The Bin Blog

Plastic CLEVER Cumbria this Plastic Free July

Fri, 9 Jul 2021

This month is Plastic Free July. Plastic FREE can be a very daunting thing to consider though and for many people it is a very off-putting term. Not everyone can afford to change to often significantly more expensive alternatives although in the long run it could save money as well as being the greener option. However small changes a step at a time can make a big difference if we all do it.

If you already have plastic items then don`t think you have to get rid of them - we all have plastic Tupperware boxes we use for storage but the idea is not to just throw useful things away that you already have, but to cut down or change to alternatives if you need to buy new things.

We all get caught out going to the shops for just one item and end up perhaps needing a bag when we come out with more items than we went in for - if you keep a cloth bag to hand though you can even use it these days if you`re out clothes shopping. Bags for life that you may be offered in the shops are often still made from plastic so again aren`t really a great solution - buy a nice cloth bag, or even make your own from an outgrown or old item of clothing if you have the skill to do so. You can then reuse it indefinitely.

Cling film is one thing I just can`t fathom out - again I use a plastic storage tub that can be reused and reused, (I already had some so I`m not ditching them just for the hell of it), and they mostly have lids - you can even use your old butter tubs if you don`t buy real butter wrapped in paper or foil. Cling film isn`t easily recyclable either. You could always put things in a bowl with a plate over the top if you`re just storing things short term. Sandwiches can go directly into your lunchbox and don`t need wrapped up in cling film - use foil if you really have to but make sure you recycle it once you have finished with it.

Because Plastic FREE is rather daunting, in Cumbria we have partnered with local sustainability groups to launch the Plastic CLEVER Cumbria Pledge. This asks people to pledge to make small changes where they can - swap everyday items from plastic to a more sustainable material. There are loads of suggestions and you can sign up to change whatever you feel comfortable to do. Plastic unfortunately won`t go away easily but if we are CLEVER about the plastic we already have, reuse as much as we can and recycle the bits we can`t avoid then things will improve. So, let`s all be as Plastic CLEVER as we can by making small changes - it will all add up. For those of you that want to take a step further please let us know how your Plastic FREE journey goes.

The Plastic CLEVER Cumbria pledges are hosted by our friends at Penrith Action for Community Transition (PACT) on their website at please sign up this July to take your first small step.

JB 09/07/2021

Food Waste Action Week March 2021

Mon, 1 Mar 2021

It`s almost the end of winter, and this year we anticipate the longer days and green shoots of spring more keenly than ever. For our ancestors, though, the start of spring was a time of shortage when stores of food were low. They could not afford to waste food. Things are rather different now. Households across the UK waste 4.5 million tonnes of tasty, edible food each year. That is 70% of all the food wasted.

Food production produces nearly 30% of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. It also uses large amounts of other resources, such as land and water. When we throw away food that could have been eaten, we are not just wasting food but also the valuable resources that went into making it. Around the world, roughly one third of all food produced is wasted, so cutting the amount of food we waste is a big step towards reducing the effects of climate change. That`s why during Food Waste Action Week (1st - 7th March 2021), we`re calling on everyone to understand the true value of food and to consider the impact of their behaviours. In fact, we think the issue is so important we will be running our own actions for a further week.

The good news is that it is easy to do something about it. You don`t have to be a budding MasterChef finalist to make a difference. Straightforward steps like planning your meals, making a shopping list, and knowing how best to store food are great places to start. If you cook your own meals, you can whip up tasty recipes from leftovers - there are lots of appetising ideas available on the internet. Once you`ve got the hang of it you can be creative making up your own recipes for any leftovers you still have. If technology is your thing, there are now Apps you can download which alert you before food goes off. They can even suggest how you could use those items at the back of the fridge.

Everyone can make a difference and encourage friends and family to do the same. So, if you`re hungry for change, visit to find out how you can get involved and help our planet.

7th September 2020 - Feel the seasons changing

Mon, 7 Sep 2020

This year has seen a lot more of us trying to grow our own food at home and watching the seasonal changes of nature with interest. It has been great to see so many people taking a renewed interest in gardening, and growing their own food in various wonderful ways.

By growing our own food, we have re-connected with nature and the seasonality of foods. We have also completely cut out food miles, and know what has gone into producing our food. At home, you might grow your food organically, or you might be trying to turn your whole garden organic. This can be done in small steps for example only buy peat-free compost, or even better, make your own compost. You could also plant pollinator-friendly plants to create a bee-friendly garden.

The start of September has brought on a definite chill to the air which is a sign that autumn is on its way. Even now though, there is still time to carry on planting and growing food in our garden, ready to pick for a delicious Christmas meal.

Alternatively, if your garden is in need of an autumn tidy-up, you can turn this year`s garden waste into next year`s plant food by putting it in your own compost bin. Veg plants that have finished, leaves, veg peelings, the last cut of the grass before winter and egg shells along with egg boxes and other cardboard can create a nutrient rich compost to spread over your veg patch and borders next spring.

There are many benefits of home composting on top of providing a great feed for your garden, including reducing carbon emissions and diverting organic waste from needing treatment at our waste plants. Then when you put the compost on your garden next spring, it will improve your soil structure, improve the pH balance and be a great nutrient-rich feed for your soil.

If you don`t have a compost bin yet, Cumbria County Council offers discounted compost bins to Cumbrian householders. If you buy one you can get a second one for half price too for only one delivery charge, so why not team up with a neighbour for an even bigger bargain. Compost bins are available at , just type in your postcode for the Cumbrian offer.

If you want to step up to the next level you could get yourself a food waste digester. There are two kinds of food waste digester available - Green Cones and Green Johannas - so there is an option to suit you. Both units sit in your garden like a regular compost bin BUT they accept ALL of your food waste, cooked and uncooked. Both units work on the process of generating more heat and encouraging better airflow than your standard compost bin to supercharge the process. Both units are free delivery. For more information about each unit and to order your digester go to

So, this autumn, carry on growing your own food for tasty, fresh food into the winter, or plan a garden tidy up and fill up your compost bin at the same time, ready to use the compost next spring.


Tue, 30 Jun 2020

Rules for our upcoming competitions.

1. Only one entry per household.

2. You must be a Cumbrian resident.

3, Entry must be all your own work.

4. Closing date will be 12 noon on the day stated on the social media posts.

5. We will not store or pass on your email details, and all emails will be deleted after the competition winners have been informed.

6. Winners will be picked and informed after the closing date.

7. Entries may be displayed on our social media pages or website, so please do not include faces of yourself or other members of your household in your photo.

8. The judges decision is final.

9th December 2019 Making a Green Choice for your Christmas Tree

Mon, 9 Dec 2019

Christmas trees - real or fake, which is the best option for the environment?

Christmas trees are already up in a lot of houses but, if like me you put yours up a bit later, have you decided what type to get? Will it be real or will it be fake? Which is better for the environment? Which is the most sustainable option?

Here are a few tips to help you make a decision on which to buy, based on life cycle from production to disposal.

Potted trees - these are the best option. They don`t need to be thrown out after Christmas and you can reuse it in subsequent years. Make sure you keep them watered and not too hot. Plant up outside once the festive season is over - they can be hard to look after though so you may need to be green fingered!

Cut trees are the next best option. Whilst they are growing, an acre of trees can take in an estimated 1 tonne of carbon dioxide. Once the festive season is over you should recycle your tree responsibly through your kerbside garden waste collection or by taking it to one of Cumbria County Councils` Household Waste Recycling Centres. They will go for composting and be turned into a useful product for your garden.

