My rubbish challenge

millions of tonnes of rubbish in the landfillI’ve set myself a goal here at Chez Green. This week we struggled to get the lid on the dustbin. We have one of those old fashioned metal bins and we fill it each week. When I look up the road on rubbish collection day, I can see this is well below the average, but I find it shocking to think that four of us (three humans, one cat) can create so much rubbish.

Every hour in Britain we throw away enough rubbish to fill the Albert Hall. Most of it ends up in overflowing landfill sites. The impact of this on our health and the environment is showing through climate change.

So, step one is to get informed. It’s a kind of ‘Hi, I’m Mrs Green and I’m addicted to creating rubbish’ scenario. Any psychologist will tell you that owning your issue is the first step!

Next comes a desire to change. Well, I certainly have that. Throwing out a bin full of rubbish each week weighs heavy on my soul. I know that most holistic way to live would involve no rubbish at all. I’m also aware that a few decades ago, just a blink in the eye of human evolution, we were creating no rubbish. Now we have turned into the parasites of the earth – extracting what we want and leaving a trail of destruction.metal dustbin at Chez green
In my ideal world, food would be home grown or locally sourced, scraps would be composted or fed to animals and returned to the land. There would be no plastic packaging. Unfortunately this is not a realistic expectation for many of us anymore as the word ‘convenient’ seems to be first and foremost in our ‘101 reasons not to act’ list.

So, I’m standing up and owning my bin full of rubbish each week and I’ve started to make changes!

A great site is the Recycle Now site where you can find your nearest recycling facilities. Mr Green and I get through a lot of tetrapak cartons and, as you may have read in an earlier post this week, I’ve just discovered we can recycle them a couple of miles away.

Glasses, tins and paper are collected from the kerbside and we have a big enough garden to compost everything, plus hungry chickens, horses and sheep that will happily much through our offerings.

I have to hold my hands up and say that laziness combined with a desire for ‘convenience’ are my appalling excuses for not recycling more.

Our land has a clay bed, so from November to March you can hardly get down the garden to the compost heap without sinking in mud. Sometimes when I’m at the end of my tether, it’s pouring with rain and I have a dirty tin in my hands, the last thing I can be bothered to do is to clean it out and take it outside to put in the right container. It just gets put in the bin

Shocking, isn’t it? I’m actually blushing and horribly embarrassed as I type………….

I decided that rather than beat myself up for ‘failing’ I would put measures into place to recycling paper, plastic, tetrapaks and cardboard the Mrs Green way!make things easier and more convenient. Then I’ll have more chance of succeeding.

I spent half the day in the kitchen annexe this morning, made that space work more for me and have set up four containers. None are pretty or exciting, but they are functional and I can shut the door on them. There is one for paper, one for cardboard, one for tetrapaks and one for recyclable plastic bottles. In the porch there is a big box for tins and glass so that I don’t have to brave the elements on a cold, stormy night. I’ve also put a big container on the kitchen work surface to put all peelings into. It will hold enough for 3 or 4 days and I’m sure even I can manage to walk out into the garden occasionally to empty it.

So, now I have no more excuses and you are my witnesses!

I have the room to store things, appropriate containers set up within easy reach, most items will be collected from me and the rest can be stored for a few months until there is enough to warrant a visit to the recycling centre.

Now there should be nothing in the bin except for cooked food scraps, of which we have very few (I’m considering a bokashi, and would love to hear from anyone who has one) and non-recyclable plastic packaging.

I don’t believe for one moment that recycling is the answer. In fact, it’s a bug bear of mine that we place so much importance on it when we should be looking at REDUCING our waste in the first place.

I know my ‘sins’ as it were – soya milk from the other side of the world, fruit juice when I could press my own, tinned food for the cat on occasions, dozens of yogurt pots instead of making it at home, Capri Sun for little miss Green that comes in those awful tin foil packages and the occasional convenience meal that arrives on a plastic tray.

But I guess going green, as with all things in life, is about keeping within our comfort zone and tackling things at a pace which side steps our flight or fight mechanism.

I feel that success begets success and breeds motivation. So, when I successfully reduce my bin load each week, I will then be inspired to look at creating less waste to begin with.

How many people are in your household and how much rubbish do you generate each week? Do you have good recycling facilities in your area? And what about a Bokashi – do you have one; how do you get on with it?

