Trash Challenge Week 2

Here we are the end of the second week of my trash challenge! I’ve been feeling very self-conscious about all the rubbish I’ve generated this week, and have had it on my mind a lot, so this challenge is definitely heightening my awareness, which is great. Here’s my rubbish from this week:

Trash Challenge Week 2

Again, if you’re interested, here’s a list of it all:

  • 1 milk bottle
  • 2 large jars, 1 small jar and 1 small tin
  • 1 cardboard box for cocoa powder
  • 1 large butter tub and 1 large yoghurt pot
  • 4 sweet wrappers and 1 chocolates bag
  • 1 pie tray
  • 1 bread bag, 1 bagel bag and 1 garlic bread bag
  • other food packaging: 1 sausage roll bag, 1 fish finger box, 2 meat packets, 2 cheese packets, 1 broccoli and cauliflower bag
  • 1 fortune cookie wrapper and fortune
  • 1 tea bag packet
  • 1 apple sticker
  • 1 cardboard toilet roll
  • 1 contact lens packet and 1 contact lens cardboard box
  • packaging from a bunch of flowers
  • clothing price tags (I forgot to add these last week)
  • assorted papers, including a pile of junk mail, 1 letter, receipts, 1 envelope, scrap papers reused and 3 print-outs
  • address paper and packaging from a magazine (apparently the packaging should be biodegradable)
  • plasters and packaging
  • 2 medication boxes
  • 2 boxes and 1 padded envelope
  • box and packaging from kitchenware
  • 2 cardboard kitchenware labels

It’s easy to see that it’s tricky to completely turn things around in one week. But I’ve tried to make some small changes. For example, the only packaging we picked up whilst shopping in the greengrocer’s this week was the plastic bag the grapes came in. I also switched to yoghurt in a larger pot – it’s Yeovalley, which is organic and made in the UK, so I’m happy to stick with this for now. I’ve been putting a portion in a small tupperware to take to work each day.

I tried to make tortillas instead of buying them, a recipe that I think will need some practise! And I baked shortbread and a cake instead of eating shop-bought desserts.

This week I’ll try to keep baking instead of buying desserts, and I’m going to investigate how to reduce junk mail through the Mail Preference Service. This won’t stop me from getting junk mail entirely but it could help to reduce that which is directly addressed to me.

It’s a slow journey but I’m quite enjoying this challenge and trying out new ways of reducing my waste. Again, I’d love to hear any tips or links to others’ posts about similar challenges!



Trash Challenge Week 1

So I’ve finished week 1 of the trash challenge I have set myself for February. I decided to collect all the rubbish I generated this week, to see where I can make changes to continue my eco-friendly journey.

Trash Challenge Week 1

I’m not sure if it’s more than I expected, but it was definitely a shock when I laid it all out today! If you’re interested, here’s a list:

  • 8 individual chocolate bar wrappers and 2 outer wrappers
  • 4 sweet wrappers
  • top from a packet of chocolates
  • 6 yoghurt pots and lids
  • 3 tins
  • food packaging: 2 turkey containers, 1 sausage packet, 1 bacon container, 1 pie tray, 1 fish finger box and 1 pizza box plus thin plastic wrap and polystyrene circle from the pizza
  • 2 bread bags and 1 tortilla bag
  • 3 veg bags
  • 1 egg box
  • 1 milk bottle and 1 juice carton
  • 1 apple sticker
  • 2 cardboard toilet rolls and plastic packaging
  • 1 cardboard kitchen roll
  • used ink cartridge and wrapper
  • 2 batteries
  • 2 contact lens packets
  • assorted papers, including 8 receipts, 5 print-outs, 1 leaflet, 4 letters, 10 old cards, 1 invitation, 1 envelope, 1 expired voucher and 6 pieces of scrap paper reused
  • plastic wrapper from a magazine and paper advert contained within it
  • clothes catalogue
  • plastic wrapper from a congratulations card
  • bit of white plastic not needed from a set of drawers
  • prescription bag plus prescription paper

And this isn’t including the things that it was too impractical to keep, such as food waste, toilet paper, paper towels, kitchen roll, sanitary towels, contact lenses, foil from a butter tub, 5 paper cake cases and items disposed of at work (wrapper from a packet of printer paper, and some envelopes).