Artificial trees - If you have an artificial tree it is very important to keep using it - don`t buy a new one every year as trends change. They are often manufactured outside this country so transport costs will also significantly increase their carbon footprint. Artificial trees are usually made of plastic which is made from fossil fuels which means they have a large carbon footprint for production and disposal. They will last for years though, but to offset the carbon footprint you should keep using it for 12 - 15 years, the longer the better.

I`m up to 10 years with my artificial tree - a minimum of two more years to go before I even think about changing it - it`s still going strong though despite the cats` attempts to the contrary!

3rd December 2019 Have a Festive Green Christmas

Tue, 3 Dec 2019

We have just had a cold snap with mornings full of mists and the trees pretty with delicate ice crystals. Everything has looked sparkling in the run up to the festive season. This is a favourite time of year, bells are ringing, Christmas lights are twinkling and snow may be falling. We are keeping warm with cups of mulled wine and hot chocolate and tucking into lots of festive goodies.

The festive season revolves around family and friends, happiness and acts of giving. Whilst we give a lot though, it means we also make a lot of waste from all the excess things we buy - from the paper we wrap it in, to the food we buy.

The UK alone is estimated to use almost 300 000 tonnes of card packaging at Christmas. If we laid it out flat, we could have a motorway that covered the return distance between London and Lapland 103 times, or we could use it to wrap up Big Ben almost 260 000 times.

Food waste is another biggie at Christmas. It is estimated that in the UK we will throw away 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings and 74 million mince pies.

We have compiled some top tips to help make your Christmas greener, less wasteful and also save you a few pennies.

1. Think before you buy. Planning your meals will help with your portion sizes so you don`t over cater. Make a list and stick to it.

2. Shop smart. Buy local and organic if possible as you will get great tasting, fresh ingredients. Local Farmers` markets have a great range of tasty, tempting goodies.

3. Use your leftovers. If you have overdone things, leftovers can actually be a blessing as it saves you having to cook from scratch for a couple of days. www.lovefoodhatewaste.comhas a great selection of leftovers recipes that can help you turn your leftovers into something great that will break the monotony of turkey curry.

4. Make sure you store food and leftovers properly so they stay fresher for longer. Use your fridge and your freezer.

5. Make your own. Are you a great baker or jam maker? Why not make up a hamper of homemade goodies for a present with a personal touch

6. Don`t buy shiny wrapping paper - it can`t be recycled with other papers as it is usually made of foil. If you`re not sure, try scrunching it up. If it bounces back into shape it`s not recyclable. Newspaper is great for wrapping and looks fab with a festive bow and ribbon. You can also use last years cards as this years gift tags.

7. Have a clear out. Help charity shops by having a pre Christmas clear out to make room for the new things you will receive. You can donate almost anything in good working order, clothes, toys, books and furniture.

8. Added value gifts. Give someone a gift that keeps on giving - a gift experience or a membership to something, or a course on sewing, cooking or bike maintenance. Some of these can help develop skills that keep things useful and working for longer.

So have fun and enjoy your time at Christmas with your families and friends and all the lovely things that Christmas brings. Remember though that you can take steps all year round to be greener. Stopping things going to waste is good for you and your pocket as well as the environment.

Merry Christmas one and all

31st October 2019 A Time of Autumn Mists and Compost

Thu, 31 Oct 2019

The leaves are turning brown, red and yellow and the hedgerows have been full of autumnal fruits and seeds. The nights are drawing in and the first cold breaths of frost have been on the car windscreens in the morning.

Autumn is the perfect time to turn this years` garden waste into next years` plant food. Leaves, veg peelings, that last cut of the grass before winter and egg shells along with egg boxes and other cardboard can create a nutrient rich compost to spread over your veg patch and borders in the spring.

Now is a great time to purchase either a compost bin or a food waste digester. There are many benefits of composting on top of providing a great feed for your garden, including reducing carbon emissions and diverting organic waste from needing treatment at our waste plants. It also improves your soil structure and improves the pH balance.

Cumbria County Council is pleased to offer discounted compost bins to Cumbrian householders at an extra special price. You can buy a 220ltr bin for just £7.50 and a 330ltr bin for just £9.50 (plus £5.99 delivery). If you by one you can get a second one for half price too for only one delivery charge, so why not team up with a neighbour for an even bigger bargain. Compost bins are available atwww.getcomposting.comjust type in your postcode for the Cumbrian offer.

If you want to step up to the next level you could get yourself a food waste digester. There are two kinds of food waste digester available - Green Cones and Green Johannas - so there is an option to suit you. Both units sit in your garden like a regular compost bin BUT they accept ALL of your food waste, cooked and uncooked. Both units work on the process of generating more heat and encouraging better airflow than your standard compost bin to supercharge the process. A Green Cone will simply sit in your soil and let any cooked food waste dissipate slowly away providing a nice fertile area around it (good for greedy plants like courgettes!), and is available for only £15 (RRP approx. £80). A Green Johanna is like the rolls Royce of compost bins and will accept garden waste as well as all of your cooked and uncooked food waste. This is available for only £20 (RRP approx. £110. Both units are Free delivery. To order your digester go to

So there is something out there for all of your composting needs. Why not treat yourself and your garden.

4th February 2019 The 6 `R`s

Mon, 4 Feb 2019

It`s only been ten minutes since Christmas and we`re already being bombarded with seas of pink, love hearts and chocolates in our supermarkets. Then there`ll be more chocolate wrapped up in foil, then in plastic, then in cardboard. So many holidays! So much waste! (though to be fair, not much chocolate will be wasted).

It`s at this time of year we become conscious of the amount of stuff we have in our homes. New toys replace old toys, new clothes fight for space in our wardrobes, and before we know it our homes are busting from the seams with all of the STUFF!

Here, at Recycle for Cumbria we roll out the mantra, `Reduce, Reuse, Recycle` on a fairly regular basis. All of us need to reduce the amount of stuff we buy, reuse what we can and recycle our plastics, paper, tin, cardboard etc. It`s pretty simple stuff and as a country more and more people are getting on board with the message.

But did you know there are actually 6 Rs? Yep, in addition to the 3 we know and love we`ve also got `Rethink, Repair, Refuse`.

Rethink - consider how we can change our lifestyles and how we do things. We can think about how we can replace everyday items with more environmentally friendly ones. For example, replace paper towels with cloth towels, purchase items that contain recovered recycled materials, replace plastic toothbrushes with bamboo.

Repair - we live in a throwaway culture, where often it`s cheaper to buy new that to repair. However, the `make do and mend` school of thought is making a comeback and indeed, is proving pretty trendy! There are Repair Cafes popping up everywhere and they are easy to organise if you know people with handy skills. Recycle for Cumbria recently launched its Resourceful Communities programme, where constituted groups can apply for £300 to hold 5 waste prevention events. A Repair Café would be the ideal starter event and a great way to bring your community together!

Refuse - it`s simple really… refuse single use plastics! We can`t live in a plastic-free society, but we can be plastic-clever. We can refuse bottled water, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, and plastic straws without changing our quality of life.

Keep in mind the 6 `R`s, for reassurance that each and every one of us can make small changes in our lives that will have hugely positive consequences for the future of our remarkable planet.

