Friday, 31 October 2008

Waste Free Week Days 2-4

After my mammoth posting sesh on Tuesday I though I would let you digest all that exciting info before posting again!

So here is an update of the last few days...

Day 2

I managed to make some sandwiches before leaving the house this morning, so a waste free lunch was easy to achieve. A few fruit peelings and cores will be composted at home. Tuesday evening I made mushroom and spinach risotto, using up the stock from the night before. All of the chicken bones and soggy veg from making the stock has been put in my bokashi bin to pickle before being put into my compost bin. Bokashi bins are a great way of dealing with cooked food waste as they accept all meat, dairy products cooked and uncooked food. They work by utilising tiny microbes in a bran that you add to the bucket, they anaerobically break the food down, creating an odourless product that can then be added to a compost bin, or buried in a flower bed. The microbes are great for soil and encourage wormy activity!

The only near call to waste was when I finished the end of my risotto rice packet. I would usually throw this in the bin, but this week that's not an option so I will be sending it to local company Polyprint. My portion control wasn't very good and I used far too much rice! See day 3....

Day 3

Today I had the munchies. I really wanted a chocolately treat, but fought the urge to buy a chocolate bar. Instead I baked some cookies! They are sooooo easy and delicious! So that took care of that! We had waste free sausages and mash for dinner, using up the final dregs of stock for the gravy. All peelings made it safely to the compost bin! The leftovers from last night's dinner were eaten at lunchtime so no food waste has been created again!

Day 4

Today could create a problem for me. I have to come up with a costume for my aerobics class tonight. If we dress up in Halloween fancy dress for the class our instructor, Julia Thaxton, will donate half of her fee to Breast Cancer Care. Well I couldn't let the side down so I had to find something. Luckily the shop I went into mainly packaged it's items in recyclable cardboard, so I bought whiskers and ears and went as a Witch's familiar! Unfortunately there was a little bit of plastic film packaging around the whiskers, but I'll add that in with the risotto pakaging for Polyprint. Now I'm sure someone will tell me if this is cheating, but my friends kindly cooked us dinner after my aerobics class, so I don't know if any waste was created... They are very keen composters so I know any fruit trimmings will have been taken down the garden, but as for packaging? I don't know. I'm going to have to find out though aren't I?

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Junk mail

Most annoying, why would I want a wooden lorry?! Anyway I've told them I don't want this post, so they can have it back!

Pub recycling

Couldn't let good metals go 2 landfill, even before waste free week started!

Scary banana

Still delicious, just doesn't look it! This is the type of food that makes up part of the £10.2 billion of household food waste in the UK. Not this one though, I admit I wasn't looking forward to it, but there was nothing wrong with it! Promise!
For more information about food waste look at WRAP the food we waste report
For more information about reducing food waste see the love food hate waste website, and don't forget to send back your feedback form at the end of the week for your fantastic receipe book!

Beautiful compost

Rubbish can be beautiful! This is Clare's compostable waste from lunch. I'm not the only one with strange things in my hand bag!! If you would like to find out about the subsidised compost schemes available in Norfolk please see:

Waste Free Week, Day 1, Part 2

Well I'm obviuosly running a little behind in my diary of events, but I'm making sure I record everything on my feedback sheet to hand back at the end of week! So now it's time for my blog to catch up!

Monday was a very exciting day and the beginning of the challenge, unfortunately I had a fairly busy weekend and had no time to prepare for the week.. uh oh! I was worried about having to buy sandwiches for lunch, and where I was going to buy dinner from, so I had to form a plan of action! I knew I would have to stop at a shop, so before I left home I made sure I had my reusable bags and some tuppaware boxes with me, you'll find out more about them later!

At work instead of scoffing a sandwich down at my desk I went out to a cafe for lunch and sat outside in the sunshine eating a nice warm pasty. It gave me a break from the computer screen and left me feeling refreshed and ready to face the afternoon back in the office. Most importantly the pasty was freshly made and had no packaging. There weren't any left overs either! The only waste created were a few serviettes which I took home to compost.

On my way home I stopped at a local farm shop and butchers. I went in and explained about the Waste Free Week challenge and asked if it was ok to use my own containers. I was expecting a funny look, laugh or raised eyebrow at the least, but there was none of that. Infact my butcher was used to these types of requests! Amazing! So I bought 6 chicken drumsticks, 400g of braising steak and six fat pork and caramelised onion sausages -yum! All together it cost around £7 and it's all locally produced food which I would normally pay a premium for in the supermarket. In the farm shop I bought some strong flour (again from a local mill) and some sweet potatoes.

