It was fantastic to see so many people taking part in Zero Waste Week, and there were so many inspiring, informative blogs to read! I have tried to include as many as possible, which is why it has taken me several days to write this post. No doubt I will have forgotten loads of other brilliant ones too, but here is a round-up of just some of my favourites…
Becster took part in my personal challenges I set. Yay, thank you for joining in! Read how she got on in the following posts:
See how The Real Meal Deal got on with their plastic-free day. They have also got posts about zero waste cleaning, make and mend Monday, the problem with plastics, and other fab posts!
Thoroughly Modern Grandma has lots of excellent posts, including how to achieve a zero waste party, tips for zero waste gardening, some of her favourite places to shop and her fave zero waste products, amongst other things.
Treading My Own Path has been plastic-free and living a zero waste lifestyle since 2012! She has tonnes of advice on her blog.
Emily at Grow Eat Gift wrote a post about 50 ways to go waste free for good, which has plenty of useful tips. She has also written other zero waste posts too, so do have a read through her lovely blog!
Inspire Create Educate has written about 7 ways you can ditch plastic. Also check out her post about reducing food waste too.
Pebble Mag has some interesting information and stats about plastic waste in their zero waste week article. Did you know 4 in 5 of us are now concerned about the amount of plastic we use? The message is certainly getting out there!
A Sustainable Life has plenty of tips for leading a sustainable(ish) lifestyle, including podcasts, free resources and a detailed e-guide.
No Serial Number are campaigning for plastic-free crafts, because they are concerned about the amount of plastics often currently used in crafts. Check them out!
So on Friday, for the final challenge of Zero Waste Week, I tried to manage a plastic- free day. Actually, I tried to manage a zero waste day! But how did I get on…
Day Out Struggles
We went to a local farm for a day out. We had a lovely time feeding the animals; of course this meant washing our hands afterwards for hygiene reasons! We had to use paper towels to dry our hands and Squiggle was the first to notice there were only landfill bins, no recycling. I guess this could be for sanitary purposes but it was still disappointing.
Potential solutions could have been to take our own cloth to dry our hands (I don’t know whether that could pose hygiene risks though, I suspect the farm might not allow it, if they saw us) or to take our paper towels home to recycle (same issue?) I am not really too convinced that we had much of an alternative in that scenario, unless we avoided feeding and stroking the animals, but depriving ourselves of such experiences is not really the idea! So sadly a few paper towels went to landfill.
My personal waste audit for the day:
Aluminium coke cans – recycled
Plastic container – reuse then recycle
Paper bag x 2 – recycled
Cardboard roll – recycled
Paper towels – landfill
Squiggle couldn’t go without her rice cakes, which come in packets, so that also created landfill.
Ok, so I didn’t manage an entirely zero waste, or even plastic-free, day. But I think I did pretty well! Now to find new and creative ways to tackle some more of those weak spots…
How did you get on with Zero Waste Week? What did you find most challenging? What is one thing you have improved on, thanks to these challenges? Let me know in comments!
I made a mistake today. I made a wrong assumption, when I should have checked to be sure. I usually ask the right questions, but this time I didn’t. This arrived…
This is what happened…
I knew we wouldn’t get a chance to go out to buy plastic-free fruit and veg this week, so I ordered a delivery from somewhere new; a local family business. I was thinking it is a nice thing to shop local and support independents. Other fruit and veg boxes that I have ordered from different companies before have been very low waste and no plastic, so I just expected it to be the same.
But I don’t want to dwell on it. I am gutted we now have more plastic waste than any other week, I won’t lie. But here’s the thing…
I am on a zero waste journey. I don’t pretend to literally be ‘zero waste.’ I don’t claim to have all the answers, or to get it right everytime. I will happily share my successes, and my failures too. Because we all make mistakes – but we can learn from them too.
“Sometimes we win, sometimes we learn.”
