Thanks to David at Sustained Magazine for sharing this video with me (he's cool and so is the magazine!)
Somehow David knew I would be interested in worm poop and I thought you would be too.
The featured video focuses on a US company called TerraCycle, which is innovative in its Zero Waste product development model. The company uses waste rather than creates it.
What I particularly love about its Worm Poop product is that it is packaged in plastic bottles that have been collected and re-used (not recycled). This means that the products come in all shapes and sizes and not some standardised bottle shape...and there lies the beauty of a manufacturing process that fits our contemporary world.
The CEO, Tom Szaky, writes the Eco-Capitalist blog at Inc.com, where he promotes the benefits of breaking away from the traditional business model. For anyone else considering Zero Waste manufacturing opportunities, it really is worth a look.
Friday, 30 May 2008
Thanks to David at Sustained Magazine for sharing this video with me (he's cool and so is the magazine!)
Thursday, 29 May 2008
If you are thinking of moving house, wouldn't it be great to find a company that offered a zero waste sustainable solution! Well there is one company in the form of Earth Friendly Moving, which appears to offer such services in the United States. If anyone knows of a UK equivalent, then please feel free to share. For more info, visit www.earthfriendlymoving.com
Wednesday, 28 May 2008
This one is just for fun, but at the same time highlights a more serious issue, about which further information can be found at the links that are listed below the video.
I hope you enjoy the video and see if you can spot the Camera Phone. My particular favourites are the coffee machine and the shrinkwrapped elephant - pure genius!
To find out more about recycling electronic waste, please take a look at:
Wikipedia: Electronic Waste
BBC: Mechanics of e-waste recycling
Swiss e-waste Guide: a knowledgebase for the sustainable recycling of e-waste
Labels: Recycling electronic waste
Tuesday, 27 May 2008
If you're in the U.S. and happen to be in the vicinity of Boulder, Colorado, then it's worth checking out the Boulder Outlook Hotel, which happens to run on Zero Waste principles. You can see how they manage it in the following You Tube video. It is something that I would dearly like to see in the UK, so if you know of any such organisations locally, please let me know as I would love to feature them.
For those who are wondering, The City of Boulder is located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and apparently is known for "its natural beauty, outdoor recreation, natural product retailers and restaurants, outstanding alternative transportation options, diverse businesses, and technological and academic resources". Sounds great doesn't it! For further information, check out the City of Boulder website.
Monday, 26 May 2008
As this is Half Term and I am out having fun with the kids (in the rain), I am declaring this The Rubbish Diet Video Week. Every day I will be publishing a video clip, some of which have been sent in by readers.
It's easy blogging material I know, but I won't have much access to the PC this week and will save any special anecdotes for when the kids are back at school.
So without further ado, I would like to introduce the The Story of Stuff, which has been circulating the Internet for months. If you haven't seen it, it makes excellent viewing, particularly with regard to the waste cycle. The following clip is just an introduction, but you can see the full story at www.storyofstuff.com.
Thanks to John at Interred for the suggestion.
Friday, 23 May 2008
Yay - Half Term has arrived!
This means a whole week of pleasure and pain, adventures and scuffles, fun and boredom and requests coming out of my ears for this, that and the other!
BUT THIS TIME I AM PREPARED!
Yes, I am prepared to occupy the enemy territory and distract the troops into submission.
It's simple really.
As well as my often-used phrase..."not on your nelly", there's a simple technique I can recommend.
It all starts with just one word....
It's a pretty small word but for parents it can be one of the hardest to say, especially when you're being brow-beaten by the nag, nag, nag of little voices, which possess the tenacity of a dog with a bone!
However, if you are committed to slimming your bin, it is one of the most powerful words you can use.
When I started The Rubbish Diet, I began to think more about the rubbish that the kids would bring into the house and consequently throw in the bin at some point or other. There would be the tacky toys from Happy Meals and Kinder Eggs, the other free stuff that comes with magazines as well as the souvenirs from a day out at the seaside, zoo or some other attraction.
How much tat does a kid really need?
Anyway, I am now becoming well rehearsed in the performance of "NO" and believe me it can really turn into showtime when faced with the Junior Posse on a mission.
The great thing about this little word, is that is can be delivered in a whole manner of ways, that help distract from the initial request itself!
These suggestions may be a bit "tongue-in-cheek", but they work as great diversion tactics for me:
"No!" - Straight and to the point. Try it in different languages if you like...variety is said to be the spice of life and the odd Na, Nein or Non will soon tone up your linguistic skills. You can even distract the little imps with a game of "guess the language". Try this list for size, you could find yourself becoming assertive in 520 languages! I've only managed to add about 5 to my own repertoire, but it's enough!
"N.O. spells no" - Perfect for reinforcing spelling to a three year old and is also useful if you want to regress to your own childhood. However, these days with phonetics, it should perhaps be delivered as 'Nuh - O' for full educational effect, with the O being pronounced as if saying the word 'off'. But remember... no swearing please, as this is not the time for teaching advanced synonyms.
"The Computer Says No!" - Just like Carol says in Little Britain and perfect for teenagers! It can easily be modified for little ones to "Mummy says no", "Daddy says no" and wait for it ..... as we get closer to the festive holidays... how about "Father Christmas says no!" It's about time that man in the festive red suit started to take some responsibility for so much stuff that ends up in landfill! Oh dear, that's going to make me sound like a scrooge. But in the words of Catherine Tate...."Am I bovvered?" Er....No!
And last but not least is my favourite, which I have borrowed from my dear friend Ruby, which comes in the form of...
"How 'bout... No!". Best delivered in a Yorkshire accent, it has a sense of finality in a 'not another word' kind of way.
Does that make me sound like a tough cookie?
Well, I'm not really, just pretty average and I still let them have some treats. The difference is that these days they are always very considered, with particular thought given to the amount of subsequent waste resulting from the purchase.
All it means is that I either refuse to buy something or look for a sensible alternative.
Take this book for example...
I discovered it a few days ago and thought it would be a fab buy for half-term. At £10 it's not the cheapest treat, especially as you could get about four kids' magazines for your money, but this book has got a much longer shelf-life and doesn't come with freebie tat! I know it's something that we'll have around for ages and once used will be kept as a momento.
The idea is a simple one in that it encourages the children to draw and use their imaginations to complete the pictures. I fell in love with it because it is much easier than starting off with a blank page and with very simple instructions it will also give my eldest some practice in reinforcing his reading skills.
