“We can hardly believe it ourselves, but it has been 5 years since we started collecting waste in Leeds”.
The early days
Forge Recycling was formed by brothers, Harvey & Fraser Mills. Harvey had a background of working in the waste industry, but was feeling quite uninspired by his employer’s national – rather than local – focus. Fraser had recently finished University and was looking for a new challenge.
The brothers decided to bring their knowledge and experience together, and so Forge was born. In the beginning they bought a second hand Iveco van and the two of them spent the summer clearing out student housing in Headingley.
Research suggests that women are generally ‘greener’ than men. If we look at it at a base level, a French study shows that women emit 32.3 kilograms of carbon a day, compared to men emitting 39.3 kilograms. This difference is due to apparent gender variations in: green attitudes, purchase behaviour, susceptibility to green advertising, transport choices, food choices, and driving habits.
However, whilst women are ahead in many ways when it comes to being environmentally aware and friendly, the majority of people – women included – on our planet are not doing enough to stop, or even slow, the harm being done to the Earth.
This is a small guide for women on how to live in an environmentally friendly way, using ideas you might not have considered before. Most of these tips are relevant to men too, so why not have a read!
Cosmetics, Make-up & Toiletries
Cosmetics and make-up, alongside toiletries such as shower gel, are often packaged in plastic. Most of these are recyclable, but here are some points to think about if you wish to cut your impact on the environment:
Could you purchase items in bulk, therefore using less packaging?
If you must use your usual brands and products, could you reuse that bottle or pot for something else?
If you really must dispose of your packaging, always recycle everything you can. Remember: a small plastic bottle can take 450-1000 years to degrade in landfill, and research suggests that is where most plastic bottles (around 90%) end up.
When it comes to items for removing make-up and cleaning your face, opt for reusables such as flannels and crochet pads, as opposed to disposable and unrecyclable facial wipes.
Nail polish is sold in glass bottles, with plastic lids. Perhaps you could use your empty bottle to create your own nail varnish colour.
Feminine hygiene products
It is no secret that women menstruate, and in doing so we get through a shocking amount of disposable sanitary towels and tampons during our time on Earth. These items are bad for our health; most aren’t made from cotton, and contain plastic chemicals, and those that are made from cotton have been bleached. Cotton crops are also often sprayed with a variety of chemicals, so even the cotton itself is not clean. Now think about where you wear these items! Tampons, too, carry a heightened risk of you developing TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome).
Not only are these sanitary items bad for your health, but they are bad for the environment too. The majority end up in landfill, and when you consider how many are used by every woman, that is a lot of waste to landfill. The average woman uses over 16,000 disposable sanitary items during her lifetime.
If you are needing some new clothes, it is so easy to buy clothes from shops which don’t consider the environment in their clothing production. This process involves energy consumption, the use of toxic chemicals, the use of land and natural resources, and the use of water.
Instead of buying new clothes from places that don’t consider the environment, you could:
Upcycle items you already own
Make your own clothes
Organise a clothes swap party, or attend one
Buy second hand, from a charity shop or similar
Buy new clothes from an eco-friendly shop, such as People Tree
Don’t forget to wash your clothes on as low a temperature as possible and hang your clothes up to dry rather than using a tumble dryer. Also consider which laundry detergent you use.
Please note: This competition has now ended. The winners were Hamilton’s Sandwich Shop in Horsforth. Thank you to all who entered.
It’s Forge competition time again! We are feeling full of festive spirit, so we wanted to help out a fellow local business by doing what we do best – waste management! Do you have a business in our coverage area? If so, why not enter our competition today to win a whole 3 months of free business waste collections? You have to be in it to win it!
How do I enter?
All you have to do to enter is follow and RT us on Twitter – don’t worry if you already follow us; just retweet one of our tweets about the competition to enter! You may RT us up to once a day, and each tweet will be counted as an individual entry, meaning you’ve a higher chance of winning the more times you retweet us.
Competition Terms & Conditions
The competition will run from 10am GMT on 16h November 2015 until 10am GMT on 14th December 2015. Any entries made before or after this time will not be included.
The winning business will be announced on 14th December 2015, and will be selected at random. The winners will be contacted by us on that day.
If the winner does not respond before 14th January 2016, the prize will be forfeited, and we will be within our rights to draw a new winner – again, at random.