Today was a reminder for me; ask those important questions! And keep going, even when things go wrong. This was like a scene from a horror movie for a Zero Waste Ambassador to be honest lol! But I will get over my epic fail and keep trying – I got this!
Anyway, I don’t have any intention of naming and shaming the company or anything like that, I just feel that sharing my mistakes might help others feel better about theirs – zero waste can sound extreme, and very daunting, so I am keen to paint a clear picture of what it means for us in reality! We are just a family trying to do what we can to reduce waste, especially plastic.
Zero Waste Snacks
But let’s move onto celebrate our successes now! Look at these yummy plastic-free snacks I got from The Refill Pantry recently…
Zero Waste Shoppers – Brighton Frog
And the lovely people over at Brighton FRoG have sent me a Zero Waste Shopper Box. This fab set is currently onsale at £14 and includes a gorgeous aqua Turtle bag (which matches my bottle – love the colour!), as well as a mesh bag for fruit and veg, plus three different size canvas bags for pasta, bread and so on. They are 100% plastic free, organic cotton, ethical and fair. Also, they were sent in a small cardboard box with no excess packaging – really impressed!
The Refill Pantry
I will be using these bags to do a better job with my fruit and veg next time I go shopping! Also, another main reason I got them is that I want to stock up on more food from The Refill Pantry as and when our dried goods run out and need replacing – pasta, grains, and so on. So I am looking forward to putting them to good use very soon!
Convenience vs Zero Waste
For us, the biggest challenge is balancing convenience (and sensory issues) with our mission to reduce plastic waste. It is difficult when so many snacks come in plastic wrappers! This was the main weak area I noticed immediately when I did my rubbish observations recently. That is why I am turning the responsibility back to the manufacturers for that one.
On The Go
We take food with us from home if we will be out for a while and will need to eat before we get back. The only snacks we ever buy on the go, rarely, are ones that we could only buy from a packet anyway, or the occasional ice-cream in summer!
For drinks, we mainly use our reusables. Slight confession here; I admit, I am rather fond of diet coke as well – but I always recycle the cans and buy them in a cardboard box, so no plastic packaging! Not good for my health, but not as bad for the environment at least! I must get back to drinking more smoothies though – excellent for nutrition and reducing food waste too!
I have probably missed loads of stuff – but one thing at a time! Every small step in the right direction is a success. It is much more beneficial to focus on what you have done, and can do next, than try to tackle it all at once. So on that note…
What is the one thing you could do to reduce plastic in your kitchen? Tell me in comments!
Hooray, Zero Waste Week has arrived! I am so proud, and very excited, to be an ambassador for this inspirational challenge! This year the focus is on reducing our use of (unnecessary) plastics.
Plastic has its uses. However, it is also designed to last for years, yet gets used for items that are only needed once for a few minutes! And much of our plastic packaging is excessive too. It is this reliance on single-use plastics and over-use of unnecessary plastic that we would like to reduce in particular.
The main concern with plastic is that it is not frequently recycled, and cannot be recycled many times over. Plastic is also not gentle on the environment either; it leaks toxic chemicals. It also breaks down into microplastics that harm our marine life and end up in our food chain. Not ideal.
There are lots of good reasons; caring about how we leave our planet for future generations, protecting our environment and saving wildlife, or saving money. Squiggle said it is important to be environmentally- friendly and not create landfill; it is just the right thing to do. That sounds like a good enough reason to me!
As I mentioned in my Zero Waste Week Challenges post a couple of days back, our preparations are well underway and I am excited to share them! I have been busy reflecting on our current waste, considering where our weak spots are, and then thinking about what we can improve on, and how. So here are some of the things we have already done in advance to prepare for Zero Waste Week…
Observing Our Current Waste Habits
I have yet to fill out an actual audit sheet for the day, but I did a general observation of what we are throwing away into landfill, in order to determine what actions we could take next. Now, I will admit one thing from the outset; we have been slacking abit lately. After Squiggle had a prolonged bout of poor mental health (anxiety issues) earlier this year, we let some things slide. We needed to. And I don’t feel guilty for that, but I do see this as an opportunity for us to get back on track.
