Category Archives: Zero Waste

‘Nappuccino’ event showcases benefits of reusable nappies

NAPPUCCINO TIME!. . . . The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Boyle pictured with parents, children, organisers and stallholders at DCSDC’s ‘Nappuccino’ event at the Foyle Arena on Tuesday morning. The event was held to showcase the benefits of reuseable nappies and baby wipes.

Derry City and Strabane District Council hosted a hugely successful ‘Nappuccino’ event at the Foyle Arena on 20th November 2018.  It provided parents with information and advice on reusable nappies, wipes and sanitary items.

The local authority, which is one of the first in the UK or Ireland to adopt a Zero Waste Circular Economy Strategy, is aiming to raise awareness of ways in which we can all reduce waste and live more sustainably.

For centuries women have used cloth nappies on their babies – and they are now experiencing a global revival with substantial savings to be made by parents and the added benefit of being an eco-friendly option.

NAPPUCCINO TIME!. . . . DCSDC’s Recycling Officer, Julie Hannway explaining the advantages of reuseable nappies and baby wipes during Tuesday’s ‘Nappuccino’ event at the Foyle Arena. The event was held to showcase the benefits of reuseable nappies and baby wipes.

Julie Hannaway is the Council’s Recycling and Waste Minimisation Officer.  She said:
“We were delighted to deliver the first Council-led ‘Nappuccino’ event at the Foyle Arena today, which really was a huge success! This was a great opportunity for parents with babies and toddlers to come together, share experiences and get information on reusable baby-care over a cup of coffee.

“Washable cotton nappies are a really cost effective option for parents – with research indicating that anything from £150 to £1000 can be saved from birth to potty by opting for re-usable rather than disposable nappies. 

“Indeed, depending on the parent’s choice of nappies, savings stack up even further when the cloth nappies are used on multiple children. It’s also the most eco-friendly option, helping to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

NAPPUCCINO TIME!. . . . Parents and baby fun at Tuesday morning’s DCSDC’s ‘Nappuccino’ event at the Foyle Arena. The event was held to showcase the benefits of reuseable nappies and baby wipes.

“It’s fantastic that Council are leading the way on this awareness raising initiative and  equipping parents with very practical knowledge on how they can reduce waste after having a child.  Indeed, this was the first of many ‘Nappucino’ events that we will be rolling out across the City and District in the coming months and years.”





NAPPUCCINO TIME!. . . . Ruth O’Callaghan, The UseLess Shop, Anne Carlin, DCSDC and Stephanie Roulston, Home Safety Officer, DSDC pictured at Tuesday’s ‘Nappuccino’ event at the Foyle Arena. The event was held to showcase the benefits of reuseable nappies and baby wipes. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

A message for the people of East Belfast

Rossano Ercolini is a primary school teacher who became a Zero Waste activist when an incinerator was planned for his town of Capannori in Northern Italy. Judi Logue & Jim Keys of Zero Waste North West met him at the 2015 Zero Waste Conference in Sofia, Bulgaria.

What was evident from the conference was that the transformation Rossano inspired in Italy is a wave spreading across Europe. This is a powerful message of hope from Northern Italy to Northern Ireland via Bulgaria.


Having stopped the incinerator  in Capanori, Rossano Ercolini went on to stop incinerators across Italy;  and ultimately was awarded the 2013 Golden Environmental Prize for “Outstanding Environmental Achievement in Europe” .

Global Day of Action Against Incineration and for Zero Waste

Tuesday 14th October is Global day of action against waste incineration and for zero waste.  So it seems like a good day to acknowledge all those who signed ZWNW’s petition opposing the gasifying incinerator proposal at Campsie, which in March of this year was shelved.

It is important now to keep up the momentum to move the North West towards a zero waste response to the waste generation crisis and continue to do our bit to oppose incineration everywhere, mindful that there are two more incinerator proposals in the North.

We need to wean ourselves and our society off the attitude that not just throws away things, but if it’s not transformed will throw away the future of precious human life on this beautiful planet.

Burning waste pollutes people and the planet, spewing dioxins into the atmosphere.