For more useful information explore our website

23rd October 2018 Autumn In The Garden

Tue, 23 Oct 2018

We`re well and truly into Autumn now - the weather has taken a turn and the first frost has seen the car windscreen needing an early morning scrape to get rid of the ice before going to work. The autumn colours are just lovely this year too and the trees and hedgerows have been laden with all sorts of tasty fruit and nuts. You may have been harvesting the last few crops of tasty vegetables from your garden, storing potatoes and apples somewhere cool, or making tasty things like beetroot chutney or jars of pickle - a great way to preserve that produce and have something tasty right through the winter.

You can get all of those remaining dead plants and leaves into a compost bin so they can be turned into a great feed for your garden - whether it be next years veg or your flower displays. Composting is a great way of turning that waste into something incredibly useful. All of those potato and veg peelings from the kitchen can go in there too.

If you want to be extra waste conscious, why not treat yourself to a Food Waste Digester. Cumbria County Council have two different units on offer at highly discounted prices.

A Green Johanna is like a compost bin but better. It is a unit with a base plate and a clever ventilation system that allows it to get significantly hotter than a normal compost bin. You can put absolutely any food waste in it - raw and cooked! Chicken carcasses and fish skin and bones, remains of last nights curry, out of date yoghurts, pizza crusts, in fact ALL food waste! You mix it with normal garden waste and you will get a lovely rich compost to spread on your garden and give it a good feed.

The Johanna is available for only £20 delivered, discounted from a normal retail price of £110 - an absolute bargain.

If you are happy with your existing compost bin or you don`t actually want to make compost but you would still like to get rid of your food waste without just putting it in the household bin, then you can get a Green Cone. The Green Cone is a double walled solar cone which creates a heat trap and circulates the warm air into a below ground chamber where the food waste sits. This is about the size and structure of a small washing basket and also lets worms and other composting creatures in and allows the broken down waste to seep away into the surrounding earth. It`s a great soil conditioner and whatever you plant next to it will have a great feed. This year my courgettes have been the best ever thanks to the rich soil around my cone.

A Green Cone will set you back just £15 delivered, discounted from a normal retail price of £80

So why not get yours ordered today - get that smelly food waste out of the household bin and turn it into something useful. Your garden will really thank you for it and will reward you well!

Both units can be purchased from or by calling Freephone 0800 013 1304

20th August 2018 Cut down your waste this summer

Mon, 20 Aug 2018

Summer has been and summer may have ended - weatherwise at least - maybe we`ll get an Indian summer though, you never know! We had amongst other things this summer, the World Cup and more recently the European championships in Glasgow as well as festivals and concerts all over the place. Whilst you may have been glued to your tv screen or lucky enough to attend a large event, did you give a thought to how much extra waste may be produced as a consequence?

During events like the month long World Cup, there will have been lots of parties, takeaways and barbecues resulting in extra cans, tins, glass bottles, plastic bottles and lids, plastic food trays, foil takeaway trays, paper and card and leftover food.

Most of these things can be recycled in Cumbria and are conveniently collected at your kerbside. Cans, glass, paper and card are collected by most of the six Cumbrian District Councils. If you aren`t sure exactly what they collect you can have a look at their websites to keep yourself right. Just visit and follow the links from the map to find out.

Food waste is a little harder as there currently aren`t any collections of this in Cumbria. There are a couple of great options you can do yourself at home though.

First of all you can follow our top tips to reduce food waste in the first place. These can even save you between £50 - £60 per month! Get your portion sizes right - it`s so easy to make too much. If you do, then use your freezer and you can have another meal ready for another day - you could even just keep it in the fridge overnight for a free lunch tomorrow! Plan your meals and write a shopping list. If you don`t you could be tempted by all sorts of things you don`t really need. BOGOF`s are only good if it`s something you will use anyway.

If you do still end up with food waste that you can`t do anything with you could invest in a Food Waste Digester. These are just like a compost bin but better. They sit in your garden and can take ALL food waste, cooked and uncooked. The County Council has secured funding to offer two different types of digester to residents countywide for around one fifth of the normal price.

A Green Johanna is like a traditional compost bin but is designed to get hotter to break down any pathogens that may be present in wasted cooked food. This unit is only £20 and will give you a great source of compost from food waste mixed with normal garden waste. A Green Cone is purely for disposal of waste and doesn`t give you compost and retails at a mere £15. The lower half is dug into the soil where waste rots down and is dispersed through the basket like base into the surrounding soil. It`s great for te soil fertility - I` have courgettes planted next to mine this year and they`re the best I`ve had in years! If you haven`t got one yet you can follow the link from

So whatever waste you have, we have an idea or a method you can use to cut down. This will help you to reduce your waste and hopefully you can make a financial saving along the way.

2nd February 2018 Green your Spring Clean!

Fri, 2 Feb 2018

We`re coming up to that time of year, folks. The rubber gloves will be fetched from the back of the cupboard, buckets filled with hot soapy water and a selection of noxious cleaning products may make an appearance. However, if you fancy making a real difference to your cleaning routine (and your wallet!) while helping the environment, then read on for some tips on how to spruce up your home with everyday natural products…


Stainless steel - after juicing your lemons, don`t throw them away! Use the peel to clean stainless steel taps and restore shine

Brass cleaner - sprinkle some bicarb of soda on to half a lemon and rub the item clean. Rinse and polish dry thoroughly

Sinks - add lemon juice to bicarb of soda to make an excellent stain remover and mild bleach. Use a couple of teaspoons of each and wipe around the sink. Flush away with hot water

Floor cleaner - Add 400ml of white vinegar and 200ml of lemon juice into 2 litres of water. Stir well and use on vinyl or tiled floors. On wooden, varnished floors, only use on a dampened cloth so that the wood doesn`t get too wet

Air freshener - mix a few drops of lemon oil fragrance with a small bowl of bicarb of soda. Much cheaper than commercial air freshener and better for the environment!


Removing grease from suede - dip a toothbrush in white vinegar and gently brush over the grease spot

Dissolve chewing gum - saturate the area with white vinegar. If the vinegar is heated it will work faster

Cleaning windows - mix a solution of 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to 1 litre of warm water to wash your windows. Use newspaper to polish afterwards. Keep a spray bottle of 50/50 white vinegar and water for removing spots from glass.

Furniture polish - use equal parts of white vinegar and vegetable oil, wipe on and buff with a soft cloth

Remove animal smells! - remove the smell of urine by blotting it up with a soft cloth and washing several times with warm water. Then apply equal parts white vinegar and cool water, blot up again and leave to dry

Cleaning your kettle - to remove lime deposits gently boil 150ml of white vinegar with the water, then rinse well


Cleaning the drain - if your kitchen drain tends to block pour a quarter of a tub of bicarb down it every month as a preventative measure. For a stronger result mix half a tub of bicarb with a cup of warm vinegar for an hour or two then pour down lots of hot water

Cleaning the bin - use a fairly strong solution of bicarb and warm water to wash the bin out and remove stubborn smells (good for plastic and stainless steel)

Cleaning the oven - Don`t buy expensive oven cleaners! Mix a thick paste of bicarb and water, wipe over the inside of a cool oven, leave overnight and wipe down with warm water to remove grease. Clean your glass door with a weak solution in a labelled spray bottle

Stubborn stains - to remove stains from marble, plastic or formica make a strong paste of bicarb with water, scour gently and rinse thoroughly

White goods - a cloth soaked in bicarb and warm water will keep exteriors fresh and remove greasy marks

Fabric brightener - mix one part lemon juice with one part bicarb, add to your whites for a mild bleaching effect

Remember, if in doubt please refer to expert advice.

10th April 2017 Reduce, reuse and recycle for Easter

Mon, 10 Apr 2017

We hope you are all looking forward to Easter this year, we certainly are.

