The global threat caused by climate change is no longer something that we can in good conscience ignore. The problem I’ve found is that there’s so much information being shared on all the things that we do that are bad for the planet that I end up just feeling overwhelmed and afraid.
Thankfully I recently met a lovely blogger named Charlotte, who runs an awesome website called ZeroWasteLife.co.uk with her friend Anna. About three years ago they made a New Year’s Resolution to send nothing to landfill for a whole year. Soon they were committed to the Zero Waste lifestyle permanently.
I confessed to Charlotte how much I’d been struggling with my own environmental impact. I felt that nothing that I could think of doing felt like enough to help. She shared a quote with me that really helped put things into perspective:
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”Anne-Marie Bonneau, @zerowastechef
This encouraged me to stop worrying and start doing something. Ultimately, making any positive change is a step in the right direction. And you know what? Small change leads to bigger changes later on.
Since this lightbulb moment I’ve been making small changes. Almost as soon as I committed to these I started to feel more in control and confident in my actions.
So for those of you looking to make some positive changes in your own lives, here are a few ideas for small and easy ways to start reducing your waste:
I’ve become hyper aware of how much packaging I use on a daily basis. Food is the biggest culprit in this as most of the vegetables at my local supermarket are pre-packaged in plastic of some kind.
To help reduce this I’ve signed up to weekly vegetable boxes from Riverford Organic Farmers (https://www.riverford.co.uk/). Their fruit and veg boxes contain 77% less plastic than supermarkets. They’ve also pledged to be entirely plastic free by December 2020. Even the cardboard boxes that the fruit and vegetables are delivered in are reused up to 10 times.
I wasn’t sure how I’d get on with not having full control over the groceries I get but I’ve found that it has actually made my life easier! A few days before the box arrives I get an email telling me what the contents will be. Then I start meal planning, knowing exactly what I’ve got to work with over the week.
As a result I’m making less trips to the supermarket which is saving me money and cutting down on food waste. The box contents are seasonal too so I’m getting a more varied diet and I have to say it’s been fun experimenting with new ingredients and recipes.
I’ve written a post on my decision to ditch disposable make up cleansing wipes and how I’ve gotten on since. You can check it out here.
I work in an office so lunch needs to be convenient. My go to for years has been a Pot Noodle or a premade lunch bowl from the supermarket. Until recently I wasn’t even conscious of how much single use plastic daily I was getting through.
Now that I’ve become more ‘woke’ (sorry, I had to say it), I’ve been using the leftovers from the Riverford vegetable box to make soups and veggie bowls. I decant these into microwavable soup cups to heat up at work. These are made from plastic but they can be used over and over again, so I see it as a better choice.
I’ve also started packing a set of cutlery in my handbag so that I don’t have to use the disposable ones that come with over the counter meals.
I recently visited AO.com’s recycling plant for a tour.
AO.com used to just sell appliances online, but they took over the recycling aspect when they recognised that contracting to someone else meant that lots of the materials were ending up at the tip. By doing the job themselves they ensure that as much gets recycled as possible. They’re also invested in improving their environmental impact through continuous improvement.
One of the things I heard on the tour really stuck with me. They always ask their employees to ask themselves this: If you told your mother what you did at work today, would she be proud? Maybe we should all think that when making decisions about whether we’re doing things for the right reasons!
Worryingly, a recent study found that AO.com were the only UK company consistently making refrigeration gases safe during their recycling process.
I’m now aware that a bit of research goes a long way. Just as I look up a makeup brand’s cruelty free status before deciding on whether to buy from them, I’m now checking other types of brands too. My aim is to spend my money on trustworthy companies who are proving that they are eco conscious and actively making efforts to become more sustainable if they are not already.
From time to time, life gets in the way and I hit a blip. Last week I was late for work and in my rush I forgot to pack my lunch. I ended up getting a Starbucks Vegan Mac with disposable plastic cutlery. It felt like a step in the wrong direction after all my good work and I beat myself up for it at first.
I’ve learned that the best thing to do in this situation is just get over it and move on! I make sure that one little mistake doesn’t derail all the good things that I’m doing. The next day I’m always more prepared so that I don’t repeat it.
So where I am now, is living an imperfect life and sending much more waste to landfill than I want to. However I’m making good progress, I’m learning from my mistakes and each week I feel like I’ve done a little better. If we can all do a little bit of that, maybe there is still time to change.
So how about it? What small ways to start reducing your waste can you commit to this week? No matter how big or small, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
If you would like to hear more about the concept of Zero Waste and small ways to start reducing your waste, listen to episode with Charlotte on The Millennial Matters Podcast. Links to all major apps can be found here, or simply click below to listen on Soundcloud!