Monday, 27 October 2008


The results are in:

Total Waste: Down from 32.5 kg to 12.3 kg
Recycling: Up from 69% to 94%

Waste to landfill: Down from 10.25kg to 0.75 kg !!!!!!!

At the start of the week we wanted to reduce our waste to landfill by 50%....we smashed this target and reduced it by 93%

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Day 6 & 7

As I thought...the weekend has been tough! With all the family at home and consuming voraciously, plus two large Bernese Mountain dogs and a couple of in-laws! No offense R & R!

However, the bin is still pretty light...plastics is still the main contributor....but I'm almost certain that the final weigh in tomorrow will show significantly less waste overall. Our recycling has been less this week, which could be due to a number of reasons, but mostly because I think last weeks recycling included a build up over a longer period.

Interestingly, the Almost Mrs Average who has been following this blog and providing some welcome support, also indicated that she prepared for several weeks before her Zero Waste Week....if we were to do it again, we would definitely take a bit longer to prepare.

We've got BBC Spotlight coming again in the morning to find out how we've done, so keep your eyes peeled for the evening programme.

We'll be doing one last post tomorrow to update on final totals....and perhaps a follow up later in the week on the off chance that something interesting happens...

Thanks to everyone who has shown an interest....hopefully you've learnt something from all of this, even if it's just that we're slightly mad....

We've learnt a lot about ourselves...and we'll certainly be making some changes going forward. Whilst Zero Waste hasn't been achieved, we've made a huge impact on the waste we generate through our everyday consumption of resources....and the really interesting thing is that whilst others may mock the concept of Zero Waste, I actually think it is achievable....having said at the start of the challenge that it was an aspirational target that couldn't realistically be achieved, but that we should still aim for it....I now think that if you plan ahead, if you are really innovative, if you buy products with Zero Waste in mind, you reduce and reuse and you truly do recycle (and more importantly compost), then it is possible to get really close and maybe achieve Zero Waste. That's Zero Waste to landfill/incineration. You wont do it all the time, but maybe some of the time. And if everyone did that, well then we wouldn't be in the predicament that we're in. In Cornwall and across the UK.

Good luck to anyone else who's planning to give it a try...I think its something everybody should do once a year, a bit like detox after Christmas!! When I'm in charge of Cornwall, that will be my first law!!

For those waiting for us to fall off the wagon, I'm sure we will, we're not perfect, just trying to do our bit when we can.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Day 4 & 5

Sorry bloggers for a lack of blog on day 4 and 5...a combination of sleep deprivation, extreme exhaustion and a stomach upset didn't help!!

Back in the land of the living now!!

BBC Radio Cornwall came yesterday morning for another look, I think they were quite surprised. We reckon that we've reduced from 10kg last week down to 1kg or less as t stands...

As the Mrs Average points out, to really make Zero Waste Week work, you need to have prepared a bit longer than 1 week in of the things we've found is that many of the good things we are doing this week, wont make a difference until after Zero Waste Week...we're still finishing off things that were bought before Zero Waste Week when we weren't necessarily being as careful as we should have! Oh well, its a learning curve.

One thing we need to get to grips with is buying in bulk to reduce packaging. In particular, where can we get flour in bulk? cereal loose? and things like that.

This weekend will be interesting, you always produce more when all the family is home consuming!

Finally, the real hit this week has been our conquering of night time nappies, whilst we've had the odd blip, we have managed to use them every night and its made a real difference...the home made wet wipes has also been easier than we thought....really pleased with that.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Day 3...tupperware, worms and polythene

So the paper experiment at the butchers hasn't really worked...well, its OK for ham etc, but not for meat that has a tendency to bleed! So Vikki bought extra large Tupperware containers and Chris the butcher kindly put all our meat in the Tupperware....perfect!! He thought it was a fantastic idea and said that's how they used to do what happened....we used to use reusable nappies and hand them down from generation to generation, we used to use reusable pop bottles and return them to the shop, we used to use the milkman.....

At some point, somebody, somewhere, must have forced us all to stop being sensible and make us completely lose touch with reality. We all love convenience, but not at the expense of the environment...and common sense!

I blame Leo Baekeland, a Belgium chemist who apparently invented synthetic plastic in 1909. Was that the start of our consumer society....and when we suddenly decided that everything disposable was beautiful.

Enough of that...the worms arrived today, 500g of them, not as many as I thought but hopefully they'll help do the job...also bought them a nice little duvet made of coir! This keeps them warm in the winter...