However, if you'd rather not spend a tenner, there's no reason why you can't save a few pounds, grab some paper and draw a few "starters for 10" yourself.
You don't need to be an artistic genius to sketch something simple like a pair of underpants! Draw as many as you like, copy your work of art for your friends if you fancy and see who can design the best pair! Now that's a half-term activity for which you don't even need kids! Just for fun, why not go the whole hog and email me your designs and I'll create a Pants Gallery to show off your talents!
The other strategy for half-term is to be prepared for all those snack attacks. I've got my toolkit ready, which consists of drinks bottles (to avoid those ikky soft drinks), some re-usable containers (to fill with lots of lovely fruit) and a cool lunchbox, to make it all easy to carry around, whilst on our adventures. We've even got flasks and drinks bottles for us grown ups.
As well as our regular supply of fresh fruit, I've got myself prepared for half-term madness with some other treats, that come in the form of sweeties. This should avoid any weak-willed moments of buying little packets from the shops.
At the beginning of the week, I popped into our local sweet shop and bought a selection, all of which were weighed and popped into a little paper bag. I thought these would be great for rationing throughout the week and avoided any plastic packaging that couldn't be recycled!
The only problem is that my own sweet tooth got in the way and I ate them all.
The children never even got a look in!
It's a good job that while visiting London yesterday, I happened across a fantastic sweet shop called Hope and Greenwood in Covent Garden. Just going in there was a treat in itself!
I promise, the sweets still remain untouched and will be rationed out accordingly!
Anyway, as you can guess, I won't be around much next week. However, I've made sure that I've still got a few treats lined up for the blog. So do pop by for some audio-visual insights into the world of rubbish.
Perhaps the biggest treat of all, is to see how Ruby's coming on in her own rubbish challenge. The girl's doing well and I really encourage you to visit her blog for her latest updates on the arrival of her brown bin and how she ditched her packaging at Waitrose. She reveals all at: http://rubysrubbishblog.blogspot.com/
So as Half Term commences, wish me luck. Call it a practice run for the summer holidays if you like.
I hope you enjoy your own Half Term. And if you haven't got kids, at least make the most of the quieter roads!
See you soon!
Thursday, 22 May 2008
NOW THAT'S A HEADLINE THAT WOULDN'T SELL NEWSPAPERS!
But yes, the news is that I'm getting out of town today and even venturing out of the region.
Destination LONDON! The UK capital of the freebie paper.
One of my memories of working in London during the nineties was how the tube trains were often used as surrogate recycling bins, with newspapers abandoned on the seats, the floors and even tucked away near the windows. The buses were no better!
I wonder if anything has changed, particularly in light of new titles that have since been launched. If my memory serves me well, we only had the Metro at the time. Since then, there have been a range of new titles, including thelondonpaper and London Lite, which were both launched in 2006.
There is a list of current London newspapers on the Wikipedia site but if you look at the above photo, there are obviously many others that aren't accounted for.
I have read that following the launch of thelondonpaper and London Lite, Associated Newspapers and News International agreed to pay for 64 recycling bins, in an attempt to manage an estimated extra 1,000 tonnes of waste resulting from their distribution. Now that really is a lot of wastage and makes me very glad that our little town of Bury St Edmunds only has two weekly freebies!
I wonder if I'll spot one of those bins today, hardly a major tourist attraction I know!
Anyway, I'll soon find out...and if I can track down a free wi-fi hotspot (suggestions welcome), I'll publish the photos later on. (An opportunity to blog from London....how exciting!)
So, it's a case of HELLO LONDON...and without further ado, let the rubbish tour begin.
P.S. Take a look at the creative designs that promote the message of recycling on the London Lite site. http://www.thelondonlite.co.uk/advertising/recycling.html. My favourite is the Tower of London version. How cruel of me!
It's almost 6pm and I'm still in London, having a fab time.
I've seen some rubbish bins and the odd freebie paper, but I've been rather distracted by loads of other things:
....including buying some strange fruit in Harrods and refusing the carrier bag. Yes, refusing a Harrods carrier bag, in preference of using my own! I bet that's quite unheard of!
But do I really need a bag that says I can afford to shop in Harrods?
NO! I don't...
...especially as I can't afford much more than some opulent fruit from the even more opulent Food Hall.
Later, I was also distracted by the fact that it's my uncle's birthday tomorrow and I'd forgotten to buy a card...so with Paperchase on hand, I quickly popped in for an emergency purchase.
But could I find a card that didn't come in one of those unnecessary plastic wrappers? Could I heck! So I plumped for a 60p cheery postcard instead! So much cheaper and much less waste...
And now...onto my final distraction. Before I head back to Sleepy Suffolk, I'm spending the last hour with my lovely friend Ruby, indulging in my favourite restaurant...the very opulent Sarastro on Drury Lane. It's the place where I had my 30th birthday celebrations and celebrated my hen-night, so is very close to my heart
And if it's a choice between documenting bins at Kings Cross or "indulging" in Sarasto's with a very decent meal for just £12.50, you can bet the restaurant wins hands-down!
But don't worry...there's always time for bins later...because with my new lifestyle, Almost Mrs Average can never take a day off!
Wednesday, 21 May 2008
Welcome to my experimental kitchen.
I know it looks pretty small and it really is this tiny.
This photo shows only half the room. The other half is about the same size.
It comes straight out of the comic book of modern house-building, which for a family of four, can only be out-done by marketing literature for London bedsits.
I used to think our kitchen was too small for proper baking, but since getting rid of the microwave and recently off-loading the breadmaker on Freecycle, I am grateful for the extra space.
And believe me, that's welcome space in which I can happily don my imaginary white coat and turn into the mad scientist that I become when faced with an ordinary bag of flour. All for the cause of reduced packaging!
However, after my recent successes in home-baking, I feel that I should be a responsible blogger and dispel any myths that I could successfully challenge Nigella in the royal court of domestic godessdom.
In all honesty, I feel more like Dr Frankenstein than a Domestic Goddess.
Take yesterday's experiment with Quiche Lorraine for example. I was suitably encouraged by Kate's comments on my Apple Pie post, so dug out an old recipe that's been knocking around since my college days.
Perhaps I should be ashamed to admit that it looked more like burnt pizza! Surely you'd expect something better from a woman bordering on 40 years of age. Personally I blame it on the old cheese and too much heat but do forgive me if that sounds like the onset of early menopause.
