This month has been one of reflection. Not least because it’s my 10th anniversary of taking St Edmundsbury’s Zero Waste Week challenge.
And to put into perspective the extent to which we’ve reduced our rubbish since – if you can imagine a street of 200 houses, with their black wheelie bins lined up and full to the brim on bin day, that’s how much less household rubbish we’ve thrown away in the last decade.
Now by no means do I declare to be a Zero Waste Hero with a perfectly polished halo – jeez, no. But a few carrier bags worth of rubbish each month is a long way from the full wheelie bin I used to drag onto the pavement every fortnight.
I’ve often been asked whether most people could achieve this? Naturally, there are exceptions because everybody’s rubbish and circumstances are different, but yes, for many people, I believe so.
For instance, although it’s pretty lightweight, much of the bulk that ends up in the county’s rubbish bins is made up of plastic film and wrappers. Of course it is better to avoid what you can in the first place, but if you end up with film it is worth noting that this type of plastic can be recycled at Suffolk’s Recycling Centres.
And if you don’t have easy access to a Recycling Centre but your local supermarket collects plastic bags: you can add clean stretchy film such as loo roll wrappers, shrink-wrap and even frozen veg bags to their collection bins, too, as it is the same material.
This makes an instant reduction to the size of your bin bags, as does following tips about what can be recycled around the county. Suffolk’s Recycling A-Z is a great resource for finding out what to do with even the most obscure of things– www.greensuffolk.org/recycling/a-z-of-recycling/.
However, food waste can often have a huge impact, too. So if you’ve been struggling to reduce the amount of food that ends up in the bin, Love Food Hate Waste has a brilliant website packed with lots of tips – www.lovefoodhatewaste.com .
But my best tip is: if you really want to make an impact on the amount of rubbish that ends up in your black bin, don’t just try the odd new thing now and again. Instead, plan your strategy.
Think about the stuff you regularly throw away then write down the top five things that bulk out your black bin. This is your hit list of rubbish to tackle. Use the websites to find ideas that best work for you and monitor your progress.
Once you’ve made inroads, tackle your next top bin-fillers. It’s always easier to keep reducing waste if you are already motivated by the changes of your own actions.
If your bin is fuller as a result of the previous changes to the garden waste service, maybe you’ll find other solutions that can help with this, too.
And if you want regular top tips to keep you motivated, sign up at www.therubbishdiet.org.uk. It’s very rare that I plug my own website, but, what the heck, this is my 10 th anniversary!
Should you need an extra helping hand, email me (Karen@therubbishdiet.org.uk). If enough people need help, maybe we could even have a Suffolk Rubbish meet up.
Meanwhile, a Happy Easter to you all. And if someone treats you to an egg that’s heavily packaged in plastic, remember at least we can recycle it in Suffolk. Just add it to your recycling bin.
However, a message specific to retailers – please ask HQ to stop making our Easter more “special” with all that plastic packaging that is hard to recycle around many parts of the UK. A fancy egg can be just as stunning in a beautifully designed box made of more easily recyclable card.
And finally, a huge thank you to everyone who has been inspired to try new ideas as part of the #GiveUpPlasticForLent campaign. You’ve been brilliant.