At home I cracked open the flour and baked some bread woo! We had chicken drumsticks and red chard for dinner. I used the bones and some tired veggies from the back of the fridge to make stock when we finished. And that was the end of day one - Completely waste free!!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

DIY Reuse

Reuse is fun that all the family can take part in! I was very pleased with Tim my husband for coming up with this method of reuse for an empty beer can after completing some DIY

Waste Free Week Day 1

Password problems unfortunately meant that my fantastic first day blog is on my second day... but never mind! I have a fabulous guest writer....Almost Mrs Average! Woop woop!

So without further ado please welcome to the stage (a less frightening one than last week..) Almost Mrs Average!

So Waste Free Week has finally arrived in Norfolk and what excitement it brings. With over 500 people registered and four people blogging about their challenges and achievements, it's promising to be a fabulous milestone in the county's attempts to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill.

Kate may not have let on, but she's done this before, in Bury St Edmunds in March, when she mentored me through the challenge of a Zero Waste Week, helping to reduce my rubbish down from 75 cubic litres of waste per week to almost nothing.

"You'll be surprised at the results" she said.

And she was right.

I reduced our food waste, composted more and recycled things I had previously dumped in landfill, including aerosols and plastic bags. But it wasn't just a lesson in recycling. Attempting a waste free challenge was indeed a lifestyle makeover that changed the way I shopped, cleaned and cooked. I switched to the market and farm shops to avoid packaging. I ditched kitchen roll for reusable cloths. I also learned how to make bread and yoghurt and replaced over-packaged shop bought treats with home-baked alternatives. They were simple things that made a huge difference.

At the end of the challenge, the only thing I threw away was a plaster. Just one single plaster, a result of a minor accident on day one.

And it was true. I was surprised at the results.

Not only did I just have one plaster, but the challenge was featured on Radio 4's Woman's Hour.

But despite the excitement, what's most important is that the amount of waste we send to landfill per month can now fit into just one carrier bag. And where we once struggled to heave the wheelie bin out for its collection, it now sits in our garage for months on end.

So, as Norfolk begins its wonderful Waste Free Week, I'd like to send some words of encouragement to all participants. It may seem like an unsurmountable challenge, but shopping with waste in mind and reducing packaging at source is the real key to success. Buy loose where possible and if you need to stock up on essentials, try products such asTwinings tea bags, Shredded Wheat cereal and Pears soap bars, which come in simple cardboard boxes. Lush cosmetics sell packaging-free soap bars, deodorant bars and body butters. If you can't recycle juice cartons, try products that come in glass bottles and take them to your bring bank.

Waste Free Week provides the perfect opportunity to rethink waste and stop looking at rubbish as simply rubbish, but as a valuable resource that should be "reinvested" in the materials economy.

And as you recycle more and waste less, the results will be clear, a slimmer bin to take you forward for many decades to come.

Kate is right. You will be surprised.

Life for you and your bin will never be the same again!

Karen Cannard is the author of The Rubbish Diet blog. Her book The Rubbish Diet: Achieve Zero Waste in 8 Weeks, will be published by Vermilion in 2009. For more ideas and inspiration visit her blog at

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Reuse at home & away

I have been trying to think of all of the ways I need to start preparing for waste free week now that I have my pack. We have been sending lots out this week, so yours will hopefully be with you soon. I have lots of ways to reuse items that would normally be thrown out, so I'll start taking some inspirational photos to show you.

I managed to remember my umbrella as I left the house today, then remembered where I "sourced" it from. It's from a litter bin. I found it one night when my family had gone out to celebrate my father- in- law's 60th birthday. Why would you throw an umbrella away? Probably more questionable why would I be looking in a street litter bin when I was out for a family meal?!

Well I can't help myself, that's why! I was working for a district council at the time and I was "researching" the idea of on street recycling, instead I managed to embark on on street reuse!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Bin diving at latitude

Rescuing recyclables at Latitude Festival in 2007

The run up to waste free week...

I am Kate McFarland, Assistant Waste Partnership and Strategy Officer at Norfolk County Council, and this is my blog for Waste Free Week 2008, which is running for the week from the 27th October 2008.

I have taken up the Recycle for Norfolk challenge to reduce my waste as much as possible during the week - by composting, reusing and recycling waste. This blog will follow my journey to becoming waste free.

The Recycle for Norfolk team have been encouraging householders across Norfolk to sign up to the week, and hundreds have already joined the challenge. All households taking part in the week are asked to report back to the Recycle for Norfolk team, with the chance of winning some great prizes, but also so the team can find out what worked well for households and what challenged them.
If you are reading this and want to sign up to the week please visit:
or call 0844 800 8004