We came across a new zero waste campaign for October set up by Kathryn Kellogg, Anastasia Nicole and Rebecca Newburn of Going Zero Waste, a northern hemisphere response to Plastic-Free July.
As stated by the Zero Waste International Alliance and outlined on Going Zero Waste, Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use. Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.
We set out to offer a daily tip and piece of advice for going zero waste throughout October, outlined below for you. We have divided them into categories based around Bea Johnsons 5 r’s which is a great outline for anyone looking to move towards being zero waste. They are Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. We’ve added an extra R, Resources to share some useful places to carry on learning about zero waste.
Do you really need it: Yep, step one, refuse - whatever you’re shopping for, stop and think, make sure its a considered purchase and only buy if you really need it. The stats on household waste are huge, with Recycle Now stating that UK households produce around 30m tonnes of waste a year - that’s equivalent to the weight of around 3.5m Double Decker buses, a queue of which would go round the world 2.5 times. The surest way to reduce your waste is to reduce the amount you buy. As consumers we can be activists - we can dictate what we want, if the endless consumption slows and reduces then careless production will have to as well.
Just Ask: Making the choice to reduce your waste is the easy part - sticking to it and making it happen is a lot harder simply due to the lack of options around. To increase your options chat to shop keepers and see if they would be happy for you to use your own containers - all they can say is no and at least you would’ve brought the issue to their attention and it may encourage them to change going forward. Challenge yourself to walk away from options that don’t fit in with your new zero waste challenge and research alternatives.
Cheap Products: If you have to buy new, look to invest in better quality items that should last longer and be easier to repair should anything go wrong. Increasing a products life cycle means less waste in the end.
Packaging: Refuse packaging and head to your nearest refill store. As a reaction to the current plastic crisis more and more zero waste shops are popping up. Be sure to check out your nearest store to go package free. It may mean having to do your weekly shop in more than one location but we’re sure you’ll enjoy reducing your plastic waste.
Pre-packaged fast food: It may be a tough one but avoiding convenient fast food will dramatically reduce your waste. Be prepared and make packed lunches/snacks to take out with you whenever possible.
Kitchen and Bathroom Plastic: Plastic has snuck into our kitchens and bathrooms, look to make a move to natural products to reduce your waste. A natural item can be composted and returned to the earth moving in a circular economy rather than a plastic item that ends in landfill. We love and stock Eco Coconut scourers and dish brushes, Loofco loofahs, Gwenen Eco wax food wraps, knitted cloths, Georganics toothcare, Scence deodorant, Naked Necessities razors, Suma soaps and Natures Anchor shampoo bars that can all help you on your zero waste way.
Plastic Tea Bags: Did you know a lot of tea bags use polypropylene as a sealant? Next time you’re buying your tea check out the brands credentials or make a switch to loose leaf. Brands that don’t use plastic: Pukka, Waitrose Duchy, Teapigs, Aldo Premium. Currently using plastic (some have been quoted as looking to change in 2018 but we couldn’t find updated information) Tetley, PG Tips, Twinnings, Clipper and Yorkshire Tea.
Cigarettes: not only bad for your body but also terrible for the environment. Most cigarette filters are made up of tiny pieces of plastic so one filter ends up being thousands of tiny fibres that can be released into the environment. Data from 2015 told us that approximately 4.5tn of the 6tn cigarettes consumed annually are littered across the globe. Vapes are not much better with plastic bottles used for the e-liquid. So if you are looking for extra motivation to quit think about the added benefits for the environment!
Waste in your local environment: No one likes seeing waste carelessly thrown in their environment, take action and get involved to reduce careless waste and its impacts on the environment. There are plenty of nationwide campaigns to get involved in with charities such as Surfers Against Sewage, Beach Guardian, and 2 Minute Beach Clean all hosting beach and city cleans. Remember that you don’t need to go to an organised event to make a difference, picking up litter as you go is just as helpful!
Your Waste: It can often be daunting starting on your zero waste journey but an easy place to start is to become aware of the waste created in your household. Take time to take a look at your rubbish and recycling and see if there are any common offenders and ask yourself if there’s something you can do without or alternatives available. Challenge yourself to pick an item and do the research. Don’t rush to change too much too soon, slow and steady is more manageable.
Energy Use: there is plenty you can do to reduce your energy use, from switching to a renewable / greener supplier to being mindful of the resources you use around the house. Some things you can try: making sure lights are switched off, heating only when necessary, timing showers, changing to more efficient bulbs, having a no electricity evening and indulging in a candlelit evening!
Share: Look to consume less and share where possible. In his book How the Rich are Destroying the Earth, Herve Kempf discusses the relationship between our socio-economic system and the current ecological crisis and offers the simple guidance of ‘consume less, share more’. While not always possible we think sharing is currently very undervalued in our society and we think its something we can all work on to do more.
