Keeping Your Wheelie Bin Clean

Throwing out rubbish is part of the routine for every household in the country. No matter how much you like to hoard old possessions, you’ll still need to chuck away the consumables when they’re done.

Empty milk cartons, food packaging and so on are all recyclable these days, so everyone is trying to do their bit and get recycling right.

That doesn’t make things easy though, knowing what can go into each bin feels like it needs a university degree in itself.

Recycling Confusion By Area

Plastic recycling is widespread, but depending where you live you might be able to throw almost all plastic in, or perhaps it’s much stricter in your area, and they’ll only take bottles.

It gets more complicate still of course – it plastic bottles with the lids on or off? Do you need to rinse them out? All of these are common questions that residents face when trying to navigate the world of wheelie bins and recycling.

Of course, in most cases it’s a simple job to look it up on the council website. However, when you’re cleaning the kitchen, do you really want to be pulling out your phone or nipping to the computer to check the recycling rules on the web? Probably not.

It’s for all of these reasons (and more) that recycling is seen as a complete pain in the you-know-what by households, and you even get people disagreeing in the same house about whether a yoghurt pot should be going in the recycling or not. It’s just too difficult, and the answer often depends on where you live.

Recycling Confusion By Time

What’s more, rules change over time – and the lid on or lid off arguments are a perfect example of that. A decade ago, a majority of areas around the country were saying bottles could only be recycled with lids removed, whereas we’re now being told the exact opposite by the very same people!

It really is no wonder that people are confused – how can we expect people to get it right when the rules keep changing, and they weren’t exactly straightforward in the first place?

While that all sounds a bit like a rant, and to a degree it probably is years of frustration spilling out onto the keyboard as I type this, there is good news.

Progress Is Slow

Gradually, and by that I do mean very slowly, there is a move towards consistency between councils, as they all have a common goal (which really means financial incentive) to recycle as much as possible. We’re nothing like as good as Scandinavian countries yet, Sweden are a great example in leading the way, now starting to hit their target of recycling 65% of all packaging (not just plastic – everything).

As a comparison, in the UK the most like for like statistic hasn’t quite hit 50% yet. While that differential of 15% doesn’t sound much, it’s a huge lead. Catching up to them and closing the lead would cost billions, and countries like Sweden are already there. A lot of the difference comes from mindset, your average Swede cares a lot more about their environment than the average Brit. As a very visual illustration, If you check the inside of someone’s bins in Sweden, they’re likely to be clean – in Britain, not a chance. That’s a symptom of the time and care people give to green initiatives, if it’s easy in the UK we’re happy to oblige, but not so much if it takes effort.

Can We Just Make The Rules Simple?

In the UK we need to escape from the disillusionment we’ve reached when it comes to recycling. Councils need to stop the silly rules, and figure out how to just accept plastic. All plastic. Then worry about separating it out at the depots. The key to recycling being widespread is making it easy for residents – everything else can follow.

So, if we’re going to take a leaf out of the book of our European friends, let’s take more of an interest in looking after our waste rather than moaning about missed bin collections, not being able to fit in all the waste we’re creating and so on.

If we’re living in a two person home and have an overflowing bin every week, that should be telling us we’re being wasteful, not that the bins aren’t big enough. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the normal rubbish bin or a recycle bin either – kidding ourselves its fine to use more if the waste is recycled is incredibly backward thinking.

Let’s Just Waste Less

Recycling is better than landfill, but not creating waste in the first place is far better. Buy what you need and no more. Use what you need and no more. Two rules to live by right there.

So, are we going to convince all of our friends and neighbours to get into the habit of cleaning spills out of their wheelie bins after each collection day? Probably not, let’s pick our battles wisely.

A realistic goal would be getting people to think more about their addition to the disposable. We’re all too reliant on single use packaging and throwing things away because it’s easy.

Once the waste we’re creating is down, maybe then we can start to think about rinsing out the bins a bit more regularly. Less smelly bins has got to be a plus after all.

A word of advice though, if you’re going to put the effort in and clean out your bins regularly, invest in some number stickers to put on your bins, as you can bet that if you don’t, one of the neighbours will take in your nice clean bin on the next collection day. It’ll be a complete accident though, of course.

Preparing My Own

Becoming more and more aware of where the food I eat comes from and how it’s been prepared, I’ve started to question the products that I buy from the supermarket. When you often have little time to prepare food for yourself at home, it can be easy to fall into buying fruit and vegetables that have already been sorted for you. All you need to do when you get home is get them out to eat. Sticking them straight onto a plate or into a bowl, or heating them up as directed first, the food is quickly and easily ready to go.

This has kept my life simple. However now, after watching programme after programme on TV and reading various articles online, I’m starting to question whether the food I eat would be a better option if I prepared it myself. Some of the most common products I buy, ready prepared and simple to serve, are fruits and vegetables. From literally needing me to open the packet and pop them straight out to eat, to having to heat them up in the microwave first, serving the fruit and vegetables I usually buy is generally easy. One of the downsides though for me, as well as thinking twice about what’s already happened to the food when it’s been made, is that I don’t always feel that it tastes as good I expect it to or want it to. I have a gut instinct that if I am set to prepare them for myself, I could be enjoying my food even more.

Bearing my self-questioning in mind, I’ve decided to give getting fruit and vegetables ready to cook and serve myself a go. My starting point is to make sure I have some handy tools ready to avoid the risk of it taking me too long. If preparing the meals takes a long time, I know I’ll end up quitting. To reduce the danger of this I’ve done a bit of looking round and chatting to people to work out what’s going to help me. Here’s what I’ve settled for.

