On October 31st I spontaneously decided to start November with the aim of going zero waste. For me, zero waste refers to zero waste to landfill; the rest of my waste is either recycled or composted, nothing goes in the bin. At the time of writing this article it has been just over a week; so, how am I doing?
I haven’t got a lot to show for my efforts, which in this instance is good news. My jar is filled for this week but that is mainly due to one major blunder on my part, but it is a challenge so I expect one or two setbacks. The blunder? I had to get my suit dry cleaned and it came back wrapped in plastic: this makes up around 90% of the contents of my jar. I now know to make sure I avoid this type of waste in the future.
- Dry cleaning plastic cover (90% of my jar)
- Barcode stickers from fruit and veg
- Plastic wrapper from soda stream*
- Material tag from a drink
- Plastic clip from a pair of socks I bought
*If like me you love sparkling water but don’t like buying plastic bottles, a soda stream is a great option with refillable gas cylinders.
Although it has only been a short amount of time, I’ll share what I’ve learnt so far.
Planning is essential
I wrote an article a couple of weeks ago talking about ‘Three things I never leave home without’ (if you haven’t checked it out give it a read). Now I also include plastic and glass Tupperware. This helps me if I need to grab food on the go when I haven’t had time to make breakfast or lunch.
Food packaging today is almost unavoidable without a bit of effort and planning. That’s why I started going to a food market. My diet has shifted to vegetarian as fruit and vegetables are more readily available unpackaged. There are still food items I haven’t found unpackaged as of yet, such as rice and pasta, but I am on the look-out.
People get it
Throughout my first week, I had nothing but positive feedback. Everywhere I went I would bring my own containers and make sure I didn’t get any wasteful items, such as straws when I was grabbing a drink. I did get a few odd looks here and there but after explaining what I was doing and why, people were more than happy to help me out. I got a couple of high fives and the girl serving me in Pret even gave me an extra croissant on the house because of it! So don’t be afraid to be different and challenge social norms; hopefully soon there will be fewer odd looks and more free croissants.
Don’t beat yourself up
If you are trying to make a positive change don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right first time. We are all human and make mistakes. I have certainly made a few during the first week of the challenge and I am sure I will make more as it goes on. My hope is that I can share my experience with you, mistakes and all, and help others avoid them.
My aim is to keep this up for the next month and see how it goes from there. My reason for going zero waste is to gain an understanding of where there are excesses in my life and how I can reduce them.
There are still things that I want to change/find alternatives to
This challenge has so far helped open my eyes to the different streams of waste that can be made from everyday life. I’ve created a list of some of the items I am looking to find alternatives for.
(NB. This may become a living blog post section in the future so that I can continue to add where I make changes and to identify key changes that can be made by everyone).
Toilet paper – I currently use recycled toilet paper but this comes in plastic film which is not recycled. My aim is to find recycled toilet paper with recyclable packaging.
Cooking foil – I use cooking foil multiple times before I throw it away, but I am currently on the hunt for an alternative, one that I am aware of is compostable parchment paper.
Grains, rice and pasta – I’m looking for a store near me where I can find these items unpackaged or in bulk so as to reduce my waste.
Toothpaste – I need a package-free toothpaste; I have yet to decide whether this means ordering one or making my own.
Soap – I am looking to switch to bar soap with no packaging once I have finished what I am currently using.
One week down, three more to go. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them below. Follow my Instagram where I post stories and give updates on my journey. I hope this has provided a quick insight into the zero waste challenge and that it encourages you to look at making your life a bit more waste free.
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