Happy New Year all and welcome to 2015!
I have a good feeling about this year. I can feel it in my bins! Of all the years I’ve been talking rubbish, I predict that 2015 will be the kick-ass year for us to care even more about waste and give rubbish a bloody good boot up the backside.
After all, last year was already a great one. 2014 saw even more bloggers like Mommy Emu, Westy Writes and Eco Thrifty giving more detailed attention to waste, taking action and sharing their ideas with their readers and communities. National Zero Waste Week (organised by Rachelle Strauss) was also the biggest ever and my own project The Rubbish Diet, – thanks to funding from WLWA and the hard work of my partner Cwm Harry – spread even further through West London communities as well as continuing to attract increasing numbers of like-minded people to join us online.
Keep Britain Tidy’s Waste Less Live More Week drew together many co-ordinated activities and 2014 also brought a new name to the scene in the form of Hubbub. Lauren Singer from New York (founder of Trash is for Tossers) also made international headlines and created strong Twitter and media support for having created no waste for two years. Meanwhile, enthusiasm for Make Do and Mend and Upcycling has been going from strength-to-strength thanks to Make It And Mend It, Jen Gale’s Twitter based #Makedoandmendhour and Remade in Britain’s #UpcycledHour. When it comes to reducing plastic My Plastic Free’s Beth Terry and Kate from Plastic is Rubbish have kept the conversation going, building on their previous research and discoveries.
The last 12 months has also witnessed the growth of Restart Parties, helping people to fix electronics, Tristram Stuart’s Gleaning Project activities that rescue surplus food from farms and the rise of cafés that tackle poverty and isolation issues while turning surplus food into valuable meals. There are challenges but what is clear is the public and community support to make such initiatives work. Take the Real Junk Food Project for example.
Fareshare has strengthened its support from supermarkets in 2014. Elsewhere Love Food Hate Waste’s team took to the community to share its knowledge, launching in 10 cities around the UK. Further afield, the team is exporting its expertise to Metro Vancouver, in Canada, which also happens to be the home of the creators of the Just Eat It: Food Waste movie, which made headlines and impact at international film festivals in 2014.
So at the start of 2015, I am filled with positive vibes that over the next year we will see more individuals, organisations and communities strive forward to create change.
Although the political commitments still look unbalanced, especially from Europe, I have confidence that the UK’s resource industry will lobby effectively, as will Zero Waste Europe. Election year will make 2015 even more interesting and any party that doesn’t put the Circular Economy and food security at the heart of its policies and manifesto will show itself to be shortsighted and blinkered.
So what else is on my personal watch-list and goals for 2015? I’m particularly looking forward to the development of WRAP’s Courtauld 2025 farm-to-fork framework to further tackle food waste, which will be announced soon. I am also keen to explore what this means at a county level, highlighting good practice and issues around where I live in Suffolk. I continue to have high ambitions for our county and I want 2015 to be the year that our our households, communities and organisations pull together to to deepen learning and awareness and to develop solutions and commitments. Big talk, I know, but I believe it’s possible and I’ll be sharing my New Year’s Resolutions in this area on BBC Suffolk tomorrow morning.
I shall also continue to support the great work of Reuseful UK, the umbrella organisation that looks after the interests of scrapstores, helping to turn surplus manufacturing materials and retail goods into creative supplies for local communities. The important work of WasteAid International is on my agenda too, helping to raise awareness of such a vital role in helping to connect poor and vulnerable communities with waste management resources and expertise.
However, my key personal goal for 2015 is to continue to strengthen the development and growth of The Rubbish Diet, so that it can help inspire further action at home and in our local communities. We’ve already had a streets take the diet and church groups. It’s even been introduced to an island. And this year I want to see more community groups sign up. and bigger islands. Maybe I’ll wait for 2016 before suggesting the Great British Rubbish Diet – I don’t want our Project Director to have kittens quite yet.
When I made my first New Year’s Resolution to reduce my family’s waste, this time of year in 2008 and then accepted the challenge of a Zero Waste Week, I learned how much impact we can have, individually, at home. It also gave me first hand of experience of how good it felt to have better control over something that I thought was uncontrollable, how satisfying it was to save money from being more resourceful and how powerful a contribution it was to tackling resource scarcity and contributing factors to climate change. And I mustn’t forget the marital harmony of getting my husband on board.
Who’d guess that so much could be achieved from taking an unexpected interest in your kitchen bin. It’s imagining the impact of that change hundreds of thousands times over, if not millions, that keeps my enthusiasm and commitment going. And all we ask at The Rubbish Diet is for people to look at their bin as a research centre, to set their own waste reduction goal and take two small steps – the first to get to really understand their recycling and the next to find their own solutions to tackle food waste.
With a great team managed by my project partner, Cwm Harry, 2015 should be a great year, building on everything that’s been achieved so far, helping more homes and communities slim their bins, particularly in West London.
It’s going to be an exciting year, especially as we connect even more people to those who are making innovation happen, bringing to life what goes on beyond our bins.
People often refer to The Rubbish Diet as a campaign but it’s more than that. Personally, I like to think of it as an experience.
And to experience what it’s like, please join us in making 2015 the year that we really make a difference to the UK’s waste. Join us and pledge to try the diet and to Love Your Bin. You can sign up at www.therubbishdiet.org.uk.
Now talking of 2015 pledges, I pledged to join Team Honk at the Red Nose Danceathon in March. Fancy joining me? We can share rubbish tips while we dance. I’ll leave that with you while I go and practice a few steps. I’m going have to dance for 6 hours so I’d better start getting fit now – but don’t worry, that photo isn’t actually of me waltzing with my bin.
Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who has supported The Rubbish Diet in 2014 as well as my local antics in Suffolk.
Best wishes for 2015 and a Happy New Year to you all.