At least the culinary version of Frankenstein's Monster was more appetizing to the tastebuds than its visual appeal. It got the thumbs up from our resident food critic, aka Mr A, who even went back for seconds.
So perhaps my continued experiments with pastry have been worthwhile after all. I am even convinced that pastry-making is ready for a fashionable comeback.
And if that's the case, maybe I should consider a kitchen extension?
With a bigger space, who knows what I might achieve!
Tuesday, 20 May 2008
Oh heck. It’s half-term next week!
Just when you think everything’s going smoothly and all very tickety-boo, school shuts down for a week and all hell lets loose.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually love school holidays.
I love the fact that we can stay in our pyjamas until at least 9 o’clock. I love the fun that we have as a family, exploring new things and going on new adventures. Most of all, I love the opportunity to relax with the children and ditch many of the rules that are tied to the school-day routine.
But this half-term I am also thinking about my bins, which I now feel need as much protection as our poor cats over the holidays, all of which can easily become targets of boredom. Note MY bins…OUR cats.
On such occasions, my youngest loves nothing better than eating half a banana and bunging the rest in the recycling bin, with skin completely intact.
He doesn’t quite understand the implication of contaminated recyclates. Well, he is still only three years old, so the difference between recycling and general rubbish is not quite his thing yet.
However, he does know about fruit and the compost bin and the fact that I do not like food waste, so my diagnosis on the matter is that he is just being provocative, especially as he always runs to me and announces…
“Banana’s in the bin, banana’s in the bin!” all in the same sing-song voice as “Na na, nanah, na” and sometimes punctuated with an evil "Ha Ha" at the end of his gloat.
Hmmm, maybe he knows more than he’s letting on, and yes if there are any child-psychologists reading, maybe we have got issues!
Anyway apart from bananas being bunged in the wrong bin and other pre-school level frivolities, school holidays always provide another major challenge, especially if we are out and about visiting local attractions.
It's the one that is presented in a little cute voice and which often begins with…
“Mum-meeeeeeeee, can I have ________?”
At this point, please feel free to fill in the blanks with one of the following:
a) A kids' magazine (always accompanied by a cheap free toy)!
b) A useless cheap toy, with an attention-holding attribute of 5 minutes
c) A Kinder Egg (another useless toy encased in a layer of chocolate)
d) Packet of sweets or chocolates in a fiddly plastic bag or film
So often this comes in stereo, the youngest boy bleating in one ear with the eldest barking in the other.
You can only imagine the combined effort when mummy says “No”!
Before I started The Rubbish Diet and began to think seriously about waste, I would be happy to buy many of these things without a second thought. As long as the children had behaved I would happily reward them with a treat if I felt it was deserved!
However, since I’ve realised what short shelf-life all this stuff has and how quickly it becomes useless tat that ends up in landfill, there’s a new catchphrase in town!
It goes something like...“Not on your nelly!”
OK, admittedly the odd thing slips through, but only on rare occasions these days. We now try and think of alternative treats like fitting in an extra bike-ride, inviting a friend around for tea or going on a visit to the cinema.
I just wish that 7 years ago, before childbirth, I knew then what I know now!
If only my antenatal classes had covered a strategy for avoiding useless tat in the first 5 years of childhood, I am sure I would be the proud owner of a lovely uncluttered home and be feeling richer for it. The local landfill site would be much lighter too!
However, the beauty of hindsight is that if it pops up early enough, you can be blessed with an opportunity for change.
So if you’ve got kids, pop by later this week for my personal strategy for a waste-free half-term, bucking the trend that's been around in the Almost Average Household for far too long!
I can't promise miracles, but I can at least try and offer some common sense.
Monday, 19 May 2008
Well Ruth was nearly there and Fumblina just that bit closer, almost bang on with the location!
The sacks which I talked about last week are for biodegradable waste, all of which can be shredded and processed into soil improver and humus.
They were spotted in and around Stretham in East Cambridgeshire, when visiting my newly-wed friends Mr T and his wife, who as you can see was more than happy to demonstrate the rest of their household recycling facilities.
What a novel way to spend one's first day of wedded bliss eh, rooting through the recycling! (I am sorry Mrs T and feel that I should apologise profusely for the impromptu distraction).
Anyway, at risk of digressing like Ronnie Corbett in full flow...let's get back to the sacks
...and here they are all looking very lovely!
The best thing is that all sorts of stuff can go in them including:
Garden Waste (Grass Cuttings, Leaves, Hedge Trimmings, Twigs, Dead Plants & Flowers and Weeds)
Household Waste (Cardboard, Yellow Pages, Directories and Shredded Paper)
Kitchen Waste (Fruit & Vegetable Peelings, Cooked Foods, Fish & Meat Waste/Bones, Tea Bags & Coffee Grounds, Egg Shells, Stale Bread, Old Fruit & Vegetables).
Their collection is organised by East Cambridgeshire District Council, a member of the RECAP (Recycling in Cambridge and Peterborough) partnership, which won Beacon Status for Waste and Recycling in 2006/2007 and consequently shares information about good practice with other authorities.
Interestingly, where some other local authorities have issues over collecting household waste if bins are too full, East Cambridgeshire doesn't seem to have any problem with the amount of sacks that are left out. As long as the green waste is contained in the official sacks, it will be collected.
So where do all the sacks go?
...to the huge composting vessels at the very eloquently named Waste Management Park in Cambridge no less, which is run by local company Donarbon.
WASTE MANAGEMENT PARK eh...
It sounds all posh doesn't it?
And so it should.
After all, as I am finding out, waste is a very valuable resource that needs to be managed like any other commercial business model and not just buried in the ground.
The park is even family friendly and has an Open Day coming up on Saturday 7th June to promote Recycling and Waste Awareness. If you live nearby and are interested in going along, more information about the free event, which will be opened by Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth, can be found by calling 01223 861010.
I know it's not quite a trip to Lego land, but with mini-bus tours, opportunities to see the composting vessels and a chance to climb into the cabs of the heavy machinery, it all sounds like a hoot...well for enthusiasts like me that is!
There is even free soil improver available, not to mention the bouncy castle, balloons and face-painting. Hmmm, I think I know where I will be heading on 7th June.
With facilities like this, I bet the people of East Cambridgeshire have very slim rubbish bins indeed.
So if you are thinking about embarking on your own rubbish diet and are coincidentally also planning a move to the East of England, then East Cambridgeshire looks to be a prime candidate as a Rubbish Dieter's hotspot, especially as cooked food, meat and fish can be "recycled" without the aid of a Bokashi bin!
