If you weren't around here last year, the project aimed to get participating households to reduce their waste, and by the end we had halved our domestic waste*. This outcome surprised us as we would have labelled ourselves diligent recyclers. (If you click on the Waste category on the right hand side of the blog, you'll find the blog posts that I wrote whilst we were doing the project, which include lots of waste reducing tips and photos of our trip to our local recycling centre and landfill).
I would love to say that after taking part in the project we all lived happily zero wastily ever after but that's not true.
Just how are we doing one year on? I haven't weighed my bin recently (which is what we did at the start and finish of the Slim Your Bin project) but if we had to produce an Annual Report, I think it would read something like this:
The only hiccup with the green cleaning (apart from the fact that our house could always use more cleaning generally) has been a major and ongoing black mould problem in various rooms this damp winter, which, in the end had to be tackled with bleach. From what I understand, although bleach itself breaks down into chlorides quite rapidly, it's the production of bleach that is more of an environmental issue (click here for Lucy Siegle's article on this topic).
The Food Waste situation is also generally much, much improved. We buy less and waste less. We eat up leftovers rather than letting them fester in the fridge. We freeze stuff. And when there is food waste it is composted or fed to the chickens.
Ah, the decluttering. This will always be my Achilles' heel! Part of the focus of the Slim Your Bin project was on 'green' decluttering; disposing of stuff responsibly. For a while I even boldly wrote about my efforts in Tidy Friday blog posts, a thrilling round-up of our weekly food waste and decluttering efforts, but I'm afraid I kind of fizzled out with the decluttering part.
The good news is that through doing the project we now have an in-depth understanding of what can be recycled and reused, and we know how to make a bit of cash out of our clutter. The bad news is that we are not very successful at putting our knowledge into practice. We're not consigning stuff to the wheelie bin, but could definitely do with an (environmentally responsible) big spring clean and clear out.
This is another area in which we struggle. I find it really hard to avoid unnecessary or non recyclable food packaging completely. Although we use our Onya bags, avoid excess packaging where we can (we're still avoiding those Tetrapak fruit juice cartons), reuse packaging for things like putting packed lunches in or for storing leftovers, and recycle stretchy plastic, I'd love to cut down more. I'm sure that this accounts for most of our fortnightly wheelie bin content.
If you're wondering what Onya bags are then take a look at the Onya weigh bags below. Super thin and light tulle, these are bags that you can use for packing your own produce. There are five bags that scrunch into a cute carry pouch that can attach to your keys. Onya kindly gave me some to review and giveaway last year. Sadly the lucky winner never came forward to claim their prize, so in the name of spring cleaning and decluttering my home, I'm putting them up for a re-giveaway! Details at the end of this blogpost.
To sum up, for the most part we have stuck to our waste minimising habits, although it's difficult to stop the packaging pounds from creeping back on. I also think we need to be careful that we don't end up with a house full of clutter that's waiting to be recycled/sold/charity shopped!
If you would like to enter the Onya bags giveaway then:
1) Visit the Onya website
2) Come back and leave a comment telling me about your favourite Onya product (this will be hard as there are loads of planet-friendly goodies over there)
3) I'll let the giveaway run for a week, so the deadline will be 10pm BST, Thursday 10 April 2014
4) The bags are light to post, so this giveaway is open to all readers, UK and international.
5) Don't forget to come back after the 10th April to check whether you have won!
* Technically when we weighed our bin at the end of the project, it was heavier than it ought to have been due to containing a soiled disposable nappy from my visiting niece. One year on, I'm rewriting history and removing the rogue nappy from the equation to give the 50% reduction. I reckon that kind of creative accounting goes on in many Annual Reports...