Microplastics: The stats on micro plastics are very scary, made even more so by the fact that we can’t see them, despite them being everywhere. Environmental Science and Technology recently published information about a study that analysed 39 salt brands globally and revealed micro plastic contamination was widespread. The study suggests that assuming an intake of 10g of salt a day, the average adult could ingest approx 2000 micro plastics each year from salt alone. One source of micro plastics is from our washing machines which can cause tiny particles of our clothing to be washed down our drains and into the environment. Luckily there are now a couple of solutions with filters available that can be attached to your machine, or you could use a Guppy Bag or Coraball in your wash to collect. Its still not a perfect solution as the micro plastics collected will still end up in landfill due to no recycling options currently available but they should help reduce the amount in our water systems.
Food waste: Currently about a third of the worlds food is lost or thrown away each year, equating to 1.6b tonnes annually. The UN has set a target of halving food loss and waste by 2030 but if current trends continue it will rise to 2.1b tonnes annually. Look to reduce your home food wastage - check out Anne-Marie Bonneau of Zero Waste Chef for inspiration and tips, we also enjoyed this article with advice from Bianca Mularoni of Zero Waste Path.
Make Your Own: A great way to reduce waste is to make your own. Making your own means no packaging and making the quantity you need, it can also be pretty fun! Some of the easier make your own projects we’ve tried: nut milks, yoghurt, home cleaning products and beauty products.
Shop Local: checking out your local market and high street may offer you package free options or at least shop keepers open to have conversations around using less packaging. You may also find items that have travelled fewer miles and have less of a carbon footprint.
Invest in reusable products: Our throwaway culture is to blame for a lot of the current global waste issue. If you find yourself using a single-use item a lot look to invest in a reusable option, such as bottles, cutlery, straws, coffee cups, napkins and handkerchiefs.
Buy Secondhand: Reusing something means less resources used and less going to landfill. When you next find yourself shopping ask yourself if you can find the item secondhand.
Mend: Instead of throwing away broken items look to give them a new lease of life by fixing them. For pottery we love Kintsugi Kits, an ancient Japanese art of beautifully mending breakages with gold tinted glue. There are also great Repair Cafes around where handy volunteers can help you mend your item. Some brands also offer free or affordable repair services - ask when buying to find out.
Containers: If you want to start avoiding single-use packaging having containers to hand is key. Keep an eye on all packaging you currently have and see if any can be reused. We love saving unusual bottles and jars, sacks and bags and having them to hand for future use. Preparation is key for avoiding waste, keeping containers handy will mean you are ready for any unpackaged shopping opportunities.
Water: This is a tip for those chilly winter months where a hot water bottle is essential (for us anyway!) Instead of tipping the cold water down the sink maybe either reheat it up to be used again or tip it out on houseplants. Being mindful of water waste is essential in our modern world where resources are only going to get more scarce. Always think before tipping it down the drain to see if you can use it around the house in anyway.
Take the time to know your recycling options: Currently 60% of people recycle regularly but that means theres 40% of the population who don’t. Everyone in the UK should have access to a kerbside collection, get in touch with your local council if you have any queries regarding whats available to you. Get organised and start collecting. There are also numerous recycling banks in locations such as supermarkets and car parks that can increase your options of what can be recycled.
Terracycle: This company does amazing things with waste. They offer all sorts of innovative recycling opportunities with a range of free programs you can join to start collecting at home, work or school. They also have a zero waste box (we use this for Incredible Bulk) that can ensure any usually hard to recycle plastic packaging can be recycled instead of being incinerated or sent to landfill.
Upcycling: A great way to turn waste into something useful. You can either look to support local artists and creators who turn waste into pieces of beautiful art, such as Smartie Lids On The Beach, or look to get involved with craft / upcycling workshops, such as those run by Upcycle Kernow,
Products: When buying products look for items that have been made with recycled materials, buying a recycled item means less resources used and less in landfill.
Compost at home: According to Recycle Now, composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in 3 months. When organic waste is sent to landfill air cannot get to it meaning that as it breaks down it creates methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. If composted oxygen helps the waste breakdown which means no methane. If you’re not ready to compost at home check out Sharewaste where you can search for someone who is willing to take your compostable waste!
Podcasts: A great way to learn about zero waste and listen to personal journeys and advice. There’s Zero Waste Life Hacks Podcast, The Hippie Haven, Zero Waste Countdown, The Sustainable Minimalists amongst many others!
Books: Here are a few of our favourites; No More Plastic, Martin Dorey; Outsmart Waste and Revolution in a Bottle, Tom Szaky; No Impact Man, Colin Beavan and Payback, Margaret Atwood.
We hope these will help you on your zero waste journey!