Saturday 17 November 2012

Zero Waste Europe - my top 10 favourite blogposts

So, did you know it's the European Week for Waste Reduction?  I guess it's not the most snappy of names to roll off the tongue, but I love the fact there is one week in the year that's dedicated towards bringing our diverse continent together in the fight against waste.

It also makes me feel that my dusty old degree in Modern European Studies from (cough) the 1980s, still has some relevance to my life today.  The concluding motto in 1989 was that 'Europe is a unity through its diversity'.  I can't remember what I made of that back then, but when it comes to tackling our mountain of waste, it's certainly relevant to today's range of initiatives - diverse yet united towards the same goal, that of waste minimisation.

So for EWWR, (a much snappier title), I thought I'd kick off with an introduction to one of my favourite Zero Waste blogs, Zero Waste Europe, and my top ten favourite blogposts, revealing some of the great ideas that are taking place on the continent as well as inspiration from further afield.

The association of Italian Zero Waste towns has been created

Little Museum of Bad Industrial Design

Kretsloppsarken. Recycling or amusement park?

A Zero Waste month in Sweden: 4 people = less than 1kg of waste!

The first European university to ban bottled water?

Retorna – When waste has a value it stops being waste

Repair café – a project to make friends, not waste

The art of Zero Waste!

David Andersen Copenhagen; designing waste out of fashion
On the Road to Zero Waste: Lessons from around the world

But seriously, don't stop there.  There are plenty of other great posts, including some wonderful examples of waste reduction activities in the UK too, such as Nappy Ever After and Unpackaged.

For anyone who wants to explore the wider approach to Zero Waste, Zero Waste Europe really is a great place to start.

And on that note, as you travel virtually from country to country, perhaps all that's left to say, is 'Bon Voyage!'


European Week for Waste Reduction runs from 17-25 November.  More information can be found at  To follow events and discussion on Twitter, use the hashtag #ewwr.

Thursday 15 November 2012

The Rubbish Diet could be coming to a town near you!

The Rubbish Diet team visiting Nesta!
Please excuse my tardiness in sharing this VERY EXCITING news with you. 

I should have done it last week, but with news of my mum falling ill, then rushing to Wales to see her, then losing my laptop en route, and continued worries about her health, understandably this blog has had to take a back seat.

However, I can't keep it quiet any longer!  What's happening with The Rubbish Diet is far too exciting to keep tucked away in my desk drawers and if you follow me on Twitter, you may have indeed caught a few snippets of the news.

So to the sound of an imaginary drum-roll, I am chuffed to pieces to announce that my Rubbish Diet challenge has been selected as a semi-finalist in a national waste reduction competition, which could see the 'slimming club' analogy rolled out to villages, towns and cities, right across the UK, helping communities achieve an amazing impact on reducing their rubbish.

The Waste Reduction Challenge, run by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, and funded by the Cabinet Office, aims to identify new ideas that can influence and mobilise communities to make significant reductions in waste and impact behaviour for years to come.

In partnership with the Zero Waste Alliance UK (working with Katy Anderson, pictured above), the Rubbish Diet competition entry proposes to engage with established community groups around the UK, including schools, Transition Towns and W.I. branches, to help them organise their own waste-busting challenges, following an 8-week plan of fun and lively events that will help to empower households to slim their bins.

The idea is, of course, based on the very roots of this blog, when I took St Edmundsbury Borough Council's Zero Waste Week Challenge almost five years ago, (remember that plaster?), and which then developed into the online Rubbish Diet Challenge 2012, where I mentored 8 households through the process of slimming their bins, by at least 50%, at the beginning of this year.

Building on that, I have since been busy with Transition Shrewsbury, which has already launched its Rubbish Diet Shropshire community pilot, where 20 households have signed up to reduce their waste.  This is just the first stage. The Rubbish Diet Shropshire project, which is being managed locally, will launch even wider in the new year,  with events run by the community for the community, with households just like yours and mine, sharing knowledge about how they reduce their waste and attempting to overcome the hurdles that arise.

And it's that process, which the Nesta Waste Reduction Challenge will help to replicate around the UK.

So, we're in the semi-finals!  What next?

This is where even more hard work begins, in putting together an ambitious but realistic plan to roll-out the Rubbish Diet challenge next year, featuring a communications strategy, participant engagement, measuring & monitoring procedures and lots of other exciting things that will help communities launch their own slimming clubs for bins.

So, there really really could be a fun Rubbish Diet challenge coming to an area near you.  Just imagine!

We just need to get through the next round! But, boy, is the competition tough! So please keep watching this space for further news.

And of course, if you think your community would like to join in, then do get in touch.


The Waste Reduction Challenge Prize is offering a prize for the innovation that achieves the biggest measureable reduction in waste, by providing new opportunities for communities to come together to give time, skills and resources.

The semi-finalists (which also includes a Mattress Recycling Scheme in my home county of Suffolk) will be supported to develop a detailed plan for their idea. In January, five concepts for each, with the potential for sustainability and scale, will be selected to test their ideas. They will receive up to £10,000 and professional advice to set up and test their projects before a winner for each challenge is selected in September 2013 and awarded £50,000.

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