Zero Waste Week-the end..?

Apologies for the lack of a Day 6 post yesterday. I was working and got back late, and the Smalls didn’t want to go to bed, blah blah blah.

Anyway, today is the 7th and final day of Zero Waste Week.
So what have I learned?

1) Not to be so crazily ambitious and pledge to go zero waste for a week without any kind of forward planning



2) Rubbish just happens. As hard as you try, and as good as you think you are being, someone will hand you a disposable wipe, and suddenly, you have rubbish!

3) The most common rubbish in my landfill bin is plastic

The evidence!

4) There are lots of plastic free alternatives out there-from razors, to toothbrushes, and water bottles to shampoo, but sometimes you just need to look a bit harder for them.
And if you’ve put yourself on a self-imposed Amazon ban, it can be even harder…!

5) Some things are easy to change-like saying no to plastic bags and using re-usable water bottles. Some things are easier than you thought they would be to change-like when we went cold turkey on baby wipes-I thought this would be really hard, but actually, it wasn’t. And sometimes, change is just plain old hard work. Trying to change the habits of a lifetime is inevitably going to take a bit of effort. I’m still plucking up the courage to go ‘naked shopping’ (ie take my Tupperware in to be filled up with cheese/ham etc rather than using yet more disposable plastic) and as yet have failed to even remember to take my plastic tubs out with me, let alone be brave enough to ask if the shop will use them!

6) Often times, we can recycle more than we think we can.
Have another look at the leaflet that the council sent you about your rubbish collections, to see if you are making the best use of your kerbside recycling. And check out this site, that gives you the full low down on what can and can’t be recycled at all the facilities all over the country.
I didn’t know until recently that we can recycle our stretchy plastic with the plastic bags at the supermarket, and the we can take hard plastic, like old toys etc, to the recycling centre, and it all gets chopped up and made into park benches and things 🙂
AND this week I found out that Terracycle recycle a whole bunch of stuff I previously thought was ‘unrecyclable’.They will take baby wipe packets, biscuit wrappers, coffee pouches, and even pens. Check out the full list of the their schemes here

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 20.01.07

7) The UK should have more bulk stores. In the USA these are pretty common-you can take along your own containers and go and stock up on dry good like cereal , dried fruit, pasta etc. What a fabulous idea, whiy don’t we have more of them here?!

8) Zero Waste, or even attempting to get anywhere near Zero Waste is HARD. It seems like our modern society is hard wired to package, and over package, and produce un-recyclable waste.

9) There is a whole wonderful, amazing community of Zero Heroes out there, doing there bit to reduce their landfill waste, and to raise awareness of the issue.
I have discovered some fabulous blogs during this week (Plastic is Rubbish, The Zero Waste Chef and Treading My Own Path, to name just a few, as well as some of my faves like Mommy Emu and A Lazy Girl Goes Green)
Someone questioned on the Zero Waste Week Facebook page whether all these special Days and Weeks, actually change anything or whether they are just “activity for the sake of activity”.
I would really like to think that they do create change. Change has to start from somewhere, and the first step towards change, is recognising the need to change. Most people in the developed world don’t give their rubbish a second thought. It gets ‘thrown away’, and the bin lorry comes and takes it ‘away’.
BUT there is no ‘away’.
It all has to go somewhere. It goes into landfill, and we are running out of space. Every piece of plastic ever made is still in existence somewhere-much of it clogging up the world’s waterways and oceans.

Heavily polluted beach in Norway.  Image from Coastal Care

Heavily polluted beach in Norway.
Image from Coastal Care

Since the end of WW2, our society has very quickly become one where convenience and cost are our primary concerns when making purchases. We don’t give the consequences of our purchases a second thought.
I think weeks like Zero Waste Week DO make a difference. If it just sparks one conversation, and one person to start thinking about the rubbish they produce, then that is making a difference.
As I have found, once you start becoming aware of what is going in your bin, it is a great incentive to start trying to do something about it.

10) Reducing landfill waste needs to be approached on many levels: by individuals, by retailers, and by manufacturers.
I am just me, just one little person. But I can make change happen. I can make change happen in my home. I can change the way I shop, the things I choose to buy. I can choose to make better, more informed choices about what I am bringing into my house, and this in turn affects what is going out of my house in the rubbish.
Rachelle, of My Zero Waste, founded Zero Waste Week seven years ago. She has worked tirelessly to promote Zero Waste, and to raise awareness of all the issues around our addiction to stuff, and plastic, and convenience. This year, over 1000 people took part in Zero Waste Week. Just think of the impact that those 1000 people will have had: blogging, tweeting, and dare I say it, maybe even talking about Zero Waste to their friends and neighbours. Who knows what the knock on impact of those 1000+ people is. Maybe 5,000 people, probably more.
And Rachelle is just one person.

What I am trying to say, is never think that you can’t change anything because you are just one person.
You have the power to change you. And your immediate environment.
How awesome is that?


15 thoughts on “Zero Waste Week-the end..?

  1. Your Zero Waste Week and blog has been successful. Through reading and commenting on your blog I have learned that I can recycle magazine plastic wrappers in the supermarket bin along with carrier bags ( I did know about the carrier bags). This revelation has led me to looking more carefully at the blurb on other plastic bags. So this morning I have added the plastic bag my supermarket pears were in to my ever growing pile of plastic bags to take to the supermarket later this week. Thank you! I am feeling really pleased with my new bit of knowledge and am now a “woman with a new mission” – to root out every last bit of plastic that can be recycled rather than binned. Of course it would still be better if we didn’t have the pesky plastic wrappers on the first place!

  2. Thank you for the mention. You’re right about our society being hardwired for packaging. Too often, some bulk foods actually cost more than their overpackaged counterparts. But overall, I save money by shopping the way I do (my own containers, cloth produce bags, shopping at the farmer’s market). By cutting out the packaged stuff (i.e., processed food), I eat MUCH better than I did just a few years ago. I can honestly say that my attempts to cut the waste have improved my health. No question.

  3. Nice post and thanks for the mention! Of course doing something makes a difference. My plastic boycott and commitment to composting means I don’t have stuff in my black bin. That’s one less load to landfill. Every two weeks. Every year. It soon adds up to a big difference.

    Perhaps one person doesn’t make a huge difference initially but that is a different argument. And surely rather simplistic. It is like saying there is no point in voting because each individual vote is insignificant.

  4. When people belittle the efforts of others, aren’t they saying that they want an excuse to keep things the way they are? If you don’t feel threatened, you don’t need to criticise.

    I found a way of buying my coffee which means no plastic packaging – maybe I would have got round to it one day, anyway, or maybe not, without Zero Waste Week to prompt me. Glad to have found a way to recycle tetrapaks on the other hand, which again is thanks to Zero Waste Week. One step at a time to encourage the way things are packaged, which I think is what we need to be aiming for – but that is a scary world for many people. Challenges aren’t for everyone.

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