I found it quite hard to see all of this, but it’s also great because it’s shown me that I produce most waste from the food I eat. This is going to hopefully be my focus for the next few weeks, so I will be looking out for differences in my weekly photos!

This week I’ve decided to make desserts from scratch, instead of buying individually-wrapped chocolate bars (as you can tell, I have a bit of a sweet tooth!) I’ve also bought a 450g tub of yoghurt instead of 85g individual portions to try and reduce packaging from that.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by this but I’m reminding myself that I have already made a lot of changes in my life, and by being conscious of what I throw away I can make more. I also don’t throw all of these things away every week (the ink cartridge, letters and other papers, for example), so that’s something to take into account.

Anne over at Minimalist Sometimes is doing the Plastic Free Challenge too, so pop over and check out her post! Have you done something similar? Or perhaps you have tips on how I can cut down my waste? I’d love to hear from you!

Week 17: Receipts

I’ve really struggled with deciding what to write for today’s post. In a way, I feel like I’ve dealt with all the things that seem ‘obvious’ to me, and now I’m digging around, trying to find a new topic that doesn’t seem too daunting or unachievable.

Having given it some thought, I’ve decided to write about a very common but often unnoticed item: receipts. I’ve always felt the need to collect proof of all my purchases so I can write down exactly how much I’ve spent and what on (a project that is only successful intermittently). I kept years of receipts in envelopes in a drawer, all dated in the top right-hand corner, and a year or so ago I did go through them and recycled a lot of them.

But recently, I’ve read that recycling receipts can actually do more harm than good. Receipts are printed on thermal paper, which is bad for the environment because thermal paper often contains BPA, a harmful chemical. Recycling receipts therefore allows this chemical to get into supplies of recycled materials – e.g. toilet paper – which can potentially be dangerous.

I was pretty surprised when I found this out – it’s not something that I feel is really common knowledge! And when I ploughed through my piles of old receipts, I realised I don’t need records of all these purchases. If I’m paying with a credit or debit card, then I generally do like to have proof of purchase, but if it’s a small item such as toothpaste from Boots, I can either remember the price, jot it down or type it into the notepad app on my phone, thereby not needing to have a receipt printed.

So to recycle receipts or not? Because they’re paper, a part of me always want to recycle them! But maybe it’s better than paper containing BPA ends up in landfill. My policy is going to be avoid receipts when possible, and if I need one or it’s printed automatically for me, then I’ll use the other side (if it’s blank) for shopping lists or to-do lists before I through them away. This will save using a new sheet of paper, if nothing else.

What do you think? Do you hoard receipts (or other items you don’t really need?)

Week 4: Toilet Paper

At first glance, toilet paper seemed like an easy topic to tackle. There are a fair number of partly or wholly recycled toilet paper rolls you can buy. I’ve just started using Andrex Eco, which I find works perfectly well for me (although some of my family members have complained that it’s a bit too rough – comes down to personal taste!) It’s made of 90% recycled fibre and 10% natural bamboo.

Velvet do a scheme where they plant 3 trees for every 1 that they use, but their toilet paper isn’t made of 100% recycled material. But it is a step in the right direction!

I’ve also rather excitingly just discovered that Nouvelle do a Nouvelle Soft roll that is made of 100% recycled material!

[Edit: Since writing this post I’ve also come across Ecoleaf Toilet Tissue, another good-sounding alternative.]

Lots of brands do similar products, so I think the best thing is to have a peer around in your supermarket and see what you can get.

But, the problem that I forgot to take into account was the plastic packaging! Every roll of toilet paper I have ever seen is encased in plastic. And, to be honest, you really do need it packaged in something, for hygiene purposes. So I’ve done some Googling. Unfortunately, unless you’re prepared to go down a different route (reusable cloths come to mind, but this really isn’t something I want to do!), it seems that buying your recycled loo roll in bulk to reduce the plastic:product ratio is probably the best you can do.

The only one I’ve come across – which I haven’t yet tried – is this Maxima Green 2-Ply Toilet Tissue from Staples, which comes in a box. Definitely something I’m going to try in the future!

Have you found any good options?