Looking through my landfill waste, it tends to be food packets that dominate my bin. The quick, easy to grab snacks. Rice cakes and Quorn veggie sausage rolls are a couple of examples. The frustrating thing is though, these can not easily be switched for the same product in plastic- free packaging either, because it doesn’t exist. Yet. And that is why I also intend to send the rubbish we do accumulate this coming week back to the companies, to encourage this change.
A zero waste lifestyle goes hand in hand with healthy, clean eating. When we opt for convenience food, our landfill waste automatically goes up. But whilst healthy eating is ideal, sometimes there are actual reasons (not just excuses!) why someone may genuinely needto opt for convenience at times. So I feel companies should be prepared to make more effort with their packaging too!
Zero Waste Shopping
Other items are very easy to switch, and I started my shopping in advance so I would be ready to start the week off right! As well as stocking up supplies from our local zero waste shop (more about that in a later post!) I was also kindly sent some essentials to add to my zero waste kit…
If any of you watched my insta stories last week, you might have seen my eco fail! We went to Ikea, where Squiggle always gets a drink (it is literally the only place she gets one from, rather than just taking her own drink in her reusable cup from home!) We remembered our straw but forgot the lid is plastic too – doh! (And she does need a lid).
So when I spotted Klean Kanteen have a handy straw set that fits neatly onto their stainless steel cup, I thought how perfect it would be for Squiggle!
I also love their insulated bottle, which keeps drinks hot for 14 hours and iced for 48 hours. Very useful to make sure I actually find time to drink it… eventually! I adore the colour too!
Both the steel cup and the insulated bottle come in different sizes. Klean Kanteen also have an excellent range of other eco- friendly bottles, cups, tumblers, accessories and canisters. See the website: www.kleankanteen.co.uk
I had specific ideas for these fab containers from Elephant Box. But Squiggle spied them and claimed them as her own! To be fair, they are ideal for eating on the go, as she often has food from home while we are out, so it does make perfect sense!
The larger box is the Elephant Box. It is deep, big and sturdy, with a capacity of 1.8L. Good for big appetites! It is freezer safe so helps with tackling food waste by freezing it to use later. Price:£29.50
The Salad Box fits neatly inside the Elephant box, so handy for storing them when not in use, or for making compartments. The salad box has a capacity of 500ml and is perfect for sandwiches or snacks too! Price:£16
The concept of zero waste is an ideal, but is it realistic? Well, you decide just how far you can take it! The term ‘zero waste’ is frequently meant more as a journey than a destination itself. The key idea behind it is that as an individual, as a household, or even as a business, you actively try to reduce your waste, even if it is just one small thing at a time; it all helps!
With Zero Waste Week(founded by the lovely Rachelle Straus) looming in just a few short days, from 3rd – 7th September, I thought it would be fun to set some challenges of my own to help reduce landfill waste. And I would love for you to take part!
I have set 5 challenges in total, but you don’t have to complete every challenge to join in – do just one, some or all – it is up to you! Afterwards, let me know what you did – and how you got on – and I will share your stories (only if you would like me to obviously!) And of course I will be sharing how we get on too!
So here are the challenges…
Challenge 1 – Audit your waste
Spend a day recording all of the rubbish you throw away. The wonderful folk over at Zero Waste Week have created an audit sheet for you to do this easily so grab yourself a copy and get auditing!
The audit sheet includes what item of rubbish it is, why is it being thrown away (remember: reuse if possible!) where it will end up (recycling is way better than landfill rubbish of course!) and what improvement can be made (e.g. could you have avoided this item of rubbish somehow?) This will help you to reflect on your current waste and identify small positive changes you could make.
Challenge 2 – Tackle a Weak Spot
Pick one thing that you know you could improve on and is something you can change immediately. We all have that one thing that jumps out at us – that we know we could better – we just haven’t got round to it… yet. Maybe you still grab your coffee to go in a disposable cup. Or perhaps you buy plastic water bottles. It could be something else entirely. Whatever it is, now is the time to make that switch – and stick to it!