Edit: Ahhh, I’ve just found Almost Mrs Average’s fantastic blog, which is dedicated to reducing her family’s waste to zero. All power to you Mrs. A! I look forward to following your progress and getting some inspiration and moral support when I’m standing there with a dirty cat food tin in my hands after a busy day 😀


  1. Melissa McCann on March 29, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Hmm, I’m truly embarrassed by the amount of garbage my house generates on a weekly basis. Though I would love to compost, I haven’t yet tackled how I’ll handle the skunks/stray animals it would attract in the area we live. Even worse than the foody bits though is the amount of plastic packaging and diapers we throw out.
    Okay, I’ll own up – we are four people and two cats, and we have two recycle bins and four to five 13 gallon bags a week. I’m not sure how I could pare it down further right now, unless I cut out the packaging somehow. I am looking into a produce food co-op, but I”m not sure if we’ve missed the sign up for this season (thank goodness there’s going to be farmers’ markets soon!).
    I wonder if you folks over in the UK are further ahead than us North Americans in terms of going green? Would be interesting to find out.

  2. Mrs Green on March 30, 2008 at 2:27 am

    Good morning lovely lady!
    Do you think you would get skunks if you just did regular composting? I know nothing about them, but a compost heap from kitchen peelings and grass clippings isn’t supposed to attract vermin. That’s one of the reasons why you never put cooked foods or old bones in there, but just keeping it with green matter and a little cardboard or straw if it gets too wet should be ok.

    The other option is a bokashi bin – do you have them over there? You keep this in the house and it breaks down within a month. You ‘feed’ the bin with a special mix which helps to break down and ferment the food you put in. Into this you CAN put cooked foods and I am assured it does not smell – I’m eager to try one of these at some point!

    I have a feeling, from what little I know about American life that we may well be ahead of you in the ‘green stakes’. Regarding nappies; when I first switched to washables, I just used them at home, keeping disposables for the convenience when out of the home and gradually replaced them. Once you see their cute bums in a cloth nappy you’ll never want to wrap it in plastic again 😀

    Plastic packaging is a tough one isn’t it – but especially for you with a young baby who needs your attention. Your priority is probably to get in and out of the shops as quickly as possible.

    One step at a time; once the farmers markets start up for you, at least you’ll be getting fresh fruit and veg with no packaging.

    Have a wonderful day,
    mrs G x

  3. Almost Mrs Average on March 31, 2008 at 2:11 am

    Hi Mrs Green – Fabulous post. Thanks for the mention of the blog and for coming over to visit. I’d like to follow your progress with your Rubbish Diet on my blog if that’s okay with you. Anyway, I love your site. Keep up the great work. I’ll keep popping by to see how you’re doing.

  4. Mrs Green on March 31, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Hey Almost Mrs Average; I was so hoping you would pop over here and say hello. I can do a little hero worship now LOL!

    Please follow my progress; that will help me no end. It’s easy to fall off the bandwagon if you know no-one is watching you 😀 I’m like that with exercise because there is only me watching me………..

    Mr Green looked in the bin today and said ‘there is rather a lot of stuff in here’. This is the guy I used to follow around pulling out beer cans and paper from the bin after him. It’s great what a little nagging, erm, gentle training can do 😉

    Anyway, he pressed it all down and most of it was air because most of it was plastic – yipee! We’ve had a shorter week this week, due to the late bin collection after bank holiday, but I’m holding out hope that we will have one swing bin full this week instead of one dustbin full.

    I’m very pleased with that, but it still seems an awful lot if that is just plastic.

    Ho hum…………

    I loved your post about Ruby’s challenge – it’s wonderful that you are out there actively helping other people and inspiring them.

    Have a beautiful evening,
    Mrs G x

  5. Almost Mrs Average on April 3, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Hiya Mrs Green – it’s me again ;-D

    Thank you for your great words of support. It’s been so brilliant to get such good feedback and I also received a letter from our local council today thanking me for raising the profile of the waste issue, from a local initiative to a national issue. I must admit it did give me a rosy glow.

    Keep up the great efforts and of course I’ll be here applauding you all the way! Keep an eye on Ruby’s progress too and I am sure if you have any hints and tips in that direction, they will always come in useful. xx

  6. Mrs Green on April 5, 2008 at 4:41 am

    Hi Mrs A,
    I’ve been reading about all the publicity you have had from your challenge; it’s utterly amazing. You must be a local celebrity by now 😀

    To get a letter like that from your council is awesome; well done you. I’m so pleased you had a rosy glow from that – you deserve it.

    I find the human spirit to be an amazing thing; how one person can generate so much enthusiasm and motivation – you truly are an inspiration and I’m glad that you are being recognised for all that you do.

    I skim read your follow up post to Ruby’s challenge and will read it in more detail next week.

    Enjoy your weekend; do something decadent for yourself 🙂

    Mrs G x

  7. Acai Berry Pills on August 24, 2008 at 1:19 pm

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