Cut out the rubbish for Lent

Posted on: 9th March, 2018

Category: Trash Talk

Contributor: Allison Roberts

Allison Roberts of Exploding Tree is documenting her family’s self-imposed challenge to create zero rubbish for a whole year. If you would like to join Allison in her quest, or suggest some tips to help her achieve it, you will find her blog at

The idea of giving up rubbish, giving up ‘making’ rubbish that is, has been sitting heavy inside me for a long time. This year there has already been so many inspiring stories in this paper about people becoming trash-conscious, that I think the time is right for me* (*us that is, since my family will hardly get away without being involved). So, we’re on a mission to give up rubbish for a year –from this Lent to next.

I know all about Lent, I deal in chocolate. I think anyone who is able to withstand a temptation for 40 days has a superpower, and I look on in awe. I can’t seem to keep any kind of practice going for more than a few weeks; I have tried regular journaling, yoga and meditation; I have given up meat, caffeine, white sugar, red wine and gluten; I’ve attempted rubbish before too. All have made me feel healthier, but are resolutions that have failed once I’ve been offered a cupcake, a morning lie-in or a roadside packet of crisps.

That’s why I’m doing this challenge in a public forum; this way I’ll be more accountable and I’ll hopefully get to hear some of your stories to keep my motivation up. I’ll also be able to use this column as a means to explain to and motivate my wider family when they come to visit. I’ve thought this master plan through!

For some reason one of the only things I feel consistently committed to is the thrill of low-impact living – I was essentially raised at Canada’s largest amusement park, my dad being the head plumber, so I need thrills to function. I get similar ‘wah-hooooo!’ moments climbing trees, harvesting beans and orchestrating lift-shares. Who knows why we are driven by the things we are? Luckily this slight fixation has some great benefits attached – lots of cycling and healthy eating are a given – so the fact that I can’t seem to stick anything else out doesn’t seem to do me too much harm.

My self-imposed rules of the game:

• Don’t create rubbish. Any rubbish that I make (or have been gifted), I will document and keep for the duration of the year.

• Rubbish in this project is defined as anything that cannot be easily composted, cleanly burnt or widely recycled.

• Minimise recyclables (giving up wine completely is too much!). Any glass/aluminium/tetra-paks shall be cleaned and kept in the shed for the duration of the project

If you think this sounds like an interesting challenge why don’t you join me? Just for Lent or for the whole year! I’m also going to put these articles up, along with other information and musings, on a blog at I hope some of you will share your stories and knowledge on there too. Anyone who wants to join in for the full year will be rewarded with chocolate!

Along the way I hope to meet some local heroes who know much more than I about why we shouldn’t make so much rubbish. I read recently that by 2050 scientists are expecting there to be more plastic than fish in the ocean. If you are knowledgable about such things, please share that knowledge with me.

I look forward to documenting my successes and struggles over the next 12 months and also finding some local businesses that are able to help us to succeed.

As I write this I can already feel temptations piling up; that familiar urge to give up before I start. However, I have been thinking about this for so long now that I know in my gut the time is right. I’ll give it all I’ve got and who knows, I might even be able to cut the rubbish out for good!

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