Monday, 29 June 2009

The Recycle Week Carnival



Well I've been promising it for a couple of weeks and at last it's here, the British Mummy Blogger carnival to mark the end of the Recycle Week challenge, where mothers everywhere (and a dad) - even those far away from the homeland - took their pledges to waste less.

Here's a list of all those who sent me their pledges over the last few weeks. I have a sneaking suspicion that the tag has travelled some distance beyond what you see here. If you want to follow the various tags, just visit those who joined in and follow the links.

In the meantime, it's time to celebrate the achievements and participation of all those who joined in the Recycle Week fun. So to find out why they chose their pledge and discover how they fared, just grab a drink, pull up a chair and say hello to all the fabulous bloggers below.



SO WHO TOOK THE REUSE YOUR CARRIER BAGS PLEDGE?

There were a whole host of bloggers who upon taking this pledge received the news that halving the number of bags we use in a year would mean using around 90,000 fewer tonnes of oil - (leading to a reduction in greenhouse gas production equivalent to taking up to 50,000 cars off the road). This created a wide range of interesting and entertaining posts, highlighting the juggling antics that come with forgetting a plastic bag.

Susanna at A Modern Mother, a fellow blogger for Recycle Now, helped kick off the tag promoting her pledge. She obviously needed a little practice, which you can read about at her beautifully titled post These damn bags are going to be the death of me. To see how she finally got on, pop over to see her at www.amodernmother.com.

Amy at And 1 More Means Four, took her pledge too, with her forfeit never to eat cookies ever again. This was serious. So did she succeed? Look at this post to find out. Something tells me she didn't take this lightly, especially with all those children to look after. Pop over and give her a round of applause at and1moremeansfour.blogspot.com.

Brit in Bosnia, aka Fraught Mummy also challenged herself to reusing all my plastic bags for a week. If you want to know what such a challenge is like over in Bosnia, her post "Of recycling and plastic bags" makes very interesting reading. For further updates, keep checking by her blog at britsinbosnia.blogspot.com.

Emily over at Maternal Tales from the South Coast also took the pledge. The forfeit if she failed was to abstain from computer use for a day. Strange, but Emily's been absent from the Internet today. To see why, read this post. And do go over and give her a virtual hug at emilybassin.blogspot.com, even though she won't be able to read it until tomorrow.

Cartside over at Mummy Do That took the pledge and detailed her ups and downs of the week, which ended up in having to give up chocolate. I think she can be excused though. See what you think when you pop over to read how she got on during the week at mummydothat.blogspot.com.


Peggy at Perfectly Happy Mum also joined in the fun and frolics on Friday with her pledge to remember her carrier bags. To encourage her along and to see how she's doing, drop by and visit at perfectlyhappymum.typepad.com.

Regular reader Antonella aka Lunarossa also took the pledge to reuse her plastic bags. Somehow I don't think she would have had any trouble, because she'd already been busy working on reducing her waste and I recently discovered it's come down as much as 50%. To find out how things are going with her recycling endeavours up in York, drop in and say hello at lunarossa-livingabroad.blogspot.com.


FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD

To help reduce the amount of food that gets wasted - which is still around 1/3 in the UK - bloggers promised to compost their kitchen (and garden) waste or reuse their leftovers for the following meal.


Clareybabble faced the prospect of a week away from the computer when she took her pledge to compost her kitchen and garden waste. Is she still online? Well given that she has also taken to composting her shredded bills and lots more. I think there's a chance that you might still find her in the ethernet. Find out at clareybabble.blogspot.com.

Sparx from Notes inside my head also took up the challenge. And if she failed, she'd be faced with cleaning under the furniture for a whole month - not a nice forfeit unless you're Anthea Turner. Well, she did leave us with a very entertaining account of her challenge of composting without a composter. And the news is there's lots of floor polishing to be done as well as shopping for a proper compost bin. Go and cheer her along at notes-inside-my-head.blogspot.com.

Now you might be surprised that Jo Beaufoix chose composting as her pledge. After all, she managed to reduce her rubbish drastically by buying a bin when she took the Rubbish Diet challenge last year. But she's moved house since and thought she'd sign up for one again, with the threat that if she failed at her pledge, she'd let her daughter do her make-up. Well the news is she'll be posting a photo of her freshly made-up face very soon. Will it be a Picasso classic or a beautiful Rembrandt? Visit www.jobeaufoix.com to find out. One thing's for sure, it will be an original work of art.

Surprised and Excited Mum is a very active recycler and joined in the week with her pledge to use her left-overs for lunch. It's always good to hear about other folk who are constantly taking out reusable bags and recycling everything that drops their way. To find out what else she's up to visit diaryofasurprisemum.blogspot.com.


Caroline over at What's Happening at My House pledged to use up all her leftovers too. If she threw anything away, she promised to donate £3 to charity on each occasion. To find out how she's getting on with her pledge, drop in and visit her at whatshappeningatmyhouse.wordpress.com


Over in the U.S. Michaelle at the Adventurous Women blog helped to spread the word by pledging to commit to more composting. It's great to see the Recycle Week message spreading out of the British Mummy Blogger network across the Atlantic. To find out more about Michaelle's pledge visit adventurouswomenblog.blogspot.com.



SORTING OUT THE TEXTILES

According to Recycle Now, making just one t-shirt uses 800 litres of water ad if every UK household recycled just two this year we'd save as much as 16,000 Olympic sized pools. So it's a good job then that some bloggers pledged to recycle their textiles.


Mum in Chaos over at the Madmuma blog made her pledge, with the promise to use the clothing recycling bank at the end of her road. Being an active recycler, if she failed to make it before the week was out, she promised to go without tea for a day. Find out if she made it over at madmuma.blogspot.com


Zooarchaeologist at Being a Mummy also took the pledge but admitted that recycling her textiles was a bit of a cop-out as she loves sewing and had lots of plans re-crafting old clothes. I can see why she loves it though. You only have to read her update post "Ten ways to re-use your old clothes" to be suitably inspired. For further updates, visit www.beingamummy.co.uk.



RECYCLING YOUR PACKAGING

When life gets busy it's so easy to just bung your packaging in the bin, but the truth is by doing that we're burying a valuable resource in the ground that could otherwise be used to save virgin resources, including bottles, cans and tetra pak cartons.

