WASTE: Rubbish resolutions

Big Bin Landscape Love Few WordsIn TFP5 we featured social enterprise The Rubbish Diet  and the witty and effective ways it invites people to ‘slim their bins’ at both household and community levels. Here Bin Doctor Katy Anderson writes about the Diet and how you can Learn to Love Your Bin as a New Year’s Resolution.

 Sometimes we make New Year’s resolutions that we don’t keep.  The key, psychologists tell us, is to make the resolution simple, with stepped rewards along the way until the goal is reached…Luckily The Rubbish Diet challenge is a perfectly-packaged resolution in-waiting!  

 The Rubbish Diet started as a blog by Karen Cannard when she took her Council’s Zero Waste Challenge.   She slimmed her bin from a full-to-the-brim wheelie bin to just a plaster over eight weeks.  She was so amazed at how much influence a family like hers had to control their waste, that she carried on blogging and sharing her discoveries. 

In 2013, she teamed up with social enterprise Cwm Harry to develop a Diet that would help people slim their bins and also provide a toolkit for people to spread the waste reduction message in their communities. The Rubbish Diet invites you to change the way you live and make a positive difference to the world around you with a simple two-step process of tailored emails with top tips that help you recycle more, shop better and save money.

People have taken the Rubbish Diet across the country, taking it on-line, with their street or in their group.  Jackie and Howard from Shrewsbury took the Diet with their street, meeting to talk rubbish with their neighbours over tea and cake.  They now have slim bins, run clothes swaps and share trips to the recycling centre.  Poulomi and Sarah from Harrow, have started running Restart parties where people come together to repair electronics.

the change is permanent

 On average people slim their bins by 40% and the change is permanent.  Slimming their bin saves people money as they reduce food waste and start reusing more.  And it has obvious benefits for the environment – food waste alone in the UK is the equivalent of one in four cars on our roads in terms of carbon emissions.  

Across the UK, huge amounts of recyclable materials are being lost to landfill.  In West London, 67% of the waste sent to landfill could have been recycled.  It goes to landfill by train.  The waste train is one-third of a mile long, taking 1,000 tonnes of “rubbish”, six days a week, see our video here.  1,000,000 recyclable bottles a week go to landfill every week on the train, when they could have been made into new bottles and been back on the supermarket shelves in just 3 weeks.

 Taking a close look at what we throw away has a real impact on our lifestyles.   As Dieter Sarah from Harrow explains,:

I thought I was good at recycling, but The Rubbish Diet Challenge has really made a big impact on how I view, well, everything in fact.  It’s really changed my life. It made me think about the make do and mend culture that everyone had back in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. I am much more careful about what I buy, and I reuse and mend much more than I used to. 

 Vitally, people enjoy taking the Diet.  It’s light-hearted and easy to do, and leads to unexpected pleasures.  Simon from Shrewsbury who shrank his overflowing wheelie bin by two thirds said:

I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved. The whole family is loving our weekly trip to the market where we can buy food with less packaging, and save money too.

LYB clr illustration onlyIf you would like to learn to Love Your Bin, sign-up is simple.  You can take the diet online, we send you emails with top tips and instructions and before you know it you’ll find yourself part of our growing community of Rubbish Dieters with a slimmer bin and a fresh outlook on shopping and waste. 

Even if you already have a slim bin, we’d love you to try the Diet and share the message. 

Katy Anderson is Co-ordinator of The Rubbish Diet and member of Transition Shrewsbury.  To find out more visit http://www.therubbishdiet.org.uk/ or contact Katy on katya@therubbishdiet.org.uk

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