I'm now getting itchy feet.
I wonder what the house prices are like!
Friday, 16 May 2008
I spotted lots of these sacks on the roadside while visiting a friend last weekend. The same friend who got married on Friday and celebrated his 40th birthday on Saturday. He certainly knows how to party!
Anyway, as we drove around the area, I couldn't help wonder why there were so many paper sacks sitting on the roadside. At first I thought they could be doorstep potato deliveries, but some people would need to eat a load of chips or mashed potato to get through all those bags!
So, any guesses what these sacks are used for and where in the UK this photo might have been taken. I'd like to say "answers on a postcard" but being conscious of waste, the comments section will do.
There's no prize I'm afraid, but under pressure I could relinquish the empty sack I brought home with me to the first person who guesses correctly.
Thursday, 15 May 2008
Would you 'Adam and Eve' it! This is the 100th post for The Rubbish Diet, which started just a few months ago in January.
I can't believe it was just four months ago.
It seems much longer than that.
I am also amazed that until this week, I haven't needed to put out the bin for 10 whole weeks (since the weigh-in at the beginning of March).
Before I started the blog, I had to put out the bin every couple of weeks because if I missed a collection there would be trouble...and nobody likes dealing with a backlog of waste!
The only reason I had to put it out this time was because of a polystyrene mishap...
...a tray which came with a meat joint that I picked up from a local farmers' market a couple of weeks ago.
Just one irregularity!
I obviously hadn't washed it out properly and the bin began to smell.
Oh...and there was the dead bird that the cats left on the doorstep....bad cats!
But have a peek at the contents of the bin!
...those bags sitting at the bottom represent 10 weeks of our family's landfill rubbish.
It's a shame to throw it away really (yes, really) as I am confident I could have gone for a whole year without having to put out that bin.
But eh...so little rubbish! That's not a bad way to celebrate the centenary post!
Labels: Reducing Waste
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
I promise I wasn't in a bad mood when I grabbed the sharpest scissors in the house and had a go at this jumper.
It wasn't a revenge attack on Mr A's favourite clothing or anything like that.
It was more of a creative opportunity
Still concerned? Well don't be... it wasn't even his jumper.
It was in fact a long-suffering sweater that has seen good use with our 6 year old and has also been well worn (or rather worn out) by his 3 year old brother. It's been so well worn it's developed a huge hole in the sleeve and my darning skills are not up to much.
Anyway, yesterday morning I found it lurking in a decluttering bag.
It wasn't put there by me...oh no...I prefer the more indecisive approach where seemingly useless things hang around for such a long time, I'm still left wondering what I'm going to do with it a year later!
Decluttering is Mr A's speciality and he is particularly skilled in gathering unwanted items for taking to the dump (or previously landfill) and this particular bag of old clothing was destined for the textile recycling bin at the local household waste centre.
But with a sudden flash of inspiration and a scissors in hand, I took great delight in taking a few snips here and some extra snips there...
...and "Hey Presto"
From one old holey jumper, we now have a tank top!
It needs some sewing around the armholes, but I think even I can manage that.
But why stop there...?
After spotting some tatty old jeans, there was a great opportunity to create a whole new outfit.
All I can say is "my poor children", who knows what they'll think when they're older.
Now that I've got some ideas, there's a huge risk I may even try other things. It could be the start of a whole new hobby!
Perhaps Mr A should be worried. Who knows what might happen to his shirts when he's not looking.
For further inspiration, it's worth checking out the following websites, which offer a range of ideas and advice:
Labels: Altering Clothes
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
Do you remember the Beaufoix Bin from Mansfield?
The key problem is that it is always full to its 240 litre capacity. On top of that there are often extra bags of rubbish that can't even fit in, which owner Jo Beaufoix has to take to the dump on a regular basis. That all works out at an estimated 260 cubic litres of waste, every fortnight.
This bin needs some help and the aim is to slim it down to around half its size.
Jo kindly provided me with a lot of detail about what goes in her bin and is now ready to tackle her rubbish head-on.
Her Rubbish Diet Plan includes the following recommendations:
SEEK OUT NEW RECYCLING OPPORTUNITIES
One of the priorities of Jo's Rubbish Diet Plan is to reduce the amount of plastic packaging that goes into the landfill bin. As her local recycling facilities aren't as extensive as those in my neck of the woods, this will be a tougher challenge for Jo and her family.
Jo carried out an audit of her rubbish, which revealed that things like margarine tubs and yoghurt pots couldn't be recycled. However, the great news is that as recently as last month, the local council has included these in their recycling facilities, so they can be ticked off the list straight away.
For anyone who attempts to slim their bin, progress like this always offers a sense of relief.
A call to the council today also revealed that as the pots of jellies and some of the sauce pots used by Jo are made of the same material as the yoghurt packaging, these can be added too. All this shows an encouraging start for the Beaufoix household.
Other news is that Tetra Pak recycling has also been available for some time at the local Household Waste Recycling Centre, so these can be dropped off when the family is passing by.
Further opportunities for recycling additional materials may also be available from November when a new Materials Recycling Facility is introduced near Mansfield. However, not much is yet known about this and should not be seen as the solution.
REDUCE THE PACKAGING
It is important that Jo should try to replace products that have packaging with where possible loose items (e.g. satsumas). Where packaging cannot be avoided, Jo should look out for items that can be recycled (e.g. glass jars) or those that may be composted.
The key is to look at changing just a few habits, just tackling one thing at a time to make things easier.
As Jo often uses a supermarket Internet site to do her shopping, it's worth visiting the supermarket for her next shop to try and look for alternatives to over-packaged culprits that she regularly buys. Even flimsy plastic bags from the deli-counter help to reduce waste when compared to more solid materials associated with pre-packaged produce, which cannot currently be recycled in the area.
When buying chocolate bars, she could consider replacing the products wrapped in plastic film with those that use paper and foil. Paper can be recycled or composted and foil could be used for junk art at home or donated to the local school.
If tinned food is normally bought in multi-packs, it's worth checking if buying single tins is just as cheap and order those instead. This way, the plastic wrapping that is used for multi-packs can be avoided. Pet food, baked beans, tomatoes and tuna are regular culprits.
Of course, if Jo feels she can incorporate it into her lifestyle, shopping at a local market and at local shops to replace some of the supermarket products would be a great step towards reducing excess packaging.
