Tia from Tall Blonde Tales and I are back with the second instalment of our sustainable living challenge (checkout our first challenge here). We both have been trying to be more sustainable in our ways and decided to challenge each other monthly to see how we can change our ways for the better. For the month of September we chose to challenge each other to lead a Zero Waste lifestyle for a week. We will be sharing our experiences on each others blog so head to Tia’s blog to read how my week went.
Here is how it went for Tia –
We decided to go with a zero-waste challenge this month. Initially the plan was to try and go zero-waste in as many parts of our lives as possible. The challenge would be to keep a waste log to monitor what we were going through, and try to live zero-waste with our food, water, energy and fuel consumption as much as we could.
How the week went
The week was definitely filled with challenges. I kept a waste log of everything that went into my different bins, and tried to minimise all other forms of waste around my house. Because I walk everywhere (and I mean everywhere) when at uni, I didn’t have any fuel usage to monitor.
Water wastage was also quite manageable to keep under control – I only do my dishes at the end of the day, and kept my pasta water for watering a few plants. In terms of energy usage, I switch off and unplug all unnecessary devices or appliances when I’m not using them. I only turn my oven and hob on when I’m using it, and only switch on the lights if I’m in that room.
Food wastage was probably the most challenging though. I tried to avoid buying products in plastic packaging, disposed of food waste in our big compost bin and made sure to meal prep so that food in general didn’t go to waste. Because I drink a lot of tea and I know that teabags can have plastic in them, I try to get teabags that don’t have any plastic or tags, and even if they do I make sure to put them in the compost bin so they can be ‘recycled’. I even tried recycling a few things. I’m reusing an aluminium tin to hold my dishwashing brush, and my plastic milk container is now the home for my little avocado pit that I’m trying to grow. I’ll be sure to let you know if he transforms from pebble to plant.
Much to my absolute heartbreak, I sadly couldn’t go completely zero-waste, especially when it comes to food. The sad truth is that in our current society, you can’t always escape from plastic packaging no matter how hard you try, especially when it comes to perishables that aren’t fruit and veg. Some of my vegetables came with plastic packaging, meat is all in plastic containers, butter is in aluminium foil and I had some foil and plastic seals from different items that sadly could not be recycled.
Tips and Tricks
· Meal prepping is key! Not only does meal prepping help you know what you need to buy so you can plan ahead and try avoid food with plastic packaging, but you’ll also know how much you need to cook or save so that things aren’t wasted
· Make use of your local farmer’s market. Not only are you supporting a local business instead of a corporation, but there’ll also be far less packaging wasted as you can normally just bring your own bags, or use recyclable paper bags.
· Find out if there are any zero-waste stores near you. In my city there is a zero-waste store opening up this weekend where you can refill pantry staples (flour, sugar etc.) in your own mason jars instead of buying new packaged ones in the supermarket. I’m planning to go there with my best friend this weekend to see how it looks and I’ll probably end up swapping a lot of my pantry staple items to that store.
· Only use what’s needed. If you’re not using something, just turn it off. Having that sort of practical, minimalist mindset is one of the easiest ways to help you live more zero-waste. If you’re not in that room, why does the light need to be on? If you’re brushing your teeth, you don’t need to leave the tap running. You can even turn off certain appliances and only plug them in and use them when they’re needed. For instance, I use a stovetop kettle instead of an electric one as it is much more eco-friendly and I only switch on/plug in my oven, microwave and toaster when I need to use them. Afterwards I turn them off because that’s just wasted energy. This doesn’t apply to fridges though!! Don’t ever turn your fridge off unless there’s a really good reason otherwise you’ll regret it (my brother learnt this lesson the hard way).
How this week went (when we weren’t trying to consciously keep a log)
For this last week, I didn’t actively keep a waste log but I was a lot more conscious of my wastage. I’ve noticed that most of my wastage is either food packaging that I sadly can’t avoid, and compostable items such as the rinds or ends of vegetables, pits and teabags. There were one or two bigger items like boxes and things I needed to get rid of, but recycling is really big in England so anything that I can’t really recycle myself around my flat, I pitch in the recycling bins so at least they’ll be recycled in some way.
Even though it was quite disheartening that I couldn’t go completely zero-waste, it was just really eye-opening to go through this challenge and see all the places where waste gets generated. The amount of plastic used with food is just crazy, and I understand that it needs to be kept hygienic and transported, but humanity is so innovative and clever I mean over the last few decades we’ve gone from handwriting letters to developing technology sophisticated enough for me to be typing this on a laptop and sharing it with you all over the internet. Surely we can find a way to package, store and transport things that don’t use such an environmentally harmful thing like plastic??
I just want to say thanks again to Moksha on Happy Panda for doing this collab with me. Even though I love doing these eco-friendly challenges on my own, they’re just so much more fun when you have someone else to do them with. Not only does it mean you’re not on your own, you also have the support if you need, and someone to rant with if things aren’t going well. What did you all think of our eco-friendly challenge? Do any of you practice zero-waste living, or something to that extent, at home? Do you have any tips you can share? Also, what would you like to see for our next sustainable living challenge? Let’s chat in the comments section!
I want to thank Tia for making me try out different ways of living. I love that despite being miles apart we’re able to work together to change our lives for the betterment of our planet. Have you tried the Zero Waste Challenge? How did you fare?
PS: I know we both didn’t exactly go zero waste for the week but the idea was to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and to atleast try. We did have some impediments like not having a zero waste store near us but we’ve tried to make the best of the situation.
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