The competition is only open to businesses located within the areas of Yorkshire we cover: Brighouse, Leeds, Bradford, Dewsbury, Keighley, Ilkley, Otley, Huddersfield, Halifax, Harrogate, and Wetherby. Please check our website for further details.
We reserve the right to draw a new winner at random if a winner’s business is not located within the areas we cover.
Entrants may enter up to once per day.
There will be one winner.
This competition is open to businesses only.
Forge Waste & Recycling reserve the right to publish the winning business’s name on our website, and in media regarding this competition.
There are no cash alternatives to the prize.
The prize is for 1 collection per week, for up to 3 waste streams (for example: General Waste, Mixed Recycling and Glass). Any extra waste on top of this will be payable.
The 3 months’ free waste collection will begin at the end of your current contract, and will require you to sign a 12 month contract with ourselves, which includes the 3 free months.
If you require any further information about our services, please give our friendly local team a call on 0345 50 50 905.
With the plastic bag charge now firmly in place in England, most of us are very conscious of our plastic bag usage, and some of us have invested in reusable bags made of stronger plastic or other materials, such as fabric. However, are you aware of how much plastic you come in to contact with throughout the rest of your day, away from the supermarket aisles? The chances are, you’ve not given it much thought. 275,000 tonnes of plastic are used each year in the UK, which is equivalent to around 15 million bottles per day – and that’s just the ‘single use’ plastics.
This article takes a look at how normalised plastic has become, and how integrated it is within our daily lives. Below, we go through a typical day, highlighting where you would come into contact with this popular material.
You are woken up by your alarm; this will either be a plastic alarm clock, or your mobile phone’s alarm feature – a mobile phone which is made of plastic, and may be in a plastic protection case, with a plastic screen protector on it too.
Your bathroom is really full of plastics: toothbrush, toothpaste tube, shower gel containers, shampoo and conditioner bottles, razors, soap dish, toilet brush… the list goes on. Some bathroom products, such as shower gel, will contain hidden plastics such as microbeads too.
Meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner
Aside from some fresh fruit and vegetables, the chances are that most of your food items come in either plastic packaging or glass jars.
If you go out for lunch during the working week, your lunch will probably be supplied in a plastic container. Your accompanying drink may also be in a plastic bottle, or a plastic cup with a plastic drinking straw. It may be handed over to you in a plastic bag, complete with a plastic knife and fork, or even plastic chopsticks. If you eat a packed lunch prepared at home, it might be contained in a Tupperware box, or a plastic sandwich bag. Bag of crisps? Plastic. Chocolate bar or biscuits? Plastic.
If you’re cooking at home, you may wash up after your meal using washing up liquid from a plastic bottle and clean your work surfaces down with a plastic spray bottle of antibacterial liquid. Your kitchen sponge is often made of plastic too.
Is it any surprise the use of plastic in Western Europe is growing at a rate of 4% per year? It has become so integrated in to society, it is now hard to image life without it.
The working day
Now think about your professional environment. Offices contain plastic computers, with monitors, keyboards and mice all made from… you guessed it – plastic! Desks can be coated in plastic. Electrical wires are covered in plastic. The chair you sit on at work is made from plastic. The covers on notepads are often made of plastic. The communal water filter jug is the same material – as is the coffee machine. You might have plastic cups supplied. Pens and other stationery are plastic too. As is the telephone you use, and the hands free earpiece!
If you are a nurse, for example, many medical supplies are plastic, and supplied in sealed plastic packaging to maintain sterility. If you are a builder, you will wear a hat made of hard plastic all day. Whatever your occupation, you are guaranteed to have contact with this material.
Back at home, you might do some laundry. Think about what the detergent is bottled in – and the fabric softener. Then think about what you hang your washed clothes up on to dry. You could watch the (plastic) TV, play a game on your (plastic) Xbox, play with your child and their (plastic) toys, do some ironing with your (plastic) iron… whatever you do, it will be there, in your home.
Why does all of this matter?
Some plastics we reuse over and over again. Think about the last time you bought a new desktop computer; the chances are it was a long time ago. It is the single-use plastic items that are the real problem, and disposal of all plastics.