So it's great to see bloggers taking up a whole range of pledges to recycle what's leftover when the contents have been consumed.

Liz over at Violet Posy, pledged to recycle her glass bottles and almost missed it with a narrow escape. But her husband came to the rescue, leaving Liz plenty of time to take an impromptu pledge to sort out some textiles to take to the Salvation Army. The question is, did she get ever there? Pop over and see at www.violetposy.co.uk.

Tasha aka Codingmamma over at wahm-bam ventured forth to join me in the pledge to recycle Tetra Paks. After doing a postcode search on the Recycle Now website, she discovered that new facilities had been put in place nearby. She also has plans for getting a compost bin. So do drop in to say hello at wahm-bam.blogspot.com


Potty Mummy promised to recycle bottles and cans whilst out and about. She already does most things on the list of pledges with the exception of composting, but living in a flat in Central London ruled that one out. Find out more about Potty Mummy's pledge over at www.potty-diaries.blogspot.com.




WHO DARED THE RUBBISH FREE PLEDGE?

It's a bit of a frightener isn't it? The idea of going rubbish-free for a day but the great news is someone was up for it:


Kat over at Housewife Confidential was prepared to give it a go and took the pledge. Find out how she got on in her update, over at housewifeconfidential.co.uk. Something tells me she won't have trouble attempting it again in the future.

News just in...the Dotterel over at Bringing up Charlie also signed up for the task but somehow Charlie didn't get the message. See what happened at the Dotterel's post Recycle Fail. Follow what else he gets up to (that's both Charlie and the Dotterel) at bringingupcharlie.blogspot.com.



OTHER WONDERFUL PLEDGES

This category is for all those other fabulous and creative ideas that came through as a result of the Recycle Week pledge, which might not have fitted into Recycle Now's list but hold such wonderful merit they deserve sharing.


First up is Rosie Scribble who as well as pledging to recycle her electricals, also committed to educating herself about the importance of recycling and then educating her daughter. I sense this will be a continuous project that reaches far beyond Recycle Week. To follow how Rosie gets on visit her blog at rosiescribble.typepad.com.


Lorna over at Califlorna, a British expat living in California, pledged to use natural cleaning products from now on and even have a go at making her own so that she can use less plastic bottles. Visit her blog at califlorna.com to check out an interesting tale of recycling in a whole new different area.


Half Mum Half Biscuit caught my attention with her idea for recycling time. Oooh how lovely would that be. But in light of potential difficulties, she also pledged to help re-introduce the returnable milk bottle into her neighbourhood, by encouraging other people to have their milk delivered. Find out more at halfmumhalfbiscuit.blogspot.com.


Garden Mum pledged to help promote recycling by offering up three garden recycling ideas, which are all worth a gander. To find out what else she gets up to in her garden visit www.littlegardenhelpers.co.uk


Laura over at Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy made me smile with her pledge to recycle her glass and other things. She cheated slightly because she already did it and was very busy moving house, and I have a sneaking suspicion she was glad to be getting a new neighbour. See how her house move went over at www.arewenearlythereyetmummy.com



SOME VERY WELCOME GUESTS

Although they were unable to make specific pledges the following wonderful folk have submitted some useful posts that might inspire you even further to take the rubbish bag by the horns and reduce your waste forever.

Lisa of Condo Blues confessed she's not British and not a mum so hadn't been tagged, but being a regular reader of The Rubbish Diet and having British heritage and being a dog-owner asked if she could join in the carnival. The answer of course was "Of Course". And for anyone who's interested in cutting back plastic, I recommend you visit her entry entitled: Show us your trash: plastic challenge, which was set by Beth over at Fake Plastic Fish. To find out what other rubbish-related antics Lisa gets up to in her condo visit condo-blues.blogspot.com.


Chloe at BestBen10Toys has sent in suggestions featuring 16 ideas for what to do with unwanted toys, which is always helpful when decluttering the children's bedrooms.


Last but not least, Maria from Fab Mums has a whole range of ideas to help you green up your kids with her reviews of Help George Save the World; Creative Recycling for Kids; Paper has never been greener and the Solar Powered Helicopter Kit.

~X~

And that concludes the British Mummy Bloggers Recycle Week Carnival.

What a great couple of weeks it's been witnessing the pledges come in. All that's left to do now is thank everyone who was involved in making and sharing their commitment to Recycle Week and to thank Susanna at A Modern Mother and founder of British Mummy Bloggers for her enthusiam in taking part from the very start and her encouragement to share the recycling love around the network.

Of course Recycle Week may be over but the message still remains, that recycling works and doesn't have to be boring. You can continue to make pledges and find out what can be recycled in your area. All you need to do is drop over to www.recyclenow.com, where there is lots of information that can help you.

Thanks again to everyone involved. I even think there are a few candidates who might very well join me in my crazy world of mummy garblogging. If you're hooked, I can only apologise.

P.S. I know Zoe at Rekindled might not be a mummy blogger, but she's a regular reader and I just wanted to celebrate her pledge to go rubbish free. If you want to know how she did it, she's got a guest post over at MyZeroWaste. So do pop by for a nosey and check out what Mrs Green has been up to as well.

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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Day 7: Sunday, a day of rest

And so it was...very restful indeed.

After what has felt like a very busy week, Recycle Week is now over.

I had great plans for today, but all I could do was sit or sleep. I think the events of the past seven days have caught up with me along with the drama of the trapped nerve in my back migrating to a bruised sensation at the top of my leg.

But at 6.30 this evening I had to be lively, because it's Sunday and it was time to pick up the Tetra Pak collection bin from our local church, Christ Church of Moreton Hall.

Just like last time, Reverend Jonathan Ford was there to greet me, this time with a bin that was about half-full with Tetra Paks.


So with one fell swoop, I whisked the contents along to the communal bin that was just along the car park towards the Community Centre.

It was looking good. In fact the big blue bin was so full it was positively overflowing. I couldn't believe it...all those folk dropping off their cartons.... it was only when I lifted the lid, did I discover a huge Flymo box buried under a collection of random boxes, all squeezed into the Tetra Pak bin.

I couldn't help feeling responsible for the unexpected extras, so pulled them out, revealing the true number of cartons that had been collected this week. It is almost full and I'm sure one more day and there'd be no space left.



