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!
(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…
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?!)
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!
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!