Thursday, 23 October 2008

Pre-challenge report

It would be a bit tedious to list everything we have chucked away this week - I'm not that much of a bin geek (yet). But the general pattern is much the same every week, since hubby Mark and I are creatures of habit. And if I am going to blog this usefully, it's worth setting out a bit of context.

As we live in Norwich we can recycle paper/card, glass, plastic bottles (but no other plastic, and no lids), and cans in the blue wheelie bin. We have a compost bin and a caddy, where I chuck fruit and veg waste, teabags, eggshells, eggboxes and brown paper bags - even hair from my brush and when I cut Mark's hair. Some garden waste goes in there occasionally but big branches and weeds get saved up for the household waste site. Our local supermarket has a Tetra Pak bank. And... everything else goes in the bin.

So the "other" waste bin gets mainly plastic, as you can imagine. Off the top of my head, packaging for: pasta, rice, biscuits, crisps, dried fruit and nuts, meat, fish, cheese, inner bags from cereals, some vegetables (where we had no choice), yogurt pots and lids, margarine, magazines, toothpaste, medicine blister packs. Freezer bags where I have bought in bulk and bagged up things in portions. Small amounts of cooked food (bones, fish skin, trimmed fat), but I think we must be quite greedy as there are hardly ever edible food leftovers in our house! Plastic bottle tops and metal jar lids, and some tissues and kitchen roll as I don't like to put too much of them in the compost or down the loo. This week I was annoyed to accidentally break a bottle - the broken glass had to go in the landfill bin, wrapped in newspaper, so the recycling took a double hit! (Hm - could I have emptied the broken glass into a bottle bank and then recycled the newspaper? Surely bottle banks contain broken glass?)

We have alternate weekly collections, and with just two of us we probably put each bin out at most once a month, if not every 6 weeks. We never have problems with pests or smells, though. We often forget to put out the green box (glass) too, and so to the neighbours it looks like we have a crazy beer and peanut butter binge every 2-3 months (oops, the secret is out). Amusingly it took me over a year to work out that it would make more sense to have the more heavily used recycling bin by the front door, and the poor neglected waste bin tucked away by the garage. Duh!

It actually looks like most of our zero-wasting is going to be done not at home but at the shops - packaging is the key, given our lack of plastics recycling. This is going to be quite a challenge - can we live without yogurt and crisps? (Oh the unbearable tension...) Tune in next week to find out!


  1. Have you thought of making your own yogurt? It's ever so simple and very tasty, my eldest won't eat any other yogurt (and I've tried!). The only waste you'll have is a tetra pak from the UHT milk, and reading your post, you can take those to your supermarket.

  2. Thanks Cybèle, I will try that although it may have to be after Waste Free Week is over. I think my mum used to have one but no longer uses it, so I will see if it's in need of a new home :)

    What do you use for flavouring? I like plain yogurt but hubby prefers fruit! I guess tinned fruit might be the best option from a packaging point of view?

  3. For my daughter, I put a spoonful of jam into yogurt - it gives sweetness and comes in a recyclable glass jar.
    At home, chopped fresh fruit is perfect or a banana mashed in for something more substantial.

    Mrs G