Zero Waste Stories
Below are some stories from people who have taken part in reducing their waste to zero. Check back for more stories!
I implemented PIP (Pursuing Independent Paths)’s first Environmental Policy and Action Plan, after attending a ‘Carbon Smart’ training workshop in late 2010. The main aspects of the policy are to reduce waste, improve recycling and to save energy and paper. I felt that these were the most achievable goals to put in place in our working environment. The target that we identified was to reduce our organisational carbon footprint by 5% in one year and by 10% over three years.
I feel a great personal responsibility to recycle and to save energy and I am always keen to spread this message. I feel that everyone shares the same responsibility to contribute towards preserving the planet. My enthusiasm for these topics also led me to a week long workshop on the topic of global education and sustainability, which took place in Romania! This consolidated my outlook on the subject as well as giving me a lot of new ideas on sustainability.
At PIP, I ran a number of educational sessions with our service users (who are adults with learning disabilities) around the topic of recycling and energy saving. I used many video clips and images to convey the damage that over-consumption causes to the planet, followed by positive ways of making changes. I feel that this helped to enthuse the service users on the topic, which meant that they became keen to become more environmentally conscious.
We removed a number of small bins from each room to centralise waste, this encourages people to think about whether they are throwing away something that could actually be recycled. We added large recycling bins to each room so that the option to recycle is always available. I worked with the service users to create pictorial signs to show what can go in each bin. I worked with them to make signs encouraging people to turn off lights when they are not in the room. We also created signs for the bathrooms to encourage people to recycle the cardboard from the empty toilet rolls!
I gave presentations in team meetings about my training, with a view to motivating staff on the topic. I now send regular emails reminding people to print on double sided paper and to turn off their computers at the socket in the evenings. In our first year, we made huge savings with our energy bills, through all of these actions and through having our heating timer set more effectively. We also reduced the number of bin bags that we put out for rubbish collection, as much more waste was being recycled. PIP has now become a much more environmentally conscious establishment.
Jane Haskings – Transition Town Tooting
I have always been interested in the detritus of life: what is left behind. How we accumulate and dispose of things; materially. Where does it all go?
I was raised by parents born in the 1920s who like others of that era had values of the stereotypical wartime generation (e.g. ‘waste not, want not’ and the old adage ‘make do and mend’) and were skilled craftspeople (e.g. engineers, cooks and bakers, upholsterers, and seamstresses). It truly was an Anderson Shelter, vegetable garden and home-made everything upbringing.
My culture and core beliefs were fused by studying art alongside a career in housing rights and advocacy. Things came together (very randomly) when I began looking around me at work - I noticed my 300 plus colleagues were throwing away their plastic milk bottles: it just seemed thoughtless and annoying. So I started to take them home each week to recycle.
I soon had a huge pile which included some rigid plastic. I discovered plant pots could not be recycled by the local authority. After research I took them to Thrive in Battersea Park for their garden. I then realised the milk bottle tops I had valiantly been taking home for two years were not being recycled, and the Green Centre in Brighton could receive a small amount of cash for them by sending them to a recycling company based in Portsmouth.
I set up a scheme recycling tops to benefit older peoples’ advocacy. It is much needed: it ticks my box of campaigning to raise awareness that our elders are facing neglect due to the current crisis in our care system, and that advocacy is grossly under-funded. I began in August 2010; by April 2012 I had 87% of half a tonne of tops in my garden shed.
The scheme snowballed slowly; but now the council-owned sheltered schemes in Wandsworth, Age UK (my workplace office in Euston) 2 nurseries, one primary school, a community group and about 16 coffee shops and neighbours and even on occasion the Natural History Museum all collect for me.
I have collected an immense amount of tops. I am now considering how to sustainably transport a large number of them to Portsmouth. Not all of the tops can be recycled but I cannot bring myself to just dispose of them as waste.
Art and creation have followed; for example I did a couple of documentary photo shoots profiling my monthly round collecting the bottle tops and I have created a tops map for a carbon awareness event at the Pump House Gallery.
A side product is how this mild adventure has enriched me and my life. It has led to meeting others, becoming involved in the Tooting Transition Town movement, learning about my community and all things carbon-related. In addition to the bottle tops I have an application in for solar panels, started planting seeds again and am harvesting my apples into chutney.