Thursday, 31 January 2013

Slimming my bin - week 2

We're enjoying our waste rehab programme, Slim Your Bin, run by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust! We pride ourselves on being pretty good at recycling, especially as Husband works in waste management. If anyone knows their polyethylenes from their polypropylenes it's him. But taking part in the programme has shown us that there's no room for complacency.

What have we learnt so far?

  • Although we recycle our plastic bottles in the cardboard and plastic wheelie bin, our household recycling centres will take all plastics - thick polythene, plastic pots and tubs, plastic toys and garden furniture.
  • You can put stretchy polythene into the supermarket carrier bag collection points.
  • There is a collection point for pens and biscuit wrappers at the Rowde Community Shop.
  • We could do better with our bulk buying. We haven't got a big house with lots of kitchen storage, but this week we've started tackling this one by buying a big sack of potatoes and a big bag of bargain basmati rice from Lidl.

7.5kg of spuds and 5kg of rice should
keep us going for a while.

  • We could improve our reuse of packaging. We already save polythene bags and cereal packets for reuse,

Cereal packets rinsed and drying in the sun last spring.

but we have now also started cutting lots of other packets carefully so they can be reused too: Son took his sandwiches to school wrapped in an old crisp packet the other day. Turned inside out these look like foil, so the embarrassment factor is reduced. Pasta packets are also good and strong for reusing. With a refilled raisin box and an apple, that's one packed lunch sorted!

The kitchen drawer is filling with packaging to reuse!

  • We try to minimise packaging on fruit and veg coming into the house and get a fortnightly veg and fruit box, but we are going to get round to making or sourcing some reusable bags for when we buy veg at the green grocer or supermarket, and which could be used at the health food shop too. (The Slim Your Bin project is running a crafty make-your-own-bags workshop but I can't get there).
  • Decanting items from larger bags into your own containers (such as biscuits and crisps) will result in less packaging than buying smaller individual packs. The lunch box market is huge in the UK, with mini packs of just about everything. Stop and think: cute as they are, do you really need those mini packs of Oreos!
  • We're working out what we can stop coming into the house in the first place. You'll remember that for zero waste week last year, we found out about recycling Tetrapak cartons. They can be recycled at our local recycling centre, but that means a 5 mile drive, so eventually we decided that for us it is better to boycott Tetrapaks altogether, which is not that difficult. Our main Tetrapak culprits used to be fruit juice and passata cartons, both of which can be obtained in other formats. And I'm sure there are other items we could also bypass.
At the beginning of Slim Your Bin, our weekly non-recyclable waste was just under 800g. As part of the project we have to decide on our target for the weigh-in at the end of the project! How low do you think we should go?!


  1. It looks to me like your recycling programs are far superior to ours. Good job on continuing to reduce what comes in to your house! I smiled when I read about son's sandwich packed in a crisp bag.

    And you're right about not "needing" all the individual packets of everything. It only takes a minute to put a handful of potato chips or crackers into a container.

    1. I've found we can recycle a lot more than I thought. Half the battle is being organised enough to store everything that needs to go in different directions - some for home, some back to the supermarket and some to the household recycling centre...

  2. Lot's of good ideas, some of which we can do here. I am doing my part by buying a big bag of Oreos. None of those little packs for me. :)

  3. I had no idea that you could recycle so much plastic, I will have to take another look at everything before throwing it in the bin. We mostly use reusable containers for our lunches, but I like the idea of reusing other plastic wrappers. I hope you keep sharing tips to slim your bin, I'm finding them very helpful :)

    1. We use reusable containers too, but Son in particular is very fussy about things getting crumbs on from the sandwiches! There's another 6 weeks of Slim Your Bin, so there should be a few more tips before it's finished!!