Jenny Lowes is a service improvement officer who works alongside our waste management team.

She has provided a range of tips for coping with and making the most of waste on our website. Here she shares her experience of reducing and dealing with waste while staying at home with the family.

We are a family of four and like many families across the county we are all now working and schooling from home.

The one thing I have noticed is the number of extra bottles and cans in our recycling – we put out three full recycling boxes last collection. I suppose it will be inevitable as we are all eating at home, no more school dinners or eating out and the first couple of weeks’ home schooling may have led to a few more bottles of wine been drunk. However, we have got more into a routine and keep this treat for a weekend only now.  Making and eating tea together with the daily coronavirus update on the TV has become the new normal.

Like most people, we have made use of all the online deliveries – just things that we couldn’t get from the weekly supermarket shop, such as books, table tennis bats (my kitchen island has been converted),  paint brushes, running belt and even a new bike that came in a giant cardboard box. So there’s quite a bit of cardboard waiting to be dealt with. We are lucky where we live that we can put some cardboard out at the kerbside if it fits into the bag. The larger pieces are more problematic and we would have taken them to the household waste recycling centre (HWRC) but whilst these have been closed due to the virus and lockdown of non-essential travel i have put some torn up card into the compost bin and I am planning on testing the cardboard box home compost bin idea out, too.

Unfortunately, our old washing machine packed in last a few weeks ago. I tried to fix it with an internet search but in the end we have decided that it had many problems and it was time for a new one. Ordinarily we would have taken the old one to the HWRC for recycling, but we had to decide whether to a) store it until they reopened b) ask the new washer supplier to take it away for recycling (but this does cost) c) ask the collection authority to take it for us (but this also costs and this service isn’t currently being operated by all districts). It is currently stored next to the garage where with the old broken fridge-freezer, HWRCs have just re-opened but I’ll wait a while for the queues to go down, it’s not urgent and my waste isn’t causing any harm at home so it’s not really essential travel.

The new fridge-freezer is very clever and tells me that it is three degrees inside, which is the right temperature to store food in the fridge. If you’re not sure whether your fridge is too hot or too cold our North Yorkshire Rotters in normal times would be able to give you a fridge thermometer at one of our events, but in the absence of these currently try www.chillthefridgeout.com to check the settings of your fridge. I am getting used to storing all fruits apart from bananas in the fridge. They do last longer but I have learned that I need to take a few of each out every couple of days and put them into the fruit bowl or the kids forget to eat fruit if they can’t see it – out of sight, out of mind!

The freezer is well stocked and is full of leftovers ready for a quick tea on busy days. Almost all food can be frozen and I would highly recommend reading the A-Z list from Love Food Hate Waste.

Mixing education with reducing waste, we have made a bug hotel out of old pallets, bricks, tiles, bits of wood and pipes. It’s a work in progress so it’s a bit bare at the moment but I am sure it will fill up soon.

We planted a hawthorn hedge and woke up on Easter Sunday to find that the Easter bunny had eaten most of it – so a quick look through the recycling for some plastic bottles and, hey presto, rabbit guards! So far they seem to be working.

Next week we hope to make our own mini wormery out of an old plastic soup tub using tiger worms from the compost bin. And don’t forget we still have our online subsidised  home compost bin offer or have a go at making your own – here’s a friend’s excellent home-made version.

There are lots of ideas online about what to do with reusing items and crafting with children and not just junk modelling but things like making bird feeders, bird boxes and newspaper plant pots, so it’s worth having a search. On one sunny day we used up some left over paint and found some stones to paint.

There are lots of ideas online about what to do with reusing items and crafting with children and not just junk modelling but things like making bird feeders (including this one), bird boxes and newspaper plant pots, so it’s worth having a search. On one sunny day we used up some left over paint and found some stones to paint.