I have been thinking what would be the advice I could give to someone who would like to tap into the Zero Waste movement but not just yet ready to swap from the all-so-convenient supermarket to a sometimes miles-away-and-a-bit-too-expensive farmers market. Who is not just yet ready to make their own moisture / sanitary pad or cleaning products. What are the easiest things that can be done / with less effort possible and would make a massive change if we all do it. I mean ALL of us! So here is what I came up with ….
7 Easy steps to avoid plastic and be a bit more green.
#1 – Buy loose. Even if you don’t live next to a farmers market or it isn’t your thing to go and stock up for a week. (I am, personally still really bad at weekly meal planing) Therefore supermarkets are still the best / most convenient options for you than choose the loose fruits and veggies without the plastic collecting bag. Straight into your basket and then your bag. Unless you are cooking for 10 people 4-5 tomatoes or potatoes won’t roll off from the scale when you check out. I tried it! Encouraging supermarkets to restock on plastic free / loose items could be the key to change packaging normal. Let alone the fact that you don’t have a massive expiry date printed on the loose stuff. So you will have to go with your natural instinct (yes, you still have it, supermarkets made us forget it) and just check an apple / courgette / orange if it is still firm and fine rather than go with the date and chuck it because it says it is 2 days out of date. Nope nope nope. Also you will get as much as you actually need not 3 courgettes and 4 apples as they are packaged together leading to less food waste.
#2 -Just one bag. Taking one canvas bag with you like you would take your keys in the morning. You bound to pop into the shop on your way home and I totally get it, putting a “could leak” pasta sauce / pint of milk / loose onions, are items you would rather not place into your designer bag. So in order to say no to plastic bag, having a tiny canvas bag sitting there could save the day (and £0.05). Also in my case, it is one less plastic bag accumulating already under my the sink. Just sooo many still after using my own canvas bags for years. Where do they come from?
#3 Look into your handbag. Does it have a notepad you got as a present but hardly ever use? Or a make up bag which you almost never use only the lipstick from it ? A mirror? If you think you could live without any of those (or just have enough space in there anyway) take it out and replace it with a reusable coffee cup. There are so many cool ones out there, some plastic ones too but they are still better then the single use paper cups you get in coffee shops. In the UK 1 in 400 single used cups get recycled. WHAT?? So tiny. If you really want to be the boss of reusable cups go with this beauty, KeepCup. Their glass cups with sustainably sourced cork is not only cool looking but absolutely Zero Waste. Also side note – if you forgot to wash it up from the day before, take it anyway. The coffee store staff if you ask nicely is happy to wash / rinse it for you. Again, tried it and it worked.
#4 Recycle. I know I might state the obvious here but unfortunately there are still local councils who are not making it easy for residents (especially in block of flats) to create a place for proper recycling. Asking the question from your local council where can you recycle to make them aware that there is an need for it. Don’t think that all general waste will be going through sorting waste management. Unfortunately that is still not the case. So things which can be recycled still end up on landfill sites or the ocean – in case of plastic – for years / decades to biodegrade or eaten by fish which then land on our table. Plastic fish and chips anyone? Yuk!
#5 Paper kitchen towels. Yes, they are paper so they do biodegrade eventually but that is not the point. Producing them is the key. The amount of trees being cut and water being used to create paper towels that what makes it so wasteful. So the other option is to use little cotton hand towels instead. Easy, right? They are durable / if they are darkish they can hide stains for days before being washed again and you only need 2-3 before you bound to have a dark wash. We have at the moment 2 in circulation and with a messy toddler they get proper filthy but a quick wash and they are good as new. Also a point I like making .. it is cheaper then paper kitchen towels on the long run.
#6 Possibly more space in your handbag? How about a water bottle? Summer is coming and we will be reminded on the underground daily that carrying a water bottle is advisable. And it is. Sell for single used plastic water bottle will go up the roof again creating massive amount of waste. The pros are obvious, you can have them on the go because everybody sells them. But the cons? They are single use and just as the coffee cups only small % of them get recycled really. They are expensive / who knows how long they have been sitting on the shelves of that shop / plastic can contaminate food and water as well and it is just soooooo wasteful! So here are some mega cool stainless steal bottles you can have with you ALL the time and get them to be refilled in any coffee stores / cafes and restaurants with tap water. Even if you don’t dine there (also tried that – it works). ZW’s favourite is Klean Kanteen but I also love these at the moment from Twothirds. Aren’t they just the cutest? And they are on sale now!
# 7 Look out for the glass – when you are shopping, see if the pasta sauce / ketchup / marple syrup / jam / honey you are thinking of purchasing coming in glass bottle as well and get that instead of the plastic version. They might be the same brand and the same product but glass is 100% recyclable and again probably healthier than those stored in plastic.
Just because it is Mother Earth Day today and also because I have never done this before but always wanted to. I am starting a hashtag #fruitandvegpledge. Start buying loose and post your latest purchase with it. Even if it is only one apple. Let’s work together towards less packaging especially for the mega healthy fruits and veggies.
Thank you again for reading my words and do let me know if you think there is more to add to the list for this entry level. Would love to hear your thoughts. xx