Once you enter the journey towards zero-waste, you are always in search for more ways to reduce your footprint, or “live lightly” as my friend used to call it.
Here are 5 ways that I found to be really easy to implement. I am sure there are hundreds of others, depending on where you live, what your family situation is and where you are on your zero-waste journey. Share your ideas and experiences in the comments, so that we can all make the next small step 🙂
1. Plan your meals
This one took me years to come around to, even though it’s so easy and an obvious one! I always thought I was too busy to plan my meals. I used to go shopping without a list, not checking (or remembering) what I already had at home, and often as an “added on” quick errant between work and picking up my children from nursery. You can probably guess what it meant: buying random items, many of which were quick fixes for my empty stomach (read: junk food in quantities that could feed the whole country), really expensive shopping and nothing to cook…
Well, now it looks a bit different. I plan my meals for a whole week, based on what I already have at home and make a list of the ingredients I need. If that’s something I rarely use, I even write down the amount I need, so that I don’t buy too much. This one habit has completely changed my life. I’m not stressed about the fact that I have nothing to cook, or don’t know what I am going to cook for dinner. I can prepare some meals in advance (for example on days when my daughter comes home after school, before I am back from work, just to have dinner and to go to one of her many classes). My food waste is minimal and I spend way less money. A winner all around.
2. Pack your lunches
Oh I was guilty of this one, guilty as charged! I knew it was better and cheaper to take a packed lunch to work. But I never had the time (or rather I thought I didn’t have the time) to do it in the morning. And that probably was true. Mornings are usually mad. Even if you plan everything and you think you’re in control, the time somehow goes so much quicker in the morning. WHY? I am sure this really is the case, just no-one had the time to prove it yet as they don’t have enough time in the mornings (coz it’s goes quicker…). So, the solution was to make it the night before. Now I don’t even think about it, it’s one of my habits every night to prepare my smoothie and my packed lunch for the next day and let it have a good night seep in my fridge. All I have to do in the morning is to take it out of the fridge and put it in my cycling bag. Easy. And did I mention I often take left over dinner, so it’s a double winner 🙂
3. Use a reusable water bottle
This one is self-explanatory really. I keep mine in my handbag and my cycling bag (when I cycle to work). I tend not to use it at home, so I don’t leave it behind. Just remember to rinse it from time to time, as otherwise it can start looking a bit grim inside. Believe me, talking from experience here…
4. Find a local market or buy loose fruit and veggies
I love this one. Living in a city gives me a lot of options, but you can have even more options if you live nearby a farm or a local farmer’s market. I buy my veggies and fruit from a local veggie stall. It’s one of those that sells a bowl per £1 (if you live in the UK you know that I’m talking about, right?). I usually spend around £10-£12 to buy fruit and veggies to last me a week. And yes, it is 1-12 bowls of fruit and veggies, and it is a lot. But I drink a smoothie every day and we are vegan / veggie family, so get through a whole sale quantities of greens in a week… I take my trolley-dolly and a lot of canvas bags with me, so that I don’t use any plastic bags. It works perfectly 🙂 and the value for money is huge. I have a few pics of my weekly veggie haul on my Instagram if you want to check out how much you can get for a tenner.
5. Buy in bulk
That’s for any dry food you can store for longer. There are quite a few zero-waste shops in my city and more are being open every month. This is fantastic of course, but I find that some of the items are really expensive in those shops. So I shop around and do the maths. This means that some items I buy from my favourite zero-waste shop that has been operating for decades, way before the zero-waste movement started. They used to have small plastic bags to buy dry food and nuts, now it’s all paper bags 🙂 I actually remember going there with my glass jars a few years back and having to explain how to tare every jar and that it can work on their scales too 😉
But there are some items that are cheaper when you buy them online. And as everyone has different circumstances, we need to make decisions that work best for us in the current situation. I hope that one day I will be able to shop in local independent shops and won’t have to shop around. But this is not the case now, I have to make my money work for my family and this is what works for me. So, if I can get something 30% cheaper online, I get a big bag, so that it lasts me longer and the use of packaging and transportation is minimised. Here’s a pic of my 50kg bag of organic soya beans… Yep, it sits on my kitchen floor as it does not fit into any of my kitchen cupboards!