Zero Waste Living
Wednesday 28th February 2018
It now seems impossible to ignore the movement against waste. Articles have been appearing on an almost daily basis in the national press. The Evening Standard’s ‘Last Straw’ Campaign to encourage all of London’s hospitality industry to ban plastic straws, has gained significant traction, with Michael Gove announcing a potential outlawing of plastic straws. However, even the most dedicated anti-straw campaigners, like myself, struggle with the concept of ‘zero waste’. To many, ‘zero waste’ conjures up the idea of people living off the grid, brushing their teeth with sticks, and using natural ointments and potions to wash with. However, do your research and you discover that the majority of ‘zero waste bloggers’ reside in cities around the world, have normal day jobs and certainly don’t match the image I had conjured up.
In researching this topic (that I will admit once scared me) I found that funnily enough, zero waste living and blogging, appears to be spearheaded by women. Whilst browsing the various blogs and social media campaigns I was also amazed to see how unintimidating this movement was. Rather than having to reject all forms of modern living that we have become accustom to, the movement centres around small changes we can all make to reduce our household waste.
Credited as the original leader of the ‘zero waste movement’ is Bea Johnson, a Californian, who has managed to reduce her annual household waste to a single jar. Johnson has been living waste-free since 2008 and her motto that has inspired many others to take up the cause is ‘Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot (and only in that order)’. Johnsons’ blog shows that adopting a ‘zero waste’ lifestyle does not have to mean rejecting the self-indulgent pleasures of modern life. In fact, Bea makes ‘zero waste’ living look as stylish as any Danish interior! Bianca, of Zero Waste Path, the homepage of her site highlights three beginner’s tips –
Always bring a cloth bag with you and refuse plastic bags
Always bring with you a reusable bottle so that you don't need to buy plastic disposable ones
Buy local! Going to the Farmers' Market is not only a great way to support your community but is also one of the easiest ways to shop without packaging!
And with a shop that sells great looking handmade soap and shampoo bars, Bianca, does an equally great job of making ‘zero waste living’ look stylish and accessible. For those of you who are not into reading blogs, the YouTube channel Girl Gone Green has loads of great short videos advising people on numerous ways to reduce their waste, such as, how to have a zero-waste lunch or how to travel producing zero waste.
The great thing about all these activists is how welcoming their platforms are. Rather than insisting people do it all straight away, they seem to be aware of just how much a challenge reducing waste can present. Convincing people to give up the smallest of things can be a tall order, let alone making a case for giving up almost all their daily essentials and replacing them with alternatives.
Their trick is to start by removing just one or two things in your home that produce unnecessary waste. An easy one is to stop buying soap in plastic bottles and instead buy bars of soap. If, like me, the plain old white soap isn’t that appealing, don’t fret as 2017 saw the rise of the soap bar and you can now buy all kinds of delicious-smelling and luxurious soap bars. Another easy step is to try to avoid buying any veg or fruit that comes in plastic packaging, as well as reducing the waste you produce, this is also often the cheaper option.
If you are feeling a bit more adventurous then how about trying to get rid of as much waste in your weekly food shop as possible, by shopping in one of London’s bulk stores. There are a number of places including Whole Foods and Planet Organic where you bring your own containers and stock up on dried food or put your money where your mouth is and support ‘Bulk Market’ London’s first zero waste supermarket. Originally based in Dalston and selling everything you might need but without the needless packaging, they’re now crowdfunding for a new location. Recently, at Paper Round HQ we switched to getting our milk delivered in glass bottles. If you’re not dairy drinkers then you can also now have your nut milk delivered in glass jars through mymylkman.co.uk.
The recent insurgence of zero waste shops, and companies, alongside the proliferation of media stories, blogs and TV shows on the topic, shows that this movement is here to stay and once doing a bit of research, I dare you not to be inspired to start cutting down on the waste you produce.