If you’re also jumping on the New Years’ bandwagon and starting to think about a zero-waste lifestyle but are not sure exactly where to start, I have a suggestion for you – don’t simply throw out every single-use, superfluous item you own to make way for your new, sustainable zero-waste items. This is doing the opposite of what you want: it is creating waste.
In case you’re wondering what zero-waste even is, it is the end-goal (not a practical reality right now), of governments and campaigners alike to copy natural sustainable cycles designing out waste so that all products made can eventually become materials to be used elsewhere and therefore don’t end up in landfill, decaying slowly over 1000+ years.
So instead of feng-shui-ing our apartment right off the bat, I’m making a list of the different ways I’m looking to reduce my waste and then will start slowly phasing out some of my other choices with those better, sustainable practices as the year goes on. I’ve so far identified 6 changes, but inevitably as one change always sparks another, I have no doubt I’ll find new things to add to the list as 2018 goes on. By being realistic about how quickly I can (and should) change my ways, this will make me more likely to stick to it long term. It is a lot easier to commit to one or two things and build confidence that actually, yes, moving towards zero-waste is complimentary to your daily life.
Every month I’ll post an update of how it’s going, and I’d love to hear how your zero-waste journeys are holding up. What has been the easiest change you’ve made? What have you found it hard to avoid?
Change #1 – Toilet Paper
I have 4 rolls of toilet paper left, so today I’ve made a bulk order (48 rolls delivered every 16 weeks) from Who Gives A Crap, an American company who produce lovely-looking rolls made from bamboo, sugarcane or recycled-paper. This saves water, carbon emissions and trees! They don’t use any nasty scents, dyes or inks and they give a whopping 50% of their profits to communities to build proper toilets because 40% of the world doesn’t have access to them. This is a save the world, save the earth kind of company.
Change #2 – Toothbrush and toothpaste
Our own plastic-handled toothbrushes which will not breakdown in our children’s lifetime, let alone ours, are nearly at the end of their dental life and ready for a brief stint in our cleaning arsenal before they start releasing harmful BPA into the soil in landfill. So, we’ve just ordered some bamboo toothbrushes from Lavish Essentials. There are plenty on the market, some with biodegradable bristles, some with recyclable nylon bristles. Packaging is kept to a minimum and their test brushes lasted an impressive 8 months, though they don’t recommend you do the same. Bamboo is super sustainable because it is natural and grows incredibly quickly, like a beautiful weed… if your neighbour has some in their garden you know what I mean…
Change #3 – No more make up wipes/cotton pads
There’s nothing wrong with cotton, as a natural fibre it will biodegrade in the compost in a relatively short amount of time. The plastic packaging it comes in, however, less so. Buying in larger packs will help reduce waste, but I don’t have the storage and we want to go further than that because we are conscious that our things should have more than a one-use life-cycle. So my grandmother (crochet queen) has kindly crocheted some re-usable cotton pads. And I love them. They’re going to make such fabulous gifts too for friends.
Change #4 – Bulk groceries
We’re going to try out Reyouzable, a central London supermarket delivery service that brings you your dry goods (and other things like cleaning products) with zero-waste in mind. The first time you order, unless you already have some, they will deliver it in reusable glass jars. The second time, you’ll be ready at the door armed with your glass canisters and they will pour your goods straight in. Having a gluten allergy is what is going to make this one tricky, since so far it’s just durum wheat pasta that they stock, but for now I’ll source my pasta somewhere else and get all my chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans and raisins from there.
Change #5 – Food waste
We already do this, because our schedules tend to be erratic, but we’ll be continuing to shop for fresh produce (from the green grocers and packaged in our reusable bags, of course) every few days to minimise waste. Wilting greens and bruised fruit are smashing in a smoothie, by the way, so we’ll be making those a couple of times a week. We also use an app called Yummly where you can input the ingredients you have and they come up with a list of recipes that use those very ingredients. Ideal for Sunday at 5pm when the shops are closed and you’ve got a potato, an egg, some tortilla crisps and some tinned tuna. Hello, easy fish cakes.
Change #6 – No takeaways (not even coffee)
This is going to be tough as Sunday is Yak And Yeti Nepalese takeout night for us. It’s the closest either of us get to religion. So, if we want takeaway we will have to forgo the delivery, go straight to the restaurant and ask that they put our order in our own reusable container. NB. Im going to continue to use our plastic Tupperware until it breaks, at which point I’ll grab us some more sustainable glass ones. Coffee takeaways will only be possible if I’ve got my handy thermos with me.
How are you doing with your waste-less lifestyle? What changes have you found the most difficult?