While it is nice to get in the spirit of things and give Easter eggs and cards, did you ever think about how much waste this generates? A 2010 study by WRAP found that chocolate egg packaging generates 3,000 tonnes of waste in the UK every year!

WRAP have been working with retailers and manufactures to help them cut this packaging waste and you can do your bit too.

Check out our handy "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle for Easter" guide for top tips on crafting, cooking and recycling your way to a more environmentally friendly Easter. We think it`s egg-cellent!

Easter recycling

16th December 2016 Dreaming of a green Christmas

Fri, 16 Dec 2016

Dreaming of a Green Christmas!

We may not get a white Christmas, but we can certainly try to have a Green one! From Christmas dinner to present wrapping and homemade decorations there are plenty of ways to reduce waste and keep more of our hard earned pennies in our pockets.

By thinking carefully and being organised there are plenty of ways to reduce our waste and keep more of our hard earned pennies in our pockets. Take Christmas cards; last year`s cards can be reused to make this year`s gift tags and can even be made into little gift boxes - just don`t forget to keep hold of them. You may even have decided not to send cards at all. The important thing is the sentiment, not the paper it`s printed on.

Send an e-card instead - many sites on the internet offer them for free. Same festive greeting, zero cost, much less hassle and no waste. Wrapping paper is another one and, when you think about it, it`s something we literally buy to tear up and throw away. If you received any gift boxes or bags last year you could use them again this year. If you un-wrap your gifts carefully you might also be able to save the paper and fold it up carefully ready for reuse the following year. A lot of papers are now foil based which makes it easier to save them without tearing. Unfortunately it also means they are not very easily recycled.

You could even use old sheets of newspaper for wrapping. Make a homemade gift bow and tie on with a little bit of ribbon - it looks great.

After Christmas, consider where you are disposing of all your recycling and your Christmas trees. Be wary of cold callers offering to dispose of household items, including Christmas trees for a cost, which are often then fly-tipped. Most district councils now offer a garden waste collection in January for collection of Christmas trees. The district councils also offer extensive kerbside recycling for all your recycling needs.

For more hints and tips on ways to help reduce waste and save money this Christmas visit . Let`s all keep our waste-lines slim this Christmas!

1st Decemebr 2016 My new Food Waste Digester

Thu, 1 Dec 2016

When we bought our house a few years ago I was really lucky to get two wooden custom built composting bins for the vegetable garden.

They got a lot of use in the first couple of years. I kept a kitchen caddy under the sink and religiously made sure that our vegetable peelings, apple cores, eggshells, and the like; also made their way around the house into the compost bins.

And then life started to get busy. I increased my working hours to full time and started studying at Uni. We set up a business. Our children needed running around more and more for school and friends. Really busy.

The kitchen caddy got emptied less and less frequently, until eventually we stopped using it altogether. We carried on recycling plastics, paper and glass etc., but the vegetable peelings now went straight in the bin; and I felt guilty.

Then, this summer, I was handed a canvas bag by a nice lady at Penrith Show (you can never have enough bags, I thought) Inside were some freebies, information on waste reduction and recipes. One of the leaflets caught my eye: it was about food waste digesters. "Why would you want one of those when you already have two compost bins that you hardly ever use?" my husband asked.

But there were three things about the Green Johanna that really interested me:

  1. It said suitable for use in the shade

  2. It said you can use it for virtually all kitchen leftovers, raw and cooked ( pizza, bread, dairy, vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, bones, pasta, curry, eggs etc.)

  3. It cost only £20 including delivery, compared with a normal price of well over £100

I was persuaded and placed an order. When it arrived I couldn`t wait to assemble it - which took about 15-20 minutes.

We`ve put the Johanna in a shady spot out of sight, but just around the corner from the door we use the most. And it`s getting used. We`re just as busy as ever, and it`s still getting used.

We keep giving the Johanna a stir every now and then, adding a bit of garden waste as instructed. It`s still too early to say if the compost we get will be any good - will let you know.

In the meantime though, I`ve noticed something that I wasn`t expecting: our rubbish bag is less than half as full as it used to be, even when I was composting before. That`s a lot of food waste…

13th Oct 2016 Re-think your old furniture

Thu, 13 Oct 2016

You will have all now started to see the adverts encouraging us to buy a new sofa or dining table in time for Christmas. If you are thinking about getting new furniture for Christmas, what do you do with your old one?

You might not want it anymore, but someone else might like it. You could donate your piece of furniture to your local furniture reuse centre or charity shop therefore increasing the chances of it being used by others. There are many options available throughout Cumbria and details can be found by visiting Furniture reuse centres are a great way to prevent perfectly good solid furniture from ending up in landfill and get those still useful items into the homes of people who may want and need them.

In Cumbria in 2014-2015 over 3000 tonnes of bulky waste was discarded by households and sent direct to landfill, this includes sofas, tables, chairs, etc. It is estimated that around one third of this furniture would have been good enough to be reused, and with some minor repairs to other items, almost half could have been saved from disposal.

Upcycling is an even greener way of recycling your old pieces of furniture where you make an item appealing again or find a new purpose for it rather than resorting to throwing it away. That sad old chest of drawers can be sanded back and given a lick of paint to brighten them up. Chairs can be re-upholstered with a brighter modern fabric and you can even give your kitchen a cheap makeover by painting the doors or changing the handles on the doors and drawers. It can be as easy or as simple as you want.

Reusing or upcycling your old furniture is not only saving finite natural resources, but also reduces the environmental effects associated with disposal. It can help local community groups and charities and ultimately support local people. So thinking about where your old sofa is going can make relaxing in your new one even better.

So before you head for the bin or the local household waste recycling centre, have a think about other uses for your unwanted bits and pieces. You`ll not only be helping the environment, but you could be saving yourself or someone in need some money too.

22nd September 2016 Recycling and Reuse

Thu, 22 Sep 2016

September 2016

Recycling and reuse

This month we have just had Recycle Week and we are now into Waste less, Live More Week. There are so many national awareness weeks these days but these two not only help us with ideas to look after the planet and be more green, but we can also save money if we just do even a few of the little tips suggested.

Recycle weeks theme this year was the `Unusual Suspects`, which aimed to get people to recycle things from all over the house as well as the normal everyday kitchen packaging and newspapers and magazines. There are such a lot of things that people forget about like things from the bathroom including shampoo bottles, soap boxes, deodorant cans and loo roll middles. Old towels and other textiles such as bedding can all be recycled in the local clothing / textile banks too.

Even better though than recycling is to Reuse. If you can`t reuse yourself then why not give things away to someone else who will. There are many reuse organisations and charity shops out there that will take everything from your old socks to large items of furniture. Freegle and Freecycle groups will list things for you that you want to give away for free and there are also many free giveaway pages on facebook too. Check out for information on getting things for free or unwanted furniture.

12th July 2016 What happens to our rubbish?

Tue, 12 Jul 2016

We all see the bin men rumbling around emptying our bins but what actually happens to the waste once they take it away? In Cumbria we have six district council areas and each one has a separate and different way of dealing with waste and recycling. Each district has the responsibility of the collection of household waste as well as collection of recycling.

Waste collected by districts which is NOT for recycling becomes the responsibility of the County Council for disposal. Traditionally this was sent to landfill but as we are running out of space the option for that is not viable for the future. In 2012 there were up to 140 landfills in the UK, but by the end of this decade there will only be between 40 and 50.