Well as far as Recycle Week is concerned, I think that's most definitely my shift almost over. It's been busy but rewarding all the same. I'll be back with the British Mummy Blogger carnival tomorrow and on Wednesday, when I'll have an update on how Sal and James have been getting on at BBC Radio Suffolk.

Reverend Ford asked me earlier whether I'd be doing this again next year, because if I do, the church would like to get more involved.

Do you know what...

I may feel exhausted by the events of the week and more in need of a holiday than ever I was before,

But next year eh?

Yes I most definitely think so and with more preparation, I think it could be bigger and better.

It's been a great week and huge thanks go to everyone in my online community and local area for supporting my pledge for Recycle Week.

I really hope I managed to help folk waste less over the last seven days.

And all I can say is, if I'm up for doing it all again next year .... anyone up for joining me?

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Saturday, 27 June 2009

Day 6: If you don't ask...


So there I was doing a quick trolley dash around Waitrose last night, with my eldest in tow on our way home from Chess Club.

I normally avoid taking my children shopping because being such a positive person I really dislike saying "no" and trips out with the kids normally follow the same pattern...

"Mummy can I have....?"

"No"

"But Mummy, can I have....?"

"Oh no"

"Mummy, pllllllllllllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaase"

"Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo"

"Mu..."

"Not on you nelly and that's the end of it!"

And that's just in the second aisle.

But last night there was hardly a murmer. I was beginning to wonder if he'd taken some compliancy pills because we'd done most of our shopping without a hint of a demand or a whingy-woo.

That is, until we got to the juice section and then it started...

"Mummy can we buy all those?" Pointing individually to each and every type of carton he could find on the shelves.

WHAT!

Perhaps one type of juice might be a reasonable request, but the whole aisle? That was a different matter entirely

"Oh no, no, no, no, no." came my reply.

"But we can recycle all the cartons." he said in his defence.

"There's even a recycling bin at the back of the car park."

He's obviously been taking notice of everything that's been happening this week.

Well it might be Recycle Week, and I know I've been working hard on my pledge but I'm not that dedicated I'd buy a whole range of fruit juice worthy of a well-stocked cocktail bar, just so I could recycle the cartons at the back of the car park.

Besides we already had stocks at home that hadn't even been opened.

But while we were both admiring the range of drinks on the shelves and arguing the toss, I couldn't help notice that something was missing...

...and something so simple too.

There may very well be an excellent recycling bin at the back of the car park for processing empty cartons, but how does the customer know?

There weren't any signs in the store or in the car park to advertise. Even if they are well used by those in the know, imagine the potential if more people were aware.

If it hadn't been Recycle Week, I might have simply paid up and wandered back to our car - yes, even me with my dedicated rubbish reducing antics.

But it's interesting how a public pledge and the mighty hand of a national campaign can motivate a busy mum with an impatient son in tow, to stop off at customer services and put in a simple suggestion that might help raise consumer awareness.

So while I stood writing out my letter to the manager....in the form of "Dear Waitrose.....can I have.....?", I dearly hoped that my idea to include some visible signs to their carton recycling facilities would be taken on board, rather than a "not on your nelly".

And if they do...that's what I'd call a Recycle Week result!

So keep your fingers crossed and if you find a similar opportunity to help your community waste less, remember the old saying..."If you don't ask, you don't get". And like the mind of an opportunist seven year old, even if you don't get, at least you know you've made a step in the right direction.



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Friday, 26 June 2009

Day 5: School recycling in Moreton Hall



Huge thanks to Abbots Green, Sebert Wood and Moreton Hall Prep School for taking part in my Recycle Week pledge. You're the real stars of the week along with your teachers who have also worked hard.



Phew what a day!

I've spent much of today dropping into our local schools to see how they've been getting on during Recycle Week. And I can honestly say I am amazed at the results. Not least because school life is always busy and this week has probably been more hectic than most. Yet they've all come up with the goods.


Early this afternoon, I visited Sebert Wood school to collect the cartons from them. They've had such a busy week with an Ofsted inspection, school trips and a teddy bear's picnic, but the children still managed to collect lots of cartons. The school staff also told me they've had a recycling assembly this week, featuring recycling songs and all the children were invited to make pledges, which they hung on their pledge tree.




Later I met up with the one of our friends from Moreton Hall Prep School, to add the last of their collection into the bin.



They too have had a busy week at the school and have had a team of volunteers making a regular run to the temporary recycling bin throughout the week.

Judging by how full it is, I think they've been hectic with their contributions too.




My final visit today was back to our own school Abbots Green, to catch up with how their week has gone.

And as I expected, they too have been busy working on their pledges. Here are a few members of the Recycling Club, helping to recycle some of the cartons I've been given.





Here's how the bin was looking this morning.



Abbots Green has also been busy with another recycling activity this week, which grabbed the interest of our local newspaper the Bury Free Press. Here's the journalist at the top of the ladder taking a photo of the results.




He was pointing his camera at a collage made from clothes donated to the school's textiles collection. I wasn't tall enough to capture the scene properly on my camera but here are a few highights of the detail in the picture.



Some children playing ball on the beach.




A sunbather resting under a parasol.





And on the horizon, a sailing boat gently drifting across the seascape.

Organised by one of our assistant headteachers and the art co-ordinator, the project was put together to give the children an understanding of reuse and an opportunity to engage their creativity. The effects were stunning and involved the whole school with each class taking their turn to create the seaside landscape. When I collected my children from school this evening they were keen to tell me how they made the sand and the sky.

I'm now looking forward to next week, when not only will we find out how much we have raised for the school, but we will also be able to see the full effect of the picture when it is published in the Bury Free Press.

So at the end of what has been a hectic school week, with me almost forgetting to take my own cartons into school, I'd like to thank all the schools in Moreton Hall for joining in the fun and for St Edmundsbury Borough Council for providing the bins.

There are only two more days to go of my Recycle Week pledge which is to help those in my community waste less this week.

It promises to be a quiet weekend, but if something happens, I'll be back to break the news.
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For other schools that are interested in organising a textiles collection, the contractor arranged by our local council to collect our clothes is BCR. More information about BCR's work can be found at their website at www.bcrglobal.co.uk

More information about other ideas and opportunities for recycling in schools can be found at the Recycle Now website.

