Zero-waste living has the misconception that it's more of an expensive lifestyle. And yes, it can be if you opt for 100% pure Egyptian organic cotton bed linen, buy weekly organic fruit and veg boxes and all your furniture is bespoke!
If that's the sort of zero waster you are, where you buy the best you can to avoid re-buying and researching the impact the products have on the environment and the workers producing the product – go for it. It's your life and I'm thinking of you getting awesome nights of sleep on that fancy bedding.
That way of life isn't the single definition of zero-waste living though. It's about buying better when you have to, but it's also about buying second hand, composting, reducing the number of electronics you buy, repairing and repurposing or simply going without.
"Zero waste is elitist though."
Zero waste isn't accessible to all.
Those with disabilities or illnesses have to take medication which comes wrapped in plastic, similarly to those with mental health difficulties who often just need to put their wellbeing before anything else in order to get by.
Parents who need to use single plastics or other things we might consider wasteful because they're time poor or their kids won't try products which are different to what they're used to, even if it means lower waste.
Shift workers. Stupid hours and long shifts mean balancing any sort of social life and regular eating patterns are tricky let alone one with low waste.
Students who are on a tight budget. We've all been there when we've had to buy the cheapest food and products for the few years while studying in order to get by!
And I'm sure there are people I'm overlooking, simply because I'm unaware of what other people struggle with for zero waste living.
Anna and I are on this journey because we want to make zero waste living more accessible to others. We want to know your struggles and we want to problem solve with you, in turn bugging large corporations into changing their crappy, non-environmentally friendly procedures. By doing this we can all work out the alternatives to problems and hopefully inspire people we know really well and those who are on the other side of the globe from us.
Here are seven 100% free things you can do this week to start, continue or revive your zero waste journey!
Move your bin
The one for landfill waste. If it lives in one corner, move it to the other side of the room. If it's under the kitchen sink, set it on the side.
Because when you have some rubbish and go into that autopilot mode where you normally pop it into the bin, you'll have a mini panic about where the heck the bin is.
If the waste can be recycled or composted, you'll remember to do it. And if you can't, you can do an audit on it and assess whether you could buy it differently next time to reduce waste, make it yourself or go without.
Refuse single use
No straws, plastic forks, yoghurt pots, plastic bags, drinks cans...
We put this one before our B.Y.O tip on purpose – if you bring your own supplies, refusing single use items should be so much easier!
Bring your own
We're pretty used to bringing our own bags now, but how about bringing those other things you probably already have?
Cutlery, a Tupperware box, a coffee cup, a straw, a water bottle – if you're like me, you don't need to buy these things new, you just need to remember to pack them.
Perhaps always using a backpack will make it easier to have all these things to hand?
Borrow, don't buy
This can be as simple as borrowing a library book, or you could use websites to borrow cars, bags or even dogs. Communal sharing is great, especially for the products we use a few times a year.
Watch an eco-film
Take a look at our favourites or find your own and let us know what you thought.
I even like to re-watch a new film. I do this so I feel like I've come a long way since I last watched the film, or have fallen off the bandwagon and need a reminder of what I'm doing this all for.
Make yourself a nice zero waste snack and settle down for some inspiration!
Join a forum or community group
Making such a big lifestyle change can be daunting if you don't have the correct support or encouragement.
Facebook groups were super helpful for me when I first started my journey. They helped me realise the scope of the waste issue, provide practical solutions and brought me back down to earth if I was panicking about using a certain product or having a certain habit, which was 100% normal (like really missing being able to eat crisps).
The easiest but perhaps the most difficult one, depending on you and your friends.
Tell someone about your desire to reduce your waste.
I'm a pretty open book, so I told anyone who listened when I first started reducing my waste. This generates interesting conversation and will spark others to consider their own landfill waste – it also made me accountable to someone else. Anna and I started our journey at the same time, which was the best encouragement ever. We shared tips and could vent to someone if we needed to.
You don't have to be super rich to start making eco-conscious decisions. Let us know which ones you've tried out!