Cumbria has invested money in the opening of 2 Mechanical Biological Treatment plants (MBT`s) for the treatment of general household (dustbin/bin bag) waste. These plants are located in the North of the County at Carlisle and in the South of the County at Barrow. There are 3 transfer stations where waste is collected before being transported to the plants - this saves smaller bin lorries travelling long distances around the county. Wagons come into the plant and empty the waste into the reception pit. From there it is put through a shredder before being transferred into the drying hall. The drying hall contains rows of waste from around the county, each row being one days waste. It stays there for approx two weeks as it is dried out. This is done by drawing air down through the waste and out through the floor, the air is released through a bio filter outside which stops smells coming out of the plant. The waste is reduced in mass by around one third through this drying process. After this it is then put through a series of machines including sieves and magnets to take out any materials that can be recycled.

It is still very important to recycle properly at home. The new plants sort out any materials still in our bins that can be recycled but the quality of materials that comes out is nowhere near as high as those picked up by district kerbside collections.

It`s really easy to recycle in Cumbria. All of the six district councils operate kerbside recycling schemes which pick up a variety of materials. Cans, glass, paper, cardboard and plastic are picked up almost everywhere in a variety of different containers. It really is a simple and easy process. Just wash and squash if necessary and place in the container on your collection day. There are also a great number of Recycling Centres around the county where you can take any of the above and also additional materials such as tin foil and clothes.

If you need further information about what to recycle and where, or if you need a new recycling container please visit and follow the links to your district councils web page

12th July 2016 Recycle at Home and Away

Tue, 12 Jul 2016

Have you got the recycling habit? Many people recycle more at home than ever before, as three-quarters of us now report that we are recycling as a way of life. Cumbrian residents recycled 49.4% of their waste in the year ending Mar 2015, which goes a long way to reducing the amount of rubbish that ends up needing treatment, helping to protect our local environment and also saving precious natural resources.

However, there is still room for improvement and we can make an even bigger difference by making sure that we recycle whatever we can, whenever we can.

Doing more of what we already do at home - such as recycling a little more by remembering to recycle glass jars as well as bottles; or recycling things from upstairs as well as downstairs; can really make a difference to our environment. Some things do take a bit of effort, like swilling out the pet food cans and rinsing out shampoo and conditioner bottles - but it all helps.

If we all recycle one glass jar each week, we will have avoided over 2000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions. Over a year, this is equivalent to the impact of taking over 30,000 cars off the road - just by everyone recycling an extra glass jar each week! That`s a great reason to remember to rinse and recycle your pasta sauce jars.

Recycling bins are rarely found in the bathroom but this is where you`ll find lots of recyclable plastic bottles. Products like shower gel, shampoo and conditioner are usually in bottles made from HDPE which is the type of plastic that is easily recycled in this country. If we all recycled one extra plastic shampoo bottle each week, we would save enough energy in a year to power over 46,000 plasma televisions for a year.

If you`re already recycling all you can at home, why not try to recycle more when you`re out and about? When eating and drinking on the go, look out for the growing numbers of recycling facilities in town centres, shopping centres, theme parks and airports. If we all recycled two plastic drinks bottles and two drinks cans on our travels each week for a year, we would save almost 500,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent - the same impact as avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions from over 80,000 round the world flights. Recycling aluminium uses only around 5% of the energy and emissions needed to make it from scratch and the metal can be recycled time and time again, making drinks cans particularly important items to recycle.

Whatever the level of your current recycling habit, it`s reassuring to know that making even the smallest every day actions and changes has a cumulative effect and ultimately helps our environment, both locally and globally. Recycling really is well worth the effort.

To find out more about recycling in Cumbria, as well as other ways to reduce and reuse in the county, visit

Clothing Reuse

Thu, 19 May 2016

As summer draws ever nearer, the shops are now full of light and cool clothing. For those that have their holidays to come it`s great to finally be thinking of swapping your woolly jumper for a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. But with warmer weather here that`s exactly where our thoughts will be turning. It`s not just as simple as just new clothes, you`ll need to accessorise with a new pair of sandals, sunglasses or maybe some new swimwear and bag to complete the outfit.

If you are a slave to fashion it`s much easier to keep up as there is a huge choice of affordable garments available. The rise of value clothing and supermarket ranges means that prices are very competitive and this in turn has caused a great increase in the amounts of clothes we buy - in fact over 2 million tonnes are bought in the UK every year.

One of the downsides of cheap fashion is that clothing becomes more disposable. Textiles are one of the fastest growing waste product in the UK and the proportion of textile waste to other rubbish at landfill sites across the country has risen to over 30% in the last few years.

Throwing away clothes is a waste in more than one sense of the word. Large amounts of energy and raw materials are used and the manufacturing process itself generates waste - making one T-shirt creates almost half a kilo of waste.

Luckily there are lots of easy eco-friendly ways you can get your fashion fix and pass on your unwanted items. Check out your local charity shop when you take your old clothes to be donated. You could discover some great items for very little compared to high street prices - charity shop chic doesn`t have to just be for students!

There is a lot of interest in clothes swapping events which you can hold with family, friends or work colleagues, or you could look out for an organised `Swishing` event. The basic premise is you have to turn up with at least one item to swap, and in return you can choose anything you want. For further information check out Better still organise an event yourself.

You can of course donate through charity bags through your door or look out for village jumble sales organised to raise money for a good cause.

Next time you plan a clothes shopping trip, have a rummage through your wardrobe and make a list of what you need. That way you won`t be making any duplications. Consider focusing on quality if you can as this will probably last longer making it a good way of helping the environment.

A lot of clothes these days are made from recycled or reused items. Jackets made from recycled plastic bottles are readily available as well as shirts from recycled cotton and shoes with car tyre soles. These are just a few of the resourceful ways that clothing companies are using to try to be more green.

So enjoy the coming summer and when the time comes to put the shorts away afterwards for winter, remember that you can be a slave to fashion without spending a fortune. It`s worth remembering that what goes around comes around - that forgotten item in the back of the wardrobe from years ago is probably high fashion again now!

For more information on how to `love your clothes` have a look at

Spring Composting

Thu, 19 May 2016

Just like us our gardens need fed. A great way to do this is to make your own compost. You don`t need a massive space for a compost bin and home made compost is a great and healthy way to feed your plants without the need for artificial fertilisers. Vegetables will grow in many types of soil, from light sand to clay. But veg are greedy, some more than others and if your soil is low in nutrients your veg will starve and your crop won`t be very good. Digging in plenty of organic compost will encourage a healthy crop. Householders in the UK throw away around 4 million tonnes of waste every year that could have been composted so why not do something useful with it instead.

Composting at home couldn`t be easier. It`s a natural process and as long as you put in the right ingredients you should be successful. A 50/50 mix of `greens` (tea bags, vegetable peelings, fruit scraps, old flowers, grass cuttings, spent bedding plants) and `browns` (garden prunings, coffee grounds, tissues and paper napkins, cardboard egg boxes, shredded or scrunched up paper, junk mail), makes great compost. Remember you can also put in egg shells (to provide minerals to aid plant growth), animal and human hair ( good place to empty the tats out of your hairbrush) and even the contents of your vacuum cleaner

Don`t add meat fish or dairy products to your compost bin as this can attract vermin. Cooked vegetables and diseased plants should also be kept out as they can spoil your compost mix. Within nine months to a year your compost will be mature enough to use. We get a lot of people coming to us saying `my composter isn`t working, there`s no compost in there`. Don`t forget you won`t see it if you`re only looking in the top of your bin - that`s the bit where you should see all the recently added material crawling (hopefully) with worms, slugs and other bugs all chomping away. Where you need to look is behind the little door/hatch at the bottom of the bin. This is where you`ll find your `garden gold`. Finished compost is always at the bottom of the bin. You`ll know it`s ready when the compost has turned into a dark, crumbly soil-like substance. Remember to keep adding greens and browns to top up the bin as the material at the bottom matures.

