Did I Manage A Plastic-Free Birthday? #ZeroWasteWeek

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…

Did I Manage A Plastic-Free Birthday To End Zero Waste Week?

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.

Squiggle feeding goats at farm

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!

Zero Waste Week: Our Preparations

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…

Zero Waste Week: Our Preparations

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 need to opt for convenience at times. So I feel companies should be prepared to make more effort with their packaging too!

Click here for Zero Waste Week

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…

Klean Kanteen reusable drinks - cup, straw set and insulated bottle

Klean Kanteen

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!

Klean Kanteen stainless steel cup and reusable straw set

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!

Klean Kanteen wide insulated bottle. Aqua

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

Elephant Box

Elephant box and salad box - stainless steel - eco

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!

Stainless steel reusable Elephant Box

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

Square salad box, stainless steel, eco, plastic-free, zero waste, Elephant Box

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

I also have a Brighton Frog Zero Waste Shopper Box on the way too, more on that in a later post!

So I am all set for tomorrow! Are you ready?! Join us for #ZeroWasteWeek

Passionate about a better future? Passion led us here. Join us for zero waste week. Zero Waste Week logo. #zerowasteweek https://www.zerowasteweek.co.uk

*Items kindly sent free in exchange for feature.

Zero Waste Week: Take the Challenge!

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!

Click here for Zero Waste Week

(You can also sign up to the official Zero Waste Week emails here)

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…

Zero Waste Week: Take the Challenge! Faded background image of landfill

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?!)

Reusable insulated bottle - Klean Kanteen - Living Life Our Way selfie

Challenge 3 – Shop Thoughtfully (Aka Plastic- Free Packaging Challenge)

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!

The Refill Pantry - Zero Waste Shop - St Albans

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!

Project Green Challenge 2016: Aiming For Zero Waste

As part of Project Green Challenge by Turning Green, I have been collecting all the waste I have produced for the last 24 hours.

Zero waste, trash, rubbish, landfill, recycling
Waste produced in 24 hours

I do aim to refuse, reduce and reuse; and feel I have done quite well with this! BUT there is plenty more to be done and there are a few things this challenge has taught me…

I never thought about the cat food! I didn’t even check to see if the fish is from a sustainable source let alone consider the packaging it comes in. This is now a top priority on my to do list.

Obviously some things took more than 24 hours to become empty and therefore become waste (ie plastic film toilet paper packaging and handwash bottle), so it just so happened they fell into my waste pile during the challenge. But this led me to think what would have mounted up if the challenge had been over a week, or a month? 

Aside from the plastic film packaging around the toilet paper (I wonder if there are paper alternatives to this?) the main culprits would be household items (handwash, shampoo/ conditioner, deoderant and washing liquid containers) and plastic fruit containers, so I need to take a closer look at potential alternatives to these. With the exception of the plastic film wrap, the other plastics do all get recycled locally, but this is not ideal and is a last resort. Refusing, reducing and reusing is better if possible. 

Last but not least- crisp packet and coke cans- I really should cut out the junk food and drink! The packets end up as landfill. The coke cans are recycled and are arguably much better than getting a plastic bottle version, especially if the cans are packaged in cardboard, but cutting them out completely would be better for a multitude of reasons of course!

So, you’ve opted for reusable carrier bags, you say no to straws, you have a reusable water bottle and coffee cup, you take food in reusable containers and you refuse plastic cutlery, taking your own reusable version instead (or just do without!) You have come along way in reducing your waste, which is great! But what are the next steps in aiming for a zero waste lifestyle? Here are some more things to think about…

Look at your household items. Handwash, washing liquid, cleaning products etc… Can you find alternatives that have less packaging, or is more easily recyclable materials at least? Or buy in bulk- bigger versions mean waste less often at least! 

Check your beauty and hygiene products. Shampoo and conditioner, soap, deoderant, wipes, scrubs etc… Can you find a reusable substitute for some items, such as wipes? Are there alternatives that come with packaging, such as shampoo bars? Or could you even try making your deoderant or face scrub? I had a go at making my own coffee face scrub as part of 5gyres #beadfree campaign about banning microbeads (tiny toxic plastic beads). It worked really well! Oh and don’t forget to look out for those pesky microbeads too! 

Choose food products with less packaging. Buy fruit and vegetables loose if possible. Look out for paper or cardboard alternatives to plastic. If unavoidable, choose bigger packets so less waste overall. And remember to take reusable packaging, containers and bags with you to use whenever you can! If you have pets, remember to consider the items you buy for them too. 

No doubt there are lots of other ways to help achieve zero waste, I would love to hear your tips too!

For more information watch this video: storyofstuff.org

Also see these websites for more information:

 www.5gyres.org

 www.trashisfortossers.com

For reusable products (US) check out: www.ukonserve.com