On the culinary front, Jo often makes use of pre-prepared sauces, which come in pots. Some of these can't be recycled in her area. I've suggested that she experiments with making her favourite sauces from scratch. Simple chilli sauce can be made from fresh\tinned tomatoes with fresh chillis or dried spices. Some of her other favourites could also be created in minutes.
Jo already cooks frequently and loves engaging with the readers of her blog, so it might be an appealing idea to ask them to suggest some quick and fast recipes for some of her favourite sauces. She could then test them out and even feature them on her blog.
Last week, I also recommended that she should take advantage of Compost Awareness Week and buy a home composter at a bargain price.
Jo’s garden is big enough to accommodate a composter and once “installed” she will be able to remove fruit & veg peelings from her landfill bin, as well as tea bags & coffee grains and old bedding from her gerbil cage.
She is keen to do this, so there should be further news on this soon.
Cooked food waste should be handled by trying to reduce portion sizes if possible. Alternatively, if it continues to be a problem, a Bokashi system could be considered.
A Bokashi system is an indoor bucket that can be filled with most food waste, including cooked meat products. Active bran is added to the food in layers and left for two weeks to ferment. The liquid must be drained off regularly and can be poured down the drain or diluted with water as a fertiliser for plants. After 2 weeks, the fermented food can be put into the composter.
A Green Cone is another option that could be considered if appropriate for Jo’s Garden. It is similar to a compost bin but will also accept cooked food, meat and fish. The idea is that contents decompose and drain into the surrounding soil. However, I have not yet tested this so am unable to comment in detail.
SANITARY PRODUCT & NAPPIES
Jo is planning to complete her daughter's potty-training this summer, which will be great for removing night-time nappies from the bin. However in the meantime, she might want to consider getting a few reusable ones. If this isn’t practical, using degradable alternatives might be a solution. It’s not a perfect answer, but is one that could suffice in the short-term.
If Jo fancies a go at ditching the nappies, there is are products on the market called Eenie Undies, which are sold as part of the Weenies range. They are waterproof pants that can be used with compostable weenee pads. Jo will need to assess whether they will be suitable for her daughter and whether they could fit into her budget.
I have given her details of the Lollipop online store, so she can find out more about the Weenies training pants. The online shop also sells washable sanitary products, which may be of interest to Jo should she wish to eliminate disposable products from her landfill bin. Some are not as gruesome as they sound and are much friendlier on the environment as well as the pocket.
I have recommended that Jo invests in cleaning cloths that can be washed many times over and use these instead of kitchen towel and regular sponges. I have used E-Cloth products which have worked very well and now feel that I have got my money's worth. However normal sponges can be boiled to extend use if necessary. Also, used kitchen towel can be composted as long as it hasn’t been used to mop up spills and scraps associated with cooked food, meat, fish or indeed has come into contact with cleaning chemicals.
Priority targets: If Jo and her family focus on reducing the amount of packaging that comes into the home, they should be rewarded with a noticeable impact on the size of their bin. If composting is managed alongside this, they should soon be well on their way to cutting their household waste in half.
I'm going to leave the Beaufoix household alone with their Bin for a while. A little privacy is always useful. I'll catch up with them in a couple of weeks to see how they are getting on...and of course I will report back on progress.
Thinking about progress, I wonder how Ruby's rubbish is coming along. She's been in York for a few days and even managed to meet up with one of the site's regular visitors. I'm left wondering how much rubbish they talked. So while Jo's busy working on her rubbish, I'm going to track down Ruby.
More on that soon!
Monday, 12 May 2008
What a beautiful May we've been enjoying in Suffolk
With the warmer weather upon us, I've happily ditched my thick, comfortable "40 deniers" for the more flirty "7 denier barely there" number... just in time for our friends' wedding this weekend (which was perfect by the way).
I'd forgotten about those darn ladders!
You know the ones....
They appear in the wrong place at the wrong time and cannot be fixed easily, not even with clear nail polish!
Yes, I'm talking tights, nylons or pantyhose!
Aside from the more heavy-duty winter thickness type, lighter denier tights can suffer from such a short "shelf-life", they could be more associated with disposable items than reusable objects....Just take the two pairs that I managed to ladder at the weekend for example!
At least hope is on the horizon with a new material that has been developed that might extend the usability of tights.
Before I started The Rubbish Diet, I'd never given much thought to such things. I'd just buy, wear, ladder and then throw them away, all in that particular order, which sadly didn't even include a single visit to the washing machine.
But I now realise that just because they are laddered, tights shouldn't automatically be sent to landfill, especially as they don't biodegrade.
Fortunately I have discovered other options enabling them to be reused, from stuffing cushions to using them for plant ties. In fact you will find a whole host of ideas at the websites Self Sufficient-ish and Recycle This.
However, despite best intentions, I'm not sure if I've got enough space around the house to keep hold of my tights for such opportunities, which is why I am delighted to have found an alternative option, where they can be put to much better use.
The great news for nylon laddering offenders like me is that the people at the online hosiery store Tightsplease are collecting old clean tights for their charity appeal, to support women in Ethiopia who have suffered a fistula injury due to complications in childbirth. All tights will be sent to the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, where they can use the panty element of the hosiery to secure bandages in place. The remaining material will be woven into rugs, so there is no waste. Even holey, laddered tights come in useful.
So, if you have some old tights knocking around that would be better suited to a new home, please support this worthwhile cause by sending them to:
Ethiopia Tights Appeal, Tightsplease, 2nd Floor Albion Court, 18-20 Frederick St, Hockley, Birmingham, B1 3HE.
More information can be found at the Tightsplease website, so please check for latest news. If you would like to support the work of the hospital directly, please see the hospital's website for details about financial donations.
Finally, if you think that hosiery is just for ladies, be prepared for the news that apparently hosiery sales for men are on the increase. You don't believe me? Then check out www.tights-for-men.com, which claims to be the first UK online store dedicated to men's legwear.
I just hope that men in tights are much better at looking after their ladders than me!
Friday, 9 May 2008
The Beaufoix Project....I like the sound of that. It could be the title for a movie. All that's now needed is a plot.
Anyway while I ponder that, our more down-to-earth Beaufoix Project to slim the Beaufoix bin is now underway. Having kindly submitted her initial audit to me at the weekend, Jo has been waiting with baited breath, while I have been busy with my investigations.
You may now have the picture in your head of Miss Marple with magnifying glass poking about the wheelie bins or hiding in the bushes on “bin lorry watch”.