For this challenge, you might need to make an investment – but baring in mind reusables are, well, reusable, it will be money worth spending. In many cases you might well find you will actually be saving money as you are no longer throwing it away (quite literally!)
I have a few weak spots that I am tackling for this challenge, so I will write a separate post sharing details very soon – my preparations are already well underway! (You might even have spotted some sneak previews on my social media?!)
It is almost impossible to do an entirely plastic- free shop. However, you might find local independent shops that will help make this much more achievable!For example, use your local greengrocers if you have one nearby, or find out if there is a zero waste shop near you.
But even in mainstream supermarkets there are ways you can try to reduce the amount of plastic waste that you will create. For every item on your shopping list, choose options with less overall packaging and in particular little or no plastic where possible.
If you can find any alternative to plastic packaging then choose it, or decide how much you really need that item in the first place if not. (Obviously I am not suggesting you go without essentials or feel guilty if you do buy the items – we all have such things on our list – hence the next challenge!) Some stores allow you to take your own containers to the deli counter, and you can often take your own bags to buy loose fruit and veg too. So be organised and take your reusables with you!
Challenge 4 – Refuse and Return!
As consumers, we can only do so much to reduce our waste. We also need to put pressure on the companies themselves to change their habits, and provide more sustainable choices as well. But this particular challenge takes guts!
Actions speak louder than words. So either refuse the plastic packaging at the till straight after you pay – by removing it and handing it back to them immediately – or return it to the supermarket at a later date after you are done with the contents.
The alternative, if you find it is a particular brand you tend to use and gather landfill waste from, is to post it back to them direct along with a covering letter. Hopefully they might take a hint when it turns up back at their door!
Challenge 5 – Spread the Word
The last challenge is simply to spread the word. Let people know about your zero waste/ rubbish reduction efforts. Celebrate your successes. And remember, if you let me know, I will also share them too!
Good luck with the challenges – I look forward to finding out how you all get on! I will be posting about my own personal Zero Waste Week preparations in the next couple of days, then afterwards I will write about how we got on too, so look out for those posts coming soon!
The evidence is overwhelming, and, let’s face it, you can’t get away from it now. The fact is we’re not doing enough to benefit the planet. Climate change is very real, and even if you don’t necessarily agree with the information that’s out there, we can all help to improve the planet we live on. Luckily, there’s been one hell of a drive in the last few years in small methods to cut back on energy expenditure, which, in turn, lessens our carbon footprint. Every single one of us has the potential to change the planet for the better, and it all begins with small habits. So, what are these habits?
Look At Your Waste
In the United States, approximately 40% of the food consumed is thrown out. Now, that’s a very huge amount, especially when you think the amount of food wasted could feed 1 billion people! In addition to this, the health epidemic that is in the western world, especially with regards to obesity and lack of exercise, means that overall, we humans are providing waste on so many fronts. So, what is the answer?
Firstly, to benefit each and every one of us, as well as the planet, we can look at reducing our portion sizes. Not only does this improve our waistline, but waste is greatly reduced. Not only this, by going into our weekly supermarket shop with a preconceived plan, we don’t buy excessive amounts of food that we’ll end up wasting anyway. On top of this, start to be more clever with your food in general, such as using leftovers, so every morsel of food you purchase doesn’t go to waste.
How Much Do You Really Need To Use That Car?
It’s great now that so many of us are actively looking for other ways to travel rather than use our car. As well as thinking about getting a bicycle or using public transport in our everyday lives, such as to and from work for example, there are also other things you can try to do so that you aren’t required to use the car so much.
For example, if you tend to go on roadtrips often and use the car to travel on vacation a few times a year, when you think about how much you use your car for that reason, perhaps you could even consider cutting back on the number of roadtrip vacations you have of this nature? Or, if you are more than adamant that your downtime goes unspoiled, maybe it’s time to think about other parts of your everyday life that you can cut back on.
