Five easy 'zero waste' switches you can do today

I’m Charlotte, a blogger and social entrepreneur for Zero Waste Life, which aims to empower schools, businesses and individuals to reduce their waste. To mark the start of Zero Waste Week 2019, which runs from September 2nd – 7th 2019, here are 5 low waste tips which are unbelievably easy.

1. Buy nothing!

When you start out trying to reduce your waste it can be all too easy to buy things to match the aspiration of your new lifestyle - I speak from my own experience here.

When I first went ‘zero waste’, I decided to buy things like Tupperware boxes, a reusable earbud, bamboo toothbrushes and a reusable razor. Whilst all the items I purchased are useful, I purchased them before I used up the disposable items I owned, as I wanted to look fancier. I didn’t consider that I already owned cutlery, so didn’t need to buy a miniature set to travel around with. It didn’t dawn on me that buying all of these items goes against the whole ‘zero waste’ ethos as some of these things were just gimmicky.

Now I try to use what I already own or make do without. If I really feel I need an item, I’ll make a note of it, which I’ll review in a month or so, to see whether I really needed it or it was just an impulse. Where possible, I will purchase items second-hand through apps or in charity shops. Or better still I’ll ask to borrow things from friends or family.

When a purchase needs to be made (say for things like food) I will buy items loose without packaging from markets or ‘zero waste’ shops where I can take my own containers.

2. Bring your own and learn to say no!

I’d guess that you already have a reusable bag, coffee cup, bottle, box, fork and piece of fabric at home. Congratulations, you’ve got yourself a free ’zero waste’ starter kit!

Remembering to use this is a little harder, as you’ve got to remember to take the items out with you, and then you’ve actually got to remember to use them.

It’s surprising how accommodating cafes, restaurants and shops are when you present them with a reusable item and ask to take away what you’re purchasing in them. I’ve taken away soups, hot and cold drinks, cheeses, meats, cakes and full meals. When I politely explain my reasoning behind my strange request, I’m often greeted with a “oh, what a great idea!”

Refusing single use items like plastic cutlery, straws and cups because you have your own is really empowering!

3. Pick one area to blitz waste from

You can’t go ’zero waste’ overnight, it’s just impossible! It is far easier to pick an area of your life and reduce all the waste from it. This is less overwhelming and your successes will spur you on to tackle other areas.

I’d recommend focusing on an area of your home, such as bathroom waste or pick a part of your weekly routine, like food shopping.

In the bathroom you could swap from dispenser soap to solid. Remembering to take reusable bags when food shopping is another good one to start with.  Give yourself a big pat on the back when you have achieved your mini goal.

You’ll be reducing waste in all areas of your life before you know it. I promise, it gets addictive!

4. Hide your bin

When I went ‘zero waste’. I moved my bin so that each time I needed to use it I would have a mini panic that I’d lost the bin and could then ask myself questions like:

‘Why does this need to go in the landfill?’

‘Is any of it recyclable or compostable?’

‘Could I reuse this before I throw it away?’

‘Next time, what could I do to avoid this waste?’

This process of self-auditing means that you can be planning ahead for when you next need to buy items, and you can have a lower waste item on your mind.

5. Find a tribe

Whether you like gazing at pretty pictures on Instagram, want to debate in a Facebook group or would prefer to watch a film or book, you can find yourself a ‘zero waste’ tribe.

This gives accountability and inspiration (you’d be surprised at how many suggestions you can get for how to use up a few wrinkly carrots) and also acts as a great reminder that all these changes aren’t solely on your shoulders. We’re all part of the same world here, so the small changes I make, which are combined with your changes, means we’re making a pretty incredible difference.

If you’d like to follow more of my ‘zero waste’ journey, where I share my struggles and successes, please take a look at my blog www.zerowastelife.co.uk, where you can download free resources to help you start and level up your ‘zero waste’ journey.


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