I tell you, I was that excited thinking about how much crud I've saved on my floral habit, I also got snip-happy with the Alliums

There are lots of resources and discussions about growing food, encouraging us to keep it local and to avoid packaging, but its floral cousins get much less attention, even though almost 90% of cut flowers are imported into the country. So if you're looking for proper inspiration regarding what to grow in your garden or further information on buying British seasonal flowers, I recommend the following links.

Cut Flowers-Growing & Selection, The RHS
Choosing British cut flowers, Sarah Raven.
Growing cut flowers, BBC
Why buy British grown cut flowers, The Flower Co-Operative
British flower bouquets, Wiggly Wigglers

Now as for that glum mood, which inspired this blogpost in the first place.  I am very happy to say that it's lifted!

Here's to happy planting!

Monday, 25 June 2012

BritMums Live! A glimpse at blogging for the greater good.

The 'Blogging for the Greater Good' panel at Britmums Live with Camila Batmanghelidjh - Kids Company, blogger Kylie Hodges, Claire Hazelgrove -, Polly Gowers - Give as you Live and blogger Kate Davis-Holmes

If you haven't been introduced to BritMums yet, I urge you to listen up and take note.

This weekend, the online community, formerly known as British Mummy Bloggers, gathered together for BritMums Live, a high-profile conference with over 500 delegates in attendance, attracting members from all parts of the country and with a diverse range of personal stories and blogging achievements.

Bloggers, old and new, listened to inspirational talks from blogging peers, as well as a range of celebrities from the more traditional media world.  Well-known bloggers such as Antonia Chitty, Julia Boggio and Kate Davis-Holmes, sharing programme time with some of the nation's well-known faces including Sarah Brown, Cherry Healey, Eleanor Mills, Katy Hill and Ruby Wax.  The topics were just as extensive, from experiences with depression to finding your voice, photography, publishing, video blogging, beginners tips, advanced tips, work\blog\life balance, food and blogging for happiness.  And the great thing was, it didn't matter about any individual's background, whether it was journalism, TV or blogging, being a speaker or a member of the audience, the atmosphere felt very much a level playing field.

One of the key messages to emerge from the conference was how influential bloggers have become and the evidence was pretty clear, with major names such as TK Maxx, Crocs, Panasonic, Lego, Warner Bros and Butlins being present on the day as sponsors. Brands are keen as ever to win over online voices, using modern-day word-of-mouth to share news of their latest products, through blogging platforms and micro-blogging such as Twitter.

But it's not just about manufacturers and retailers getting buy-in. In recent years, there has been an increased trend in bloggers standing up for their passions and working in partnership with the third-sector, raising the profile of charities and key issues.  For example, many of the BritMums community have already voiced support for PiggyBankKids, a charity founded by Sarah Brown, that helps vulnerable babies and children.  PiggyBankKids' presence at the conference spoke volumes, as did the fact that fundraising enabler Give as You Live was the event's key sponsor, highlighting how online shoppers can raise money for their favourite charity at no extra cost to themselves.

At the Blogging for Greater Good discussion, members of the panel - pictured above - highlighted the power of bloggers in profiling good causes and reinforced the point that charities don't necessarily need bloggers' donations, it's the blogging that is most important, encouraging support from online followers, as well as friends and families.  It's very much about sharing the personal stories that people have to tell that can connect closely to a specfic cause.

Whether as individuals or a a group, blogging seems to be entering a new era,  It was mentioned on more than one occasion how professionals within 'traditional' media have been turning to bloggers and Twitter to source stories, topical commentary as well as content for programmes and new TV formats.  My own experience can already testify to that, having had several opportunities to contribute towards and influence production content for a range of local radio broadcasts, national radio and a TV documentary.  It now seems to come with the territory and as been something that's taken some time for me to get used to.

Four years ago, it felt like wading in jelly to justify myself as a blogger but things have since changed and both BritMums Live and the recently-held Cybher demonstrated that many other bloggers have noticed the changes.

So, what did I personally gain from this weekend's event?

Firstly there's the gratitude that I've continued to blog about a topic that I care about, despite numerous moments of self-doubt and the odd period of burn-out.  BritMums Live served as a reminder of why I started blogging.  It's about the passion and the sharing.  This blog may be niche, but I do it because I care about my children and the generations that follow.  If I can learn and help shape positive change as a result of my discoveries, I will be happy that I've done my job as a blogger.

Then there's the awesome support. A hugathon, full of old friends and new aquaintances. I tend to be one for discrete waving than shouting out a total roll-call, so I shall just say, quite warmly and with much appreciation, thank you all, you know who you are. And to my pals who buffered my nerves during the awards evening, and then boosted the flow of wine when I didn't win, an even bigger thank you to your good selves.

And finally, there's that kick up the backside again, the one where I should really pull my finger out and write that book. With great advice from author and mentor Antonia Chitty, I now need to jump those hurdles of time-conflicts, mobilise my resources and get cracking.

