I have always loved nature. I grew up outdoors, swimming, camping, playing in the dirt. I feel guilty and strange when I spend too much time inside. I talk to trees and flowers, bees and birds.
My challenge
Substantially use the other 'R's: Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Refill, Rethink, Refuse

This month has flown by – as many have already commented. It was a great month, but busy, and frustrating, and disheartening, and incredibly inspiring and motivating all at the same time. 

For my personal challenge I had ups and downs. I started by taking pictures of all of my waste to document what got thrown away, either to landfill or recycling, but I stopped doing that about halfway through the month becuase I had a lot of pictures of repeat products and photos of plastic filling my phone (I got a warning from phone that memory was 100% full), which depressed me. So I thought it would be better to just focus on the large and small things I could do to reduce and divert waste. That bit went pretty well, but I didn’t do any many creative repurpose projects as I was hoping. It turns out that needs time, creative space and ideas, and it turns out I didn’t really have those things this month. 

What did I do? Reduced my own waste by researching and buying day-to-day product alternatives of better eco-quality, such as oat milk, sparkling water, yogurt, chocolate, tea bags, sanitary pads, bamboo travel cutlery, tissues, etc. I also repaired clothing items and have set aside several items that will go to the next local repair cafe that I can make it to (they are sadly very infrequent currently), I have signed up for a local Upcycle, Recycle, Re-use beginners sewing workshop, I have reused many items and set packaging aside for future re-use, I have done litter picking and attended local sustainability group meetings (reciprocity as the ‘r’?), I have made use of my local re-fill zero waste shop, and more. 

And my new thing that I wanted to share: I found a fantastic business in Weston that uses re-claimed wood to build new, beautiful pieces of art, decor and home and garden furniture. We have several things we’ve wanted around the house, most especially a show-bench for the hall. I have looked everywhere for a second-hand option – a handful of antique, second-hand and charity shops, Gumtree and other online marketplaces, to the point of exhaustion and frustration. We were nearly to the point of just caving and getting the flat-pack option. Then, lo! The answer: Somerset Wood Recycling. I am very priveleged to be able to do this, as it is not cheap – but as a middle-class person I should be investing my money in quality recycled goods rather than saving a buck by buying mass produced flat-pack! 

I have done a lot of reflection throughout the month that I will take with me after this Challenge. I have already written too much here to share it all, but suffice to say the Challenge has been very good for me and I will continue to challenge myself, my assumptions, my ‘needs’, and my network, University and community, to do better. 

This week I fulfilled a new step in my journey to reducing even recyclable waste. 

I am somewhat addicted to hummus. I…. Love it. I buy little plastic pots of it nearly every week – and I feel shame and regret every time I wash and place a pot and its lid in the recycling bin. I have used a few as planting pots or water catch for planting pots, but the majority are thrown out. 

I used to make hummus a lot but haven’t for a few years not sure why. I hope not out of laziness and embracing convenience, but that’s realistically the reason.

So, no more excuses and no more procrastination! This week I made a batch – a delicious, low fat, slightly truffly batch – and I am super motivated by the results and intend to make it a regular thing.

One can of chickpeas (still producing recycling :/), half a lemon, a big tablespoon of tahini, a little rapeseed oil, some garlic, miso, black pepper and paprika, and anything else that may make it a special flavour, makes an easy 3-4 times the size of shop-bought bowl of it. So one batch has saved me buying and binning at least three plastic tubs. I did recycle a can, though. But all the other ingredients either don’t have packaging or use small amounts of stuff that will last ages til it has to be recycled, like a glass bottle of rapeseed oil. So, I’m counting it a victory.

We also use a lot of Yeo Valley Organic Natural Yogurt in our house, which ethically I’m good with except the plastic pots.. So this week I’ve had Milk and More deliver Pure and Natural Greek Yogurt in glass. We’ll see!

Saturday we’re getting our first seasonal, organic fruit and veg box delivered by M&M. Oh! And I found out this week I live 10 mins walk from their diary and distribution centre in Weston! So I also feel great about the food miles πŸ™‚

Friday after work I went to the brilliant little zero waste shop in Weston-super-Mare and got lots of goodies. I refilled a plastic shampoo bottle for the first time – it was so easy and really reasonable so I am over the moon and will be refilling my shampoo, dish soap, hand soap etc from now on!!

I also filled up little paper bags with dried fruits for snacks – next time I will take reusable packaging for this.

I got a brilliant, attractive, lightweight parcel of bamboo cutlery that I will be carrying around on campus days to ensure I don’t need to use plastic or single-use cutlery.

I also just put out my milk bottles for collection tomorrow morning when Mill and More delivery the next set of milk and a few other things we’re going to try πŸ™‚

Really enjoying these shifts which seem small now I’m doing them but mean I’m throwing less plastic/tetrapack/recycling in any kind of bin. 