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Day 5: Recycling on the radio


If you've been following the events of Recycle Week this week, you'll remember Sally Goodwin and James Hazell from BBC Radio Suffolk and how they took their own pledges, with James promising to reuse his bags and Sally going for a Rubbish Free day.

Well there's been a bit of a twist, since I blogged about my visit on the show this Monday.

While James has kept to his pledge by cunningly avoiding shopping, Sally has enjoyed her challenge so much she's actually attempting a rubbish free week!

Yes that's right... a whole WEEK!

As well as daily updates on the James Hazell show, they've been blogging daily about their progress on the programme page. I thought I'd include today's extract here....

All I can say is....go Sal go....

... and James, I think it really is time you went shopping....

So without further ado here's the lowdown from BBC Radio Suffolk




Friday 26th June

Sal:

The big day dawns. It’s recycling bin day today. The blue bin is so full I’ve had to stick the dog, who weighs a hefty 34 kg, on top to force the contents in – otherwise there’s a chance the bin men won’t take it if the lid won’t shut properly so I’m not taking any chances. The brown bin is three quarters full of garden waste and food waste wrapped up in newspaper as Karen told me. The grey general waste bin, which will be collected next Friday, has had nothing put in it this week and lo and behold I’m maggot free for the first year in ages. I’m now waiting, nose pressed against the living room window like a child in anticipation of Father Christmas arriving, for the bin men to come to collect my recycled rubbish. Has the week’s experiment of being rubbish free been successful? Hugely and I would recommend it to anyone. It leaves you feeling good about yourself, you’ve done a good turn for the environment, and it’s obvious that supermarkets can do more to reduce the packaging of their products or do more to make sure it can be recycled. I’m looking forward to a big pat on the back from Karen Cannard next week. James – the floor is now yours. Let’s see what you’ve done towards your challenge.

James: Uh oh. As a result of some pathetic conspiracy I have been given a shopping list. It contains things that I am not sure exist and certainly don't appear to be cary-able with no bags. I will not be defeated however. Watch this space...


Well Sal that's fantastic - I couldn't have said it better myself - and as for the conspiracy... what conspiracy? I just hope James enjoys juggling.

If you're interested in hearing how they've both got on, you'll be able to catch the programme between 9.30am-1pm each weekday. And I'll be back in the studio next Wednesday at 11.30 to take a look in Sally's rubbish bag, which I suspect is going to be almost empty.

And even if you don't live in Suffolk, you can still listen in as the programme is available on the Internet, either live or through listen again.

So here's to Recycle Week, which seems to be getting better and better by the day. And even though it's Friday, it's not too late to make your pledge. Lots of people are still joining in. Pop over to www.recyclenow.com for more details. Who knows, you may even be inspired to try a Rubbish Free Day yourself.

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Day 5: Back to School for Recycle Week

So it's Day 5 of Recycle Week and it's probably the one which I have been anticipating with bated breath.

If you remember last week, I helped put together letters on behalf of our school inviting parents to bring in their empty Tetra Pak cartons for the school's Recycle Week collection at Abbots Green Community Primary School.

And following up an idea from another governor, we also arranged to organise a clothing collection as a fundraiser.

It was quietly nervewracking and I couldn't help wondering how many people would take part in either scheme. And I must admit, I was so nervous I didn't dare ask how things were going early in the week.

But look...when I popped into school this morning, I saw how many cartons had been coming in. I was most definitely impressed.


And look at how many clothes have been donated for the clothing collection....



In fact there are even more clothes than that and today is going to be a fun day indeed, because all the children are getting involved in an "Art Attack" project which will see the clothes being made into a huge picture before being collected later next week.

I've got lots to do today, catching up with everything's that's been going on both at the school and elsewhere. I'll be back later with photos of what promises to be a really enjoyable project, plus other news. Huge thanks to all involved. I hope everyone is having as much fun as we're having in our neck of the woods.

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Thursday, 25 June 2009

Day 4: Girls go shopping!


It's been a beautiful day in Moreton Hall... lovely sunshine and birds twittering...

... a wonderul summer's day, only be topped off by builders drilling and banging outside...

...followed by their intermittent sunbathing on the grass verge just in front of my home.

Crikey, now there's a view I'd rather not have.

So when my best buddy Lucy offered to whisk me away for some shopping, how could I say no.

We both love shopping and have spent many a day browsing around boutiques, interior design shops as well as creative havens of artistic delight.

But today was different!

We weren't off to the sparkling stores in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich or Cambridge.

In fact, we didn't need to leave Moreton Hall.

Our destination was the St Nicholas Hospice Retail Centre, which is located in a warehouse just a few minutes away from our residential area. It's an amazing place full of good quality furniture and homewares.



I discovered this treasure trove a couple of weeks ago, and having spent many a shared hour being inspired by the latest wave of TV programmes such as Kirstie's Home-made Home and Mary Queen of Charity Shops, I couldn't wait to introduce Lucy to my new find! I knew she'd love it because as well as enjoying a good rummage, she's become more and more active in supporting charity work - even as I write she's preparing for the Race for Life this Sunday.

And what better timing could there be to visit than Recycle Week, when we are being encouraged to reduce and reuse as well as recycle.

I've been thinking a lot about charity shops myself recently, not just in relation to the benefits they offer but regarding how my attitude to them has changed over time.

When I was a student in the 1980s, I used to use charity shops a lot, looking for every opportunity to find something cheap that could be altered and would make me feel like an individual.

Then when I graduated and found a job, I left the charity shops behind and instead made sure my work wardrobe was kept up-to-date with the latest fashions from Next and Principles, switching to Per Una and Phase Eight as I grew older.

I found that the more money I earned, the less I depended on charity shops and if ever I visited, it would be simply to drop stuff off before running back out again, with the kind of embarrassed look that said "I'm only donating, I can actually afford to shop elsewhere, you know".

What a snobby twerp eh!

And yes, you do now have my permission to give me a tickle around the face with a wet fish whilst dangling eels over my head.

But before you do, let me at least redeem myself because these days you can't keep me out of such places.

I've since realised that my purchasing habits are no longer dependant on income or the pride associated with buying brand new things. For me, it's now the opportunity to buy things we need without impacting upon the waste stream and the environment. And by switching much of my custom to charitable causes, I know our money will be put to good use.

