Sara and her family from Willingdon, took part in an experiment to see if their waste bin could lose weight and their recycling one could increase. Your County finds out what happened.

“Before starting the experiment, there were a few items I was unsure whether I could recycle, such as cotton buds or envelopes with windows in them. I think we’re reasonably good at recycling, but I know we make mistakes so I wanted to find out how I could improve,” Sara said.

Over two weeks, Sara took part in a recycling audit to see what her family was recycling and what they were throwing away in the rubbish. The waste team at East Sussex County Council then gave Sara some top tips on what improvements could be made.

Sara said: “It was very interesting and confirmed lots of things about what I can and can’t recycle. I was surprised that you can use old tea bags at the bottom of flower pots to help drainage. Also I didn’t know you can recycle the plastic liners in cereal packets, squeezy bottles of body lotions, or that you can bag up shredded confidential papers and put them in the recycling.”

Sara also discovered that envelopes with windows can be recycled, but cotton buds cannot.

Since the audit, Sara has increased her recycling which means she is now putting much less rubbish into the bin. In East Sussex we recycle 40 per cent of our waste and a recent study has shown that up to a quarter of what is still thrown in our rubbish bins could also be recycled. Recycling reduces disposal costs, saving money that can be used towards other essential council services.
“A lot of people think it’s a hassle to recycle as you have to wash things out, but if you have got a family it’s important to think about future generations. The more we recycle, the more the scientists will think about what you can do with those products and that creates jobs and an industry,” Sara says.
As well as recycling, Sara is a fan of vintage style and thinks of creative ways to reuse things instead of throwing them away. She says: “We’re in an age that we have to have something new and shiny, but it’s nice to have something that is old and reliable. I much prefer something quirky with character.”

So from the experiment, does Sara have any top tips for reducing rubbish?

Sara said: “My top tips would be to start by taking reusable bags out when going shopping, rather than buying plastic bags. Check out local charities and what they might take, for example Alice Croft House charity shop in Eastbourne collects used stamps and some animal charities need towels and blankets. From that, you can then move onto thinking about everything you’re about to throw away and whether you can recycle it.”

Remember, you can recycle these at home…

• Paper and card. E.g. toilet roll tubes, tissue boxes, envelopes (even with windows), card packaging from online orders, boxes for toiletries and washing powder.

• Plastic carrier bags & plastic film. If you live in Eastbourne, Hastings, Rother or Wealden: e.g. clean cling film, bread & freezer bags, fruit & veg plastic bags and the film around magazines & newspapers and food products.

• All plastic bottles. Including toiletries bottles, cleaner, bleach and detergent bottles. Please give them a quick rinse first.

• All glass bottles & jars. Use the separate container provided.

• Foil & aerosols. Clean kitchen foil and aluminium trays, deodorant & shaving foam cans.

For tips on what else you can recycle, visit or for Lewes District residents, see

For your nearest recycling point or household waste recycling site, visit recycling