September, the month of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - Helen Tandy

We now live in a world of mixed messages, we are encouraged to recycle, to reduce the rubbish going to landfill but then we also live in an increasingly throwaway society.

Shops over-package things, as we are more interested in what an item looks like on the outside then the product inside. What do we then do to use the product? We throw away the packaging that made it look so outwardly pretty.

We use cotton wool and face wipes to clean our face, we mop up spills with kitchen roll, we clean our house with throwaway cleaning wipes. All this goes into our bin and onto a hole in the ground.

The research I did over August has really focused my mind to work towards the Zero Living goals of many of the early advocates in the UK and US. Although never a big user of the wipes, apart from when out and about when water isn't accessible, kitchen roll, cotton wool, food packaging were all going into my land fill bin. That's what I'm now focusing my mind to call it. I'm also focused on reducing this substantially.

With Zero Waste Week finishing earlier this month and Recycle Week coming to an end a few days ago, I'm going to be keeping this up, continuing to learn despite the challenges being over.

My family is less supportive, so a little way to go there, my son will be back at University soon and although he will recycle, he also creates a huge amount of cans and plastic bottles, whereas I'm trying to limit what I buy with plastic packaging.

My next goal is my local council. I live just over the border in Wales, Flintshire. I have been researching recycling in the next county Chester and Cheshire West, they have a fantastic kerb side recycling policy. I have also been looking at Greater Manchester where our main office is based, again fairly good. I have been saving all the plastic packaging from August and September so far. I have created less this month and what we have is mainly from my meat eating husband and son. I will be writing to my council to encourage them to do more and sending the photo, I might even think or even more imaginative ideas by the end of the month. Ideas are gratefully received. My last resort is to take Pete's offer of putting it out in Chester for me where it can be recycled.

I have been saving lots of my glass jars which with the help of my friend Addie, they have gone into craft projects for our Friends of the Earth fundraising, I’ll definitely keep this up after seeing what she can do.

So far it's going well, not as well as I would like. I'm still buying blueberries in plastic. All the craft items for upcycling have come in plastic bags of course. I'm using up toiletries before I consider my next plan, which are of course in plastic.

If zero plastic, zero waste sounds like hard work. What can you do?


Recycleable objects


  • Think twice about all those different disposable wipes

  • A lot of the value brands of food taste just as good, but are often just packaged less

  • Check your local recycling policy, what can you recycle.

    The goal of recycle week this year was to get you to think about the items in your bathroom, I spend my life rescuing them from our bathroom bin. Even my local council takes aerosols, shampoo, shower gel bottles and other bathroom packaging. Don't bin them recycle them.

    If you want to do more research into recycle week feel free to click here.

    The end of the month is Waste less live more week, this year 19th to 25th September 2016. Of the 101 suggested actions, I have acted on number 26 a zero waste lunch. I always do number 51, milk from the milk man (no plastic bottle)

    I acted on number 2 at the start of the month, a huge declutter.

    We have done some upcycling this month with jam jars (no 9)

    No. 20- is in my garden, a home for wildlife (for me it’s a bee home made from canes)

    No. 29- I have ditched the disposables now, hopefully for ever rather than just a day.

    Baking and raising funds for charity no. 33 is completed, cup cakes for Jeans for Genes day in work.

    I could go on an on but safe to say I will be working my way through some I don’t do anyway over the rest of the month. Find out more about the 101 ways to waste less and live more – click