Lamps made of wine bottlesThere is a revolution going on in my dustbin. My waste does not wish to be waste and protests when I try to insist that the end of its life has come and it’s time to head for burial in landfill.

‘See reason’, I say to the empty wine bottles I have after the weekend. ‘What could I use you for I’m never going to fit a vineyard on my balcony?’

The bottles insist they are multi-skilled artists; more than one string to their bow. I acknowledge this but point out that I already have more bistro style candle holders than I have window sills to have wax melt over.

Hangers made from bicycle wheelsThe bottles start wondering how much more I need to drink before my mind opens and how many more empty bottles there would be to save from landfill at the end of this process.

The bottles wish me to see their potential so take me to a trendy bar where all the lamp shades are made of empty wine bottles.

‘It’s called upcycling’, the bottles tell me. ‘We can be reincarnated in a manner which recognises our good karma, for we are bottles whose wine has eased your sorrows and we deserve to be something more in our next life’.

Handbag made of Wellington boots‘All of you?’ I only need so much lighting and had not planned to live in a wine bar themed flat. Wishing for an atmosphere of sobriety for at least some of the hours of each day. ‘Besides’, I point out, ‘I have no ability to use a craft knife?’

‘You’re looking at this issue back to front’, the bottles tell me. ‘What you need to do is create demand for upcyled products’.

Bird feeder made from a tea cupBut I spend too much time hungover to wish to live in a home where I might ever be tempted to pour myself a glass of light bulb.

Where will it end? Riding to work on a coat hanger, fishing for a credit card in a wellington boot as I pay for groceries? Someone save me from my waste.

Luckily for people who can use a craft knife Healthy Planet has a host of fun ways to upcycle with step by step picture guides on how to turn your waste into things you want. See Pinterest

Here are a couple of my favourites. I quite see why it makes sense to be able to find one’s hairdryer without the flex being caught around something else and enjoy a moderate amount of Hairdryer stored in a magazine stand screwed to the inside of a cupboard door.nature on the balcony.











Pledge for Zero Waste Week: 3 – 9 September 2012

Zero Waste Week

Zero Waste Week

So it’s Zero Waste Week and we’re being encouraged by the great and the good – or at any rate the famous – to do one extra thing to reduce landfill – and not just for the week, but forever.

If every home in England takes part, 750,000 tonnes of waste will be recycled. Businesses can also make pledges.

The rather more realistic aim is that the week will raise awareness of what can be saved from landfill and help the refuse industry improve the range and number of collections of recyclable material.

You guessed it, Healthy Planet is all in favour of Zero Waste Week. But what to do?

A gallery of celebrities and their pledges might inspire us to refill, reuse, repair, renovate, recycle, or down right refuse to buy.

Wasted opportunities

  •  James Averdieck, founder of Gu Desserts will ‘…set up a proper recycling area so I can make full use of my kerbside collections’.
  •  Shadow waste minister Gavin Shuker will plan ahead and refill his water bottles.  ‘On average people throw out 166 plastic water bottles per year’.

Waste of space

  •  Waste minister Lord Taylor who will ‘…go through my wardrobe and take all the clothes that I no longer wear or can’t fit into, to a charity shop’.  Clearly employed for not wasting food.
  • Derek Neimann, editor of RSPB’s magazine will ‘…reduce the amount of bread I put in the food waste bin. There must be lots more recipes with breadcrumbs in the world.’  Or, of course, he could feed the ducks.

Make your pledge.

Don't throw anything away, there is no 'away'

Don’t throw anything away, there is no ‘away’

Healthy Planet initiatives

Healthy Planet has its own initiative to save books from landfill and give them out for free. Donate your unwanted books to charity or to Healthy Planet’s Books for Free centres we now have 30 across the UK.

You can also check out Stuff for Free – events that save unwanted stuff from landfill – many areas have similar events often called give & gain days. We can all change the way we think about the stuff we have & throw away – as there is no ‘away’, we have one planet.

More inspiration:

My Zero Waste


Waste Less Live More – by Waste Watch
A week long campaign celebrating and demonstrating that what’s good for the environment is good for us. It runs from the 17th – 23rd of September.

Great blog by Karen Cannard
The Rubbish Diet
Can an average person really create Zero Waste? The challenge was set and during the week 10-17 March 2008, one mother in Bury St Edmunds gave it a go. She only threw out a plaster. Can you do it too? Why not try your own Rubbish Diet and slim your bin. You’ll be amazed at how easy it really is and you could even save some money. If Almost Mrs Average can do it, you can too.

Ben and Jerry’s loves Ruby Jenny

No, Ruby Jenny is not a new flavour of Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream but a fellow food producer that the ice-cream entrepreneurs have taken to their hearts.

Jenny Dawson with trays of fruit and vegetablesJenny Dawson’s business Rubies in the Rubble, which turns discarded fruit and vegetables into delicious chutneys and jams, has just won Ben and Jerry’s Europe-wide social enterprise competition.

Jenny will receive £10,000 and six months mentoring from the social enterprise network Ashoka.


Jenny Dawson set up Rubies in the Rubble when she heard about the freegan movement, which encourages people to rescue food from skips.

Over seven tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK costing the economy £12bn.

Jenny intervenes higher up the food chain saving food before it is thrown away.

She opened her kitchen in New Spitalfields fruit and vegetable market; so she is on hand to buy the food wholesalers cannot sell to consumer outlets.  This unsold food would otherwise be discarded.

Rescued Rubies

Food saving schemes have a reputation for poor quality – scavenging in skips is hardly glamorous.

Jenny’s brand is about quality.  She uses the word ‘rubble’ to draw attention to food wastage.

Jenny buys good food which can be turned into jams and chutneys destined for high end outlets.

Jenny’s jams and chutneys are currently sold at Borough Market.  Ben and Jerry’s are approaching Waitrose.

Glittering in the Darkness

Jenny believes that social enterprises are best placed to offer sustainable social change.

She says her business model could be replicated in other countries.

Ben and Jerry’s have already taken her to Uganda, where competition finalists mentored locals.

Jenny mentored Maureen, who started a business making fuel from wasted food.

Back at home Jenny employs two people, both disadvantaged women.  As Jenny expands she wants to hire more disadvantaged women.

Jenny plans to expand:

  • Firstly into soups,
  • but also by opening branches in – Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow.

Healthy Planet host Rubies in the Rubble at our offices in London so they have a rent-free space while they grow.




Buy Jenny’s Jam at Borough Market – www.boroughmarket.org.uk

Read Waste by Tristram Stuart, the book that inspired Jenny –  www.tristramstuart.co.uk 

Jenny is being mentored by Ashoka – www.ashoka.org