My first Milk and More delivery came this morning! So exciting! Not just the oat milk, but I got organic local Somerset cheese and organic peat-free compost as well, brilliant timing as I intend to really get going in the garden from this weekend (weather permitting). It was fun to open the door and have it there waiting πŸ™‚

I haven’t done much since the tea bag and oat milk in glass discoveries and some repair work to be honest.. I am still taking photos of my waste materials, those that go in the bin and those to the recycling, so my phone is full of pictures of rubbish. But the activity of documenting it does make me think about it more, and it has made me actively want to avoid products that will produce inorganic waste. I am very happy to say that it took over two weeks for us to fill our plastic, metal and paper bin, and our glass and cardboard bins were only one third full on recycling day this week – that’s a decrease for us for sure!

I’ve been learning about repair cafes and the right to repair campaigning in the EU and in the UK as well. Really important work. I want to pull together some stuff that’s been dormant for ages and take it to a repair cafe and then list it on free cycle. I also learned that my town is getting a Library of Things this spring, which is where you can borrow items you use occasionally rather than buying one for yourself. So all valuable learning. This weekend I intend to start my spring cleaning and take things I don’t want or need to my local charity shop – it will rid me of clutter and just too many things owning me and my valuable storage space, and will mean those items are recycled/reloved.

A bit rambly after a long day, sorry! I am still trying to figure out a repurpose/upcycle project to complete this month, but my time and creativity have been squeezed between competing priorities and responsibilities… Any ideas?

Thanks all, nice seeing you today ❀️ 

The first week has gone pretty well, though there have been times that I’ve been a bit down about the amount of plastic I’m still putting in the recycling or the bin.

I have made another switch to help with this – I researched tea bag brands as I noticed that the Twinings tea bags I’ve been consuming are individually wrapped in non-recyclable foil/paper envelops. I learned that they are also still maiking the tea bags themselves with plastic blend! Ugh.

I have now bought Sainsbury’s own brand tea, in recyclable paper envelops, and Clipper tea – they both use PLA tea bags which can be put in the commercial food waste bin. A win! 


I also spent time this first week on some repair work – I fixed one leg warmer, bringing the pair back into circulation, and darned both socks in a pair to lengthen their life, and I fixed a pair of earrings, fitting a new hook on one from an pair of shell earrings in which one shell had sadly shattered and I can’t wear anymore. 

I’ve also practiced some rethinking and have avoided any to-go food and drink plastic packaging – except for one incident at the Source cafe in Senate House when I asked to drink in using a mug but the barista made my oat milk latte in a to-go cup πŸ™ but I don’t count that as my fault! 

Today I bought some fair trade cooking chocolate wrapped in recyclable paper and foil (not film plastic) which I’m going to use to bake something for my colleagues for International Women’s Day tomorrow πŸ™‚ 

I am so excited. Today, whilst documenting my waste, both recyclable and not, I felt guilty about the number of tetrapack boxes of Moma oat milk I get through. 

I made the switch to non-dairy milk years ago, and have over time landed on oat milk for its superior flavour, but even more so for its superior sustainability cred (compared to almond, soya, coconut, etc). But even though I’ve cut down my dairy, and try to drink the best of the alternatives, I learned that Moma was bought/ is being bought by AG Barr, a big dairy company that also sells bottled water, which is completely against my values. As I mentioned already I have also never sat comfortably with the many boxes of tetrapack that I waste. 

So today I embarked on some research (to the detriment of all my course reading I need to do!) and found out about Oato – a small UK business making fresh oat milk, using British oats, that they sell in glass bottles via milkmen around the UK! Heart racing (hyperbole) I scanned to see if any of these milkmen deliver to my area…. and YES! Milk and More, a British business keen to bring back the milkmen culture and help people consume more sustainably, and who work with small suppliers with good ethics, take Oato and deliver to Weston. 



I will signing up to receive my refillable gladd bottles of fresh oat milk from Monday (I am away this weekend), and I am genuinely so stoked. Thanks, cChallenge! πŸ™‚ 

It has been very difficult to pin down a challenge, as I had several different ideas. I have landed on something quite broad, but which will require a lot of conscious effort and creativity. 

I am aware of an increasingly louder conversation around the merits of recycling, and the greenwashing, mal/ poor practice, misunderstandings and other issues that surround our over-reliance on recycling as a way to deal with our consumption habits. I have tried over the years to be more thoughtful and reduce my waste, but I am absolutely guilty of over-relying on recycling to make me feel better. Therefore, this month I am going to document my waste, including what I put into the recycling, and will deliberately REDUCE my consumption of recyclable packaging. I will also look to REPAIR and REUSE/ REPURPOSE items that would often be considered ‘disposable’ or ‘rubbish’ and will share my creative work on this. And I will REFILL where I can at the zero-waste shop in my town. I will RETHINK purchases – I will enforce a cool down period of at least a day to decide whether a new thing I am considering buying is really necessary (can I make one instead? Can I buy second hand instead? Can I rent instead)? And I will become part of the gift economy (thank you Robin Wall Kimmerer!) and REGIFT where appropriate. 

In short, I will engage the many other ‘Rs’ outside of our default Recycle and I am excited to share those experiences with you all! Wish me luck – it is broad and big but also motivating.

Image from Twitter @RecyclingBC