Not all recyclable plastic gets recycled – in fact, far from it. This means that some is sent to landfill: families in the UK throw, on average, 40kg of plastic into landfill per year, which could have been recycled. This needs to change.
Some plastic gets dropped and becomes litter, which ends up injuring wildlife and heading in to our oceans to wreak havoc there too. This is already causing huge environmental problems. The aim of this article is to get everyone to think more about the amount of plastic in their life, and make an effort to cut down on the ‘one use’, ‘throwaway’ items. When you do dispose of plastic, please do so thoughtfully – and always recycle!
Whether you have visited Japan or not, you will have no doubt heard that Japan is perceived as a very neat and clean country. Visitors are often taken aback by the lack of litter – especially in cities, which conversely seem to have an absence of rubbish bins in which to place said litter. This article looks at how Japan reached this level of cleanliness, how it is maintained, if it is true of all of Japan, and what we can learn from this to tackle the UK’s litter problem.
Japan’s clean streets
Japan currently has a 77% recycling rate as a nation; compared to just 20% in the USA and around 36% in the UK. These figures alone show how committed to recycling Japan is, and this passion for waste management seems to pass over into litter too.
There are occasional road signs in Japan telling people to take their rubbish home with them, and that, it seems, is all that is required. There aren’t signs everywhere in public places, threatening fines. There are no huge anti-litter campaigns. People just take their waste home with them, and that’s that!
Japanese culture contributes greatly to this litter-free environment. The Japanese don’t really do ‘eating on the go’, which can contribute to a lot of litter in other countries. Alongside this, as a people, the Japanese generally have a large concern about what others think of them – because of this, they would not want to be seen in the street to be littering or not recycling.
Japan’s lack of street litter is particularly interesting and impressive, as residents have to pay to have home rubbish collected; they purchase designated bags for their waste, which they then have to take to a collection point. This combined with the lack of public bins would, in the UK, cause a huge litter problem I am sure!
World Cup 2014
After their team lost a World Cup football match against Argentina last summer, the Japanese fans made the news worldwide by cleaning up the Brazilian stadium before they left. This wasn’t an organised effort; this is simply what the Japanese do. It is a shame that it was so newsworthy, but it really was quite shocking behaviour, and entirely admirable. They collected all types of litter, from abandoned plastic bottles to tiny pieces of confetti.
Japan’s culture & the background of waste
Before the 20th century, Japanese culture focused on reuse, and very little waste was created. Many items were made from wood, and were built to last. When they broke, they were repaired. People collected scrap bits of paper littering roads, which was then turned into toilet paper.
During the 20th century, rapid economic growth led to mass production of disposable items. This huge change caused problems with waste levels, which in turn caused large environmental issues. Also, it was realised that Japan does not have a lot of room for landfill. Combined, this caused a change in thinking. Authorities pressed moral and environmental issues onto their people, and progress in recycling began. Since the year 2000 in particular, the Japanese have been very conscious of waste and recycling. Laws have kept businesses up to date with recycling too.
Nowadays, Japanese school children are encouraged to clean up after themselves from a young age; they are put into teams and they clean up classrooms and hallways in their schools using a rota system. This instills morals regarding waste and litter from the very start.
The hidden Japanese litter problem
Despite all of the above information, I must admit that Japan isn’t perfect; litter does occur outside nightspots on a weekend, thanks to drunk salarymen, tourists and locals who don’t care about societal norms – although it is usually quickly cleared up. But some litter isn’t picked up, and it’s this litter that makes its way into Japan’s waterways and eventually, the sea.
Many of Japan’s beaches are littered with a mix of litter dropped on the sand by sunbathers, and litter washed up from the sea. Does this litter prove that the Japanese aren’t so well behaved regarding litter and recycling when nobody is watching?
What can the UK learn from Japan?
Unfortunately, many aspects of the Japanese approach to waste and litter management wouldn’t work in the UK. As mentioned above, if our councils charged us to collect our rubbish – and not even from our homes – there would be uproar. There would also be a dramatic increase in littering and fly-tipping. Cutting down on bins would have much the same effect.
Sadly, the cultural difference means Japan’s tactics aren’t very transferable. How nice it would be, however, if us Brits could take a leaf out of Japan’s book – dropping less litter and picking up the litter of others would be a great place to start.
