Skip to main content

The Rubbish Diet

509. Karen Cannard

Karen Cannard from Bury St Edmunds challenges the nation to try The Rubbish Diet.

Karen from Suffolk started The Rubbish Diet blog in 2008. To date, she has challenged an online community of over 3,500 members to cut down their waste. On average, members reduce their black bin waste by 33%, and have saved 600,000 wheelie bins (over 1,200 tonnes) from landfill. Collectively, the members that have taken The Rubbish Diet challenge have saved £260,000 by shopping more smartly and not wasting food.

In 2007 Karen was inspired by the Love Food Hate Waste campaign which resonated with her. She realised her family were throwing away produce that could have been eaten; usually food labelled as past its ‘use by’ date. In 2008, she signed up to volunteer for her council’s Zero Waste Week Challenge.

During an eight week trial, Karen threw away just one plaster. She went on to establish The Rubbish Diet, to share her learnings with the community. Karen teamed up with the social enterprise Cwm Harry to bring The Rubbish Diet to the rest of the UK. The Rubbish Diet blog sends emails to members with tips and advice on how to reduce waste. It enables the community to recycle more, shop smarter and reduce food waste. The blog has a forum for members which answers questions, solves problems and shares successes.

Alongside the blog, Karen has now become a volunteer columnist for the Bury Free Press, using it as a platform to talk about her project, improving recycling and reducing food waste. She has been featured on BBC Radio Suffolk as the ‘Bin Doctor’ helping to explain the importance of reducing waste to the wider community. She’s a regular visitor to schools in her community, sharing her knowledge with both staff and students.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Through ‘The Rubbish Diet’ Karen has inspired and supported thousands of people to cut down on their waste. Her work has helped to keep hundreds of tonnes of rubbish out of landfill, as well as helping families to reduce food waste and save money. Karen’s commitment to tackling waste is outstanding and I am delighted to recognise her as the UK’s 509th Point of Light.”

Karen Cannard said:

It’s a real honour to have been recognised for this award. With recycling rates flat-lining and food waste being such a significant issue, every positive change we can make at home is now vital. I am proud of how many people The Rubbish Diet has helped and of my hard-working colleagues who have helped to make that happen. While many find The Rubbish Diet an easy challenge, others find making changes more tricky and this often depends on local facilities. We try to make reducing waste as easy as possible for our dieters whilst also calling for changes in design and better reuse and recycling systems. I am delighted to have been awarded a Point of Light and would like to use this as an opportunity to thank everyone who has taken The Rubbish Diet, who are all volunteers in creating a more resourceful UK.

Local MP Jo Churchill said:

“Karen’s contribution to our local community in Bury St Edmunds has been immense and her dedication to promoting a more sustainable lifestyle is outstanding. I have met and spoken with Karen on many occasions and I would go as far as to describe her as a ‘one woman wonder’! She thoroughly deserves the recognition of the Points of Light Award and I look forward to working together with Karen, in the future.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

Volunteer now

Search winners