We ended up with twenty-five bits of rubbish – mostly plastic film and food waste – in the bin today. It seems that zero waste living isn’t as straight forward as planning meals and buying loose produce. I hadn’t really considered that in the process of doing things in a zero waste friendly way, we’d be creating rubbish by using things up; I hadn’t accounted for things like scraped, bloody knees and forgotten Lego projects either.
6 of the 25 items in today’s bin were generated from Lego sets that we finished this morning.
Shopping Ye Olde High Street
Buying the ingredients we needed from our local shops was harder than I’d imagined. The butchers was closed, the deli has a £5 minimum card spend and the greengrocers only takes cash. Both cashpoints in the village were out of use. I had about £2 in loose change, not enough to buy a £3 loaf in the deli. I also had two hot children itching to get to the park. It’s easy to see why supermarkets are popular: cheaper, quicker, and no minimum spending limits or payment restrictions.
Luckily we were able to get cashback from the Post Office and agree on alternative veggie dinners. We came home with loose produce and no plastic except for a litre bottle of milk from the Coop.
Loose fruit and veg from the village greengrocer.
The trip wasn’t a disaster, it just wasn’t ideal. The silver lining? Chatting to The Girls as we walked along the high street on a sunny afternoon and speaking to shopkeepers along the way. It’s nice to feel like the tapestry of a community.
Dusting Off The Aprons
Tomorrow’s the last day of the summer holiday and today is the first day we’ve had at home with no plans. We’ve played shops, finished off Lego sets, watched TV and baked. Baking is our favourite. We made chocolate chunk cookies. I thought they would be a zero waste treat but we used up the ends of 2 bags of sugar and a block of butter, generating non-recyclable rubbish. On the plus, we ended up with 15 baked cookies and a portion of dough for the freezer. And they were delicious. Great for us, not so much for our zero waste endeavours.
Snack time! Who can resist a warm, freshly baked cookie?
Dough for the freezer. We reused a plastic tub from a readymade salad instead of clingfilm.
Zero waste living relies on cooking from scratch. If you’re going to do away with processed and convenience foods, you’d better dust off your apron and start seeking out some good recipes. Luckily for me, food is at the heart of family life. We love cooking. We love eating! Making healthy, home cooked food, scrummy puddings and baked treats is one of my greatest pleasures. This part of the challenge is pretty easy. I just need to get into a routine of buying zero waste ingredients. I’ve found some great shops but there’s a long stretch to go before I’ve got it nailed.
Zero Waste Kids
We’ve read Duffy’s Lucky Escape! several times over summer and have been talking about why it’s important to consume less plastic and put litter in the bin or take it home. They understand why we need to do this perfectly well. The Big One has been picking up the odd bit of litter from the park and putting it in the bin over summer. My advice? Be more 5. If she can understand why we should buy less plastic, dispose of our rubbish properly and take responsibility for our collective actions, then most adults should get it too.
Zero Waste Snacks
To get them on board with zero waste week, I asked The Big One to write a list of packaging free snacks. I’ve been so impressed by how much she’s engaged with the challenge and how much she understands. They haven’t nagged for their usual packaged snacks either. Kids are the best.
The Big One’s zero waste snack list: apples, satsumas, popcorn, mango and raisins.
Lessons learned today?
We’ve had a shaky start despite all the extra effort put in. I’m now wondering if it’s realistic for us to reduce our rubbish much more over the course of a week. I feel quite deflated.
To get closer to zero waste, I’ll be replacing goods in plastic packaging, specifically plastic film, with no packaging or recyclable packaging alternatives when they run out.
I figure that there’ll be rubbish at the start of any zero waste journey. This week won’t be zero waste in itself but the start of a longer household waste reduction exercise. I feel that it would’ve been wrong for me to keep plastic wrapped food in the fridge and wait until Saturday to bin it to show a zero waste ideal on the blog. I don’t want to show an engineered perfection. This is new to our family. The struggles are the most important part of the learning. I hope by showing that this is a longer journey, I might inspire you to think about your own household’s rubbish generation and plastic consumption.
There’s a real pleasure in slowing things down. I’ve had such a nice day with the girls pottering around our village shops, baking together, eating together, talking to shopkeepers and choosing produce together to try to meet our zero waste goals. They’ve enjoyed it too.