Swish your way into a new wardrobe this Saturday at Twickenham Library

Does your wardrobe need an update? Come to the West London Waste swishing (clothes swap) event this Saturday, February 21, at Twickenham Library, and walk away with a new look. At the same time bid farewell to clothing you no longer wear, and send them on their way to a new home.

You can bring up to 10 items of clean clothing (in good condition, please) to the event to exchange for tokens (a maximum of 10). The tokens can be traded for items of clothing others have brought. Continue reading

French FoE shows consumers how to fight planned obsolescence

Calling all French speakers! Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth France) has launched a consumer guide to avoiding planned obsolescence in everyday products. Called Comment sortir de l’obsolescence programmée?*, the guide offers tried-and-tested advice, including to avoid throw-away products, buy simply produced goods (so there are fewer parts to go wrong), purchase reparable and good-quality products, and take part in borrowing-and-lending schemes such as Streetbank (see earlier BRAGonline article). Continue reading

Streetbank builds community while helping reduce waste

Do you have something you’d like to give away but don’t want the hassle of transporting it across town or further afield? Or how about a skill or a piece of equipment you’d be willing to lend or would like to borrow?

If so, Streetbank is for you.

Streetbank nutshell

Streetbank is a community sharing and giving website, connecting you with neighbours living within a mile of you. It helps reduce waste, save money, free up space – and build community. BRAG had a visit from Streetbank founder Sam Stephens this week, and we’re on board – its philosophy is very much in line with BRAG’s mission to recycle, reduce and reuse.
Continue reading

Slim your bin with the Rubbish Diet

Would you like a quick and easy way to reduce the amount of waste in your bin? Then sign up to the Rubbish Diet and get tips and support from a whole online community of Rubbish Dieters. Within a month, you should be enjoying a lighter bin and less hassle – and you might even make some savings.

The Rubbish Diet has the broader aim of shrinking the waste train that leaves London six days a week.  It is made up of 26 carriages holding 78 containers of household waste from just six London boroughs: Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond.  The train’s contents go straight to landfill here in the UK. It’s reckoned that about 67% of its contents could have been recycled first.

The Rubbish Diet is a simple two-step programme: First, you’re asked to check whether you can recycle one more thing and to share your own ideas for avoiding waste. The second step is about making the most of your food.

The programme is tailored to your area and comes in the form of handy emails with tips, links and information about how to get started. Most participants reduce their waste by up to 70%.

Sign up for the Rubbish Diet at http://challenge.therubbishdiet.org.uk/; further information is available at http://www.therubbishdiet.org.uk/wastetrain/ and https://www.facebook.com/westlondonrubbishdiet.

Dutch environmental group tackles food waste with ‘doggy bag’ initiative

A Dutch environmental group, Natuur & Milieu, has launched a campaign to persuade restaurant patrons to take home their uneaten food and thereby reduce food waste. Natuur & Milieu has distributed 50,000 doggy bags, accompanied by a starter pack, free to restaurants to encourage their participation in the campaign. The doggy bags were developed with input from catering staff, who were asked what kind of container they preferred.

Restaurant patrons who want to take food home can let their waiter know by means of a Boomerang card, which is available free of charge in many restaurants. The cards come in a number of versions, with messages including “A compliment to the chef” and “I always fancy something tasty in the evening”.Milieuclub wil taboe doggybag doorbreken

Natuur & Milieu said that the Dutch catering industry wastes 50,000 tonnes of food annually, the equivalent of 77 million hot meals.

Before launching the campaign, Natuur & Milieu carried out a survey on food waste, which found that 78% of participants said they hated wasting food, but that 80% of restaurant-goers never take home leftover food. Respondents cited embarrassment (52%) and lack of awareness (55%) as the major reasons for not asking for a doggy bag.

Natuur & Milieu’s partners in the campaign are packaging specialist Depa Disposables, NGO Oxfam Novib and banking group Rabobank.

For more information, see (in Dutch) http://www.doggybag.nu.

California legislature votes to ban disposable plastic bags

The U.S. state of California has passed a bill banning the use of disposable plastic bags in grocery stores, pharmacies, off-licences and other businesses throughout the state. The bill, which needs to be signed by the governor before becoming law, would usher in the first statewide ban of this type in the United States, starting July 1, 2015. A number of U.S. cities have already banned disposable plastic bags in shops, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, Oregon. The law would allow the sale of reusable plastic bags at grocery stores.

A Not So Rubbish Trip

Illustration from Henry Mayhew's London Labour and the London Poor (1851).

London dustman. Illustration from Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor (1851)


When Rosie Oliver says she’s going to take you on a rubbish trip, she means it literally. Rosie, a lawyer, lecturer and presenter specializing in environmental law and policy, created and leads a two-hour walk from Mudchute on the Isle of Dogs to Greenwich on the theme of rubbish and how it has influenced the landscape. Woven into her commentary are stories about the people who collected the rubbish and how the rubbish has been treated and transformed over the centuries.

One example is Mudchute Park, the site of the former mud chute that spurted silt dredged from Millwall Docks into “settling ponds”, a type of landfill for waste mud. Also, the Victorian homes we passed and structures like the railway viaduct were likely built using materials that included rubbish: the dust and ash from people’s fireplaces from burning coal and domestic rubbish, which was collected by dustmen and taken to brick factories in Kent where it was mixed with clay, fired and brought back to London to be used for building.

In the 21st century, the need to reuse, recycle and reduce the rubbish we generate is greater than ever, Rosie says.

The walk includes a visit to the Mudchute city farm, where we saw one of nature’s recyclers in action – a magnificent pig – and we finished on the banks of the Thames at Greenwich, a veritable treasure trove of historical rubbish.

Rosie’s company is called Dotmaker Tours, and she offers the rubbish walk to the public once a month, and at other times to private groups: http://dotmakertours.co.uk/page10.htm.

Recycling Events in Hounslow Libraries this June

Love food, hate waste

  • Where: Heston Library
  • When: Thursday 20th June 2013, 6:00 pm – 8:00pm
  • Admission: FREE

Pop along to hear all about some quick and easy things you could do to save up to £50 a month. Whether you choose to have perfect portions, be savvy with your storage, cook delicious meals with your lovely leftovers, save by planning or simply get to know use by dates, we’ve got something for you to try. There will also be drop in sessions at the following libraries:

  • Heston Tuesday 18th June 10.00am – 12 noon
  • Feltham Tuesday 18th June 3.00pm – 5.00pm
  • Chiswick Wednesday 19th June 10.00am – 12 noon

For more information and to book a place call the Waste Prevention Team on 020 8814 9801 or email info@westlondonwaste.gov.uk

Composting Vs Recycling

  • Where: Hounslow Library, Cafe area
  • When: Friday 21st June 2013, 11:00 am – 12:00pm
  • Admission: FREE

Come along and find out about what can be used as compost and what can be recycled. Learn what benefits it brings to your allotment and to the environment.
Be entered in a draw to win a compost bin.

Re-use: great stuff on a budget

  • Where: Hounslow Library, Cafe area
  • When: Friday 21st June 2013, 12:15 pm – 2:00pm
  • Admission: FREE

We’ll be offering tips and advice on how to extend the life of your household goods, what to do with your old appliances as well as finding out how to purchase good quality second-hand goods and save money.