Over four tonnes of rubbish that would otherwise have gone in the bin was avoided in February thanks to Wiltshire residents who took part in Waste Free Feb.  

The challenge, which was organised by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, asked Wiltshire’s residents to try to produce as little rubbish as possible and instead reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost more. Over three hundred people took part across the county, with the majority taking part for the whole month of February. 

Most people (63%) opted to limit their general waste for the month to either a carrier bag’s worth or a small pedal bin bag’s worth.

People taking the challenge said packaging on food items such as cheese was a problem and throwing parties or entertaining could result in a lot of waste and required a bit more thought.

For some it was an opportunity to look at what more they could do to build on a low-waste lifestyle, while for others it was a completely new challenge to develop new waste-minimising habits they could continue long-term. 

Actions that people took to reduce their waste included starting a compost bin, avoiding black plastic and taking their own containers to refill in shops.  One participant said the most challenging aspect was “just a change of mindset – which we have now adopted for the future.”

Many highlighted the benefits of taking on the challenge, from encouraging a healthier lifestyle by avoiding plastic-wrapped convenience foods and microwave meals to how they’d sold and given things away that they would normally have thrown in the bin.

The average Wiltshire household currently produces almost half a tonne of rubbish a year, not including what is thrown away when people are out of the house. There are huge positive environmental impacts to producing less rubbish, including using less resources such as water, oil, energy, and land, less waste being sent to landfill and incineration, and local councils being able to spend more on public services instead of on landfill tax (currently £91 per tonne).

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Sustainability Officer Jessica Thimbleby said:

“We’re really pleased so many people got involved with Waste Free Feb and made changes that have had a big impact on how much waste they now throw away.  Thanks to you all for helping save over four tonnes of rubbish – that’s equal to the weight of two and a half medium-sized cars! It just shows what a big difference we can all make with small changes.” 

Those interested in reducing their waste can read tips and guidance at www.wiltshirewildlife.org/waste-free-february.