Working from home is one of those great options, because you don’t need to take the car to the office. Whilst many experts believe you could be using more energy at home, because you potentially turn on lights, the television, etc… there are some summer energy saving tips you can follow to ensure that you are cutting back as much as possible.
Look At Your Energy Expenditure
Once we begin to think about how much our carbon footprint affects the planet, then we can make a concerted effort to cut back on overall energy expenditure. There are many carbon footprint calculators online to give you a head start. A lot of us don’t think about our own personal impact, and when you realize how much energy you are using, from getting in the car, to the food you consume, to the electricity you use, then you can start to help the planet by curbing certain lifestyle habits.
Even something like consuming meat can help mother earth, even by just cutting down on meat by one portion a week. You can have meat-free days at home, and if you are concerned that you won’t get enough protein, remember, there is more than a sufficient amount of protein in pulses and quinoa, and are all vegan-friendly. Ultimately, the best way to have an impact on the planet with regards to our diet is to eat as locally as possible.
When you think about the food you purchase in the supermarkets, even though you mean well by consuming fruits and vegetables, by looking at the place of origin, and then consider the carbon footprint it took to transport these fruits and vegetables to your supermarket, going local is one of the main common sense approaches to benefiting the planet. Not to mention the fact that eating local produce that hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides is better for you. Yes, the price tag appears to be more expensive, but by consuming whole foods that fill you up and aren’t injected with preservatives or water to bulk them out, you will naturally crave less food. And you don’t need to see a doctor to understand how whole foods can impact every aspect of your life, from improved brain function to overall health; you can eat these foods, or grow them yourself, and feel the benefits.
Thinking About Everyone Apart From Ourselves
A true way to get an appreciation of what you can do to help the planet is to witness some of the positive outcomes. For example, by donating your leftover food, rather than letting it go to waste, to food kitchens or homeless shelters, you are going to serve the community. There are many supermarkets that encourage you to donate a few cans of foods whenever you can, to minimize wastage. And actually helping out in a local sense is the perfect starting point, because then you can see the impacts all around you, not just in an environmental sense, but in the fact that you are also helping the homeless or others in need. Or you’re even just seeing that you are saving money! It contributes to an overall feeling of wellness. This, in turn, contributes to our overall feeling of compassion and fuels our desire to do something to benefit the planet.
We can feel like we’ve heard enough lectures on how to benefit the planet, which is why it’s far better for you to take the initiative and to do things yourself. Once you start this, either by actively looking for ways to minimize your carbon footprint, or getting a better understanding of how we are damaging the planet, only then can we progress.
Tomorrow, Tuesday 5th June, is World Environment Day. You will hopefully have already seen the global game of tag in action to help raise awareness of plastic pollution and to highlight how easy it is to switch from single- use plastics to reusables. And now for the real challenge…
Can you give up plastic completely, just for one day?
Take on the challenge and see how well you can do!
Use hashtags #PassOnPlastic and #OnePlasticFreeDay to share your efforts and achievements on social media, alongside #BeatPlasticPollution and #WorldEnvironmentDay too. Please also feel free to tag me if you wish – I would love to see how you get on!
And last but not least, one final challenge…
I have just set up a club on Litterati – simply search Living Life Our Way to join me. The idea is to document the rubbish we all collect – very simple – just take a snap, tag the pic, then bin/ recycle the item.
But this free app makes it an exciting challenge – we can track the impact we are having and see who is highest on the scoreboard for some fun competition!
Sunday 22nd April is Earth Day. So here are some lovely ways you can celebrate, either then or any other day (because really, everyday should be Earth Day anyway!)…
There are lots of fun nature art activities that you can do as a family. One that is particularly great for Earth Day is to collect some large pebbles, arrange them in a solid circle, then paint them with a map of the world (I decided to add a peace sign too!)