Finally, following the excellent advice from Almost Mrs Average (, about polythene recycling, I dived in the bin tonight and retrieved 2g of polythene which I'm saving to send to the polyprint plant. Now I'm expecting a few carbon conscious comments here...."surely that has more impact on the environment through the transport emissions"...well, its a good point, but I have 2 answers to that, factually correct or not:
  1. The post van/train/lorry would be on the road anyway and I'm ensuring it's at capacity. It would be worse if I used a courier for an individual trip from home to recycling plant, but I'm not, I'm tapping into an existing transport network that would be running irrespective of my parcel.
  2. I'm voting with my sending it off to the recycling plant I'm making a point, albeit a quiet one, that I'm not prepared to send it to landfill. Hopefully, if enough people do it, the cost/benefit will start to stack up and other entrepreneurs will see that there is an opportunity and set up a service...or local government will subsidise it to avoid landfill tax fines.

Unfortunately, plastic recycling is often difficult to justify because it is a low weight, high volume material. So the only other way we can make a difference is to refuse the products in the first place and phase its use out that way...we'll continue to do that and through reusable containers and careful purchasing, I think this is one area we're really going to improve on.

Day 2

Well, after the excitement of Day 1 and the BBC I couldn't face blogging last bright and early here I am...not huge progress yesterday, however, thanks must go to the small army of zero waste supporters popping up all over the country who have been sending in messages of good luck and great idea for recycling tetrapak and polythene (see: If you follow the comments on the blog you'll see these great tips.

The family seem to have become minor local celebrities, which although is quite exciting for them, is heaping pressure on us! Every where we go in the village people say 'good on you' which is lovely...let's hope it makes a real difference and rubs off on people. When I agreed to do all this I didn't realise the extra pressure it would bring, its not come at the best of times if I'm perfectly honest...raising a young family is hard enough, but when you're on crutches for 4 weeks and your littlest is potty training it makes things a bit more complex...having said that, there are thousands of families out there really struggling, particularly as the economy worsens, so we're hoping this will prove what is possible and that its relevant to every family, irrespective of circumstances. Hopefully we can prove that it doesn't have to be hard work and that it can save money in the long run too.

As expected, we're not going to be completely waste free this week...various items we have finished this week will have to be disposed of and there's no point trying to hide that. In retrospect we probably should have run things for a month before Zero Waste Week and then actually done Zero Waste Month!! That would have ironed out all the anomalies...I think next week will be better than this week because it will benefit from the careful purchasing of this week.

At the end of the week we are going to photo and list everything that couldn't be recycled or reused and ask for suggestions on how to improve it next time....should be interesting!!

Finally, the great bread idea!! By the end of the week we should have something edible!! Archie calls my bread 'brick toast' and it takes him so much longer to get through it poor fella!!

Monday, 20 October 2008

End of day 1...

What a great way to start Zero waste Week....

BBC TV Coverage on Spotlight...great piece, just a shame about the interviewee!

BBC Radio Cornwall

Pirate FM

and plenty of local interest....the butcher, Charlie Harris & Daughter ( really came up trumps, not only allowing us to film in their shop, but they have also said, if the greaseproof paper works, ie keeps the meat fresh in the fridge, then they will phase out plastic and offer an alternative to that's what this is all sooner as I had ordered my sausages in paper, then the next lady in the queue did the same!!

However, the dark side of day 1 is that things have already gone in the or two plastic tubs that were finished today (butter) that were left overs from previous shops, and some plastic film from a magazine subscription...gardeners world of all things. But what can you do...other things I know that are going to be a problem:

Yogurt pots - the kids love yoghurt's
Innocent Smoothies - the dreaded Tetrapak - could send it to Scotland for recycling but that kind of defeats the sustainability argument from a carbon footprint point of view
Cream pots

So, we're going to have to find gratefully 2 is looming so that's it for another day on Zero waste Street!!

We're off!!

What a start to the day...BBC Spotlight were with us for 2 hours filming what's going on...they loooked at a range of things from our Green Joanna, to our wormery and the wahable wet wipes we've made at home! The boys were filmed lugging all their recycling up the drive and it finished off with a visit to the local butcher who has said that if our meat keeps well enough in the fridge in paper bags, that they'll consider offering it to all customers. This is what Zero Waste is all about, community spirit...we'll try and get some Green Joanna leaflets for the butcher so it goes hand in hand with the paper bags.

Watch out for BBC spotlight at 1.30pm today and 6-6.30pm this can watch online or on freeview from anywhere in the country!

Oh, and do have a look at the County Council website, their supporting Zero Waste Week in a big way through their campaign, Recycle for Cornwall. See: