Zero Waste Lifestyle

I’ve recently started following a bunch of zero waste bloggers in the hope that I might get some tips on how not to throw so much stuff out. I wanted to go beyond the obvious information of ‘don’t use plastic bags and bottles, as these will end up in landfill’. As it turns out, there is a vast and helpful online community of zero wasters, and it seems that their ultimate queen is the New Yorker, Lauren Singer (http://www.trashisfortossers.com/), who can fit two years worth of trash into a 16 oz mason jar.

Two Years of Trash for Lauren Singer

Two Years of Trash for Lauren Singer

When you think about it it's crazy, we use things so thoughtlessly nowadays. As we tuck into our Chinese take away with disposable plastic utensils, we don't think about how for those thirty minutes of eating, those utensils will sit in landfill for a few hundred years. It is this short sightedness that zero wasters see past. They think more about sustainable and durable products, those that will last you a lifetime. In doing so, I feel that they come to value you their things much more, treating them with greater care. After reading Lauren’s blog and others, I have put together a collection of what I thought were some of their easiest and most useful tips or replacement options for plastic products.

From Lauren's blog:

The Waste Problem: Disposable Razors Why:  Non-recyclable, expensive, wasteful The Alternative: Safety Razor or laser hair removal (more money) Where to buy: Here

The Waste Problem: Disposable Razors

Why:  Non-recyclable, expensive, wasteful

The Alternative: Safety Razor or laser hair removal (more money)

Where to buyHere

The Waste Problem: Plastic Toothbrush Why:  Non-recyclable, wasteful The Alternative: Bamboo compostable and sustainable toothbrushes  Where to buy: Here

The Waste Problem: Plastic Toothbrush

Why:  Non-recyclable, wasteful

The Alternative: Bamboo compostable and sustainable toothbrushes 

Where to buyHere

The Waste Problem: Disposable Makeup Remover Wipes Why:  They are wasteful, expensive, unnecessary, and often have toxic chemicals The Alternative: Organic Coconut Oil and Reusable Cotton Rounds Where to buy: Here

The Waste Problem: Disposable Makeup Remover Wipes

Why:  They are wasteful, expensive, unnecessary, and often have toxic chemicals

The Alternative: Organic Coconut Oil and Reusable Cotton Rounds

Where to buyHere

From Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home blog (http://www.zerowastehome.com/p/about.html):

  • Use refillable pens, piston fountain pens, mechanical pencils, refillable white board markers and donate extra office material (paper, pencils) to your public school's art program.
  • Start your personal junk mail war, cancel your phone directories, and sign up for electronic bills and statements
  • Refill your bottles with bulk shampoo and conditioner. If your hair is short, you also have the “no-poo” option: rinse your hair, massage baking soda in, then rinse, with vinegar for shine. Or use a shampoo bar. Instead of hairspray, switch to lemon water in a spray bottle (see Recipes). To go longer between washes, substitute dry shampoo for cornstarch (in bulk).
  • Buy in bulk or at the counter (see Zero Waste Grocery Shopping), bring reusable bags (dry goods), jars (wet items such as meat, deli, fish, cheese, oil, peanut butter) and bottles (liquids: oil, soy sauce, shampoo, conditioner).

From Kathryn's Going Zero Waste blog (http://www.goingzerowaste.com/):


Period Dramas

Periods: no one’s favourite topic of conversation despite the time, money and energy they take up in the lives of more or less half the world’s population. For most of us, the sanitary products we use are picked from a limited pool of choice: tampon or pad; applicator or non-applicator. Whether we have our preferred brand or not, our choice of sanitary products is, more often than not, an act of habit, a semi-conscious decision made hastily and without particular consideration. I think this would be a little different if we took a bit of time to think about some of the effects that these seemingly insignificant choices have.

On estimate, a woman will use over 11,000 disposable sanitary products in a lifetime. In the US alone, an estimated 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are disposed of annually. The environmental side effects of tampons and pads are fairly obvious: the processing of raw materials that takes place in creating the plastic used in tampons and pads; the quantities of water, pesticides and fertilizers used in the farming of cotton, not to mention the effects that the incorrect disposal of plastic tampon applicators can have on the ocean and marine life. According to a recent international study, we have produced enough plastic since the second world war to coat the Earth entirely in clingfilm. Despite the slightly comical image, it’s one that should be taken seriously and will perhaps make you reconsider your monthly consumption of plastic based sanitary products.

If you’re thinking of looking for an easy alternative to everyday sanitary products sold on the high street you would be best investigating into the mooncup: a reusable menstrual cup made from soft medical grade silicone that collects menstrual fluid whilst steering clear of plastics, bleaches and BPA. Good for the environment and your body too. There are numerous benefits to investing in one of these cups aside from the obvious environmental gains: one cup lasts for years so you can forget about monthly trips to the pharmacy for supplies; the mooncup collects three times more than a standard tampon; they are convenient, discreet and comfortable making them perfect for everyday activities. 

Mooncup Ltd is a company entirely dedicated to providing environmentally friendly and sustainable sanitary products that reach beyond the mooncup itself. The storage bag is made from unbleached organic cotton by a Fairtrade Foundation, all packaging and promotional materials are produced by the UK’s leading environmental printer and thus it is the first sanitary protection manufacturer in the world to be awarded Ethical Business status for its people and environmentally friendly practices. 

If you are still feeling unconvinced take a look at this video, maybe it will get you online and ordering your own mooncup

The UK’s Top ‘Trash Cooking’ & Reduced Waste Restaurants

  1. Silo, Brighton – Everything about Silo is designed with waste reduction and sustainability in mind, in fact it’s hailed as the first zero waste restaurant in the UK. Here are some of the coolest reasons why:
  • Plates are made from recycled plastic bags

  • Toilets are flushed using waste water from coffee machines

  • Leftover steamed milk, a by-product of the coffee making process, is used to make cheese

Silo, Brighton

Silo, Brighton

Plates Made From Recycled Plastic Bags

Plates Made From Recycled Plastic Bags

2. Skipchen, Bristol – The essence of the restaurant is in its name; Skipchen is a not-for-profit that creates ‘pay-as-you-feel’ meals entirely from food that would otherwise go in the bin.  It’s run by volunteers who after hours go in search of wasted food, most often finding it in supermarkets' skips. 

Health and safety is of course taken into consideration and although some of the food is past its best before date, it is still perfectly good.  We have become wrongly obsessed with such dates, ignoring their dubious origins as a stock control mechanism for Marks & Spencers. The most important point to remember, when debating whether or not your food product is edible, is to simply trust your own instinct - if it smells terrible, it probably is terrible.

So far Skipchen has served up a variety of dishes, from lobster to spicy beans on toast. Importantly, the whole atmosphere benefits from the diversity of its clientele, which comprises people from all walks of life, some people are able to pay a lot for their meal, others are unable to pay anything. Similar cafes exist across England – examples are the ‘Saltaire Canteen’ in Bradford and the ‘Save the Date’ restaurant in London – all of which are part of the same charity, known as The Real Junk Food Project.

 3. St John, London - Chef Fergus Henderson, champion of the ‘nose to tail’ eating philosophy, founded St John’s restaurant in Smithfield, 1994. His catchphrase is, ‘if you're going to kill the animal it seems only polite to use the whole thing’. With this in mind, his restaurant serves up dishes like roasted marrowbone with fresh parsley on toast. Most of his meals use alternative cuts of meat, like pig’s trotters, duck hearts or pigs tail. He ignores current fads related to eating only the 'desirable' parts of the animal, a tendency that leads to vast amounts of the slaughtered animal going to waste.   Instead, Henderson celebrates the different tastes and textures of all meats. 

Roasted Marrowbone with Parsley and Toast at St John's Restaurant

Roasted Marrowbone with Parsley and Toast at St John's Restaurant