Of course, not everything I buy is sourced from a charity or thrift shop but it is the case that while Mr A may be found buying his bespoke-made suit at the tailors, I am usually busy in the charity shop next door.

And thanks to this, my favourite wardrobe items have been charity shop finds, including a fabulous pair of nearly new Betty Barclay boots that I picked up from St Nicholas Hospice's town-centre store for just £25 last Christmas. Indeed, I've seen so many good quality items, I've regularly come away speechless.

So this afternoon was one of those visits to find little treasures and support a very worthy cause that provides palliative care to local people and their families living with terminal illnesses. And I had no hesitation that Lucy would be impressed with the retail facilities.

While I came away with a brand new picnic rucksack, she picked up a few items including a stunning piece of art, which will look fabulous in her home and a Lion King video which her daughter has been wanting for over six months.

But we also came away making a pact to rummage through our homes for good quality items that we no longer need and have committed to dropping them off in a month's time.

It won't have the same impact as Mrs Green's massive decluttering exercise that's occuring over at MyZeroWaste - I don't think I could be that brave - but it will be a gentle nudge for us to get rid of some old things that we've both been harbouring. And by doing it together we can at least encourage each other along.

Now the one thing I haven't told you about Lucy, is that last weekend as her pledge for Recycle Week, she also agreed to let me help her whittle down her week's rubbish.

As well as taking her food waste off her hands she's also going to hand over the things that she's been unable to recycle in her blue bin. She hasn't yet revealed what she's got in store, so who knows what challenges I'll find. I'm not sure whether I should indeed be scared.

Well at least I've already sorted out her Tetra Pak problem, because the other thing I haven't told you is that she's married to "that man in the kilt"...

YES...Remember him?

For all those who missed it, here's the YouTube video revealing what actually happened to her cartons. With entertainment like this, I don't think she'll be throwing them in her landfill bin ever again!



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Day 4: I'm a riot at parties you know



Yesterday was most certainly the hardest day of Recycle Week. Nothing to do with the challenge itself. It had more to do with the pills that the doctor had given me, which sent me all whizzy dizzy for the whole of the day.

AND there was the unfortunate incident of my skirt doing a full "Marilyn Monroe" on the way to school.

So by the evening I was desperate to venture out and meet some of my really good friends from Bury LETS, a date at Pizza Express for a good old Sloppy Giuseppe and to celebrate a few birthdays.

Of course as it's Recycle Week, to keep in with the theme of my pledge to help others in my community to waste less, I asked if they could bring something along that they normally find hard to recycle.

I am chuffed the ladies joined in and last night I hobbled out from the restaurant, with not just my appetite satisfied but with a few rags, a carton and some glass bottles and jars.

But it's a good job the waitress from Pizza Express told us they recycle their bottles, otherwise I would have had a few more to bring home too.

Phew...not sure I could have clanked all those back to the car.
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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Day 3: Thank you to Great Barton Beaver Scouts

Huge thanks to Great Barton Beavers Scouts for their commitment to the Recycle Week pledge.

I've just arrived back from our weekly Beaver Scout meeting, with over four bags of cartons. The colony sent letters out last week asking children to to join in the Recycle Week pledge and bring in their cartons And quite a few did, including one parent who normally recycles them every month at our local HWRC. I think she was pleased that this week I've saved her a trip.

As well as cartons, I even came away with a bag of mixed plastics recycling. By now I think they get the idea that I'm a tad keen.

It's no surprise though. In fact the Scout Movement is excellent at encouraging recycling amongst its youngsters and depending on each individual set-up, groups can often be found collecting mobile phones, aluminium cans and paper as part of their fundraising activities.

All those that get involved also now have the chance to earn the new Environment badge, which was launched earlier this year, to help scouts of all ages understand the impact of rubbish and litter on the community.

So I think that our visit to Beavers has fetched fantastic end to Day 3 of my Recycle Week pledge.

Day 3!

....blimey!

It already feels like a week, it's been so busy.

It's a good job I'm now off to relax and celebrate with some friends and a pizza.

Night night! See you tomorrow.
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Day 3: Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to school we go!


YES! YES! YES!

The Almost Average Household has finally remembered to recycle its cartons!

Phew!

That was lucky! The boys took them to school this morning to add to our school collection for Recycle Week, swinging them around in a wild fashion, whilst trying to hold up their trousers.

So on Day 3 of the pledge that I made at the Recycle Now site, we've finally done it. I just can't believe it took me three days to remember, especially as it's me who suggested the school collection in the first place as part of my wider community pledge.

But you know what this really means?

Not only have I contributed to local community spirit and the environment, I've also made sure that we keep Suffolk lovely and peaceful, in the manner to which it's now become accustomed

...because...

Thanks to recycling my own cartons today, it means I won't be forced to fulfil my forfeit which was to sing in public.

so as well as my neighbours in Moreton Hall, the folk at BBC Radio Suffolk and all their listeners will be totally safe from my wobbly warbling, when I drop in next week for my catch up.

I hope everyone else is doing well with their own pledges. I can't wait to find out how you're all getting on.

In the meantime.....

"Hi ho, hi ho, It's off to work I go......."

As you can see, I'm more than happy to sing on my own.



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Day 3: Man in kilt spotted SQUASHING Tetra Pak cartons

Remember the man in the kilt? Well here he is again, doing the well-known "Scottish" dance called "Stripping the Tetra-Pak", which from here on in is set to become the tradition for all kilt-wearing men that recycle.



I am sure that Jenny Walden, Tetra Pak's Recycling Officer will be impressed. Tomorrow she's helping to launch the "How do you squash yours?" competition, inviting people all over the UK to enter the craziest videos showing how they squeeze the air out of their cartons.

It may be a fun competition, but it has a serious message, highlighting the importance of reducing the number of recycling trucks and CO2. If everyone squashed theirs, three times more cartons could fit into a recycling bin, making them more efficient to collect.

So, what are you waiting for?

To find out what you need to do, here's Jenny with the rules and some really fantastic prizes, including a ‘chance of a lifetime’ place on an exciting international environmental adventure as well as an Eco TV, 50 hot DVDs and a supply of wine or smoothies in Tetra Pak cartons! The winner can choose which prize they want. You have until 1 November 2009 to enter.

For more info CLICK HERE. Happy Squashing!



