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How are you managing household waste?

The COVID-19 lockdown has increased the amount of rubbish the average UK household produces. How are you managing yours?

Following the welcome return of spring, my garden quickly resembled a jungle in no time.

I recently took to tearing up those unwanted weeds and even chopped up our old Christmas tree, only to find that we had no way to dispose of our garden waste. 

Read all the latest COVID-19 news and advice on our dedicated hub

With the majority of us more isolated during the pandemic, many waste recycling centres are now closed and, alongside staff shortages, this has led to a change in rubbish collection across the country.

What can we do to help?

Being mindful of the use by and best before dates can be a great way to minimise rubbish and avoid unnecessary trips to the supermarket.

It can also help to store your products at the right temperature and avoid placing hot food in your fridge or freezer. 

Keep an eye on your local council’s website for updates, as there are regular alterations to services and your rubbish may be collected at a different time.

There are also helpful tips about what you can and can’t put in the recycling. After missing a collection we found our blue bin quickly began to overflow.

Do you know your recycling symbols?

It’s surprising how fast it collects and swiftly becomes unmanageable. If this is the case for you, there are many bottle banks across the UK available for you to recycle glass and jars. 

Reducing household rubbish

In an attempt to reduce our household rubbish, we’ve been trying to find another use for items that we would otherwise throw away.

Reusing take away containers to freeze food and cleaning glass jars for extra storage is a great way to cut down on unnecessary packaging. If you’re feeling a bit crafty there are many websites out there that offer more interesting and creative ways to use your rubbish. 

Try shopping at a zero-waste store and bring a reusable container to store your product. Over the past few years many shops have opened across the UK that offer a more environmentally friendly way of shopping, which helps prevent your bin from overflowing.

You might also be lucky enough to find products that other stores may not have in stock at the moment.

Why the government must help the vulnerable access food

What are you doing with your general household waste and recycling? Has the lockdown had an impact on you?

Let me know in the comments.


Great point about keeping food at the right temperature. It certainly feels like the sun decided to come out as soon as we entered into a lockdown. Whilst feeling very hot myself, I’ve probably neglected the temperature of my food a little too.
I love the idea of reusing candle jars for other bits and bobs. I recently cleaned out several of my old candle jars and donated a few to my mum who has recently taken up sewing. The jars are perfect for buttons as she’s found. I’ve used them to collect some package-free food from my local zero waste store, Ripple (Cardiff).

Keeping the fridge as cold as possible without freezing the contents will help to keep food fresh. It’s also important to avoid leaving some vegetables (e.g. carrots) in sealed plastic bags in the fridge, or they will soon deteriorate.

Time, perhaps, to revive the move to ban unnecessary plastic packaging and switch, where needed, to truly recyclable materials such as aluminium, glass but preferably your own reusable containers.

With good weather and plenty of time to spend in the garden I have produced far more green waste than would fit in my bin. Council refuse and recycling sites have reopened where I live but social distancing means a much reduced capacity. My neighbours are locked down many miles away, so I have been putting out their bins and filling any spare space with my waste.

A friend had to get a contractor to collect green waste because the council had suspected collection.

I discovered that a shop nearby is filling customers’ own containers and selling goods in paper bags and operating from a table outside during the coronavirus outbreak. I’m not keen on the idea of going into shops at present and this seems a better solution, and of course it avoids plastic waste.

Can you not recycle much of your green waste by composting it? It would benefit your soil.

I do with leaves and grass but the problem at present is with tree branches and other material that would not compost easily.

I’ve a hazelnut tree. I cut this and use the straight stems for supporting plants; long ones for sweet peas and beans, shorter ones for delphiniums, dahlias and peonies. Crooked ones support peas. Are any of your pruning suitable rather than ditching them? Saves buying bamboo.

I inherited a couple of overgrown bamboo plants when I bought the house. Although my canes look the part they tend to break. I think the contorted hazel tree will have to come down soon because it’s not looking well but that will not provide anything remotely straight! I do reuse what I can and when a fence was replaced I kept the posts which were only rotten at the bottom, and passed them on to a friend who was very grateful. I’ll bet that many will be heading to garden centres soon to buy stuff they don’t really need.

Our garden centre re-opens tomorrow. Hopefully any annuals purchased will be protected from the frost due Wed night. Otherwise a lot of repeat business (which I suspect they rely on 🙁 ).

The main photo on publicity from our garden centre is of the food that they will be selling while their cafe is closed, which shows enterprise. Maybe they will offer flour arrangements.

West Sussex Household Waste Recycling [sic] Centres re-opened this week. However, that offers no relief from the amount of recyclable material that is accumulating in the garage. Only garden waste and general household (black bin) waste is being accepted.

It seems that black bin waste is now being sent straight to landfill, instead of being pre-processed to recover salvageable materials and then incinerating the residue. So I feel a moral duty to the planet to hold back as much of the stinky mess as possible until this is over.

Even if fully reopened for recycling, I think it is going to be difficult explaining to the police how a journey with a car full of ripped cardboard, empty bottles and crushed tinnies can be classed as “essential”.

Our household waste including garden recycling has been collected much the same as usual so no problems there.

We normally take tetra-pak milk cartons to a car park recycling collection point that is currently unavailable so are accumulating rather a lot of them in the garage for when they can be recycled again. Although they get a good rinse-out, they are never properly clean inside so they might start to smell as the weather gets warmer and regrettably, they might end up in the waste bin.

Glass jars can be saved to make home-made chutney or jam. I only save jars that are large enough, but save all good lids as some of the originals might not be suitable, i.e. if they were originally on a curry paste jar.

Ridiculous fact: Do you know it is cheaper to buy the cheapest supermarket jam and throw away the contents than it is to buy empty jars and lids?

Glass jars are very useful for storing some food in the fridge. Some spices will stain plastic containers.

A big challenge is the amount of bins that councils provide. Cotswold Council for example provide a black box for paper, another box for glass, a white bag for plastic/metal, blue bags for cardboard, a food caddy and then the general waste. We’re very active in recycling but it really doesn’t encourage people.

All the bins, boxes and bags make it difficult for those without storage space. Many councils allow glass bottles and jars (not window glass etc) to be put in the recycling bin but in the Scottish Highlands, glass must be taken to roadside collections or taken to a recycling centre. It would be good to have consistency throughout the UK.

I don’t see why window glass and other glass not allowed in recycling bins must be taken elsewhere. I put any [including picture frame glass] in the general rubbish bin with other non-recyclables.

Luckily our county council allows glass bottles and jars to be included in the recyclable waste where it gets extracted and processed.

Our council also accepts clear or coloured bottles and jars but all other glass must go in with non-recyclable material.

When I first had a recycling bin I put in plastic containers of the same type of plastic as acceptable items and was asked not to do this in future. If I knew about the process I might understand but for now I just comply with the rules. 🙁

Our local authority started to collect recycling a couple of weeks ago after over a month of just collecting household waste. As you can imagine, there was a considerable amount that had built up and this didn’t include tetra cartons and mixed plastic, items that have to be manually recycled by me driving to the recycling centre for the former and to Sainsburys Car Park for the latter. We are a very passionate household when it comes to the environment and recycling but many would not go to this bother. It is about time the Government made this a priority and rationalised recycling services on a national basis.