conscious consumer everyday plastic plastic waste zero waste

On My Zero Waste Journey Off, I Go (Part 1)


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I was aware of a zero-waste lifestyle for years. I also knew about the consequences of my wasteful shopping and spending habits. However, I never understood the scale of waste I’ve been producing. So, when the hard facts hit me, I committed to pivoting my life towards a less wasteful path. At the end of 2020, I made a promise to myself that 2021 wasn’t only going to be the year of saying “YES” to myself but also the year of shifting my lifestyle towards conscious and more sustainable new daily habits.

I’m not going to go entirely to zero waste because, in all honesty, I don’t think I can. However, I’m aspiring to make significant changes to my daily routine that will set a positive pattern, which, in the long run, will produce much less waste.

Photo by Jasmin Sessler on Unsplash

I’m happy to report that thinking about waste has already started paying off.

  1. When I go shopping, I try to buy fewer products wrapped up in plastic packaging. The UK loves plastic; they even put cucumbers in plastic, which I find ridiculous. Luckily, cucumbers plastic-free do exist in the smaller shops and at farmers markets.
  2. I consciously choose fruits and veggies that aren’t pre-packed in plastic. Before my awakening, I didn’t really pay much attention; I would just toss everything and anything in the trolley.
  3. If I buy takeaway food, I try to bring my containers with me (I usually buy street food at the markets). If I don’t have the container, the guilt often stops me from shopping. (I know it might be silly but seeing a non-recyclable container and knowing how long it will take to decompose, gives me shivers.)
  4. Of course, I carry my bottle of water and a coffee cup in my backpack.
  5. I got metal strews recently, so if a place offers me a straw, I can refuse and reach out for mine. I recently refused to buy takeaway ice cream when the woman behind the counter told me that my takeaway ice cream container wasn’t new, and by definition, unhygienic (Bullshit!!!) and she wanted to give me another one. I felt pretty confident saying “no”. On the other hand, she couldn’t really understand my reasoning (arguing with people over single-use plastic is something I may need to get used to). I said: “Because I can have something, it doesn’t mean I must, and I want to.” There was no ice cream for the teenage M. and no business for the ice cream place. I’m pretty sure I’m not going back there. I don’t want to support this company if they don’t think about the long term environmental impact.
  6. Recently I started making two shopping lists—one for a zero-waste shop and another for the regular shop.  

My goal for the next few weeks is to make sure that, when buying meat, my hubby uses containers instead of single-use plastics, and I would also like to replace wrapping up plastic and paper when buying cheese with possibly beeswax food wrap. I will see how that goes. I guess it all depends on the goodwill of the shopkeepers.

I’ve replaced a lot of my waste in the bathroom, you can read about that here, but I’m in constant search for replacing more of my bathroom products. So, the plan for the next few weeks (my deadline for this project is the end of June) is to replace:

  • Sanitary pads – I’ve been using organic/biodegradable, but it still creates waste and takes ages to degrade. I have ordered the Mooncup, so I will have to see if I’m actually happy using it. If not, I have other alternatives to choose from.
  • Shampoo – I bought a new shampoo from the zero-waste shop. The sales assistant said that it was the most popular, so I guess that it may work. The verdict is still on that. My local zero-waste shop has a few choices, so I’ll keep trying until I can settle on one and be satisfied. I genuinely hope this is going to work and the shampoo bottle problem will be solved.
  • Cotton Buds – we have been using the paper once, but it always comes in the plastic box, which bothers me immensely. So, I’m looking at the options at the moment and planning to try out the reusable cotton buds
  • Try out the toothpaste in jars and see if we can use it. (comfort, price, taste all needs to be considered) For the moment, we are using the only toothpaste that comes in recycled packaging, but as we all know at this point, recycling isn’t the best solution.

Recap

My plan for the next 5-6 weeks is to implement the changes above and see what is possible and doable. Replacing the bathroom products shouldn’t be an issue as long as I can find the right shampoo.

Not using packaging for buying products or using my own packaging might cause some issues, especially now during the pandemic. Still, maybe by educating the shop owners (I know them both, we shop locally in a Polish and Italian shop), I would make progress.

Aim

I aim to create as little non-recyclable waste as possible. I know recycling isn’t the ideal answer to our waste problems, but it is better to recycle something than put it in a landfill and leave it to decompose for 500 years.

Research

I’m also planning to research the following:

  • Find a new bank, which is in sync with my sustainability values.
  • Find the best composting solution for our current living conditions.
  • Find a filter for our washing machine.

If you have any suggestions, please share. I would love to hear from you. I will update you in July on how my progress is evolving.


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