Derry Hosts its First Zero Waste Conference

Zero Waste … It works and it’s happening now!

Zero Waste North West is proud to announce the first European-linked conference on ZeroWaste to provide us all with the answers we need to live in a cleaner Northern Ireland.

Photograph of Joan Marc Simon Director of Zero Waste Europe

Joan Marc Simon Director of Zero Waste Europe

The Director of Zero Waste Europe, Joan Marc Simon will be the keynote speaker at the ‘Countdown to Zero’ conference in the city on Monday 22nd June organised by Zero Waste North West.

This one day conference will bring together experts and practitioners driving Zero Waste practices in Europe as well as local innovators leading the way to a circular economy.

Judi Logue Chair of ZWNW said: “This conference will be of interest not just to specialists in waste management but to any organisation or individual that produces waste. 

“A Zero Waste strategy treats the things people discard as resources to be reallocated rather than as waste to be disposed of.  Adopting such an approach could set our region on the path to becoming a model of best practice. A Zero Waste approach provides many more business and job opportunities than an incineration based model and at the same time respects People and Planet.”

The conference will be opened by Minister of the Environment , Mark H Durkan who said:  “Zero Waste North West is to be commended in rising to the challenge. This conference brings together delegates with a wide range of experience and ideasto promote the circular economy and a zero waste society.”

The conference has been made possible by funding from Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, but places are limited. So it is essential that anyone who wants to attend should book a place.  For more information or to register for the conference visit:

Surplus Incinerator Capacity

Photograph of Viridor’s (so called Exeter Energy from Waste facility)  Waste Incinerator in Exeter, which began operations in July 2014

Viridor’s (so called Exeter Energy from Waste facility) Waste Incinerator in Exeter, which began operations in July 2014

Eunomia revises EfW surplus prediction

Waste consultancy Eunomia has brought forward its estimate as to when the UK will have too much available energy-from-waste treatment capacity, stating that the country is on course for a surplus by 2017/18.

The report factors in both existing EfW capacity and plants under development.

And, the consultancy claims that if development of EfW facilities continues at its current rate, a proposed 70% by 2030 EU recycling target will be impossible to meet, as the UK will limit itself to a maximum 66% recycling by that date.

The claim pitches Eunomia firmly against the belief held by the waste industry, with firms including Veolia and SITA UK all claiming that the UK is on course for a treatment shortfall within the next decade.

Eunomia has today (November 27) published the seventh edition of its Residual Waste Infrastructure Review, in which the consultancy predicts that once operational and planned developments and committed tonnages for export are factored in, treatment capacity will exceed the amount of waste available by as early as 2017/18. Previously it had claimed that this situation was only likely by 2018/19 (see story).
The report claims that currently there is around 9.9 million tonnes of operational residual waste treatment capacity in the UK, with a further 7.1 million tonnes in development, as well as 0.7 million tonnes of other capacity which has reached financial close and is due to start construction.


Based on modelling of changes in total waste arisings, Eunomia predicts that there will be a total of 83.9 million tonnes of waste, including recyclable material, available for treatment by 2030/31.
Should all of the planned waste treatment capacity come online, the report concludes, this would leave the UK with a maximum achievable recycling rate of 66%.

The full Eunomia report can be downloaded from their website.

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

International Recycling Day 17th May 2014

Zero Waste North West launch International Recycling Day 17th May 2014

Derry Trades Union  Council May Day march 3rd May 2014

ZWNW on May Day march 2014

With plans for a multi million pound gasifiying incinerator off the table, Zero Waste North West feel it is time for everyone in this region to keep our eye on the Zero Waste goal.

With this in mind we invite you to join with us to celebrate International Recycling Day in an afternoon of celebration in the Guildhall Square on Saturday 17th May from 2-5pm.

International Recycling Day is celebrated every year on 17 May.  On this day, activities to encourage recycling efforts take place worldwide.  Each year the popularity of the day has been gaining strength, so that more countries are joining in to spread high quality information about everything related to recycling different types of waste during the day.

Recycling saves our natural resources, reduces pollution and creates jobs. It is an excellent way to reverse climate change day by day. This year on 17 May it is important that we continue our efforts to recycle all useful waste.  In this way, we will be decreasing petroleum and water consumption, CO2 emissions and energy consumption.  At the same time, by doing so, we will avoid tons of rubbish being generated.

International Recycling Day is a day designed to make all human beings become aware of how important it is that they treat waste appropriately so as not to contribute to climate change and to protect the environment.

With the local elections just around the corner it is important that our politicians honour the will of the residents of our city and commit to a zero waste strategy.

Last year thousands supported our campaign and signed our petition rejecting gasification as an option for dealing with our waste generation crisis. Now is the time to move forward towards a goal where waste is designed out of the system. So come along on Saturday and celebrate with us, as a community we can embrace the goal of zero waste together to ensure a healthy planet for the future for generations to come.


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

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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

Garbage Warrior

Michael Reynolds is a  maverick American architect. Garbage Warrior is a feature-length documentary.  It tells  of his fight with and ultimately triumph over bureaucracy as he seeks to create a space, in New Mexico, where he and his colleagues can develop radical approaches to sustainable housing.

He is anything but mainstream.  This is the story of an extraordinary individual and his dream to create more sustainable ways for people to live in the world.   He built houses out of things that other people discarded – old tyres, bottles, beer cans.  The houses that he built in New Mexico were off all the utility grids.   They were autonomous units generating their own power, processing their own sewage. Collecting their own water.

Running time 90 minutes.  Summary at the Internet Movie Database.