Of course, being a waste-geek at a conference that coincided with Recycle Week, I couldn't help cast my mind back to the fabulous contribution the community gave to the campaign, just three years ago in 2009, and I wondered if there could be scope again.  It was much fun with lots of people rising to the challenge and demonstrating tonnes of creativity in spreading the word, so I very much hope it can happen again.

In the meantime, there's no way a rubbish blogger should really end a blogpost about a blogging conference, without demonstrating some evidence about what bloggers are doing to shrink their rubbish.

So here's my old pal and 'Rubbish Dieter', Tim, author and blogger at Bringing up Charlie, who after a dash of wine, attempts to reveal the fullness of his relatively new compost bin.  He slimmed his bin by 50% you know!

Oh yes, sorry I forget to say, the conference may be called BritMums Live, but in this age of equality, fathers are made welcome too.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Recycled Paint? Yes please!

Anyone who's tried to take a pot of paint to a recycling centre will most likely have been met with the disappointing news that unfortunately it can't be recycled due to the nature of the chemicals. Often the advice is to use it up, donate it to a community repaint scheme, or dry the contents thoroughly with sand before bunging it in the rubbish bin.

But there is another solution, one that I discovered quite recently, which is to actually recycle waste paint into new paint.  This is something that I thought would be impossible, until I stumbled upon the West Sussex based company Newlife Paints.

Newlife Paints does exactly what it says in its company name.  It breathes new life into old paint by reprocessing it into a new product, which contains a minimum of 50% recycled paint.

Created in 2008, the business has an agreement to recover water-based emulsion paints from nearby Household Waste Recycling Centres. The tins are separated into key colour groups, exterior or interior use and matt versus silk finish, after which the paint is blended, tested and treated, before being filtered and packaged ready for sale.  As a result of this process, each year, the company has been able to divert an estimated 100 tonnes of paint from landfill or incineration.

A few months ago, following my cheeky request to try it out, Newlife Paints were kind enough to send me a tester pot.  Unfortunately since then, things have been so busy,  it has spent most of its time just sat on the shelf.

But seeing as it's Recycle Week, I thought there was no better time to give it a go and yesterday I finally managed to grab myself a roller, open the pot and slap it - yes, that is my decorating style - onto a wall that has been in much need of redecoration for as long as I've been staring at the unopened pot of paint.

So what's my verdict?

I'm no professional, but on application, the pale magnolia emulsion certainly seemed to live up to any quality brand that I have used before and provided good coverage and a finish that offers more credibility to my decorating 'skills' than I possibly deserve. Even after the first coat.

I was particularly pleased with this, because the wall upon which the paint was tested (pictured above), has seen a lot of knocks and handprints from the younger members of our household.

The paint also dried fairly quickly and left no real distinct smell around the house.

That's the verdict on the product.  Sadly my husband's verdict on my decorating skills is not so positive. Apparently preparation is the key to perfection and I really should have taken the trouble to mask off the areas which I didn't want to paint. Admittedly, I was over-keen to get started and as a result I'm not sure I'll be trusted to be left unsupervised with a roller in future, whether I'm doing my bit for recycling or not!

But now that there's a choice of  buying 'new' or 'recycled' paint, for me I'll be choosing the latter, especially as Newlife Paints state that every 5 litres of paint recycled results in an estimated saving of 13.58 kg in CO2. 

Stockists are mainly limited to West Sussex based companies at the moment, but the company has an online store for nationwide orders and is also preparing to launch its product range into 120 B&Q stores. The emulsion range is good, offering a choice of 32 colours and Newlife Paints provides a colour matching service too.

With innovative processes like this now being available in the UK, I would hope that paint recycling along with community reuse schemes will continue to divert increasing amounts of paint that is wasted through landfill and incineration.

It would be great to see more recycling centres collecting pots for recycling or reuse and I certainly hope that Newlife Paints can expand its recovery and reprocessing service into new areas.

Local paint collection is one thing that I feel we currently miss out on in Suffolk, but I now feel confident that it's only a matter of time.


More information about Newlife Paints can be found at For details of Community Repaint schemes, visit

Monday, 18 June 2012

Confessions of a rubbish blogger - for Recycle Week

Blimmin' 'eck, it's Recycle Week!

The 9th one apparently - although I've only ever been aware of the last 5.  I reckon I must have been sleepwalking beforehand, probably too busy at work or with the kids, or doing the washing up, picking pins out of the wall or probably flossing.

Well it is a bit of a bizarre thing to have on your kitchen calendar isn't it!

"Recycle Week whoop whoop. I love a bit of that!" isn't quite the typical cry to be heard in the average household, unless of course you happen to be someone entrenched deeply in the recycling sector and can't wait to make a big noise this week.

So, seeing as I'm pretty much of a waste groupie, with one leg dangling inside the recycling industry whilst keeping the other one safely on my home turf near the kitchen sink, I thought I ought to contribute in my own way and confess a few things that might bring hope to you all....

Gawd help us!

Here goes.

Sometimes, dare I admit, I get caught without my resuable bag. Yes, mostly I juggle, partly to stand by the the 'refuse' principle and sometimes to replicate the challenge of Buckaroo, but on a few occasions I've had to give in.  But eh! I have refused plastic bags in Harrods! Yes Harrods, the place where I would once go just to get my hands on one of their shiny green carriers! So I reckon my halo remains intact, even if on the rare occasion it might look a bit dangly!