Make a paper mache globe – a project takes several days but is lots of messy creative fun – head on over to The Crafty Classroom to for a detailed tutorial. Or make an Earth Pom Pom, pop over to Monkey and Mouse for info!
Use all your senses to explore the natural environment around you. Stop for a few moments, be still and listen. What do you hear? What do you see? What can you smell? Touch the bark of a tree, go barefoot on the grass. Take it all in and connect with our earth.
Can you manage to hold a plastic- free family picnic? Which part is most difficult? How could you resolve it?
Take Part in a Project
Create your own family documentary about whichever aspect of green living you choose. Or make a poster about it. Or whatever format you prefer! The key is to engage with your ideas and share them with others.
What are you doing for Earth Day? Tell me in comments, I look forward to reading about it!
There are only a few days to go now until Sustainable St Albans Week 2018, so I want to share with you some of the fab things that will be going on! If you are local, then pop along to some of the events to learn more about eco living and show your support. And if you aren’t local, maybe these ideas will inspire you to host your own event in your local town!
The week will be kicking off with an afternoon of talks to launch the event, as well as over a dozen activities on just the first day alone. Over the course of the week there is a massive range of fun, educational and inspiring activities for all ages.
Some of the highlights include the grand opening of our first ‘Little Free Library’ – where you can take a book and donate another, several guided walks and cycle rides, organised wildlife watch, vegan cooking demo and tasting (yum!), plenty of talks and workshops on various topics, eco tours, growing activities, seed swaps, clothes swaps, litter picks, poetry recitals and film screenings. The list goes on and on…! It is a jam packed week full of brilliant options to choose from.
Children can also meet Munch the recycling lorry and discover more about recycling, do creative activities using old items, take part in interactive storytelling, attend woodcraft taster sessions, and swap books, amongst other things. Lots of the other activities are very family- friendly and suitable for all ages too of course!
There is also a one day Know- How Festival, which sounds brilliant! I thought this was worth a specific mention as it has so much going on for the whole family. Here is further information…
As part of Sustainable St Abans Week, on Sunday 22nd April, which very aptly is also Earth Day, marks the official launch of Plastic Free St Albans. I am so excited about this, so let me tell you more about it!
Plastic Free St Albans is inspired by Surfers Against Sewage – an environmental charity who are leading a national campaign called Plastic Free Coastlines, to encourage communities to drastically reduce single use plastics – and is an alliance of several local activists. It was founded by Emma Tyers, who previously ran the hugely successful St Albans Refuse the Straw campaign and also has members from our fantastic local groups, Sustainable St Albans and St Albans Friends of the Earth, too. What a team! The group aims to hopefully achieve S.A.S Plastic Free status eventually.
The main goal is to work with local businesses, schools, and other organisations to remove, as far as possible, plastic straws and stirrers, water bottles and balloons from St Albans. These particular items are being targetted because they are so rarely recycled, and therefore form such a large part of our plastic waste and litter.
They are also working on St Albans Refill scheme, which asks businesses to provide free water bottle refills to anyone who asks, free of charge. Look out for other upcoming projects in future too!
Last but not least, check out their excellent interactive map of all things plastic free, so you can see how the campaign is developing and, more importantly, know where to head to avoid the plastic! Awesome initiative, looking forward to seeing the map grow!
To launch this fantastic new campaign, there will be a plastic-free picnic at Highfield park on Sunday afternoon, followed by a screening of A Plastic Ocean in the evening, along with a panel of guest speakers, hosted at the beautiful Odyssey cinema. There are only a few tickets left, so grab yours now!
Enjoy what promises to be an inspirational and exciting week!
To help celebrate and support both Sustainable St Albans Week and Plastic Free St Albans, the lovely Sally from Leonard of London has offered us a stunning piece of jewellery to giveaway to one lucky campaign supporter! This gorgeous handmade ring is made from recycled sterling silver and has a beautiful labradorite stone.
The ring will be resized for the winner as per the measurements given before sending it to them.