It contributes towards climate change by producing greenhouse gasses.

Zero Waste creates jobs, saves money and protects the planet.

Judi Logue

Chair of  ZWNW

Two Week Challenge Completed!

Second week of landfill rubbish.

Second week of landfill rubbish.

I have completed my two week Zero Waste challenge, this is what I am sending to landfill this week.  There are two bags of frozen vegetabes that came from a clandestine rubbish bag that appeared in a corner of the kitchen. From that bag I rescued a plastic disposable cup and the bag itself which was a bit dirty from a plant I was given as a present, so I washed it and hung it on the washing line to dry.  Apart from the vegetable bags I am satisfied that I have achieved my goal of reducing the rubbish in my home to almost nothing.  I didn’t have to put my black bin out this week!

This week I am sending the following to landfill:

  • Two frozen vegetable bags.
  • Some plastic film – I can’t remember where it came from
  • Cellotape- someone sent me a letter in a paper envelope and put cellotape in a criss-cross on the back of the envelope.
  • The plastic from a Veet wax strip- I hope to eliminate these if I get the hang of sugaring.
  • The plastic from another Huggies Bed Mat that I had forgotten about.
  • Plastic seals from bicarbonate of soda and baking soda containers, I bought these knowing that a little bit of plastic film was going to save me a lot in the long run as I would be using these for baking and toiletries.
  • A used tea-light, cotton buds and a plastic seal from a bottle which I found under my bed when I was cleaning the floor.

How My Life Has Changed So Far

zero waste

The two week challenge may be over but my house has not seen the last of Zero Waste.  It has been such a positive and empowering experience that I am going to continue in my endeavour not to send rubbish to landfill.  A whole new world has opened up to me now that I am conscious of waste and I do not want to go back to the dark days.

  • I now shop differently, I choose different products that I didn’t notice before, I read the recycling information on the packaging and I am discovering new places to shop.
  • I am baking my own cakes at home which has multiple advantages: it keeps the children entertained, the house smells great and the oven heats the kitchen.
  • I have been given a spinach plant and hope to start a vegetable patch, in the meantime I am buying seasonable vegetables from White Oaks organic farm.
  • I am composting my kitchen scraps along with grass cuttings from the garden.
  • I am learning to make my own toiletries and have switched to using the Mooncup.
Zero Waste Home - Blog

Zero Waste Home – Blog




Adventures in Homemade Toiletries

2013-12-08 23.02.56

Trying to cram months of learning into two weeks is not easy and I have only scraped the surface of the world of homemade toiletries.  I find the idea of being free from the packaging, expense and dependency on these products really attractive.  There are a lot of recipes to be found on Google and reviews and tutorials on YouTube.  I would like to spend more time mastering these methods but for the purposes of this two week Zero Waste experiment here are my findings:


I visited the Body Shop in Foyleside today as I had heard something about biodegradable shampoo.  At first I thought this was a reference to the bottle it came in but I learned that it refers to the actual shampoo. The bottle is a recyclable PET code 1 plastic (like most shampoo bottles) – I’m becoming an expert in these matters!   I knew that conventional shampoos contain harmful chemicals such as the foaming agent Sodium Laureth Sulphate but I had only thought about the harm this caused to humans.  It never crossed my mind that the shampoo that goes down the drain when you wash your hair could be toxic to aquatic organisms.  I spent £11.50 on shampoo and conditioner which is a little bit expensive but worth it remove daily exposure to harmful chemicals. Read more about The Body Shop’s Environmental Policy here:

Today’s expedition to the Body Shop ended six days without shampoo or “no poo” as the movement is commonly called.  The goal is to stop shampoo dependency so that the natural oils in your hair find their own balance.  The problem is that there is a transition period of about 2 to 6 weeks where your hair will feel dirty.  I experimented with every day kitchen ingredients as shampoo alternatives:
Baking powder and water as a shampoo alternative- I found this worked pretty well but didn’t leave my hair as clean as shampoo would.
Apple Cider Vinegar and water:  This is supposed to make hair shiny, it didn’t in my case although it’s possible I didn’t use it correctly.
Oatmeal, baking powder and pure cocoa powder:  A recipe for dry shampoo for brunettes, rubbed into the scalp and brushed out.  I was skeptical about the idea that putting food in my hair was going to clean it and I didn’t feel any cleaner after trying it.  An hour after using it I couldn’t take it any more and rinsed in the shower with baking powder.