Litter is a huge problem worldwide, and the news has been full of reports surrounding marine waste pollution in particular lately – most of which is made up of plastics, including single-use carrier bags, bottles, or microbeads. As has been reported recently, this toxic waste is having a detrimental effect on wildlife, marine life, and our planet’s environment in general.
Science Alert published an article yesterday which announced that researchers in the US and China have conducted studies which found that the humble mealworm could be able to help us with our plastic problem. It has been found that this larvae can safely eat and digest plastics such as styrofoam, which are otherwise unrecyclable and therefore get sent to landfill, or end up littering our streets and oceans.
The mealworms which have been eating these plastics have remained healthy throughout tests, and their droppings also appeared safe to use as soil on crops. The mealworms biodegrade the plastics in their gut, meaning that what they pass out of their system in stools is environmentally fine.
This research could be a breakthrough in waste management. With further research, scientists could find a way to mirror the worm’s stomach enzymes and successfully degrade plastics previously sent to landfill. And, could a marine animal also do what the worm has proved it can do?
In the UK we love animals, and according to a survey conducted by the PFMA, around 46% of us own at least one pet; 24% of us own one or more dogs, and 17% of us own one or more cats. In total, the UK is home to around 58 million pets, so it’s clear that not only do we adore animals, but most pet owners own more than one.
With pets come extra waste, unfortunately, and many of us just bin it without really thinking about it – even if we’re quite good at thinking about the waste we produce ourselves. The main problem is that some of the waste produced by pets isn’t very pleasant, and so our first instinct can be to just dump it in the bin, out of sight (and smell).
Below we look at the ways in which our favourite pet types produce waste, and how we can attempt to lower this using reuse and recycling ideas.
When training your puppy, you can end up getting through a LOT of puppy pads – in fact, the amount of pads you get through daily equates to a third of the nappies used by a newborn human baby. If you’re using standard training pads, that’s a lot of waste being sent to landfill. Alternatives are to try biodegradable pads – which are 100% eco-friendly, and compostable – or to try not using training pads at all. The latter idea may sound crazy, but some have managed it – however, if you do go down this route, bear in mind that your carpet will need a deep clean afterwards!
Leaving dog mess on the pavement, road or in woodland is littering, and also disgusting! However, if owners scoop the poop 3 times daily, they will be sending a staggering 1000 plastic bags per year to landfill. If you choose this method, you could reuse old plastic bags from home (but check for holes!) Otherwise, you could look into other waste disposal methods, such as burying it in the garden (away from your house), or flushing it down the toilet. Flushable, non-plastic bags are available, which dissolve in your toilet and are environmentally friendly.
Processed dog food tends to come in tin cans or plastic bags. Whilst the tins are recyclable, the bags often aren’t. If you have to buy packaged pet food, try to stick to the cans, or bagged dry food only if it is in recyclable packaging. However, why not try cooking your own dog food? There are plenty of books on the market full of recipes, your pooch will be getting all the right nutrients (which is debatable for processed food), and you’ll be saving on waste.
Dogs love toys, but many on the market aren’t built to last, and then you have to throw them out. Instead, look out for long-lasting toys made from earth-friendly/recycled materials, or machine washable fabrics. These toys are becoming more widely available, but if you are struggling, try a search on Etsy. An alternative would be to make your own from old clothes, which you could fix with a needle and thread when it tears.
The majority of pet cats in the UK do go outside, however if you have kittens or an indoor cat then you will know all about the joys of keeping a litter tray for your pet. 2 million tonnes of cat litter gets thrown into landfill every year. Most of us start out using the clay type, but some of us move away from that to other types, as it can be messy and create a dust which isn’t good for your cat or you to breathe in.
More environmentally friendly options are soil or sawdust, which can both then be used in the garden when solids have been removed. Some owners use their wood pellet litter in fires in winter, whilst others compost this (just don’t use it on compost destined for placement around food crops, just incase). There are also recycled paper litters available, but remember to change litters over slowly if you do change – otherwise your cat may protest outside of the tray.
Processed cat food containers present the same problem as dog food containers. Aim for the recyclable packaging at least, or try making your own – there are books on the market to help you do this. Cats require more specific nutrients than dogs do from their food, such as the amino acid, taurine.
