Week 2 of out Zero Waste experiment ended yesterday, and I’ve got mixed feeling about it.Here’s a picture of the rubbish we have produced over the past seven days, divided in recyclable (on the right) and not recyclable (on the left).
Recyclable: wine bottle (brought by a friend), paper scraps, milk cartons, tins (which I’m giving to a friend to reuse), pasta and rice packaging (that we had already), random plastic padding (from something I ordered online), toilet paper rolls (we only used three! We probably didn’t eat that many veggies this week). Not recyclable: noodles packaging, random labels, receipts, cloth scraps (from sewing), contact lenses, pills packaging, toothpaste tube, baking paper.
It feels like we haven’t done much better than the first week; in fact this looks like way more rubbish than last Thursday. The good news is that the majority of it is rubbish that comes from items that we had already. At this point we’ve run out of every packaged food we had around the house, so from now on we’ll simply buy everything in bulk (apart from a few exception listed below).
One issue that came up is what happens when you have people over. A couple of friends came for dinner on Saturday night and they brought a bottle of wine wrapped in a paper bag. Luckily everything is recyclable, however we could have avoided it altogether had it been only the two of us. I’m not saying we didn’t enjoy a nice glass of wine (or jar –we don’t actually have any glasses), all I’m saying is once you decide to go Zero Waste you need to make sure that your friends and people around you are aware of it.
Conclusions It’s been a very interesting couple of weeks. My favourite part was refusing: accepting that some things you simply have to go without, and coming up with inventive solutions to make whatever you refused yourself. (This doesn’t always work: at some point I wanted to bake cookies but I’d run out of coconut butter, so I looked up a recipe to make it myself but failed miserably, end ended up with… Basically crumbles.)
So the other lesson is: failing is ok. You need to make mistakes in order to learn and eventually succeed.
Overall, I don’t think I’ll ever be one hundred percent Zero Waste. For the time being I’m willing to make the following exceptions:
- Dairy-free milk I did make my own almond milk once but almonds are mega expensive and not very sustainable (it takes a lot of water to grow them). So I buy milk in recyclable cartons instead.
- Contact lenses I really don’t like contacts, but I play basketball once a week and I can’t wear glasses in games. I’m not sure what else to do so for now these will need to be an exception.
- Toothpaste I really don’t like the coconut oil/baking soda homemade one! I did try but the taste never grew on me. I might give it another go again in the future but in the meantime I’ll try to buy one that comes with as little packaging as possible.
- Coconut butter The reason why I failed to make my own is that I don’t have a high-speed blender. To make coconut butter you basically have to blend dried coconut flakes for a very long time at high speed, and after about five minutes of blending my blender started to overheat and I worried that it was going to die on me. But I still want to bake cookies, so I'm buying coconut butter in a recyclable container (or I reuse the container to keep stuff in).
However, in spite of these exceptions, after these two weeks we realised that it’s really not that hard to reduce the rubbish you produce. It’s interesting to research alternatives, rewarding to come back from your grocery shopping without any plastic packaging, and fun to create your own recipes. Plus, I've learned that the best way to do this is to take it step by step, so the above exceptions are basically a way to make my transition easier - you never know, maybe one day I'll learn to make my own milk and love the taste of baking soda.
Ps. I'm posting this on a Friday as I didn't have time to post it yesterday, therefore Seven Things is postponed to next week. Oops!