You see this jar
This is all the waste one student in America sent to Landfill in two years - this one jar was everything she binned over 730 days.
I bin more than that in just one week.
But apparently there are a growing number of people out there committed to sending as little to landfill as possible. It's called a zero waste lifestyle. I’m thinking of joining them.
A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend about Lent. She mentioned a former colleague who had given up sending anything to landfill during Lent. She shopped in places where fruit and veg didn’t come packaged. She kept the teabags she used at work so she could take them home and recycle them. When she ran out of shampoo she just stopped washing her hair.
A nice idea, thought I. She was clearly crazy, but good for her.
And then this weekend I stumbled came across this:
She actually lives without sending binfuls of waste to landfill every year. You can read more about it here.
I generally don’t think much about waste. I empty my bin. The binmen take it away and I never see it again. Out of sight, out of mind. But really, those facewipes and yoghurt pots sit somewhere leeching chemicals into the ground for decades.
Mind blown. I know that God calls us to steward the earth, which I’m pretty sure includes not filling it with our rubbish, so I recycle what I can at home and up until now thought that was about it. I had never realised a zero waste lifestyle was a thing.
Not convinced waste is a problem? You might want to watch this quick film clip about the Trashed documentary:
So, here we go. I am embarking on a zero waste journey. In reality I don’t know if I have the discipline for a total zero waste lifestyle. But I figure even if I never get to zero waste atleast less waste is better.
So Level One, I’ma start with the basics:
- Find out what can be recycled. Recycle it.
- Look at what I throw away – what could I actually just not use in the first place?
- Stop using disposable cups - managed to get through two at church today. Note to self, take one of those coffee cups to church.
- No plastic bags. Fortunately, the 5p tax has almost kicked this habit. I don’t know why the extra 5p hurts so much but it really does. Canvas tote bags all the way.
- Start using bamboo tooth brushes. Bamboo ones biodegrade. Plastic ones don’t. Christmas presents for everyone sorted.
- No more bottled water. Hello Klean Kanteen water bottle.
And then there’s the next level up:
- No paper towels. But what about toilets with no hand dryers?!
- Switch to using a Mooncup – less tampons floating through the ocean finding Nemo and all that. Also, no tampon tax to pay – double win.
- Pretend I live in the 1800s and use handkerchiefs – for years I have derided my parents for using handkerchiefs. But now they’re top of my Christmas list - further evidence that I am turning into my parents more and more every day.
- Make my own toothpaste! This is terrifying but apparently toothpaste tubes can’t be recycled. Maybe I could just store them up and make art from them instead. There must be a market for empty toothpaste tube art right?
At Level Three it gets serious:
- Buy food with no packaging/recyclable packaging/BYOP (Bring Your Own Packaging).
- Instead of buying products like moisturiser and shampoo that come in unrecyclable packaging, start making my own – or get rich and buy everything from Lush, where you can recycle the pots, the products are great, and you get a free face mask if you take 5 pots back to them. Triple win.
- Instead of recycling see what I can make or go without.
Level One seems simple enough.
Level Two will require some planning/lack of shame using handkerchiefs in public.
Level Three look like a lot of hard work. I’m hoping that gradually working towards these things will make it much easier. And I'm quite concerned about hair maintenance - after 5 years of not using chemicals or heat to beat it into submission I have only just figured out how to tame it, and one of my many must have essentials for taming the fro probably isn't in recyclable packaging and I def can't make it myself.
As ever, I'll post updates and let you know how its going.
Why not pick one thing and come join the fun?