Cat toys tend to last longer than dog toys, and also tend to be made more from fabric, which means that when kitty tears it with her claws, you are able to fix it for her with a few stitches, ready for further playing. My cat’s toys have lasted her years because of this. You could also make your cat some new toys very easily by reusing cotton reels, and many other household bits and bobs.
Hay, straw and sawdust can be added to your home compost bin. If you were to make your own bedding from shredded paper, or purchase this, you could also add this to your compost bin. Recycled paper is readily available as bedding in pet stores, which is great if you don’t have time (or a shredder) to make your own.
Entertainment for rodents tends to be long-lasting unless it is food, however they do love to chew things for fun; why not try items such as your old toilet roll tubes, to give them a second use, and save yourself some money too.
Let us know below if you have any other suggestions.
The concept of ‘zero waste’ can seem daunting, especially if it is new to you. We live in a country which has for too long relied on disposable items for help in carrying out many everyday tasks. This is especially true in the kitchen, where we are faced with frequent use of cling film, plastic bags, egg boxes and kitchen towel, amongst other items. If you are wanting to explore a zero waste lifestyle, or start your waste-free journey, your home kitchen is an excellent place to begin making changes.
Why Zero Waste?
In a nutshell, the less waste the better – for the environment, and also for your pocket! Waste which gets sent to landfill creates greenhouse gases, which is terrible news for the environment, and leads to global warming. There are also other major concerns linked to this, such as the impact of the waste on wildlife, who ingest waste or get tangled up in it.
Total zero waste is a huge challenge, but even just attempting one of the below tips could start you off on your path to a zero waste lifestyle. You’ll probably find that once you start being mindful of these things, it is impossible to switch off from it – wherever you are, and whatever you are doing! And that is great news for the environment, and also, you will find, for your pocket.
9 Zero Waste Kitchen Tips:
Swap disposables for reusables
This means swapping out kitchen paper for a reusable cloth, sandwich bags for reusable containers, paper napkins for cloth ones (perhaps made from old fabric), and cling film for a plate lid or homemade linen food covers.
For food storage in the kitchen, use glass containers such as Mason jars, which can be reused for years and years.
Say goodbye to plastic bags
You don’t need plastic bags in your home, even if you think you do! Stop using them in your bins; just use the bin without, and wash it. If you usually reuse your plastic bags for supermarket or other shopping, invest in a cloth bag or bag for life instead.
Embrace tap water
You don’t need to buy bottled water. Tap water is generally fine, but if you aren’t so keen on the taste of yours, add something to it, such as a squeeze of lemon or a slice of apple. Not only will it taste nicer, but you’ll be adding nutrients too.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk means a lower product to packaging ratio, which can only be a good thing when it comes to waste reduction.
If you’re visiting a specific bulk buy outlet that sells food products from large bins, take containers with you from home, such as jars and cloth bags, so you don’t require any packaging there.
Find new uses for food waste
Coffee grounds are great for keeping ants at bay, over-ripe bananas are perfect for baking, and spring onions regrow in a jar with some water. Get imaginative with your food waste, and you’ll be surprised at what you can reuse.
Create less food waste
By scrubbing some vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, instead of peeling them, you will be preserving more nutrients and also stopping the scraps from becoming waste. Win-win!
Create a compost bin
Whilst this could be argued to not be ‘zero waste’, I am including it, as it is good for the environment, and an excellent option for the few food scraps you will be producing when living a low-waste lifestyle. Some non-food items can also be added. Our guide to creating your own compost pile can be found here.
Prepare lunches at home
Food on-the-go tends to cause many problems with waste packaging, so why not prepare your work day and school lunches at home, and save waste as well as money? You’ll also no doubt be eating food that is of higher nutritional value, and generally better for you!
Try a lunch box with various compartments, so you can carry several food types whilst keeping them separate – and without using foil or cling film. Don’t forget a reusable bottle for your drinks, too.
Minimise gadget numbers
Do you really need that new spiralizer? Kitchen gadgets are often faddy or end up breaking, which then leaves you with waste. Remember that when it comes to cooking, Google is your friend, and will often provide you with alternative methods of doing kitchen tasks without the need for a specific (and often expensive) gadget.
Please note: This competition has now ended. Thank you to everyone who entered, and congratulations to our winners: Amanda Jayne Davis, Emma Falvi, and Lesley Cohen Wright.
