It’s a marathon not a sprint – 5 quick start zero waste tips

It’s a phrase my brother in law often uses when we are playing board games and he’s losing miserably, but in the zero waste world, it’s a good one to stick by. I had a conversation with someone online recently who was keen to get started on her zero waste journey but found it all so overwhelming. My advice to her was just that – it’s a journey! Any change is a good one and the smaller the change the more likely it’s going to stick. Putting pressure on ourselves just creates feelings of guilt and negativity. 

Here’s some quick start ups for zero waste beginners. 
1. Wait until you run out of something and then replace it with a zero waste alternative e.g. swapping to a bamboo toothbrush once your plastic one is finished with. 

2. Make easy swaps like using soap instead of shower gel – it lasts so much longer and costs next to nothing in comparison. 

3. When you’re at the supermarket, pick up unpackaged fruit and veg when ever possible and go for food in jars and tins rather than plastic containers. 

4. Swap to washing powder in a box and ditch the fabric softener (all it does is make your clothes smell more pungent). 

5. Use newspaper in your kitchen food caddy instead of bags. Even biodegradable bags take months to break down.
Always remember that any change is a small one, so don’t beat yourself up if you have to buy something that’s not zero waste. Just do some research in the mean time and find an alternative to buy next time. 

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Why bother?

It’s a question I often get asked and it always baffles me.

Before I’d “discovered” the desire to lead a zero waste lifestyle, I had always been conscious of waste – not wasting food, money etc. But since watching a documentary on Netflix called Plastic Ocean it really opened my eyes. I hadn’t realised that plastic NEVER biodegrades, despite the media telling us otherwise. It breaks up, not down, and is rapidly entering our ecosystem. This shocked me into action. From that point on I told myself I no longer wanted to add to the problem. All of that plastic waste I’ve sent to landfill in my thirty years of life is STILL out there! It’s probably half way around the world now. Sea birds unknowingly feeding it to their chicks, fish eating microbeads, dolphins and turtles getting caught up in nets. As guilty as I feel, I can’t change the past, but I can change what I do in the future.

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This photo of this deer was taken by my uncle in a local wood. Dumped plastic netting is caught around its antlers.

Since then I’ve worked hard to only buy unpackaged fruit and veg from my local grocer, unpackaged meat from the butcher and, as much as possible, only recyclable items from the supermarket. I’ve been making my own toiletries and regularly use reusable cups and bottles. So far this has only impacted me and my family, however recently I have experienced eye rolls, ridicule and negative comments. “Why do you bother? No one else does.”

My 2 year old son is why! He is the number one reason I do all of this. He is the future! I want him to grow up to be conscious about waste, the impact it has on his world and to teach others. I want him to give a damn like I do! He will have a responsibility to look after his world just as much as the rest of us, so I want to teach him to do it right! We live in a throw away society where its socially acceptable to buy things only for “temporary use”. But what happens to these things after you have discarded them? If they aren’t recycled or repurposed they go to landfill! I want my son to just THINK.

That is why I bother.