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Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway! The Book of Rubbish Ideas...

Tracey, communing with her rubbish bin
Well, you can't go wrong with a title like that can you?!

Now, I'm pretty hardcore about eco already (I never buy shampoo for example - wait for a good post on that one coming up soon!) and we never buy cards in this house, we always make them, saving, I have calculated, well over £100 a year.  We have a log-maker to turn old newspapers into logs for the fire, and obviously, I run OriginalStitch, a company that is dedicated to using recycled fabrics to make beautiful new things - upcycling.  But I still found a bonkersly huge number of tips in this book - it's a right treasure trove.

I'm delighted to have been given a signed copy by the lovely author, broadcaster and econnoisseur Tracey Smith, of her book, The Book of Rubbish Ideas.  Tracey featured one of our OriginalStitch iPad Slipcases in her recent radio broadcast on BBC Radio Somerset, and was kind enough to send me a copy of The Book of Rubbish Ideas to give to one of my lucky punters.  Signed, no less, which always makes a book feel special.

Now, I have a bit of a problem with my eco outlook sometimes, which is this. Someone (let's say for the sake of argument, which is frequently the result, The Husb) throws something in the wrong bin.  Woe betide he who does this because I immediately launch into a witty, erudite, factually accurate and incisive diatribe on how much rubbish goes into landfill every year, how long it takes a piece of bananskin to break down (which is what he's about to do by this point) and with one last final terrifying fact, I cut him right down to size.

Do what it says by the tins, that's my motto.
Yeah right. In my dreams. Here's the actual scenario.

"Oi. Scuze me. Wrong bin"
"Oh bloody hell woman, it's just a banana-skin/tin-can/piece of paper."
"Ah yes, but you know, it doesn't go in that bin, coz, you know, like, landfill's bad, and it should be in the other one, yeh?"

Well that told him didn't it!  Full of remorse and a keen desire to rethink his binning strategies, he never again puts a bananaskin or a tin-can or a piece of paper in the Bin of Doom again.  Yeah right.

Steps in Tracey to the rescue!  Hoooorah to Tracey for her witty book. Full of facts written in a non-preachy, non-apocalyptic way, with appealing, funny little doodles and sketches to break it up, she presents us with some fascinating facts on how we deal with rubbish, and encourages us to get it right.  Quite how she manages to tell us all off without sounding at all humourless, or accusatory, I don't know - but she does; it's a great read, and it's an easy read, backed up online by her Book of Rubbish Ideas Blog. You can learn a few facts to reel off at naughty Husbands, or whoever the Accused are in your life who don't toe the line.  Facts such as (grabs book, p22....and...."Did you know that plastic 6-pack holders will take 100 years to break down?" or, let's see, grab book, p30...and..."Did you know that 7 out of the 15 most carcinogenic chemicals known to man are used to grow cotton?".  Well blow me down. I didn't, and that is one topic I even claim to know about.)

Going Round the Houses

But I'm beating about the bush, because these are just the opening chapters; the real fun starts when she goes round your house, room by room, poking her nose into your intimate corners, so to speak, giving you tips on how you can take a new approach to your lives, bit by bit, one tip at a time, to help you reduce excess and recycle better.  Without totally re-hashing the book, here's a few snippets:
  • How to register so you don't receive junk mail
  • Popcorn packing: when sending delicate Christmas presents, don't pack with a load of un-recyclable packaging - pack with popcorn! Easy to make by just bunging some popping corn in a pan [but maybe not coated in sugar, so much, even though that really would be a FAB present to receive, would it not?!]
  • Window-cleaner - don't ever buy it again.  Keep an old spray-bottle and use 50:50 vinegar to water and give 'em a wipe with that
  • Stop putting veg and fruit in millions of plastic bags at the supermarket - just put them all in a bag at the checkout together - apples, carrots, broccoli and so on - they aren't going to get harmed, and you end up with a lovely bag that looks like you've stepped straight out of a Harvest Festival
  • Pot pourri - make your own, from flowers, leaves, twigs, cones, essential oils and rock salt, instead of using air freshener sprays full of petrochemicals (you're unlikely to read the list of ingredients in that spray, then look each one up and assess its toxicity, let's be honest, even though there is always a hazard warning on there; but suffice it to say they're a bit ridiculous for something that just needs to add a bit of aroma to the air)
  • Ban the disposable napkins and tissues - use fabric napkins, and hankies (ooh, hey, I know a nice company who make gifts and homewares from recycled fabrics! Have you heard of them? Yes, OriginalStitch, that's right.  Oooh they're gorgeous they are, those ladies. Although, ahem, napkins not on the website yet. *Caught-out look on face*  Be right with you on that one....!)
I can't tell you how many brilliant ideas there are in this book, and just don't even get me started on the fun Tracey has in your bathroom. If you liked my last post on Bath Bombs and it inspired you to make more toiletries for yourselves then you will LOVE this section.

I urge you to buy it, and start making a difference to your pocket, and your planet, right now.
You can grab your copy at a great big 35% discount here at Sawdays, the publisher.  Cheap as chips at under a fiver.

And one lucky reader will get the signed copy! 
All you have to do to enter is add yourself as a follower (just click on Follow This Blog on the left sidebar, up there), and then leave me a comment below, making sure you leave contact information in the little contact form.  You don't have to say anything exciting, you can just say ooh yes please, but I'd love to hear your favourite eco tip if you have one?  You never know, it might make its way into Tracey's next book.
And as for The Husb?  Well, I've dumped it on him, let's see if he trashes it or treasures it.
The Husb - is he seeing the light, we wonder?


Tracey Smith said...

Hello missus! What a lovely post, thank you for your very kind words and I LOVE the picture of yer ole man at the bottom!!! I wonder if he was reading the bit about the bedroom....!!!

Thanks too for running the compie and well done for all the stuff you do to show people a better way...

You're a top chick!

With love and respectacles,
Trace x x x

Sarah said...


Yunno, I really should have Smithy's lil book on me bookshelf, next to me own of course...
What contact details do you need? Will an email do?

Anonymous said...

Yes please then ;) karen@curvespace.com

My favourite eco-tip probably has to be shredded paper - we use it as substrate for our pet gerbils and lizards, and after they've used it it goes on the compost heap. It can also be used as packing material when posting items, and for stuffing things like draught excluders ;)

Catherine said...

Yes, shredded paper is a mighty handy substance - it is great for the log maker thing too!

Mairi said...

I am totally in agreement with the air freshener thing. They bloody terrify me. Who decided it would be a good idea to put a bunch of compounds, (none of which actually existed until we started mucking about with things a bit to much) into a canister at a really scary PSI, with a handy nozzle with which you can BLAST them into you own atmosphere? I think my mother had one once (the one and only time) and every time it was sprayed we I would have a sneezing fit of epic proportions. If that isn't saying something I dunno what is! And the candids of The Husb are brilliant, though I think RADA won't be calling any time soon!

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