One bag a week

Take the One Bag A Week Challenge

Welcome to the One Bag A Week Challenge!

What’s the challenge?

It’s simple: put no more than one bag of rubbish in your bin each week.

The One Bag A Week Challenge is here to help you do this and to help Southwark become carbon neutral by 2030.

One bag a week


We’re all trying to do our bit to reduce our impact on the climate. Reducing your rubbish is one of the simplest actions you can take today to help Southwark reach its target to be carbon neutral by 2030 and protect our environment.

If everyone in Southwark simply used all the recycling services they currently have access to, our recycling rate could be as high as 48% compared to our current 35%.

On average, around two thirds of your rubbish bin is recyclable or reusable, and it costs six times more to process rubbish than it does recycling. This is money that could be better spent on other vital services such as schools and parks.


One Bag a Week only refers to non-recyclable rubbish - you can put out as many clear recycling sacks or fill up your recycling bin as much as you like! Don’t forget to empty and rinse before you recycle.

But let’s start with reducing waste in the first place.

  • Reduce

    Don’t let your food go to waste

    Food in the fridge stored in tupperware

    On average, around 20% of the waste collected in Southwark’s rubbish bins is food. With some meal planning, using what you buy, and freezing leftovers, the average family could also save just over £40 per month!

    Did you know, your fridge should be below 5°C? A fridge that’s too warm can spoil milk quicker and ruin other perishables so by turning your fridge down just a bit can add a day or even more onto the life of the food and drink items you put inside.

    Make the most of your freezer! If you buy in bulk because it’s better value for money, freeze things that don’t last long such as bread and cheese.

    Buying in bulk is also ideal for batch cooking. Separate out big pans of soup, bolognese and curry into pots and tubs and freeze for an easy ready meal and avoid throwing leftovers away.

    For even more tips, check out

    Switch to Reusable Nappies

    A large pile of disposable nappies next to a single reusable nappy

    If you’re a new parent or even a pro at changing nappies, your baby is likely to need between 4,000 and 6,000 changes from birth to potty training.

    Using real nappies for your baby can help reduce your household waste by nearly half. It can also save you at least £25 a month.

    Even switching to just one reusable nappy a day instead of a disposable nappy, will save an incredible 912 disposable nappies from being sent for energy recovery.

    If you have a child under 18 months old or are pregnant and you live in Southwark, you can apply for a free trial pack. The pack provides everything you need to get started:

    • 3 x reusable nappies
    • 1 x velcro fastening wrap
    • 1 x roll of compostable liners
    • 1 x wet bag

    Reusable nappies are made from soft fabrics which are kind to babies’ skin. They can be washed at 30°C and can be thrown in the wash with the rest of your clothes.

    Apply for your free trial pack here.

    Compost at home

    Someone emptying food waste into a compost

    Even after reducing your food waste, there are some things you need to throw away, like banana skins, egg shells and teabags. Home composting is a great way to avoid these ending up in your one bag a week and can save the equivalent of all the CO2 your kettle produces in a year.

    Community groups, schools, places of worship or similar can receive up to two free compost bins which you can collect from the reuse and recycling centre. Email to apply.

    Remember the little things

    Even by taking a reusable bag when you go shopping, packing your lunch in containers instead of single-use wrapping, buying your fruit and vegetables loose and saying no to junk mail, you can make a big positive impact every single day.



  • Reuse

    Reusing the things we already have is a great way to avoid waste.

    Cherish your textiles

    Someone repairing clothing

    Every year, we throw an estimated 336,000 tonnes of clothing in the bin in the UK alone. Did you know that your old clothes can’t go in your recycling at home either? That’s because they can get caught in and clog the machinery at the Materials Recycling Facility. Avoid throwing them in your one rubbish bag a week as well by following the steps below:

    • Go shopping in your own wardrobe and drawers to rediscover items that got shoved to the back. An old top might go really well with the new trousers you just bought.
    • Swap with friends or donate to your local charity shop. Those items you may have grown tired of could become someone else’s favourite new outfit.
    • Ask a friend or relative to show you how to repair damaged clothes. A small rip often means clothes are thrown in the bin but with some simple hand stitching you could save your favourite items and extend the life of your garments considerably.
    • Drop off unwanted clothes to your nearest Textiles Recycling Bank which you can find here or bring them to the Reuse and Recycling Centre.

    Sell, Swap and Donate

    Clothing being folded and being packed into boxes ready for donation

    Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to get rid of items you don’t want any more, particularly bulky items that don’t fit in your one bag and are hard to transport:

    • Freecycle is a nonprofit platform that lets people swap, lend and give away all sorts of items from kitchen utensils to DVDs.
    • Ebay and Facebook Marketplace are easy ways to make a little money on all types of items and use Vinted to sell clothes you do not need any more.
    • Charity shops are always in need of donations and can even help you have a clear out. If you’ve got bulky items such as furniture that’s in good condition, you can request a free collection from such charities as British Heart Foundation and Emmaus.

    Visit the Reuse and Recycling Centre

    The entrance to Southwark Household Reuse and Recycling Centre

    If you're a Southwark resident you can dispose of a wide range of unwanted household and garden items at the recycling centre for free.

    The Centre is open from 8:30am until 4:30pm every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. You don’t need to book in advance (unless you would like to bring a van and then a permit will be required) but you do need to bring a document such as a utility bill to prove you are a Southwark resident.

    Whilst you can bring most things to the Centre, please check online what you can and cannot bring to avoid disappointment on arrival.


  • Recycle

    Find out more about how to Recycle Right in Southwark

    Most of the everyday things you throw away at home can be recycled in Southwark:

    • Glass bottles and jars,
    • Cardboard boxes, paper, newspapers and magazines (even the glossy ones),
    • Plastic bottles, pots, tubs and trays,
    • Metal cans and tins,
    • Food and drink cartons (Tetrapaks),
    • Egg trays,
    • Tin foil and aerosol cans.

    What’s left is typically the trickier to recycle soft plastic films but don’t fear, you can find your nearest drop-off point for things such as plastic carrier bags, bread and frozen food bags and all types of soft plastic packaging using London Recycle’s Recycling Locator. Drop-off points are very often as close as your local supermarket.

    If you can’t take these items to a local drop-off point, please put them in your rubbish bin. They can be scrunched up to make them very small, taking up less space in your one bag a week!

    Dispose of your electrical and electronic items safely

    Electrical items like kettles and hairdryers and electronic items such as phones and laptops and all types of batteries can’t go in your recycling or rubbish as they can be very dangerous. When your rubbish and recycling is tipped or thrown into the back of our collection trucks, the waste is compressed and squeezed to make room for more and this pressure can cause batteries and electrical items to burst and spark which can cause fires.

    Someone placing small electrical items into the recycling bay at a Reuse and Recycling Centre

    So far in 2022, Veolia has already seen two vehicle fires and two fires within the facility caused by electric scooter and laptop batteries so please bring them to the Reuse and Recycling Centre where we can dispose of them safely or find your nearest Waste Electrical and Electronic (WEEE) Bank here.

    Your One Bag A Week

    Whatever might be left after following these easy steps can go in your one bag of rubbish.

    Let’s recycle better, together. For each other. For Southwark. Take on the One Bag a Week Challenge TODAY!

Page last updated: 11 July 2023


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