P.S. Thanks again to Angus from Ecoboom for his kilt-wearing antics.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Day 2: Everybody needs good neighbours

(My fabulous neighbour Anita, handing over her cartons for Recycle Week)

Yes, RESULT!

I'm now the proud owner of another fourteen Tetra Pak cartons. And I am chuffed as a cheery cheshire cat who's got a lifetime's supply of thick jersey cream.

This is thanks to my neighbour, Anita, who's been collecting her family's cartons for the last month or so in the run-up to Recycle Week.

So tonight I popped in to see her to pick them up.

What's great is that these would have otherwise gone to landfill, but instead they are being added to our collection at school.

And I've arranged that I'll continue to pick them up from my neighbour even after Recycle Week is over, especially as I've since discovered that if every other household recycled at least two cartons every week for a year, more than 50,000 tonnes of paper-based cartons would be recycled.

Apparently that's the equivalent of 500 enormous blue whales!

So huge thanks to Anita and her husband for taking part. It is very much appreciated.

And if you're wondering what happens to all the cartons that are being collected, here's a slide that shows the kinds of things that are made from the cardboard pulp recovered from the paper mills in Sweden and North Europe.

The residual material can also be used in a number of different applications, ranging from garden furniture, energy recovery, and playground equipment to roof tiles. According to Tetra Pak the company is currently working with industry to develop plasma technology that is able to separate the aluminum and polyethylene into their raw constituents of aluminum and paraffin for ongoing use.

So methinks that despite today's back-pain, all in all this is a positive end to Day 2 of Recycle Week.

I just wonder what tomorrow will bring. One thing's for sure, I'm looking forward to listening in to the James Hazell show again on BBC Radio Suffolk. Following my visit yesterday, the producer Sally has found she's got really hooked by this recycling business and has upgraded her Recycle Week rubbish-free day pledge to a whole rubbish-free week.

You can keep up with their escapades at the James Hazell programme page, found here.

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Day 2: Man in kilt spotted recycling Tetra Paks


Not a day goes by without something exciting happening in Moreton Hall.

Last week, there was the lady from Heart FM. Today, it was a man in a kilt recycling his Tetra Paks in the Community Centre car park.

And he had lots of them too. Indeed as far as recycling goes, this had to be the most lively demonstration ever. It's also been captured on video, which I will upload later this week.

Of course I would love to say that it was a coincidence, but knowing that I'd injured my back, the chap in the tartan came to pick me up this morning in a moment of chivalry and brought his family's empty cartons with him.

And he's no stranger to recycling. Some of you might recognise him as Angus Middleton, director of Ecoboom, an eco-focused shopping and news site, with a strong community focus and fabulous links that support sustainable living.

So thank you Mr Middleton, for both the lift in the LPG converted car and for joining in the fun and games this week. Not quite the highland games I know, but close.

And before anybody asks I was far too polite to ask what was under the kilt. A girl has to protect her honour you know.

But if you do want to find out or indeed ask Angus anything else, hop over to say hello. You can find regularly popping up at www.ecoboom.co.uk.

As for me, I'm under doctor's orders not to hang around the computer too much or it will be a case of emergency physiotherapy. So on that note, I think I might go for a gentle stroll.

Who knows what else is around the corner. Obviously I don't. That's for certain.

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Day 2: I think I'M in need of recycling!


I love this cartoon, drawn by the very talented Ray Smith over at www.thegreenpen.co.uk.

It has cheered me up no end, especially as Day 2 of my challenge dawns, I'm beginning to think it's me who needs a new lease of life, never mind the Tetra Pak cartons.

The bad news is that today I can't sit, can't stand and most definitely can't bend without feeling like someone is prodding me with a flaming stake.

I can't even talk without an ounce of pain, or indeed type.

All from a trapped nerve, would you believe.

Poised to help the community waste less this week eh!

Well there's no getting away from it, as it's now me in need of help, I will definitely have to go to see a doctor today.

Who knows, maybe he'll actually upcycle me into an all new singing and dancing Almost Mrs Average.

So keep your fingers crossed I get my full mobility back, 'cos I've got some washing and squashing to do and I was hoping to inject some acrobatics to mark the occasion.

I promise to be back later with an update.

In the meantime, why don't you check if you can recycle 40 year old bloggers in your area. If so, I may be heading over your way.

You'll find all you need to know at www.recyclenow.com, where using the postcode locator you'll discover everything you can recycle within just a few miles radius. Yes I mean everything!

And if you're feeling the slightest bit devilish, try your friend's postcode too - trust me, it's the new way of keeping up with the Jones's.

By the way ladies. Don't forget, if you want to recycle your fellas, or even all their old jokes make sure you pop over to The Green Pen for a few ideas. Who knows what inspiration you'll find.

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Monday, 22 June 2009

Day 1: Merci beaucoup Monsieur


Il y a beaucoup des cartons pour moi. Bon travail Monsieur. Super!

Phew. I have some cartons! The relief!

If you remember, my sons' school is joining in my Recycle Week pledge by collecting Tetra Pak cartons over the next few days but having hobbled into school this morning, I hadn't noticed whether the rest of the children were laden down with bags and bags to add to our collection.

And I have a another confession to make. EVEN I forgot to give our own cartons to my children to take to school today.

Yes I know it's Recycle Week and I'm supposed to be keeping an eye on such matters but I was entirely distracted by avoiding the pain that comes with a trapped nerve that I developed yesterday.

And given that it had taken me a whole hour to ease myself out of bed, culminating in a great impression of a cow in labour, gathering cartons was not the first thing on my mind.

AND there were the logistics of getting to Ipswich to consider, where I spent most of the day.

So I don't yet know how the rest of the children got on today at Abbots Green. However the REALLY GREAT NEWS is that on picking up my eldest from his regular French Club at school this evening, Jon who runs the fabulous Le Club Francais, happily presented me with OVER A DOZEN Tetra Pak cartons that he'd collected at the weekend.

Yep, it was party time for some lucky folk and as a result there were a couple of bagfulls that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.

How blessed am I?

And very easily pleased!

So as well as the dozen or so that we've been collecting at home, we can now match that with the donation given to us by Jon from Le Club Francais.

And with the numbers quickly gathering apace at home, if I'm not careful to take them in tomorrow, I'll be doing a worthy impression of a Buckaroo horse, burdened down with them all. And I can add good sound effects too.