Hair Serum

For many years I have used coconut oil to tame my frizzy hair, it works well and it only takes a tiny amount.  It is also good for hydrating the skin but too heavy for the face in my experience.

Dental Hygiene

I have replaced toothpaste with bicarbonate of soda for some brushings.  It works really well, my teeth feel clean afterwards but I miss the minty taste.  I have found recipes on the internet with peppermint oil and xylitol but I don’t have any of these ingredients to hand.

Oil Pulling is an Indian oral hygiene method that I discovered last year.  You take a spoonfull of sesame, sunflower or coconut oil and swish it around your mouth for 15 minutes once a day.  Doing this on a consistently will remove plaque and there are claims that it can improve overall health and cure all sorts of diseases.

Rinsing the mouth with salt and water is a effective alternative to mouth wash.

Hair Removal

Sugaring is an old method of hair removal, the ingredients are:
8 units of sugar: 1 unit of lemon: 1 unit of water

I had one failed attempt at this, apparently it takes several goes to get the consistency right.  It is supposed to be a honey coloured light consistency, mine turned into a thick tar that stuck to the saucepan.  I tested a drop for temperature on my finger and I have the blister to prove it.  This will definitely take a lot of practise. It smelled good though.


Shower gel bottles can usually be recycled but I bought some bar soap in order to reduce the packaging to just the cardboard box it came in.  I haven’t used bar soap since the eighties I remember my mother combining several ends of bars into one new one, they certainly were a less wasteful generation.  I assumed that bar soap would contain less chemicals than its liquid counterpart but on inspection I discovered that the particular brand that I bought last week
also contains the dreaded Sodium Laureth Sulphate.


I have read that deodorant can be replaced by lemon juice although I haven’t actually tried this.
I have never been able to stand the smell of deodorant and I find the best way to be odour free is to eat healthily and avoid animal products.

Ear Cleaning

I found these organic, biodegradable cotton buds in The Body Shop today for £2,50 a box.  I’ve been using a wash cloth on myself and the children and that works well and is less expensive.

2013-12-09 16.42.29

I asked permission to take the photograph for my Zero Waste blog and got a strange look from the shop assistant.  I’m getting used to that look, it’s part of being a Zero Waster.

Zero Waste Home - Blog

Zero Waste Home – Blog

Zero Waste for Girls

An Alternative to Sanitary Towels and Tampons

At the beginning of my Zero Waste experiment I purchased a Mooncup in Boots, Foyleside for just under 22 pounds.  I had heard of them years ago but I never really thought about making the change until I started thinking about Zero Waste.  Like disposbale nappies, sanitary towels and tampons are just more readily available.  They are advertised on TV and magazines, we are introduced to them by our mothers and school teachers and they are in every corner shop and supermarket.  Yet, we are never taught about the pollution caused by the manufacture and disposal of these products which either end up in landfill or the sea.

Advantages of the Mooncup

  • As a one-off purchase that will last for years it will save you a fortune.  22 Pounds may seem a lot, but how much do we spend per year on disposable products?
  • It is healthier for you as most sanitary products contain bleaches or pesticides.
  • Tampons can leave fibres behind that dry you out and cause infections.
  • Anyone who has used tampons will have seen that they come with a Toxic Shock Syndrome warning.
  • It’s a Zero Waste product, you won’t be sending anything to landfill or sea each month.  It even comes in recyclable packaging!
  • Toxic chemicals are released into the environment during the manufacture of tampons and sanitary towels which are made from synthetic petrochemical materials.

