I set my family a challenge to fill up only one wheelie bin of rubbish in a year

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1 January 1970

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Juliet Dale of The Great Eco Journey set her family a challenge of filling only one council wheelie bin of rubbish for the year. Here’s how they’re doing it.

What inspired this goal?

We’ve been reducing our waste gradually for a couple of years, but towards the end of 2020 we decided we were up for a challenge, and we wanted to show people that reducing waste is not as hard as it may seem.

How much were you previously throwing away?

Two-and-a-half years ago we were creating around a full wheelie bin of rubbish every week.

How have you found the challenge so far?

It hasn’t been that big of a deal! More than anything, it’s a change in mindset that goes back to consumption. Before we buy anything, we consider what the end-of-life of that product will be, and how much we really need it.

Do you think you will reach your goal?

I think it’s going to be touch-and-go. Right now we are probably a tiny bit over where we should be, but we will be able to push it down a bit as it gets fuller… I’m hopeful!


What have you learnt?

I’ve learnt a lot about things that can be recycled, but not in curbside recycling. Things like polystyrene, garments, paint pots and buckets – even bras! There are all sorts of schemes out there (I’ve compiled a list at thegreatecojourney.co.nz).

What have you thrown out so far?

Receipts (most have a thermo- plastic lining, so can’t be recycled), broken crockery (also not recyclable) and kids’ junky toys that break within hours. The other things are one-off broken items, like a pair of kids’ sandals, a toilet brush and a coat hanger.

Any issues with smelly food or pet waste?

We don’t throw out any food waste – we compost it all, including meat and bones, and we don’t have rats either. And a year or so ago we made a pet-poo composter, so none of that either. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure our bin will be pretty stinky in a few months’ time. All the more reason not to open it!

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