Although very tempted by this approach, I thought it was easier to ask Jo to delve into her rubbish in more detail and reveal much more about what her household throws away. But how cruel of me, especially as it’s such a personal thing to ask of someone, to list in real detail the stuff that goes into their bin.
I am just relieved that she was up for it, especially as my main concern is the amount of packaging that is thrown away in her landfill bin, including things like pre-prepared sauce pots. Ooooh, I've got my eye on them as a candidate for the chop!
Jo estimates plastic packaging to be about 15% of the family’s waste, which is matched by things like wipes, kitchen towels and sponges etc. Other contents include: old food and peelings (10%); tetra pak cartons (10%) and chocolate and snack wrappers (10%).
Until her youngest daughter is fully potty-trained, there is still the issue of night-time disposable nappies.
So, thanks to Jo’s efforts, I think I’ve now got a grip on her rubbish and having checked out a few things with Mansfield District Council, it’s time to present the Beaufoix household with the diet plan for that big overflowing green bin.
It’s going to be tough though because the recycling facilities offered in her area are not as comprehensive as those in my neck of the woods. This is going to be a key issue, but is one that can be resolved with time.
But the great news for Jo and the good people of Mansfield is that yoghurt pots and margarine tubs were added to the recyclables list in April, so people can now stop chucking them in landfill and pop them in the blue bin instead. That's already a few things ticked off Jo's list, hooray!
Anyway, I’m sending Jo her diet plan to consider over the weekend and will publish the details some time next week.
I hope you enjoy the weekend. I'm now off to my first wedding in years (not mine, I hasten to add)...so...see you next week.
Thursday, 8 May 2008
If you've been looking into composting this week (well it is Compost Awareness Week), you might have been considering which option is best for you: whether it's a beehive composter, building your own or perhaps getting one of those dalek types.
If you are still pondering, perhaps this little clip will help you decide:
...now where did I leave that sink plunger...?
Labels: Compost Bin
Wednesday, 7 May 2008
If you were listening into the JVS show on Three Counties Radio last Thursday, you would have heard me chatting briefly with caller Jenny about her rubbish.
Jenny had phoned in to tell presenter Jonathan Vernon-Smith that her solution to the problem of over-packaging is to unwrap it and leave it at the supermarket. She relayed it with such great humour, I was disappointed when our 5 minutes airtime was up.
I knew I could have talked rubbish with her for much longer. Her character was compelling.
So, I decided to catch up with her off-air and I guess it’ll be of no surprise that we had a good old gasbag for an hour.
Jenny, soon to be 60, is widowed and lives on her own. She describes herself as an ordinary, everyday person, who is just happy in her own company, pottering around and enjoying her retirement.
I asked her why she decided to call into the radio station and this is her reply:
“Once you’re conscious of things like rubbish and you see how easy it is to make the change within yourself, you get drawn to what others are doing. When I heard Jonathan talking about the supermarket and the wrappers, I didn’t give it a second thought, I just rang up to tell them what I do with my wrappings. I was surprised when the producer Laura said she’d put me on air”.
As Jenny laughs about her actions, it becomes obvious that she is a do-er with a great sense of humour and is someone who is happy to stand up and be counted.
“Instead of just moaning to myself or my friends I take action,” she chuckles.
“When walking along my local high street, a couple of months ago, on a cold winter’s day, I passed what might be regarded as the top greetings card shop in the country, with its doors wide open. How ignorant I thought, to have the doors wide open, with full heating on, blasting all that hot air out into the street.”
“When I approached the manager and suggested how wasteful it was, she looked at me as though I was from another planet and said, ‘it’s shop policy’… ‘Doors open mean the shop’s open, doors closed means the shop’s closed.’”
“So I took it upon myself to remark loudly that it was very short-sighted of other customers not to have said something about it, after all we are the ones who are going to pay for this waste of energy the next time they put the price of the cards up.”
Jenny may appear to be an activist, but she is just an average person who has perhaps found her inner rebel and now has the confidence to do something about it.
When I asked her about her rubbish and recycling, she said that it’s only in the last couple of years that she’s paid particular attention to it, recalling that it must have been 10 years ago that her area was issued with recycling bins to sort out paper and tins.
These days, her area has pink bags for things like newspapers, cardboard and packaging and a black bin for landfill waste. Through choosing products carefully and taking recyclables back to the local supermarket facilities, Jenny’s landfill binbag remains quite small and she only needs to put it out every three weeks, despite a weekly collection.
However Jenny acknowledges difficulties with the current system. “When the council changes its contracted services, it can get quite complicated for residents while everyone tries to get used to it.”
She also believes that more could be done to encourage people to recycle more and comments,
“The local supermarket car park has some recycling facilities, which I use for the few tins I buy, but there could be more facilities available.”
At this point she happens to reflect on society in general and adds, “It’s also about getting people to have new thought patterns.”
“For example, I’ll take some rolled up bags to the shops and often people look at me strangely.”
“Some of my peer group just think I’m making a fuss and sometimes say I should get a life. I just tell them that perhaps they should stop rushing around so much and start thinking about other things that are important”.
I bet some of my own friends probably think the same about me and the various habits that I've developed over the last few months.
During our short chat, I quickly decided that I really liked Jenny's gumption and admired her approach. She doesn't have access to the Internet, but she did write down the address of this blog. So if any of Jenny's friends or relatives are reading, please give her a big high-five from me and thank her for agreeing to be featured.
Tuesday, 6 May 2008
Yesterday morning, I made some bread rolls. I know...I nearly fell off my own chair!
It all resulted from a conversation that I had with my husband over breakfast, reminiscing about our stay in a French guest-house last year and remembering how lovely the breakfasts were.
It was all down to Madame Marty and her ability to afford time to making her own jams, yoghurt and bread rolls. One morning while chatting to Mme Marty, she asked me what I did. When I told her that I was a housewife, she nodded almost in solidarity and conversed in a way that assumed I made the same lovely things as she did.
It's funny the things people assume. She was surprised when I explained that I didn't.
Assumptions of course arise from perception, either based on people's own experiences, or on what they understand to be true. This is why when people make such assumptions, it's almost like being presented with a self-reflection and if appropriate, it can also be an opportunity for positive change.
My own assumption was that bread rolls were difficult to make. A whole year later, after following some instructions on the Crazy Squirrel site yesterday morning, I now know that not to be true.
Like the pastry the other day, the rolls were surprisingly easy to make and the kneading didn't take too long. They were also much better than the loaves that we sometimes make in the bread machine.