After our summer holidays, a lot of us feel like doing some DIY in the house, or having a clear out and de-clutter. And what better time of year to do so, before the weather takes a downward turn towards Autumn?
We are giving away FREE SKIP HIRE in Leeds to 3 lucky winners in our competition – one midi skip, one maxi skip, and one jumbo skip. All you have to do to enter and be in with a chance of winning is to complete 1 or more tasks on the Rafflecopter giveaway widget below. The more tasks you complete, the better your chances of winning!
You will have use of the skip for a week, and the usual Forge skip hire guidelines apply, which can be found here. Please see the terms and conditions below, for full details of the giveaway. You must live within an LS postcode to qualify.
Terms & Conditions
The competition will run from 12am GMT on 7th September 2015 until 12am GMT on 30th September 2015. Any entries made after this time will not be counted.
The winners will be announced before midday on 1st October 2015, and will be selected at random by Rafflecopter. The winners will be contacted that day.
If one or more of the winners do not respond before 15th October, the prize or prizes will be forfeited, and we will be within our rights to draw new winners at random via Rafflecopter.
The competition is only open to people within an LS postcode.
We reserve the right to draw a new winner at random if a winner does not live within the LS postcode area.
There will be three competition winners.
Forge Waste & Recycling reserve the right to publish the winners’ names on our website, and in media regarding this competition.
There are no cash alternatives to the prizes.
We are giving away the hire of one midi skip, one maxi skip, and one jumbo skip. The size will be allocated at random to each winner, via Rafflecopter.
Each prize (skip) can be kept by the winner for 7 days.
The skips must either be placed off the road (driveway/garden), or a permit fee of £25 will be payable to Leeds City Council for on-road storage.
Dates for the free skip hire are to be agreed between Forge Waste & Recycling and each winner.
As more and more of us become increasingly environmentally aware, many of us are taking an interest in our food waste, and what we can do with it. Some councils collect it from residents’ houses, but for those that don’t, composting may be the solution you are looking for.
It is also worth checking what your council does with their food waste if they do collect it; if it is sent to landfill, why not deal with it yourself at home instead? Read about the benefits, below.
Benefits of composting
Less waste to landfill
Waste that goes to landfill is bad for the environment – it creates greenhouse gas emissions, which in turn contributes to global warming.
Composting at home for one year saves gases equivalent to those your kettle produces annually, or the gases your washing machine produces in just 3 months!
Creation of nutrient-rich compost for your garden
The compost you produce from composting your food waste at home will be a great fertiliser for your garden. It will be full of all the nutrients your plants need, such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. This means it will also keep your soil pH balanced, and its condition improved. Why buy compost when you can create such a good, natural one yourself?
How to compost
Choosing and placing a compost bin:
Place your bin somewhere sunny, and on soil. If not on soil, ensure there’s a layer of cardboard or old compost on the base, as liquid will escape through the base.
There are a variety of compost bins available to buy, or even better – make your own, using wooden pallets or other wood you have lying around. Whichever you choose, ensure you have a plan for how to remove your ready compost from the bottom of the pile.
What you can compost
It is suggested that you create a 50 / 50 mix in your compost pile of ‘green’ items and ‘brown’ items. Green items rot quickly and contribute nitrogen and moisture, and brown items decompose slowly and bring carbon and fibre to the mix. If you layer them, it will create the perfect environment for compost creation.
Green items include:
Fruit and veg peel and scraps
Teabags and coffee grounds
Weeds and plants
Brown items include:
Egg shell and egg boxes
Vacuum bag contents
If you’re not sure if you can compost a certain item, always check! Never add dog mess, cat litter, or any cooked food to your compost pile.
When will my compost be ready?
It generally takes 9-12 months for compost to break down and be ready for use. As you wait, continue to add a mix of green and brown items to your pile. If it gets dry and doesn’t seem to be rotting, add more greens. If it is too moist or smells, add some browns.
You will know your compost is ready to use when the pile has shrunk in size significantly and the items you put in it are no longer recognisable, except perhaps some eggshell and the odd twig here and there. Just fish those out of the mix, and add them back on the top of your compost pile.
Do you have any tips for composting? Add them in the comments below, and help others.