My zero waste journey nowadays is less about ‘stuff’ and more about doing the most I can to help our planet. My current focuses include researching, educating, supporting local businesses and environmental organisations, litter picking and buying second hand. Of course, I still aim to produce as little physical waste as I possibly can and my journey will never be over as I continually strive to do better.
Use up what you have first
One of the biggest lessons I have learned during my zero waste journey is to use up what you already have before you even think of replacing it with an eco-friendlier version. Think about it; what’s less environmentally friendly than throwing away something that works perfectly well just to replace it with something else? So, if you have 3 half bottles of shampoo in your bathroom, use them up completely before you invest in a shampoo bar!
Food waste is one of my biggest pet peeves. If there is one part of my zero waste journey that I am particularly proud of, it’s that my household produces very little food waste. It has taken me many years and takes a lot of weekly planning, but I can safely say that in a typical month, I do not send any food waste to landfill. The small amount that is produced (mainly fruit and vegetable scraps) goes straight into my compost bin. This year I have started to grow my own food and even re-grow my vegetable scraps too! It is not always successful but if it’s going to end up in the compost bin anyway, it’s worth a try!
My favourite food waste tip is to buy a reduced ‘yellow sticker’ food from supermarkets. These are items which are still perfectly edible but are close to their ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date. Sometimes items are reduced just because their packaging is slightly dented! If they are not purchased, they will likely be thrown away. A lot of these items will be packaged in plastic which can be off-putting, but there is no point in the packaging AND the food being sent to landfill. Most of this food can even be frozen, so don’t be afraid to stock up!
The issue with modern-day consumerism, notably the fast fashion industry, is a big one. The constant need for everything to be ‘now’ has left the world filled with poor quality items (which will inevitably break and end up as waste) and impossibly appalling working conditions for factory workers. I try to combat this issue by only buying second-hand items where possible. This includes clothes, household items and even my car! This year I gave myself the goal of completing a ‘low buy year’ where I only purchase or replace essential items. I have found it a great way to really appreciate what I already have and it has made me think twice about what I deem ‘essential’. If you are thinking of purchasing something, ask yourself some questions first; do I really need this? It is good quality? Was it ethically made? Will I still have it in 5 years time? Can I borrow it instead of buying it?
Don’t buy into the social media hype
I have found that social media, Instagram in particular, has been a great source of inspiration for me over the last few years. However, at times it can be disheartening to see influencers and bloggers with their perfect cupboards full of identical glass jars and impossibly plastic-free fridges. I (we) have to keep in mind that this is not the zero waste ‘norm’, at least not for me. Using old ice cream tubs as Tupperware and wearing the same dress instead of buying a new one is. Remember to have fun with your journey! Don’t compare yourself to others. There is no pressure to be the best or to actually produce ZERO waste, it’s about making small, positive steps and helping others (and the planet) while you do.
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