I blame Lauren Singer. It was winter 2015 and her name and the zero waste movement had crossed my path during a hunt for a new blog to read. I was intrigued, if a little cynical.
“How can someone be ‘zero waste’?” I thought the first time I clicked on her blog, before falling down the rabbit hole.
Here was a stylish young woman living in NYC who was actively embodying her values in her day-to-day life, but from the outside you’d have no idea anything was different. She dressed in designer clothing brands,worked a 9-5, socialised and radiated health and vitality. She just sent nothing to landfill. That initial deep dive led me to blogs like The Rogue Ginger and Treading My Own Path, Bea Johnson, Owlet and, closer to home, Waste Not Collective and a fantastic local zero waste Facebook community.
So what is zero waste?
zero waste: The conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of all products, packaging, and materials, without burning them, and without discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.
I’m fairly sure Steve thought I’d gone nuts when I first started talking about the zero waste movement and how we could reduce our own waste, but considering the initial big change I suggested was heading to the farmers’ markets each weekend for breakfast and a produce stock up rather than to our local supermarket, he was on board too.
Since then I have willingly embraced being the weirdo who totes a KeepCup and reusable bag every where, has embraced farmers’ market and bulk store life, presents my own container to the butcher for meat and, to Steve’s embarrassment, also to our local Thai restaurant for takeaway on the rare occasions we decide to splash out. I like starting the conversation or seeing that moment of curiosity appear on someone’s face when you say you try to avoid making waste overall and single use plastic in particular.
On reflection, I’d say this lifestyle has dramatically improved our lives for the better. We are eating better so our health is better – and the time spent together in the kitchen is FUN. We sip on wine and eat good cheese and bread while we rediscover lost skills (homemade pizza bases/pasta/tortillas/slow cooked broth anyone?). We’ve also saved a serious amount of money at the same time because we became much more conscious about our overall consumption. And – this may be a stretch – but I would say this consciousness has eked into every part of our lives, resulting in living at a much slower pace. It’s been a win/win/win.
Since the very beginning we’ve fallen into the low waste category rather than zero waste/plastic free, but nevertheless as far as we were concerned from day one we were smashing goals and having fun doing so, so in 2017 we decided to sign up for our first Plastic Free July and got a little wake up call.
That first year we focused on entirely eliminating the main culprits that kept creeping into our lives: plastic bags, coffee cups, straws and cutlery. (You can read about the rest of our journey here and here.) We may have got a surprise, but what we learned spurred us on to continue removing the single us plastics within our lives. Then, in 2018, we decided to go the whole shebang and tackle all single use plastics in our lives. We failed miserably but learned a lot in the process.
So here we are, the third time around. A bit wiser, a bit more realistic, and a bit more hopeful. Wish us luck! I’ll be recounting our experiences each week here, and would love to hear if you’re taking on the challenge.
Want sign up too? Follow this link