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Richard Stainthorp to ask the Lead Councillor for Culture Heritage and Recreation: William Marshal As I am sure the Lead Councillor is awar...

6 Sept 2017

Zero Waste Week - Make A Change

This week it's Zero Waste Week - a week that focuses on reducing landfill waste.  Waste that goes to landfill doesn't just disappear.  This waste is dumped in holes in the ground which are eventually covered and it then very slowly decomposes.  When I say very slowly I mean some of it takes hundreds of years to decompose.  If Henry VIII wore disposable nappies they'd still be out there somewhere, waiting for some poor archaeologist to dig up (not sure they would be museum worthy).

The by-products of this decomposition are not pleasant.  If you pop to the car park of the Madjeski Stadium you'll see methane vents dotted about allowing methane, a greenhouse gas, to be released from the rotting landfill below.  In 2011 methane from landfill accounted for 3.1% of greenhouse gases emitted in the UK.

Liquids can seep from the rotting waste polluting water courses far below the ground. 2,946 landfill sites are on flood planes and, with climate change likely to bring more intense rain and flood events, they are in danger of being flooded and releasing their toxic waste.

Each one of us can do a few simple things to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill.  I know life is busy and stressful but if we all made just one or two changes we could make an impact on the amount of waste we're packing away in landfill.

Here are a few things I do or have done:

Cloth Nappies

I used cloth nappies on both my boys.  If cloth nappies are used, and washed on low temperatures, they can be up to 40% better for the environment than disposables nappies.  You will also dramatically reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfill, you won't have bins filled with poopy nappies and they can be better for baby's skin.  If you use them on the next baby you'll help the environment even more and save hundreds of pounds.

The beautiful sight of a line of fresh, clean nappies

Reusable Sanitary Protection

*Squeamish topic alert*.  Sanitary protection is another thing we buy, use once, then send to landfill.  Sadly landfill is not the only place it goes.  In 2013 the Marine Conservation Society held a beach clean across 96.7km of UK coast-line. They collected 428 tampons and tampon applicators per 4.4km and 1291 sanitary pads, panty liners and backing strips per 13.3km.  There many modern reusable alternatives.  I prefer a menstrual cup (most of my friends who've tried one wish they'd switched sooner) which can last for many years.  There are also washable sanitary pads which are a far cry from what was on offer 100 years ago.  Here's some helpful info on menstrual cups from Juno Magazine.

Meal Planning

I'll put my hands up.  I used to be terrible at portion control and often bought food that didn't get used.  I became a reformed character about 10 years ago.  Now I meal plan every week.  I only buy what I need and, thanks to an awesome measuring cup I bought from Tiger, my portion sizes are perfect.  I've heard many calls for Reading Borough Council to collect food waste.  In my opinion it's far more important not to create the waste in the first place.  If you cook food that's not used your wasting all the energy it took to produce, transport and cook that food!  Got leftovers?  Freeze them or have them another day in another meal.


Just recycle everything you can.  My red bin is often more full than my grey bin and I have been seen jumping up and down in it to make more space.  We collect and recycle all our glass and, once my children have finished with toys, book and clothes, they head off to charity to be used again (and raise funds in the process - usually Age UK at the moment).

Move away from single use products 

When my boys were babies we bought what felt like hundreds of muslin cloths.  We still have them now and use them to mop up spills, wipe faces, as impromptu napkins when eating spaghetti and even to make blackberry jelly!  We've saved loads of kitchen roll by just using our muslin cloths.

Make a change today!

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