A simple compost heap is great if you`ve got space but many people prefer to use a compost bin to contain the heap and keep their garden tidy, particularly if they are short of space. Cumbria County Council has a subsidised compost bin scheme that offers several sizes and styles of bin. This year prices have gone down and you can get yours for as little as £7 (plus delivery) which is a great incentive to get started

For more information you can visit or or by calling 0844 571 4444.

Easter and packaging

Tue, 26 Apr 2016

This year is flying by, and it`s Easter already. Supermarkets have been displaying Easter eggs for the last couple of months, but most people may have only just been thinking of Easter over the past week or so, or leaving it until the last minute.

The name Easter owes its origin to Eoster or Eastre an Anglo-Saxon goddess of light and the dawn who was honoured at pagan festivals celebrating the arrival of spring. The custom of giving eggs however has been traced back even further to the Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans for whom the egg was a symbol of life. The UK`s first chocolate egg was produced by Frys of Bristol in 1873.

After Christmas, Easter is the biggest chocolate-selling period of the year. In the UK, approximately 80 million chocolate eggs are sold each year, costing a staggering £299m, which can work out as average of £75 per household. The average number of eggs each child in the UK receives is 8 and the packaging from chocolate eggs, along with Easter cards, generates a whopping 8,000 tonnes of waste.

While chocolate eggs are a tasty treat that many of us like to enjoy at this time of year, they are often over packaged, with many of them encased in plastic that can`t be recycled in some areas, ending up in landfill.

However, it`s not all bad news. Easter egg packaging has dramatically reduced with manufacturers having reduced box sizes, which in turn has reduced the weight of the packaging. The cardboard used is now made from recycled materials, and many eggs now come without any plastic and include clear instructions of how to recycle the packaging.

Even with this reduction in packaging, there are some alternatives to Easter eggs and cards that might just save you some cash, as well as the environment.

If you want to send an Easter card to friends or family, make sure that it`s made from recycled material. Or you could try sending an e-card, available from a whole host of different websites.

To reduce packaging completely from your chocolate eggs, you could try making your own. Kits are available from various sites on the internet and they can be used again and again. Better still, you can choose your favourite chocolate to make your eggs.

You might also consider other tasty craft ideas, such as crispy birds` nests. Made from Rice Crispies and chocolate, these treats will not only taste great and save on packaging, they also have the added bonus of being a great activity to get the kids involved in over the holidays.

If you`d like an Easter activity that doesn`t involve chocolate, why not try your hand at making traditional hand-painted Easter eggs, known as PAAS Eggs. Derived from the word `Pasen`, the Pennsylvania Dutch word for Easter, this activity focuses on decorating hens eggs with a variety of paints and dyes, including natural onion skins. Using ribbons, the finished eggs can be hung from small potted branches creating a mini Easter tree.

So just remember whatever you are doing this year, hopefully in some warm spring sunshine, to enjoy your chocolate treats and recycle the packaging. Have a cracking Easter!

Paper and Junk Mail

Tue, 26 Apr 2016

Paper Recycling and Junk Mail.

You only need to look around to see that paper is everywhere and is essential to our everyday lives.

A typical office wastes 77% of the paper it generates, paper which could easily be recycled. Most of that is high grade paper. A few simple steps in the office can cut this down and there really isn`t any need to put it in the bin. Our top tips for the office are:

  1. Only print if you really have to.
  2. Make two sided copies
  3. Make flyers A5 then you can get two to a page.
  4. Use old paper as a scrap pad
  5. Have a recycling bin by the photocopier /printer for unwanted sheets of paper.

If we can all do these it will really cut down on the amount of paper ending up in the general waste stream

So that`s the office, but what about at home? The average UK family throws away 6 trees worth of paper every year. That`s the equivalent of around 3600 average sized newspapers or magazines. We have improved over the last few years though, in fact around 70% of the paper we use is now recovered for recycling.

We could however reduce the amount of paper we have to recycle by stopping it before it ever gets to us. A good proportion of the paper we get comes through our doors as junk mail, in fact the average household receives around 320 pieces of unaddressed mail every year.

There are various ways to cut down on junk mail. The first is by registering with the Mail Preference Service, or MPS. The MPS offer a free service enabling people to have their names and addresses removed from lists used by the direct mailing industry. You can sign up online at

The Royal Mail Door to Door service delivers unaddressed mail such as brochures and leaflets from various organisations. You can opt out with them at

You can also register with the Your Choice scheme to reduce unaddressed mail delivered by the Direct Marketing Association, or DMA. To opt out you need to email to request an opt out form.

You can also visit your local library and pick up a Recycle for Cumbria `No Junk Mail` letterbox sticker. Details of how to sign up to the MPS are on the back and the sticker goes on your letterbox to remind delivery agents of your choice not to receive junk mail, free newspapers, flyers or circulars. There are three to choose from so go and get yours today.

Between all of these services you should be able to significantly cut down on the amount of paper coming through your letterbox. Remember also that most households in Cumbria do have a recycling service provided by our District Councils. This usually takes the form of a kerbside collection or a bank in the local recycling centre. For more details on your local recycling services follow the links from

Furniture Reuse and Upcycling

Wed, 27 Jan 2016

Christmas and New Year are finally over and while it is a happy festive time of the year, for many people this year it has been quite traumatic with the recent flooding. Skips by the roadside containing the entire contents of people`s houses have been a sad sight in many places around the county. Bulky items such as furniture, carpets and white goods ruined by flood water and piled high for collection and disposal.

Bulky household, and particularly furniture waste is thrown out and a problem at the best of times. In Cumbria in 2014-2015 over 3000 tonnes of bulky waste was discarded by households and sent direct to landfill. It is estimated that around one third of this furniture would have been good enough to be reused, and with some minor repairs to other items, almost half could have been saved from disposal .

There is always something new and just like fashionable clothing we like to keep our furniture up to date and on trend. A lot of older furniture, although solid, isn`t always attractive enough to fit in with our modern expectations. This is where Upcycling can come in. Upcycling is an even greener way of recycling where you make an item appealing again or find a new purpose for it rather than resorting to throwing it away. That sad old chest of drawers can be sanded back and given a lick of paint to brighten them up. Chairs can be reupholstered with a brighter modern fabric and you can even give your kitchen a cheap makeover by painting the doors or changing the handles on the doors and drawers. It can be as easy or as simple as you want. Older furniture is languishing out there in many second hand furniture warehouses just waiting for someone with a little inspiration to give it a little bit of TLC and transform it into something unique.

Of course not everyone has the time or the artistic temperament to upcycle a large item of furniture. You can still however make sure it isn`t thrown away by donating it to your local furniture reuse centre or charity shop therefore increasing the chances of it being used by others. There are many options available throughout Cumbria and details can be found by visiting Furniture reuse centres are a great way to prevent perfectly good solid furniture from ending up in landfill and get those still useful items into the homes of people who may want and need them.

