Friday, 21 January 2011

It's exactly three years since...

...I started blogging about rubbish.

Three blimmin' years! 

That sounds like a bit of a confession, especially since this blog was intended to last for eight weeks,  but I'll save you the pain of too much personal reminiscing.  If you really want a bit of that, check out this post from last year and this special celebratory number from 2009

Instead of looking back, I want to take this opportunity to cast our minds to the future and how the subject of waste is going to remain a hot and relevant topic.

For instance it won't be long until April, when the cost of throwing rubbish into landfill will suddenly rise to £56 per tonne, and if you think that's steep, by 2014 we'll be looking at a cost of £80 tonne.  When you consider that landfill tax was just £24 per tonne when I started this blog, it's easy to see the financial incentives for councils to stop burying our rubbish and encourage householders to divert it to recycling instead.

In fact, our local paper published today news that if Suffolk councils did nothing about the amount of waste going to landfill, the county's tax bill would rise from £8,253,739 in 2010 to £13,756,232 in 2014.  Woah - that would be some burden on us taxpayers!   So, it's a good job our council is pretty progressive with its recycling streams (Suffolk is 5th in the league table, recycling 50.6% of our municipal waste). There are plans in place locally, within councils and at grassroots level to meet even higher targets by 2015.

What really concerns me though, is that across the UK, the public sector is hitting a time of real uncertainty, with severe budget cuts, council reorganisations and redundancies. Frontline services are being hit as well as a range of services across the board, so it will be no surprise if some recycling facilities are reassessed in accordance with efficiencies.  However, I remain hopeful that core services will remain unaffected.

But it's a reminder that the emphasis must also focus on the concept of pre-cycling and REDUCING the amount of unnecessary materials that end up in our bins in the first place.  As consumers, we have the power to make a personal switch from a disposable culture to reusable products, which can bring personal economic benefits as well as environmental gains.   It's also a good reason to bolster the "recycled market", by heightening our support for products that contain recycled materials and encourage companies and brands to switch to recycled components if they don't do so already.

A lot of progress has been made within the waste sector in the last few years and I still think there are many more exciting developments to come.  When I first started The Rubbish Diet, the standard statistic regarding food waste issued by the campaign site LoveFoodHateWaste was that the average household threw away one-third of its food.  In recent times I've seen communications that claim that this has now reduced to a quarter. At the same time, food waste collections have been introduced in many parts of the country, using anaerobic digestion to divert such material from landfill. In time, these facilities will become even more widespread.

Elsewhere, the mixed plastics recycling market has received a further boost from WRAP to develop processing facilities in the UK and there are even real opportunities to manage previously hard-to-recycle items such as toothpaste tubes and other laminated packaging.   With regard to municipal waste, this really takes us one step closer to the goals of a zero waste society  and if you're as excited about this as me, then you should really check out Enval, the technology business behind the process.  Using pyrolysis, the company can demonstrate a proven commercial application for recovering 100% aluminium from packaging such as food pouches and other products.  The solution is also carbon neutral, using energy and fuel derived from the recycling process.

I may not blog about waste as much as I used to, but one thing's for certain,  raising awareness of waste reduction is still high on my agenda and is still a huge part of my many commitments.  And I can only thank all those who still take time out to read this blog, my random Twitter\Facebook updates as well as those who come to my talks.  I'd especially like to thank the members of the Ipswich Oddfellows group who invited me to talk at their meeting this week, offering me the opportunity to reminisce over those first few months of 2008 and how I tackled St Edmundsbury's Zero Waste Week.  It was an appropriate way to celebrate this year's anniversary.

So as we look forward to another year ahead, this might be an appropriate time to remind you that if you're looking for a challenge to do something about your rubbish, then please consider taking up The Rubbish Diet Challenge, which can help you tackle your rubbish in just 8 weeks.  You'll find the links to the FREE online guide at the top of this blog, as well as a few anecdotes to keep you entertained.  And if you need extra motivation, why not get friends and family to sponsor your challenge and do it for charity.

Just eight weeks.  That's all it takes to make a huge difference.

Yes, just EIGHT WEEKS, to slim down your bin.

But be careful.  Once you delve into your rubbish, you could very well be hooked.... and you might just end up be talking about it for years!

Don't say I didn't warn you.


For other updates, check out my recently revamped website at, which includes a range of links to current blogs, columns and much more.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Pledging to save energy ASAP to help Baglady

Today finally sees the start of the secret launch of Baglady's ASAP Pledge Round 2.  The official launch is 11.01.11, but Baglady being an impatient old gal decided to make the most of the tradition for New Year's Resolutions and the opportunity to get us Internet peeps thinking about sustainability.  You might remember my last blog post about it here.

Now I know that you're used to me thinking big and tackling some huge challenges, such as organising rubbish free tasks or setting up local collection schemes for Recycle Week, but for this year's ASAP (As Sustainable As Possible) pledge, I've decided to tackle something really small but just as important, much closer to home

You see, despite making a big effort to reduce waste, use public transport, buy local and keep the heating off until November, I've still not sorted out the simple fact that I am always forgetful about turning off the light in the downstairs loo.  Asimple thing, but the kids do it much so that my husband is always on our backs about Mr Invisible spending far too much time on the toilet!

So, I've decided that my pledge this year (with the help of the children) will be to give up leaving the light on in the loo AND elsewhere in the house.  And while I'm on the subject I've also decided to take up the idea of turning off my laptop whenever it's not in use...instead of my "leaving it on just in case I need it later" routine.

Other bloggers are also on board with their ASAP pledges and have either already blogged about them or will be doing so very soon, so for inspiration keep your eyes peeled for updates from MyZeroWasteCambridge EcoThrifter, From Rat Race to Positive Parent, Violet Posy, Just Jotting Along, A Modern Mother, Jo Beaufoix and Rosie Scribble.

Pledging is simple.  You just need to pop along to Baglady's website, make your pledge and pass it on via Facebook, Twitter or through your blog, encouragiing your friends to do the same.  All pledges registered on Baglady's site by midnight on 17th June will also be entered into a random draw where one lucky person will win a £100 voucher courtesy of Baglady Productions to spend at sustainable retailer Wiggly Wigglers.

So, go on...please join us in adopting Baglady for 2011 and  if you do I'd love to know if you've made a pledge. In the meantime, I'm off to make mine now....

Useful links:

Adult Pledge:
Kids Pledge:

Facebook Page:!/bagladyproductions

P.S.....if you're spreading news of your pledge on your blog, there's even a blog badge you can use...


Blogger disclaimer:  Karen has been working with Baglady Productions to help launch Pledge ASAP Round 2.  However, this is a personal post as an independent participating blogger.

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