I'd now like to think I could build baking bread into my regular routines. Not only is it nicer but saves on packaging too ... but all I can say is watch this space as I add it to the other million-and-one things on my to-do list.
Labels: Making Bread
Monday, 5 May 2008
Meet the Beaufoix Bin. Sounds posh doesn't it? It's even green, but don't let that fool you. It's not a recycling bin but a good old-fashioned (and overflowing) rubbish bin.
It's a real pleasure to have made its acquaintance, not because of its swank sounding name, but because it belongs to the lovely Jo Beaufoix, a fellow blogger and writer, who has volunteered her bin for The Rubbish Diet treatment.
And you can see why.
Despite its 240 litre capacity, there's no room for manoeuvre by bin day.
Just imagine if the Beaufoix household missed its fortnightly collection, especially as they often have an extra three or four carrier bags of rubbish that can't fit into the bin and are consequently taken directly to the tip.
Anyway, you've met the overweight bin, and it's now time to meet its owner, Jo Beaufoix herself.
Jo lives in the old mining town of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, with her husband, two young children, a gerbil, a lorry-load of slugs and a fictional ostrich called Babs.
Jo wants to slim her bin mainly because she wants to help the environment, but is also hoping that the experience will help her and her family lead a healthier lifestyle and save some money along the way.
The Beaufoix household recycles whatever they can including card, paper and tin cans in their blue bin, which is provided by Mansfield District Council and they take glass to the bottle bank and clothes to the clothes bank, charity shops or carboot sales, so they are already pretty organised. They also have a brown bin collection for garden waste.
So the challenge is to work on the rest of the rubbish that goes in their landfill bin, which includes Aerosols, Batteries, Chocolate and Snack Bar Wrappers, Cleaning Waste, Cooked Food and Fruit and Vegetable Peelings. On top of that there are also the Gerbil's Bedding, Nappies, Meat Packaging Trays, Tea Bags & Coffee Grounds, Tetra Pak Cartons and Sanitary Products.
The key task for Jo and her family is to reduce all this by 50% and they are committed to doing this over the next few months.
It's great news that the Beaufoix household is also keen to start composting straight away, which means that they will be able to cut out some major things such as fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds and the gerbil's bedding, which is mainly shredded paper.
For Jo, there is no better time to start composting, as this week is Compost Awareness Week, which is being promoted by WRAP and the Compost Awareness Association and is supported by major garden centres, DIY stores and local authorities.
The good news is that living in Nottinghamshire, she will be able to take advantage of the cheap deals offered by Nottinghamshire County Council, which is running compost awareness events on 10th and 11th May, where compost bins will be available from as little as £17.
There are other composting events running across the country this week and you can find more details about local events at www.compostawarenessweek.org.uk. Further inspiration can also be found at the Recycle Now website, where you can see a video of celebrity garden designer Diarmuid Gavin indulging in the subject.
So while I am busy working on her Rubbish Diet plan this week, why not pop over and visit Jo at www.jobeaufoix.com, where you'll receive a warm welcome and an insight into her fun character... oh and I mustn't forget... the adventurous antics of her ostrich Babs.
Sunday, 4 May 2008
I don't normally blog during the weekend, but I just couldn't wait to share the details of a fantastic art exhibition that I visited today, entitled "Walking to save some sea", by Suffolk artist Fran Crowe.
The exhibition is inspired by a 2006 UN report, which revealed that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter per square mile of ocean, causing the death of over 100,000 mammals and turtles and over one million seabirds.
On learning this Fran Crowe decided to "save one square mile of ocean" by collecting 46,000 pieces of litter, over a period of a year, whilst walking along local beaches. The rubbish, which weighs a third of a tonne, is now used in her exhibition to portray what she describes as "an accessible but unflinching self-portrait of our society".
As you'll see from some of the photos below, her work is fascinating, with carefully laid-out materials providing thought-provoking content through beautiful form.
Look closely at the images and you will see all sorts of things including plastics, metals, balloons, polystyrene as well as broken toys, paintbrushes and lots of other odds and ends.
The exhibition was set within the walls of the ancient monument Landguard Fort in Felixstowe, providing a very interesting background against which to curate an installation such as this. The combination of the two is sheer genius.
So if you've got nothing to do this Bank Holiday Monday and you fancy a trip to see the exhibition in Felixstowe, then you are in luck because Monday 5th May is its last day. It really is a worthwhile visit.
However, if it's not within your reach and you would still like to find out more, then please pop along to Fran's website at www.flyintheface.com.
The exhibition really did have an instant effect. We took the foot ferry to Harwich afterwards and went exploring on the beach. I couldn't help but notice the amount of rubbish dotted around the shore, including a couple of fizzy drinks cans that had just been left on the sand. The nearest bin was only 20 metres away, less that a minute walk away. It's a pity whoever left the cans couldn't see it!
Friday, 2 May 2008
Regular readers may recall my recent announcement about a fabulous book called The Self Sufficient-ish Bible. It's a great read and is very inspiring for anyone who wants to live a more frugal lifestyle.
I recently caught up with Andy Hamilton, one of the co-authors and founders of the Selfsufficient-ish website to find out more about the site, their recent stardom as well as their rubbish. I hope you enjoy the insight that Andy has so kindly provided.
"Selfsufficientish.com was set up in 2004 as a place for us (Dave and I) to share our increasing knowledge of growing herbs and veg."
Why did you choose a website instead of a blog?
"We chose a website instead of a blog as neither of us knew much about the Internet as we were not big surfers. We did not even think about setting up a blog. They were pretty alien to us. In fact after reading an article in one of the Sunday papers years ago, I thought that blogs were run by 14 year old American girls and not many more people."
"Obviously times have changed but we are very happy with the decision that we have made. It has meant that the site is no longer just ours but it (especially the web forum) now belongs to an ever-increasing membership from all over the world."
"It was a huge learning curve for me, learning how to code the website and how to get us noticed by search engines. I was working full-time in a psychiatric hospital, studying for a psychology degree and working 16 hours on the site. Looking back I am surprised that I managed to do all that and still keep my girlfriend and a social life."
Of course you must be dead-chuffed with the book but what have been the other highlights in the Selfsufficient-ish journey?
"There have been a number of highlights. Perhaps the biggest one was when Dave telephoned me one Saturday morning urging me to look at our stats. We had gone from 30-ish hits a day to over 10,000 a day."
