Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Thursday 27 November 2008

Bagging some good news?

I saw this report on the BBC website today Supermarkets 'to halve bags used'

It basically reports that four of the UK's leading supermarkets say they are confident that by next Easter they will have halved the number of plastic bags handed to customers. The supermarkets have been appearing before MP's at the House of Commons Environment and Rural affairs Select Committee into Waste management in England

Waitrose and Asda have apparently already achieved 30% cuts by moving bags under counters so shoppers had to ask for them.

Asda also told the Select Committee it had diverted 99% of operational waste from going to landfills in two of its 353 stores, in Bootle near Liverpool and Horwich near Manchester - by removing all biodegradable waste and using it to generate electricity, and taking out all recyclables.

Other stores also reported reductions in waste during the committee meeting, and all parties seemed to agree action was necessary on the ever-increasing amount of textiles going to landfill which, in the past five years, was up from 5% to 30%. They are all also aiming for a reduction in energy-related transport CO2 emissions from deliveries.

HURRAH! Its all good stuff in this report, apparently.

BUT..I can't help wondering why they couldn't have done the plastic bag thing many years ago? If it is SO easy to reduce their use just by simply putting them out of sight, WHY THE HECK didn't they all do it sooner?

The same goes for the removal of recyclable materials from going to landfill. THAT should have been a standard requirement for any store.....

I don't mean to sound mean spirited, or as if I am carping about little details...I AM pleased these stores have ( finally) started doing more to minimise the waste they generate and to recycle it.

I just can't help feeling its all rather belated.....


  1. remember when the shops used to have a cage or an area dedicated to boxes for people to use to take food home in? What happened to them? as they have to pay to have the cardboard taken away and recycled, hence why they use compactors.

    So why not put all the banana boxes etc out so people can use them and then compost them? Or use them as ground cover over winter????

    I am 'on' one today. I am ranting all over the shop!

  2. SoL I am with you on this one, you don't sound ranty at ALL to me!

    I remember boxes under the checkout table thingy...they are very occasionally available in our super, but not often..

    AND another thing...we use apple boxes to store our ( surprise , surprise!) apple harvest in, over the winter..they are great as they stack so a lot of stuff can be stored in a small area. We store onions, spuds ( covered over as well to keep out the light) etc..and its very easy to peer in and see if anything has gone bad and hoick it out fast.

    BUT to do this I need apple boxes, so every year I go down to Tescos and ask and they rarely have any spare ....because they compact them as soon as the boxes are empty...but these boxes are robust, we are still using some with are at least 5 years old! so...why use them once and then destroy them?

    Why not leave them around for a few hours at least, so maybe someone will use them for shopping, or storage or something...


  3. I'm with you on this one Compostwoman! Years ago when my mum ran a village post office and store, lots of customers used to take boxes for their weekly shop, or they used those string bags (which could fit loads of shopping in!). I don't know why the supermarkets haven't got rid of bags earlier - or why not use the brown paper bags like they do in the US?? Still a better alternative to plastic ....
    Willow x

  4. Totally agree with you on this one CW. There is so much more that could have been done a while back - and I agree that o something we do seem to be taking steps backwards. I too remember having cardboard boxes available at my local supermarket. Now I find that if you want things like that hen the best thing to do is ask on the local market and the "yoof" working in my local Sainsburys don't seem able to understand the concept of wanting a cardboard box.

    Still a long way for us all to go though - let's just hope that we get there.

  5. Banana boxes are perfect when moving, they are excellent for books because they actually come with a lid when delivered to the store.

    If you ask for the fruit and veg supervisor, they will hold boxes back for you. But you have to collect on th day you say, else they will be compacted.


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