I once called my sister a waster! I was five. She was two. She was wasting her food. I got told off for swearing. I was simply being truthful. Tact was never my strength.

Many people think I live at the recycling centre!  I don't. I only pop in when passing, which might be once every 4-6 weeks. Thanks to a number of joint projects, I now have a 'Recycle for Suffolk' hi-vis jacket but I promise you all, I never attempt to impersonate a recycling operative, that would be mean to the professionals and the unsuspecting public.

I can be a real prude! So when asked by an Irish radio presenter, about the one thing we should never send to landfill, to this very day I still don't know why I blurted out 'sanitary towels'. Still blushing, I think I should have said food waste instead, even if I was secretly proud of getting over my hang-ups and abandoning the disposables. I fear it was too much for both me and the unsuspecting man on the radio, let alone his audience!

Ringing up my local council's waste strategy officer to ask where I could recycle my husband's old pants, just a matter of days before we did a joint presentation, did nothing to end my blushing or help my professional reputation! But bagging them up and dropping them in the textile bank did make me feel a whole lot better, as well as knowing what to do with the dodgy old loo seat!

Kevin McCloud once took a shine to my lovely upcycled handbag, which is made from old redundant firehose diverted from landfill. When he asked to look inside, I became utterly embarrassed that it had been a long while since I'd last emptied or recycled its contents. 'Always be prepared' has since been my motto, even if in reality, I still use my bag as a mini waste transfer station.  From that day I have not let anyone else peer within!

One of my scariest moments was during filming for a TV documentary when I had to go through a family's rubbish that was spread out on their lawn, within minutes of meeting them. Apparently the director got that idea from this very blog.  However, I don't remember writing anything about me personally emptying out bags of doggy doo.  Thank goodness for the protective masks, even if the elastic did break frequently, adding to the waste pile! It was worth it though. By picking out all the things that could be recycled locally, stuff that could be reused as well as disposables that could be replaced with longer lasting alternatives, the family reduced their rubbish even further during the week that followed.

And finally, there is the matter of my own rubbish. Despite forever pushing towards the road towards Zero Waste, we still have some rubbish that unfortunately has to go to landfill.  Things like confectionery wrappers, crisp packets, toothpaste tubes and other types of multi-material laminate packaging, plus the odd scrap of food waste, when our wormery needs a pepping up or if, like any other household, things haven't quite gone to plan.

I admit that we are lucky to live in a part of the country where the recycling services are extensive, where we can recycle almost every type of plastic packaging in our kerbside bins as well as hard plastic such as broken kids toys and coathangers at the county's Recycling Centres.

The moral is that recycling services are improving all the time and councils across the country are using Recycle Week to help boost awareness of what can be done to reduce waste locally, whether it's encouraging you to recycle all your plastic bottles or to find out more about organic waste.

So if you're not up-to-date with the latest facilities in your area, it really is worth logging onto your council's website to find out what's happening, or visiting  And if you're a newcomer to the whole idea of wastebusting, especially when it comes to food, you'll find even more advice at

And my last piece of advice is, no matter how daft your recycling query might be, don't be shy about calling your council.  The worst that'll happen is you'll cheer up someone's day and at best, you'll know what to do with that thing that's been niggling your recycling muscles for far too long!


Blogger disclaimer: In the climate of sponsored blogs, I'd like to clarify that this blog is totally independent of Recycle Week and all websites listed above. This post is not sponsored. I just know a blimmin' useful resource when I see one!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The future of hard plastics recycling is here!

I've enjoyed many unique experiences since starting this blog, but there have been none so fascinating as a recent project, where I accompanied waste management company FCC Environment to find out what happens to the hard plastics that are recycled through the Household Waste Recycling Centres in Suffolk.

Yes, you read that correctly. Hard plastics, aka rigid plastics, where examples include broken toys, garden furniture, kitchen utensils and even coat-hangers. You name it, if it's made from hard plastic, even if it has metal components, Suffolk HWRCs can recycle it!

Yes, even broken loo seats!

I wanted to find out how effective and efficient the process was and share the results with the residents of Suffolk, who can help the county divert even more of this material from being buried in landfill.  After all, if we've got such excellent facilities for recovery, it seems utter nonsense to waste it.

The video of our discoveries, prepared by FCC_Environment  and Suffolk County Council for this year's Suffolk Show, introduces the innovative recycling process developed by EMR & MBA Polymers, which not only creates recycled plastic that matches the quality of virgin polymer, but uses only 10% of the energy required to make equivalent polymers from oil.

So if you've ever been frustrated over why your hard plastic gubbins can't be recycled, the answer is that they can. For more information, have a peek at the video below:

If you're attending this year's Suffolk Show, more details will be available from the FCC Environment stand (580).  I will be there on Thursday 7th June, where I will be delighted to talk about the visit as well as any aspect of the Rubbish Diet.  More information about the project can be found in the FCC Environmental press release.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin