The Clean Kilo (Birmingham) is England’s largest zero waste supermarket.
The term ‘zero waste’ is popular these days, expanding the old ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra with two more words: refuse (don’t buy it if you don’t need it) and rot (ensure it goes back to the earth. It’s a lovely idea in theory, but it’s almost impossible in the modern world to go totally zero waste. But a good thing to aim for, nonetheless. We have all heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a floating mass of plastic in the middle of the Ocean) and landfills everywhere are piling up to release toxic gases. Litter abounds, and ‘economic growth’ is built on the premise of what ecological writer Satish Kumar calls ‘buy, buy, then throw away’.
However, zero waste should not be just reserved for those who can afford to buy bamboo toothbrushes (which are not local, this ‘eco- wood’ is flown in from the other side of the world). Most towns have a zero waste shop and they are indeed lovely – beautifully decorated as a relaxing experience to go buy a bar of soap or refill your laundry powder or lentils. But in a country of 60 million people on (mostly) tiny budgets, the reality is most are heading to Aldi for their food shop, and worrying more about energy and vet bills, than which designer grocery tote to buy at some fancy online boutique.
So what’s the answer? It’s in making small changes. If everyone does a little of what they can, this has far more effect than a few people being able to fit all their trash in one bag over a year. Buy a loaf of bread from your local baker without plastic packaging. Cook your own food instead of buying fast food takeaways. Live simply (and save the odd splurge for gifts at artisan indie stores). Use your local library instead of splurging on books in boredom. Refuse plastic samples of products in stores and use your lips to sip a drink over plastic straws (unless you have a medical condition that means you can’t). Buy quality over quantity, and learn how to mend and repair things, if they break – before buying new again. You get the idea.
A Zero Waste Life in Thirty Days
A Zero Waste Life in Thirty Days is a lovely little book by a former rocket scientist, who is training to be a medical doctor. Her book focuses on both physical and emotion solutions(get rid of anger, as well as clutter!) In a lovely blue tan design, this is a nice dip-in read you are sure to enjoy.
Avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing and medical conditions like epilepsy, asthma or heart conditions. Avoid rosemary, citrus and sage oils for high blood pressure. Avoid shea butter for latex allergies. For home and garden, avoid scented candles near pets and babies (see candle safety tips). See how to make your garden safe for pets and toxic houseplants to avoid near pets (avoid foliage near windows to help stop birds flying into windows).
A Zero Waste Family in Thirty Days is another beautiful guide, since Anita became a mother. Use minimalist principles to become an eco-parent and make small changes as a family.
Kate’s (realistic) Journey to Zero Waste
Kate Hughes writes about money and sustainability for a national newspaper. A few years back (while trying to be a ‘fun mum’), she was bouncing on a trampoline in the garden. She stepped off onto a beanbag which split, and for hours was vacuuming up thousands of polystyrene balls that escaped into a ‘blizzard’ and mostly disappeared down the drain, into the sea. A wake-up call, she and her family decided to drastically change their lifestyle. They gave up plastic and ready-meals, pulled their money out of dirty banks and switched to green energy and an electric car. Her book Going Zero tells their story, with lots of handy tips to help you do the same, and lead a more relaxing life as a bonus.
Beanbag day was the tipping point that finally shook us out of our slumber. We don’t own a bin. We don’t shop in supermarkets. I haven’t been into a petrol station or airport for years.