So I think the best thing is to take them into class tomorrow morning, where they will be counted and added to the classroom collection before being squashed and placed in the huge blue bin that has been dropped off by the council.

It really is an enormous bin. Look at it!

Will we really be able to fill that?

I truly hope so!

All I can say is bon chance toute le monde et merci beaucoup. Keep up the good work and let's see what we get tomorrow.



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Day 1: James and Sally make their pledges on BBC Radio Suffolk



Well Day 1 of Recycle Week got off to a great start after all. It wasn't quite a case of planes, trains and automobiles, but with the aid of a bus and a railway carriage I eventually got to BBC Radio Suffolk, just in time to appear on the James Hazell show.

And the great news is, both James and Sal have both committed to doing their pledge for Recycle Week.

Live on air, James said he would remember to reuse his bags when doing the shopping. And if he doesn't he's promised not to nag or moan or whinge or whine when off shopping with his partner, who is also coincidentally called Karen.

And Sally, his producer has promised to go for a Rubbish Free Day. If she doesn't make it, James has insisted he will make her clean out all the hair, nail clippings and goodness knows what else is lurking in and around the office computer equipment.

Poor Sal - it doesn't feel fair somehow.

So I've told Sally I'll help her. I can't possibly stand by and see her do all those nasty things. She's got my direct line for help if needed. However, judging by how much she does on the recycling front, I reckon she'll have no trouble at all.

So how will they get on? Keep tuning in to BBC Radio Suffolk this week to find out. 9.30am - 1.pm, weekdays

But if you can't make it, listen in again next Wednesday 1st July, when I'll be dropping in again for a catch up.

Good luck guys...and I promise I will be so good at my own personal pledge this week, I will definitely not, that's right.... NOT.... be singing live on air.


(James and Sally, proudly showing off the radio studio's recycling bin)

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Day 1: Welcome to The Lounge


Welcome to Day 1 of Recycle Week, the national campaign that raises awareness of making better use of our resources.

It's promising to be a fun-packed week.

Anything can happen and indeed it already has.

And it starts with one of my favourite hotspots in Bury St Edmunds, The Lounge in Hatter Street, a cafe that regularly doubles up as an art gallery.

As well as artwork, I can often be found hanging around there myself, with my laptop, particularly on Market Days. It means I can get on with writing AND do the shopping. And it just goes to show sorting out the rubbish isn't all work and no play. I do get plenty of time off for "good behaviour"you know.

And should Almost Mr Average call and check what I'm up to, I can always say "busy working in the lounge darling", in the same way as men who frequent pubs that are cleverly called The Office can circumnavigate the truth by actually telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Now one of the great things about The Lounge is the wonderful range of newspapers they have for customers to read. Something to appeal to all appetites including the full range of broadsheets and the Daily Mail. And it's a service that I take for granted, a free catch-up on the news over a refreshing pot of tea.

So this is where I'd settled yesterday afternoon, a quick half-hour to type up the day's blogpost and an opportunity to rest my back, which during a walk around Bury St Edmunds, was getting more and more painful as a result of a trapped nerve.

Time soon rushed by and before I knew it, it was time to go...

...but not before grabbing a Sunday supplement that had caught my eye.

It was 4pm and the cafe was in fact closing. So being an opportunist, I asked an assistant if I could take it.

To which she replied,

"Take them all if you like, they'll only go in the rubbish bin!"

What, the rubbish bin! That pile of papers, ending up in landfill!

That's what I'd call a waste of resource.

Fortunately the owner was there, a very nice lady who has just recently taken over the business. We had a light-hearted chat. She is indeed concerned about the amount of waste the cafe generates, including glass bottles as well newspapers. Being the owner of another local business she has already spoken with our local council regarding logistics of managing trade-based recycling.

Now I'd love to get my head around the complexities of how a small business manages the issue of recycling, so we happily swapped contact details.

But in the meantime, there was a small issue of the newspapers.

For goodness sake, IT'S RECYCLE WEEK. And I've got my pledge to follow, my commitment to helping my community waste less.

Could I really see all those papers going in the bin, when there's an opportunity to recycle them?

NO!

I know it should be classed as Trade Waste, but not if they were free to take home and I read them first.

Now there was an idea. If I could do it, so could others!

So before I left, I asked if they'd mind folk dropping in to collect a free paper at the end of each day. It might be old news to some, but for many it is the first opportunity to catch up with the main stories as they go home from work.

And everybody nodded their heads in agreement. It seemed a great idea if we could get it to work.

So it's official. If you live or work in Bury St Edmunds and you want a freebie paper, whether it's for reading, reusing or converting into briquettes for your fire, pop into The Lounge at 2 Hatter Street for your copy to take away.

You have to time it right mind. You might get a slap on the wrist if it's lunchtime, but if it's 5pm in the week or 4pm on a Sunday, you'll be welcomed with a "thanks for saving it from landfill" kind of smile.

I guess it's not a bad start to Recycle Week. And if there's any moral to the story, I suppose it's "Be careful what you ask for... because you might just get more than you anticipated."

There is another advantage though. That damned trapped nerve still hasn't gone and I am still in pain. Despite a morning of radio interviews, I am worried I could be stuck here all day.

With a pile of reading like the one you see before me, at least I won't get bored.

So please pop by later to see if I ever leave the house today. I'm taking some painkillers, so there's still hope. If not, at least you can keep me company and see what I manage to achieve during Recycle Week, from the confines of my living room.

And should Almost Mr Average ask where I am, at last I can tell him the truth... the whole truth and nothing but the truth...

"Honey I'm working in the lounge...that's right, our lounge, the one in Moreton Hall."



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Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Final Preparations for Recycle Week


So it's Sunday, the official day of rest, or so it's supposed to be.

But not for me, I'm afraid.

Despite it being Sunday, there were final preparations to support my pledge of helping those in my community to waste less during Recycle Week, which starts tomorrow.

Today this involved a visit to our local church - Christ Church - in Moreton Hall.




Now I must confess that even though I have a spiritual side and believe in God in my own little way, I am not really much of a churchgoer. So not being a member of the local congregation I initially felt shy about getting in touch regarding collecting cartons for Recycle Week.