Reusing or upcycling your old furniture is not only saving finite natural resources, but also reduces the environmental effects associated with disposal. It can help local community groups and charities and ultimately support local people. So thinking about where your old sofa is going can make relaxing in your new one even better - especially if it goes to someone who has had no choice but to throw theirs in a skip due to the horrible recent flooding.

Make do and mend

Thu, 14 Jan 2016

Today we all have very busy lives, trying to keep up with family and work commitments whilst also trying to fit in a bit of rest and recreation. There are many great things that can help us manage our time but unfortunately not all of them are good for the world around us. We tend to live in a throwaway society because more often than not it`s just as easy to throw something away than fix it. Worn or old clothing, buttons coming off, broken zips? Theproblem is that clothes have now become so cheap in places that it often is cheaper to throw them away and buy new. But when you look into it, it really isn`t.

We now know of course that resources aren`t infinite. Back in the 1940`s wartime housewives lived by the philosophy of `make do and mend`. They knew how to stretch out their scarce resources because they didn`t know where the next things were coming from. Many of those ideas are still totally relevant today. You can save money all over the place if you`re careful and willing to embrace what may sometimes be strange ideas. Wartime cleaning staples were white wine vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle is a great way to clean glass, buff off with a piece of newspaper for a great sparkle. Bicarbonate of soda on a damp cloth will get worktops and surfaces spotless. For tough stains make a paste and leave for a while before wiping. Slightly more unusual, badly scuffed leather shoes can be rejuvenated by rubbing with half a raw potato before wiping clean and polishing as normal. You can always save on polish too by shining your shoes with the inside of a banana skin. Leave to dry then buff with a soft cloth. There are loads of great tips out there which will not only save money but are also a great green alternative. Many modern chemicals aren`t great for us or the environment and they usually come in packaging produced from carbon intensive manufacturing.

Mind you it`s all very well knowing what to do around the house but keeping our clothes going for longer can be much more difficult. When we`ve lost a button, broken a zip or have a hole in a sock, darning, sewing and general repairs just don`t come naturally to most people. Have a look around your local area to see if there are any classes running at your community centre, maybe there`s a local WI group you could join or maybe just go and ask Grandma! Our family speciality was hand crocheted blankets made from wool from old jumpers and cardigans. They`re still bright and beautiful and going strong, just wish I`d got one of my old aunties to show me how while I had the chance. Still it`s never too late to learn. There are many websites out there too which can also give you a good idea and help you to get started, try and for helpful sewing basics.

If its simply that you don`t like or have maybe outgrown things then you could either donate to a charity shop and give someone else a chance to find a good bargain or you could have a clothes swapping party or `Swishing` event with your friends or neighbours. Swishing is a new popular way of either giving away or paying a small fee for great unwanted clothes. More information on how to have a swishing party can be found at or under the Resourceful Communities section.

You still can`t beat the real thing

Wed, 23 Sep 2015

If you`re looking forward to the arrival of a new baby in your family, you`ll know that there can be a lot of expense involved. From prams and cots to baby baths and clothing - the shopping list of essentials needed to care for a newborn can be pricey! However, there is one important area where you can choose an option that not only saves precious cash but also benefits the environment - nappies.

The average child in the UK has nearly 6000 nappy changes in their lifetime - that adds up to a lot of expense for something that ends up in the bin! An alternative to disposable nappies is to try real nappies, which are washable and reusable. Choosing real nappies saves you money (around £500 or more compared to the cost of disposables), which is an important saving in the current economic climate.

Real nappies are promoted across the UK mainly because of their environmental and financial benefits. The UK throws away around 3 billion disposable nappies every year with most ending up in landfill. Real nappies not only divert waste from landfill but they can be up to 40% better for the environment than using disposables helping parents actively reduce their carbon footprint.

Real nappies are made from natural, breathable fabrics that are comfortable next to a baby`s skin. The outer layer of a real nappy is made from a soft, breathable waterproof fabric to prevent leaks and clever designs mean that real nappies are very easy to use, requiring little or no folding and fastened by poppers or Velcro. Even the humble nappy pin has been replaced by a clever fastening device that has put an end to pricked fingers and tummies!

Modern washing machines make cleaning real nappies a breeze and biodegradable, flushable nappy liners can be used to catch the messy stuff. The rest of the nappy can be washed at 40 or 60 degrees and then dried on your washing line, on an airing rack or in the tumble drier.

Real nappies are durable and last a long time, meaning that they can be used for two, three or more babies (either your own, or someone else`s - `pre loved` real nappies are in demand and can save you even more money!).

And here`s one more great reason to try real nappies: Cumbrian residents with a baby under 6 months old can apply for a money-off voucher from the Cumbria Real Nappy Campaign to use against their first purchase of real nappies from participating retailers (full terms and conditions on the nappy campaign website).

So there are plenty of good reasons to give real nappies a try but if you`re new to the idea of real nappies, by far the best way to find out more is to see them for yourself and speak to an expert. The Cumbria Real Nappy Campaign team are often out and about doing talks and demonstrations, so keep an eye out for an event near you. Cumbria also has a fantastic network of friendly and experienced real nappy retailers, many of whom are happy to visit you at home or with a group to talk about real nappies.

For more information on real nappies, Cumbria`s network of local retailers and the money-off voucher scheme, visit or call 0845 055 1118.

Enjoy the summer, waste less

Thu, 20 Aug 2015

Summer has finally arrived and when the sun makes an appearance we all flock outside to enjoy it while it lasts.

At this time of year, we all enjoy eating outdoors, having BBQ`s and experimenting with seasonal foods. The summer has a great abundance of seasonal foods, whether you`ve grown them yourselves in your allotment or garden, or bought them from your local greengrocer. If you are keen to try something different, but don`t know what to do with it, have a look on the Love Food Hate Waste website to recipe ideas.

If you are having a BBQ, try to avoid having lots of food leftover. Prepare only enough food for how many people are coming round. If you have fresh products, like bread, that would go stale if you put them outside, keep it covered and in the shade to keep it fresh. The Love Food Hate Waste website has lots of hints & tips on how to store food correctly to keep it fresher for longer.
When clearing up after a BBQ/social meal, some leftovers may be avoidable. See if any of the leftovers can be saved for another meal and put them in the fridge for tomorrow`s lunch. Unvoidable leftovers can be cleared away straight into a food waste digester that sits in the garden. Any leftover meat, bread, pasta, chicken bones, can be scraped straight into the food waste digester to avoid putting it in the bin. If you haven`t already got a food waste digester, they are similar to a compost bin but can accept all cooked & uncooked food waste. The Green Johanna turns all your leftovers into lovely compost that can then be used on the garden. The Green Cone rots all your food waste into the ground. Cumbrian householders can buy food waste digesters for as little as £15 with free delivery from

If you have a compost bin, you can still put some of the leftovers in here, if they are uncooked leftovers. You may have fruit & veg peelings from when you prepared the meal that can go straight into the compost bin, or leftover salad that is not going to get eaten up. These can go in your compost bin and by next spring it will have turned into lovely compost that can be used on the garden. To find out further information about our discounted compost bins, look on

The summer is also a great time to get the children taking part in activities outdoors. This can include organised events but can also be quick, free activities in your own garden or in the local park. Children are always happy to get messy, so why not get them planting seeds in reused plant pots. They could decorate the pots first to make them unique to them. They could use their imagination to make little unique characters that could sit in the garden from reused items in the house that you no longer need or want. Most areas within the county have local Freegle groups or local Facebook Seek & Sell pages, if you need to ask for items for new projects outside or for children`s reuse activities.


There is such a thing as a free lunch!