Nature Walk at Culmore Point

Last Tuesday I went for a walk to Culmore Point after leaving my son at nursery, intending to take some photographs of rubbish on the beach.  We have lived here for six months and we soon learned after our first walk out to the Point that it’s not a nice place to bring the children, because it is full of garbage.  There were beer cans, plastic spoons, toys, containers and ironically a carrier bag with the message “keep calm and carry on”.  However, I had never really stopped to notice what the main component of this trash was: sanitary towels, they were everywhere.  I took a photo of each and every one of them and at home I counted about 40 photographs.   Local people tell me that the River Foyle is disgusting and polluted, to me this is absolutely unacceptable. I want to be able to enjoy a walk by the Lough and bring my children there so I am sending my pictures to the council and local environmental groups to see what can be done about it.

After my experience at Culmore Point I am more adamant than ever on using the Mooncup.
I haven’t tried it yet but here is a very complete and informative review by a woman who has been using it for five years. (Some strong language at the beginning of the video).

Mooncup Review by Freelee

Zero Waste Home - Blog

Zero Waste Home – Blog

Organic Farm Shop

I am halfway through my second week of my Zero Waste Home experiment. I have come to understand that becoming a Zero Waste home cannot happen overnight and it would probably take me six months to a year to finish using and find replacements for all the products and items that are non recyclable. I still have toothpaste tubes and a cupboard full of plastic bags as well as  countless other items all over the house.  Nevertheless, my black bin won’t be going out at the end of the week, as it is almost empty.

Seasonal Veg Box from White Oaks Organic Farm.

Seasonal Veg Box from White Oaks Organic Farm.

I want to continue with this experiment as it has been a positive journey so far.  The most exciting discovery I have made during the past couple of weeks is White Oaks Organic Farm which sells seasonal vegetable boxes for seven pounds. They only deliver to Donegal so I cycled down this morning from Culmore with my three-year-old on the back of my bike.  The box the vegetables come in is polystyrene but I had brought my own bags so I left it with them.  The potatoes came in a plastic bag but I was too tired from cycling to do anything about it.  I might be able to wash it and recycle it at Sainsbury’s, or re-use it. These vegetables are of high quality, organic and the plastic is minimal so I am over the moon to have found an alternative to shopping in the supermarket.

Zero Waste Home - Blog

Zero Waste Home – Blog

Seven Days of Landfill Rubbish

This is one week of landfill rubbish, unfortunately a lot more than I had anticipated but it’s still a very small bag compared to what we usually throw away.  Another family member who was minding the kids pulled items out of the cupboard that were bought before Zero Waste and had been set aside, despite instructions not to.  Strong warnings have been issued for next week!

What we're sending to landfill this week

What we are sending to landfill this week

  • A plastic bag that contained carrots, bought before Zero Waste and had to be used up.
  • Plastic film from the inside of a cardboard box of biscuits.
  • Plastic film that came inside an envelope containing an application form.
  • Plastic film from the top of a tofu container bought before Zero Waste.
  • Plastic film from the top of a pack of mushrooms, also bought before Zero Waste.
  • This is the worst one: a ball of plasticine, which was discarded on the floor, coated in floor sweepings (could have been composted) and wrapped in a plastic bag (could have been reused).
  • Plastic from some stickers the kids’ Grandmother gave them.
  • Plastic bag that contained herbs, bought before Zero Waste.
  • Wrapper of Jacobs crackers.
  • A couple of pieces of coathangers that my children broke.
  • A soup mix packet.
  • The plastic from a Huggies Bed Mat. Of the paper, I threw away the soiled part and kept the clean portion to reuse.
  • Chocolate bar wrappers.
  • I forgot to include in the picture the leftover food from earlier in the week, that I’d kept sealed in the fridge.

Changing Attitudes to Waste and Sustainability

So all in all I’ve been successful in drastically reducing my rubbish.  It’s quite easy to get two small children on board but harder for adults whose lifetime of habits are already established.  A few people have told me that they would love their household to go Zero Waste but their family wouldn’t allow it.   It’s easy for me to change because it was my own decision to do so.  I  have changed my ways because I am living under threat of an incinerator being built near my house.  I understand that others are not ready and may never be.  Nevertheless, the planet is in trouble and we should have started making changes years ago. This is why the government has to step in and create legislation forcing industry to redesign the products that cannot be recycled.  We have the precision of technology to land the Curiosity Rover on Mars and we can’t think of a better way to deliver a packet of crisps to consumers other than in non-recyclable plastic.  The human race’s priorities are strangely inverted.  Bolivia recently passed a law which recognises the Earth as a “dynamic living system” and grants the planet protective rights comparable to those of a human being.  If only other nations would follow this example.