Indeed I recall the telephone call I made to the church a few weeks ago. It came over a bit like this....all 60 words to the dozen - I do that when I get nervous.

"Uh...I'm a blogger who lives in Moreton Hall ...and I also write for the MHD ... and to cut a long story short I've been invited by the Recycle Now team to make a pledge for this national event called Recycle Week ... and then blog about it during the week itself...My idea is to see if members of the community can join in the pledge... and collect drinks cartons for a temporary bin that will be available in the Community Centre car park".

Phew...pause for breath.

"Do you think the church would be interested in joining in with the pledge?"

At last, the lady on the other end of the phone had the opportunity to talk. She said she'd take my number and speak to the minister, while I hoped I'd made sense and then crossed my fingers that they would think it a worthwhile idea.

I really needn't have been nervous. When the minister, Reverend Jonathan Ford, got back in touch, he said that the church council was very enthusiastic to get involved and were more than happy to support the pledge. So the only thing left to do was create a poster and drop off a bin for members of the community to use during Recycle Week.

And that's what I did this morning.

When I entered the church, the minister was coming out of the office. We'd never met before, but I recognised him from his appearances at our school and his photo in the local magazine. And with my arms wrapped around the bin, I had a sneaking suspicion that he knew who I was too. After all there can't be many people who arrive in church with a 50 Litre Brabantia in their arms.

It was great to receive such a nice welcome - not least to have someone take the bin off me.

But it felt a huge relief in more ways than one especially as I've been getting more and more nervous regarding my pledge.

You see, it's very different to the zero waste week challenge that I took last year. Then it was just a case of my family and our bin. All nice and private, apart from the blog of course.

The Recycle Week pledge is not an individual one, it's more about reaching out to others and promoting the topic of recycling in my local community. Being anonymous and minding my own business was easy but stepping out from behind the blog with the hope of inspiring others has been the hardest thing I've ever done in recent times.

But watching Reverend Ford place the posters up on the noticeboard and take control of the bin for the church lifted my spirits. Knowing how the Church of England and other faith communities are committed to taking action regarding climate change certainly left me feeling that this project is in very good hands.



So huge thanks to Christ Church for joining in and helping to support my pledge this week. I really hope it all goes well and I look forward to catching up with the results next week.

In the meantime, it all kicks off in the morning.

While the council drops off the huge collection bins, I'll be having fun in Ipswich,

I'm booked in for a pre-recorded interview with Town 102 FM at about 10.00, and then popping into BBC Radio Suffolk at 11.30 for a catch up with James Hazell on his morning show. Local Heart FM listeners won't be able to escape either. By all accounts, the Recycle Week story is lined up for both the morning and evening news following another pre-recorded interview I did last week.

So here's to what promises to be a really fun week. Good luck to everyone who's made a pledge. If you haven't managed it yet and you feel suitably inspired, please pop over to www.recyclenow.com to join in and of course keep dropping by through the course of the week to find out how I'm getting on with my own challenge.

Something tells me there will be a few unusual things happening around here this week.

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Saturday, 20 June 2009

A Welly Good Idea



Today I dropped into Raspberry Rascals, a gorgeous boutique in Bury St Edmunds, which sells pre-loved clothing for children.

It's such a beautiful shop and thanks to the quality of well chosen stock, it's hard to tell that the range of clothing, books and toys is mainly second-hand.




I normally spend ages in the little boutique browsing for bargains for the children, but today's visit wasn't to shop, it was to drop off a pair of old wellies for a Welly Swap event that's taking place next week.



The owner, Heather Bream, is a huge supporter of recycling and has organised the Free Welly Swap to enable customers to drop off old wellies that are still in a wearable condition and to take another pair if they find a size that is suitable. If it is a real success, she will continue the idea throughout the rest of the year too.



The idea came from a discussion we had about a month ago. Heather had been pondering how she could support Recycle Week and do something helpful for the local community. When she asked if I had any bright ideas, I agreed to get my brain into gear and have a ponder too.

Then out of the blue came a wonderful comment from fellow blogger, CompostWoman, who provided inspiration on a blogpost that I'd published about my old wellington boots. She made reference to Welly and Jelly libraries that allowed parents in Herefordshire to swap items that their children had outgrown.

Heather loved this idea and is now excited about launching her own welly exchange next week and in doing so will hopefully save lots of boots from landfill...

... or at the very least protect them from gardening enthusiasts like me reusing them as plant-pots.

So thanks to CompostWoman, Raspberry Rascals and the power of talking rubbish. As a result of sharing great ideas, here's another opportunity that will hopefully help the local community waste even less next week.

For those who live in Bury St Edmunds, Raspberry Rascals is located on Langton Place, just off Hatter Street. The shop is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. More information can be found at www.raspberryrascals.co.uk.


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Are any of your local shops doing anything to support Recycle Week? It's always worth asking around, and if you find out anything exciting I'd love to know the gossip. You might even be able to help them with ideas. Who knows what can happen when like-minded folk get together.

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Updated with new photos 20:35, 20/06/09

Friday, 19 June 2009

Swapping clothes for Recycle Week


I love this poster by Suffolk County Council, promoting a clothes swap shop for Recycle Week. And I really wish I could go, because at these events I always find something I love. It's always a great opportunity to pass unwanted items onto a better home too.

However, I can't get along because of events relating to my pledge, but if you live in Suffolk, why not see if you can pop along yourself and take some friends. It's at Sproughton Tithe Barn, Tuesday 23rd June, 6pm - 9pm.

Doors will be open between 6pm to 7pm to accept clothing and then from 7pm onwards, individuals will be welcome to swap 'til they drop! Members of the public have been asked to bring a minimum of 1 item and a maximum of 10 of clothes,shoes and jewellery. There will also be bring banks collecting end of life textiles that would normally end up in the black bin with the aim of diverting them from landfill and recycling them instead.

It really does look like fun.

Suffolk County Council is busy supporting Recycle Week's Lets Waste Less theme by focusing on recycling textiles, so there are more opportunities to recycle your clothing across the county. For more information about what's happening in Suffolk, pop over to www.suffolkrecycling.org.uk

And don't forget, there's still time to make your pledge for Recycle Week, which starts on Monday. So if you've got a spare couple of minutes - that's all it takes - hop over to Recycle Now, where you can also find if there are similar events happening in your area.

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