Fri, 7 Aug 2015

I enjoyed a delicious community meal organised by Sustainable Carlisle and hosted by Trinity Area Community Trust . Local businesses donated food that would otherwise have been wasted. Volunteers turned it in to a tasty meal of chilli, rice, and salad with deserts to follow. And then lots of people turned up to enjoy a meal for free!

It was a fun social event with a mix of people of all ages and lively conversation. I`d definitely go along to another. Who said there`s no such thing as a free lunch? Sometimes there is. And it brings the community together and reduces food waste too!

It was a really enjoyable event and it would be great to support / promote more of these. They would be a good opportunity to promote some food waste messages, and also to achieve social benefit e.g. a decent meal for those who might not otherwise eat well or have the opportunity to get out. So if you know of any such events going on or would even like to set something up yourself then please get in touch by emailing


Re-use - It`s like recycling, only better!

Thu, 30 Jul 2015

So we`re pretty good recyclers here in Cumbria - we recycle almost half of the rubbish we generate. But do you know what`s even better than recycling? Reusing. Find a new use, or even a new home for a household item that may have been deemed useless or surplus to requirements and may have found its way to the bin.

We`ve all heard the term throwaway society. That`s the term that gets banded about when we would rather throw something away than find another use for something. Well we say no to the throwaway society. We say long life the reuse society!

For most people, the terms "reuse" and "recycle" are one and the same. After all, when you reused the old plastic bottles lying around the garage as small decorative garden pots, you recycled them, too. Strictly speaking, however, the terms have different meanings in the eco-friendly movement.

When you use the term reuse, you utilize the product/item in its original form, often with just a little parts repair and/or replacement to make it fit to be used again by other individuals. On the other hand, to recycle means to destroy the item/product so as to scavenge the parts that can be used to produce new items.

As an example, you`ve just bought a new integrated washing machine as part of that brand new kitchen you have been planning. What do you do with the old one? Do you reuse it or recycle it? If you reuse it, you would contact a third sector collector, list it on eBay or facebook or perhaps even offer it for free on Freegle. Your washing machine gets reused as is and you can make other individuals, who have need of a washing machine but perhaps cannot afford it, happy. If you opt to recycle it, you take it along to your household waste recycling centre where it will ultimately be stripped of its internal components for resale, when and where possible, and the metal and plastics separated and melted. These melted materials are, in turn, used to make new washing machines.

Recycling is great of course and we should all recycle as much as we can - it conserves natural resources and minimises our reliance on virgin materials. But it does require energy to reconvert old items into new. Reuse is different - often the only energy used is the brain power it takes to think of a creative way of reusing an old item. There is no additional strain on the Earth`s resources and no stress on your pockets.

So the next time you have something which, on the face of it, no longer holds any use for you. Take the reuse challenge and offer it to a new owner as is. If it needs a quick repair or a little cosmetic face lift - have a go or find somebody who has these skills and will help. And if you`re feeling creative, change its purpose and make it useful for you once again. And if you need a little inspiration you need look no further than the internet. Often a simple google search will suggest a raft of ideas regardless of what it is you are trying to reuse.

If you do choose to reuse, we`d love to hear about it. Share your projects with us on Twitter @recycle4cumbria or via Facebook/recycleforcumbria. Who knows, perhaps you could even inspire others to do the same.


What`s up with Food Waste?

Fri, 22 May 2015

Did you know that by simply being a bit more organised you could save yourself £60 a month! That`s £720 a year; imagine what you could spend that on?

You could save this huge amount of money by simply thinking more about the food you eat. An average family will throw away about £60 worth of food a month that has been bought but not eaten. This could be saved by taking a few simple steps to prevent food waste in your home. Also, saving money does not have to mean cutting down on the indulgence and fun with food.

Do you plan your meals at the start of the week? If you plan your meals before you go shopping, you will only buy what you need rather than opportunistic buying and then not using the items you`ve bought. Maybe you could write a weekly meal planner so you know what meals you are having and what items you need to buy. This will also prevent everyone in the family getting home in an evening and not having a meal prepared and wanting to create something quickly that everyone will enjoy. In this situation, if you are store cupboard savvy you will know that you can create a quick meal from ingredients that are sitting in your store cupboard. In there you will find a variety of canned or dried food, pasta, noodles or rice that you know your family love to eat. These are all essentials ingredients to have in your kitchen that have a long shelf life - meaning you will always have the ingredients standing by to pull together a delicious meal.

Ensure you write a shopping list before you go shopping, and then remembering to take the list with you! This way, you will only buy what you need and you don`t end up buying things you already have!
When you finally know what you`re cooking and you`re kitchen cupboards are full of food, you then need to know how many people you are cooking for. If you cook the correct sized portions, you are then less likely to have food leftover. If you find you have leftovers, think about what you could do with them. Could they be used the next day in a meal, could you have them for lunch, or could you freeze them for a future meal? If you are freezing them, ensure you label the container with what it is otherwise you`ll end up playing freezer roulette when you pull items out of the freezer.

If you stick to these helpful hints you will cut down on your food waste, and save yourself some money too. Try it and see how much you can save. Try downloading the food waste diary from the Love Food Hate Waste website, and see how much of a difference you can make to your purse.


Lifting the lid on the mysteries of your compost bin

Fri, 24 Apr 2015

It`s that time of the year again when we`re all hoping the sun will stay out long enough for us to get our gardens in order for the new season. Some of us will have a compost bin that we take delight in filling all year round others may just use it as a means of keeping the garden tidy. Spring is however a good time to literally turn over a new `leaf` and get a new compost bin started.

Composting can be a bit of a mystery for some of us - that big black bin sits in the darkest corner of the garden and occasionally we lift the lid and put something in. It can be difficult to know if anything is actually happening inside and one of the most common questions we get is how long does it take to make compost, I`ve put things in but nothing is happening? Quite often people haven`t actually looked in the little door at the bottom of the bin to see what is there - a quick look will confirm if you have some lovely crumbly compost or perhaps something that doesn`t look quite right.
Grass cuttings, potato peelings, broccoli stalks, outside leaves off cauliflower and cabbage, old plants and flowers, apple cores and banana skins - it might be obvious that these are things you can put into a compost bin but there are even more that are not as obvious. These are all things that will rot down really quickly inside a composter but if you just put them in you may not get quite the result you are looking for as you could just end up with a bin full of sludgy wet smelly material. To make good compost your bin needs a balanced diet.

You should also be adding drier materials like paper and cardboard to balance things out. Toilet roll middles and cardboard egg boxes are great and should be put in without being squashed as they are really good for making air spaces which heat up and aid the rotting process. You can also put in eggshells, used teabags, straw bedding from vegetarian pets, hedge clippings and even hair and finger nails when you have a trim. The secret is to keep a good balance of both wet and dry materials and hey presto the magic should work! Also keeping your bin somewhere sunny instead of the darkest corner of the garden will make a huge difference.

So really it isn`t a mystery at all, it`s a great way of dealing with some of your garden waste (you may want to use your garden waste bin as well if you are lucky enough to be on a collection round), and a fab way of getting rid of all that uncooked kitchen waste too - it would only be going in the dustbin otherwise so why not make use of it instead. Compost is a great natural fertiliser for your garden and will help those of you budding gardeners grow your own lovely healthy fresh fruit and vegetables.

So why not get yourself a compost bin today and get your garden growing. Cumbria County Council are offering two different sizes of compost bin at greatly discounted prices starting at £9 (plus delivery). Visit and get yours today.


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