"A month previously I had sent an email to Click Online (now simply called Click) a BBC news program aired on BBC Worldwide and News 24. It immediately gave us a global audience."
"The first time we were mentioned in The Times was another big moment. As was first getting our agent, hearing we had got a book deal, giving a talk (to 24 people) at the Oxford literary festival and just recently meeting up with a crew and doing some filming for the Paul O'Grady Show."
"It has been a strange old time over the last couple of years. Aside from media interest, everyday things can really mean a lot. We occasionally get thanked by people or get what I guess would be called 'fan email'. As the Selfsufficientish journey has not always been a fruitful one, these emails have made all the difference."
"There have been occasions where running the site has caused nothing but stress and these emails have been the ray of hope needed to carry on. It is also fantastic to find out that we have helped people not only in giving them advice on how to be more Selfsufficientish but also giving some a place to make friends."
How do you and Dave share your work responsibilities?
"With the book, it was easy we split the work load in half, taking the subjects that we felt more passionately about. For example, Dave wrote about the soil, as he is forever trying to improve his and I guess I am more of a hippy and so wrote the Nature's Medicine chapter."
"The website is a different matter that has mostly been down to me to deal with. It is changing and we have taken on board a web designer to do up the site. When we launch the new-look site, we will both be updating with a whole load of new articles."
What was it like to be on the BBC Breakfast red sofa?
"Very, very nerve wracking. But not as scary as the Radio 4 Today program, which we did an hour previously. At one point I was feeling sick and turned to look at Dave hoping he would cover for me , but he was whiter than the driven snow! We got through it and I heard it back once on listen again but it made me cringe a little."
"When we did the BBC Breakfast, later that day, Dan Cruickshank was also in the Green Room (more of a cupboard) and he seemed very nervous, so I chatted to him to help calm HIS nerves."
"The whole studio does not look anything like it does when you watch it. There is a stain on the sofa and no cameramen. In fact it looks like two people talking to themselves. The big screen behind them is just a brick wall painted white with whatever is projected onto it. The whole thing was over in seconds."
How are you coping with the media interest?
"Well to be fair we are hardly A list or even X,Y or Z list celebs. Mind you, we had a white van man (in a claret van) pull up shouting, 'Oi you!'. Worriedly we both looked up, and he just said 'how's your allotment?' Some of the local folk seem to recognise me and I have now gone from a customer in the local green grocers to becoming a friend."
Have you ever met up with forum members or are you planning to?
"Well yes a few. Indeed we are meeting up with some on Saturday to celebrate the launch of the book. The famous Nev Sweeny, our site guru from Australia, will be in the country and we are really looking forward to spending time with him."
So what's in your recycling bins?
"Over the summer months we have hardly any packaging in the bins as most of what we eat is home grown. However, as we are self sufficientish and not self sufficient, we have never professed to being totally self reliant and aim to be realistic. Tinned beans, apple juice cartons, chick pea cans seem to make up the bulk of what is in the recycling bin...really just stuff that we can't make or grow or that would take a long time to produce."
How big is your regular landfill bin?
"As I live with my girlfriend and Dave lives in a shared house, it is hard to really say how little we do throw away. Even so, here in Bristol the collection is fortnightly and we have been known to miss it on more than one consecutive fortnight. This has meant 6 weeks worth of rubbish building up, to be fair we could probably go 8 weeks without having our rubbish collected. If I lived on my own I think I could easily go almost waste-free."
What's your top tip for minimising waste?
"I have twice taken a plastic-free challenge, not buying any plastic for 2 weeks. My waste was minimal during this time. I would say that I was perhaps cheating a little as during both times I was growing a lot of my own stuff. It is much easier to be waste-free when the only packaging that you use is mud! It is possible to make almost everything and using our book and the Internet could set you in good stead to become waste-free!"
Many thanks go to Andy for his patience in answering my various questions. I certainly don't think he was cheating by using his own produce during the plastic-free challenge and it's something that I would love to be able to do, if only I could find the time and energy to stop those slugs from eating my lettuce.
Anyway, I am certainly inspired to try to become more self sufficient-ish and hope that you are too. For more tips and advice, pop along to Andy and Dave's website www.selfsufficientish.com, where there is even an active forum to hand which includes topics as varied as growing your own right produce through to eco-parenting as well as reducing waste.
Thursday, 1 May 2008
Yesterday, I woke up with a real desire for apple pie.
Why? I don't know!
I just wanted apple pie.
More curiouser...I felt the urge to make one.
The old me would have just gone out and bought one, but for my alter-ego, aka Almost Mrs Average, who has this thing about packaging and all that, this option is now generally a no-no!
Of course, it's pretty easy to get ready-made pastry these days and this has been a popular addition to my shopping basket over the years.
But yesterday, I took a step back in time and recalled the days when I used to make my own pastry.
The last time was circa 1988 when I was a student on a grant in Nottingham, with £2500 annual income to support me for the whole year. Back then I used to be able to cook up a mean apple pie to share with my friends.
So what happened?
I suppose things have got in the way of my appley pie delights...work, cheap supermarket deals, more disposable cash, kids and generally less time on my hands. When you think about my love of blogging as well as my regular dose of Corrie, I generally don't have the hour or so needed to dedicate to regularly making pies.
...but that's where I've been foiled. My poor memory must have got the better of me, darn it.
An hour...where did I get that from? Of course it doesn't take that long!
Yesterday I grabbed the flour, butter and lard, rubbed it into crumbs and bound it together with some water and within 10 minutes I had some pastry.
After leaving it to chill in the fridge, I rolled it out and shaped it into the pie dish, added the chopped apples and then bunged it in the oven for 50 minutes.
And there it was...a delicious apple pie, which required only about 20 minutes effort.
I am glad to have rediscovered the ease of home-made pastry. For something that seems to carry a veil of mystery, it really was that easy. It's almost like unpicking an illusion and discovering the reality that hides within.
I think only time will tell whether I' m a real convert or whether it's just a temporary blip of enthusiasm, but I'm pretty confident that there will be a few more pies in the Almost Average Household from now on!
The other big news today is that Almost Mrs Average is stepping out of Suffolk...well only for 5 minutes...when I "nip" over the border to Beds, Bucks and Herts!
If you tune into BBC Three Counties Radio at about 12.15, you may be able to hear me talking to presenter Jonathan Vernon-Smith about my rubbish, or rather the lack of it. So to any listeners who are visiting the blog as a result, may I extend a very warm welcome and thank you for listening to my rambles.