The zero waste trend is everywhere right now. Wondering how to go zero waste yourself? Read on!
You’ve seen it in blogs, on the news and in magazines: the zero waste trend is spreading fast and for good reason. Our planet is drowning in it and it’s largely our fault. We drive the demand for convenience, and with it comes thousands of tonnes of waste.
While people are still buying this (literal) rubbish, the companies producing it will not stop. It is up to us, the “Average People” of the world to show them what we want by voting with our feet – and our wallets.
People are starting to wake up to this and are adopting a “zero waste lifestyle” – eliminating waste wherever possible. They’re blogging their journeys and showing everyone else how to go zero waste – usually by storing a year’s worth of waste in a Kilner jar and acting a bit smug about it.
Is it just me, or do those glass jars look a little daunting? Well, as blogger Lindsay Miles points out in her blog post One Year’s Worth Of Trash, not everything makes it into the glass jars. Different people have different rules, and the glass jar concept invites comparison. This would probably work for some people. It wouldn’t work for me.
How to go zero waste.
- Think about the items you put into the bin most often. Some say recycling should be avoided. While I agree with this in principle, I think it’s best to concentrate on the waste that will go to landfill first. Start by taking note of everything you put into the bin over the next week or so. Maybe you use a lot of disposable nappies, cleaning wipes or plastic film. Then think about ways to reduce that waste. Don’t just include items you put into the bin at home either – remember to take note of what you dispose of outside the home too.
- Know what to do with items you can’t reuse. Check out your local authority’s website to find out what you can recycle at home and at your local recycling/waste centre. Then check out local supermarkets for recycling points: many supermarkets have battery recycling schemes. Put a shout out on your local Freegle or Freecycle. Then if all else has failed, check Pinterest! There may have been a reuse you haven’t thought of.
- Reduce your food waste. I love to batch cook – I have a set of five or six meals that I cook once a month or so in a batch big enough for at least two meals. The leftovers get put in the freezer and pulled out again as needed. We’re not where I want us to be yet, but this is one of the areas I feel most confident. Anybody can do it! My favourite bulk recipe is my Easy Vegetable Curry. It works with almost any vegetable – I’ve not yet found anything that couldn’t go in it.
- Buy food in bulk. Buying food in bulk can often mean less packaging as you aren’t buying lots of little sets of packaging. Some foods bought in bulk come in better kinds of packaging too – rice bought in 500g packs come in plastic, while larger packs often come in strong brown paper sacks. If you don’t think you’d get through that much, pool with another family or two and divide the cost.
- Rethink your cosmetics. I’m not saying you should be making everything yourself (wouldn’t it be great if we had time?) but think about everything you use. Do you need to use all of it? The capsule wardrobe is making a comeback and there’s no reason a capsule makeup bag couldn’t be a thing too. Another thing to think about is items such as cotton wool pads and facial wipes. You could make reusable versions of these – I made a reusable cleansing pad in about 20 mins with no sewing experience at all!
- Leave the waste in the shop. When buying school uniform for my sons, I noticed how many hangers I was trying to cram into my bag. I already have all the hangers I need at home and as far as I know they aren’t recyclable. I started taking the clothes off. The assistant hadn’t asked if I wanted the hangers, but when she saw me taking the clothes off the hangers she followed my lead.
Things to remember as you start your zero waste journey.
- Take your time. Rome wasn’t built in a day! The best way to change your habit is to make small, easy steps towards your bigger goal. Test new ideas individually: making too rapid a change will lead to overwhelm and giving up.
- Just ask. Ask the people serving you if you can use your own containers, have your drink without a straw/lid, leave the hangers. It’s OK to just ask. If nothing else, you’ll have made someone else stop and think about their actions going forward.
- Know that you don’t need all of the things. I’m not just talking about general things here, I’m also talking about the zero waste things. You don’t need a stainless steel straw to be able to ditch plastic straws. You don’t need a metal lunch box. You don’t even need the KeepCup. Do these make things easier? Yes – but that doesn’t mean you need them to start your journey.
Start your zero waste journey before you rush out and buy all of the things. Treating a zero waste lifestyle like a fad will diminish it’s importance to you, making you less likely to stick to your goal.
The most important thing to do? Start today. Not next month. Not next week. Now. Do something today that will mean you have less waste next week. Do something next week that will mean you have even less waste. Keep going – let it snowball. Because that’s how meaningful change happens. Little by little, one step at a time. Good luck, and let me know how it goes. I’m on the journey too – I’ll be right with you.
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