Option 1

These fruit and veg chopping machines look amazing. Available as manual or electronic devices there are a huge variety of these products out there. The size of the machines does vary but in general they don’t appear to take up a huge amount of surface space. The amount and size of things that the machine can prepare is influenced by the capacity of the container the food goes into and the size of the chopper and its opening. As well as this, it seems that their preparation options are cover all sorts of choices. From grating the food at various sizes to slicing and dicing and in some cases puréeing them there are loads of things the products can do for you. Quite a few of the machines I’ve seen come with lids that fix to the base food boxes too meaning you can store them inside the fridge nice and easily if you want or need to.

Option 2

Going for a salad I have prepared myself I want to make sure that the ingredients have been washed carefully. I have to say, particularly in the case of the lettuce choice I often make, I was worried about the leaves being too wet and leaving a puddle of water on my plate which would be most likely to put me off. Chatting to my Mum, she reminded me that we’d had a salad spinner at home when I was a kid. If you’ve never heard of them, check out I know remember being obsessed with using it whenever I could simply because I found it fun.

The salad spinners come with a main bowl. Inside this there’s a basket which has holes in it. The basket is what you need to add your salad items to. Some people pre rinse them before putting them into the basket, whereas some put them in then rinse them before placing it inside the main bowl. Once the bowl and basket are together, the lid is simply put on top.

Now what I think I’ll still find fun begins. After making sure the lids on properly (follow the instructions that come with it), you spin the basket inside using the handle on top of the lid. When you think it’s done, stop spinning, take off the lid and get the basket out. How to drain the bowl varies from product to product, but in most cases the bowls themselves can be simply used to serve the salad you’ve created.

Option 3

I already know that in some cases, vegetables and fruits offer you more benefits if you leave their skins on them. As well as this though, I also know that I prefer to eat some products, depending on how they’re being served, without it on. If I’m honest, that’s been one of the reasons why I used to just buy stuff already prepared. My food technology teacher at school taught me how to take the skins off potatoes when I in my early teens, and even now as an adult I’ve still not really got any faster. With the amount of time it takes me, I’ve always avoided bothering and instead getting the pre prepared options from the shops.

What I’d not realised, having been taught like this not only at school but also at home, was that fruit and vegetable peelers are a thing. We didn’t even have them in my own house when I was a kid. My friends find my lack of knowledge quiet amusing. I now know that you can buy all kinds of peelers. Most of them come along with metal blades sticking out from the main, often plastic handle. The handles look like they’re designed to be ergonomic, so unlike risking to cut my fingers when knife peeling, these are likely to protect my hands.

Just to let you know… Having recently been invited to share a meal with my friends, they got me to help prepare the food using a peeler! All I can say is what a winner! Much safer for me than a knife and in some ways, I even found it quiet cathartic.

How To Get The Cheapest

Ten years ago, solar panels were tipped to be the next big thing. They’d already been available for decades, but the cost had been prohibitive for most home owners.

Government initiatives have been and gone, trying to incentivise green energy and reduce the UK’s dependence upon imported gas and electricity. Most of these have now fallen by the wayside, but there are a few tricks that remain in order to keep the cost of installation as low as possible.

The Rise And Fall Deal

You might have heard of the Green Deal, an elaborate attempt to get the green energy market moving, even involving the setting up of a Green Deal Bank to manage the funding allocation across the country.

Although the politicians were reluctant to admit it, the scheme ultimately failed because it was simply too complicated for home-owners to jump through all the hurdles required to find out what funds they qualified for through to actually accessing the money to get the work done.

The idea was the savings on your energy bills gradually paid off the loan from the Green Deal Bank, rather than the money being doled out in the form of grants. In some ways, the end result is exactly the same, but in times of austerity it was much easier politically to call it a loan that would be repaid to the public coffers.

So, why is it that successive governments have been trying to get us all to be a little greener?

What Is Needed

The most obvious requirement for greener living is the fact that we’re doing a lot of damage to the planet. Whether you think in terms of global warming, depleting natural resources or sustainability for your children and future generations, it’s almost beyond the most uneducated argument now to claim that it’s not down to humans that damage is being done.

If we’re being very generous, we can say that the reason each government incentive arrives is for ecological reasons, but there’s also a very big financial target involved too. It is hardly cynical to suggest that it’s more likely to be creating the political urgency given the scale of the penalties for missing the European carbon emissions targets, which are designed to penalise nations that fail to reduce significantly the pollution being pumped out into the atmosphere.

Part Of The Solution

It’s long been accepted that solar panels will provide a big part of the emissions reductions required to meet targets. As we said earlier, there are far fewer incentives available to home-owners to reduce the cost, but on the upside, technology has moved on and costs have fallen dramatically too. Some experts are suggesting that 2018 is the turning point where solar installations become more affordable than ever before, meaning that prices have fallen sufficiently to make them cheaper to pay for outright than when funding was available in the past. Of course, paying for them yourself means that savings on your bills are yours from day one too – so the initial financial outlay leads to a near immediate reduction in outgoings for a household.

Companies like Solar Panels UK are leading the charge with their websites and Facebook pages pointing people towards the latest solar developments as they appear.

Lets face it – if solar panels were free we’d all have them as they generate a saving on electricity bills and can even provide a modest income for providing electricity. The closer we get to solar energy being able to pay for itself in the short term, the more uptake we’ll see on the nation’s rooftops. It seems that day has now arrived.

Here’s WJFB

It’s time to relaunch the latest incarnation of our project, and we’re going online!

After years of resistance, we’re finally in a place where we need to accept the inevitable, we just have accepted the relentless digital movement at least a decade ago.

We’ve recruited a boffin that understands these things, and Alex is helping us get ready to stop our wasteful, tree devouring print copy, and bring you everything you know and love via your web browser from here on in.

Of course, nothing happens overnight, and until we’re totally ready, and probably a little longer, you’ll continue to receive your paper copy through the door monthly.