Let’s waste less Volunteers

The Lets Waste Less campaign is a designed to encourage the residents of Worcestershire to think about their waste, what they generate and how they can cut the amount that ends up in their black bins.

Run by Worcestershire County Council, the campaign focuses on the top two tiers of the waste hierarchy (reduce and reuse) more than recycle; which is what people think about first when looking at waste.

The main focus of the waste prevention activities are;

  • Composting –WCC subsidises compost bins so they are available to residents at a cheaper price than in the shops. They also offer free compost bins to schools and community groups.
  • Reusable nappies – WCC works closely with Worcestershire Nappy Library to help parents make informed decisions about reusable nappies as this results in a higher conversion rate (around 85% of parents who tried started using reusable nappies). WCC also offers parents £30 towards the cost of reusable nappies.
  • Reducing food waste – WCC supports the national Love Food Hate Waste campaign which offers advice on planning meals, shopping better and using your food once you’ve bought it. With 37% of Worcestershire’s waste being food and the average family throwing away over £700 worth of perfectly good food every year, this campaign really helps!
  • Reuse – Many items end up in the bin that can be reused either in their current form or upcycled to make something new. Along with a network of reuse organisations and charity shops, there are reuse containers at most of the Household Recycling Centres which collect furniture, bric-a-brac and bikes to raise funds for local charities.
  • Repair – The Repair Café culture has certainly arrived in Worcestershire, with six repair cafes in the county, making it the repair café centre of the UK. Volunteers will repair all kinds of items from garden tools, to computers to electrical items and clothing for just a donation.

And why is reducing waste so important?

Currently the amount of waste per person, per year stands at over 400kg. This adds up to a whopping 270,000 tonnes of waste which Worcestershire County Council has to dispose of at a cost of over £32m to the tax payer; money which could be better spent on other council services in these times of austerity.  Out of this 115,000 tonnes was recycled, composted or reused, which gives the county a recycling rate of 42.9%.  The figure of 50% recycling rate by 2020 looks a little difficult to achieve.  Which is where the Lets Waste Less Volunteers come in.

The Lets Waste Less Volunteers were formed to help educate the public about waste prevention and recycling and they are a mixed group of enthusiastic residents who just want to “talk rubbish” to people!  They attend all sorts of events, from school fetes to larger events at places like the Three Counties Showground.  They go into schools and community groups to talk about waste prevention and help them with any project they may have.  Currently there are 26 volunteers with the numbers growing and last year they spoke to over 2000 people and put in over 500 hours of work helping residents to compost more, cut food waste and recycle more.

The other tools in the fight against waste in Worcestershire are the Lets Waste Less website www.letswasteless.com which has loads of information and can help you recycle, show you where a charity shop is or what to do with your broccoli stalks.  There’s also a Facebook group www.lfacebook.com/letswastelessinworcestershire which gives people the opportunity to exchange ideas and views as well as being updated on local and national initiatives.  WCC also works with the six district councils in Worcestershire as part of an initiative to ensure branding and waste messages are the same wherever you go in the county so you will see the same logos and pictures whether you  live in Worcester, Broadway or Kidderminster.

For further information about being a Lets Waste Less Volunteer contact Rob Whitehouse who coordinates the volunteers on behalf of WCC; rwhitehouse@gardenorganic.org.uk and for more information generally about waste in Worcestershire please email Emma Stuart, Waste Prevention Project Manager; estuart@worcestershire.gov.uk