Screening of Trashed at QFT

Last Thursday I attended a screening of Trashed at the Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast.  Along with Friends of the Earth I talked to a roomful of teenagers about Zero Waste and my Zero Waste Household experiment.  They were as shocked as I was by the film and I was able to explain to them how I was already taking action on a small scale. I was very impressed by these young people who wanted to organise a viewing of the film to the rest of the their school.

I will finish this post with a snippet of conversation from Daniel Quinn’s 1992 novel Ishmael:

“- People need more than to be scolded, more than to be made to feel stupid and guilty. They need more than a vision of doom. They need a vision of the world and of themselves that inspires them.

-Yes. Definitely. Stopping pollution is not inspiring. Sorting your trash is not inspiring. Cutting
down on fluorocarbons is not inspiring. But this . . . thinking of ourselves in a new way, thinking of the world in a new way .”

Zero Waste Home - Blog

Zero Waste Home – Blog


Zero Waste Children

What my rubbish looks like now.

What my rubbish looks like now.

Clean Rubbish

Today is our sixth day of living as a Zero Waste Household.  I have completely changed my attitude to rubbish now and I am convinced that everyone should try being Zero Waste for a few days. I no longer have a disgusting smelly bin in the corner of my kitchen and I am never going back to that again.  It’s absurd to complicate rubbish by mixing it when it is so clean and simple to keep it separated.  I have two plastic bowls on my counter, one for paper and cardboard and the other for kitchen scraps which I empty last thing at night.  I make sure not to overcompensate when I cook so that no food gets wasted.  We’re eating a lot more healthily as most processed food comes in packaging.  There are no biscuits, crisps or chocolate here, and it’s evident in the way that my children eat up their dinner.  We are spending less and throwing away less. It just goes to show what a wasteful society we are.

Unavoidable Plastic

As the house detoxes the “omniplastic” rises to the surface.  I gave my fridge a good clean out and I had to throw away some packaging, so unfortunately my black bin won’t be 100% empty at the end of 2 weeks.  My toddler wet the bed last night and I had completely forgotten that we were using Huggies Bed Mats which are plastic and paper.  I’ve replaced these with a couple of towels, I know I could get a plastic sheet but I don’t want to consume further.

Evading a Mutiny

The other day someone turned up at the house with chocolate bars for the children and I couldn’t deny it to them once they had seen them.  I have to tread a very fine line in order to avoid a mutiny.  My son finds all aspects of recycling fascinating: separating rubbish, different coloured bins, rubbish lorries, magnets that pull out metals in recycling stations, etc.  However he’s not so fond of the idea of sacrificing his favourite treats.   I want this to be an educational experience and not an imposition, otherwise he will not be on board with it.  I don’t want a repeat of him shouting “I hate Zero Waste!” all over the supermarket the other day when I explained that we would not be buying Oreos.   I found him a more recyclable alternative and that evening we sat down and wrote a letter to the manufacturer of Oreos asking them to change the packaging.  He said “they’re not going to listen to me” and while I thought he was probably right, I told him that if enough people asked them the same thing they would have to listen.

Yesterday I cheated, I took him to the shop, bought him some chocolate and threw the wrapper in the shop’s bin.  He said “but that’s not Zero Waste, Mummy”, I never thought I would have heard him complain, but children never fail to surprise you!

Recycling Station by Tarek

Recycling Station by Tarek


Lessons from my Grandmother

It dawned on me this morning that I was going to have to learn to bake.  Apart from one attempt at a cake, I’ve never felt the need before.  Why would I when I can buy cakes in the supermarket ready made and nicely packaged?  My mother and grandmother baked, but I am from a generation of consumers and convenience.  Now I just need to find ingredients that don’t come in plastic.

Zero Waste Home - Blog

Zero Waste Home – Blog