Progress: Zero Waste Related

On this page, I’ve summarised the progress I made since starting to go zero waste in 2015. I’ll keep updating it to see how all this evolves in 2016. I hope you have a good read, and let me know if you have any suggestions 🙂

  1. Grocery Shopping

Yep, this is by far the most extensive of all topics, and a much is still to be done in this regards. I found one bulk store in Scotland after a few months’ search, the New Leaf Coop in Edinburgh, but unfortunately it is too far away to make it a regular stop on my shopping tour. Nonetheless, I’m very luck a small food coop has been set up in our university, known as The Food Hive, which rescues me time in time again and provides me with unpackaged and organic produce.

I get a fair deal of dry goods from there, buy only unpackaged vegetables from the supermarket, and with other products its mostly a case of negotiating. Since moving into the city centre, our recycling program is shocking, and a lot of materials that could be recycled have to be thrown into the landfill bin, which is just stupid. In the light of this, it is next to impossible to find dairy products, sweets and snacks, and many other foods without packaging that won’t be recycled. Instead, I will now try to go more without or even make myself. If you have any good recipes, feel free to share them!

Additionally, we’re denied food waste collection in the centre, and I’m racking my brain about what I could do to avoid having to bin my food waste. So far, all possibilities are either not doable with our current living situation (flat, no garden), or too inconvienient to keep up over a long period of time (taking my food waste all the way to someone with a compost: I don’t even know anybody). Any ideas, or if you have tried home composting without worms, give me a shout!

On the good side, I managed to sew some produce bags from old pillows, and plan to make some more from another pillow case I got. It was very easy and I regular compliments on them.

With farmer’s markets, it’s also a difficult situation. Up here, farmer’s markets sell mostly packaged foods, meats mostly, as well as non-foods such as soaps and stuff. There is not even a real vegetable stall other than the one I get my veg bag from anyway. All other stalls exclusively sell good, local food, but it’s just very expensive and we don’t even need most of it (such as fish, highland beef or venison). Even though we’ve checked out other farmer’s markets in the region, it’s too much of a hassle, and they’re very similar in terms of the fact that we don’t need any of the food they offer. Sad, but it’s alright. We have all the food we need, that’s all that counts.

  1. Bathroom

I’m super happy that I have managed to reduce my bathroom items significantly by making my own products. On our Christmas trip, I only had 4 or 5 items in total I took with me!

I make toothpaste and deodorant from coconut oil and baking soda, wash my hair with baking soda, clean my hands and body with ordinary, unpackaged soap, made a simple allrounder cream with beeswax, coconut oil, olive oil and tea tree oil, and started to use a mooncup.

Even though I’ve planned it since summer, I still haven’t managed to switch to cloth liners. I bought some online, but I’m unhappy with their shape and plan to make some myself. The lack of a sewing machine delays this further and further, but I’m determined to tackle it next year to eliminate my bathroom waste for good.

I also want to buy a bamboo toothbrush once mine is at the end of its life, which is surprisingly long.

  1. On the Go

I’ve got into a habit of planning ahead for my university lunch and started using handkerchiefs for wrapping sandwiches, reusable (plastic) tubs for hot food, and a shiny new stainless steel water bottle, which is one of the best things I bought in 2015! It saves so much money, resources, and sanity, and I’m appreciating it so much that I don’t have to buy bottled water. I will definitely continue to make use of it in 2016.

If I didn’t have any food with me, I started to get food to eat-in, or pretended I would, so I could take the plate with me and just return after I finished (which works well at uni). I generally managed to reduce our waste a lot by choosing to eat in, and mostly the only thing I still got was paper napkins.

For drinking out, I finally managed to make it a habit to ask for “no ice and no straw” (I hate iced drinks) when ordering, which saved a lot of unnecessary waste. In terms of coffee, my efforts were twofold. I do own a reusable cup, but I don’t drink coffee, so I usually never take it with me. So when I craved a hot chocolate in the last year, 50% of the time I just bit the bullet and got a paper cup (without lid, though), 50% I had the option to sit in or had someone around who borrowed me their reusable cup. All in all, considering I only ever get a hot chocolate once in a blue moon, it’s less waste than it sounds 😉

My biggest problem to tackle for 2016 is definitely zero waste snacking. Despite having sorted my main meals, I fail to take the time to prepare sweets and snacks for university, and end up buying chocolates or muesli bars. In the next year, I want to make myself a huge batch of Zero Waste Muesli Bars which I can feast on guilt free. I already have a recipe…

  1. Cleaning

Cleaning has become so easy and effortless since transitioning to zero waste cleaning! I don’t have a huge house to clean, so just a few items can go a long way. I’m using a 50:50 solution of vinegar and water to clean most surfaces, and I started making the vinegar myself to make to zero waste and zero money!

My dishes are cleaned with an all-natural dish brush, which after over 6 months is still going strong and proves to be cheaper than plastic brushes which break only after a few weeks, as well as refilled Ecover dish washing liquid.

I’m currently using up my last bit of washing powder before going fully natural with soap nuts. I’ll let you know about my experiences once I’ve put them to the long term test.

  1. Self made + Foraged food

A few times I’ve managed to reduce my waste by making certain foods myself, which proved to be rather easy in many cases. Recipes on my blog include mayonnaise, lemonade, bread, icing sugar, stock, and vinegar. I’ve also briefly touched on the idea of foraging for food by making my own jam from blackberries and currants.

I hope to watch the seasons more closely to hopefully be able to gain more knowledge about free food waiting to be picked. I’d love to learn how to make muesli bars or yoghurt, but the latter is still boycotted by the fact that we don’t buy milk, and there is no milk in reusable bottles anyway. Hopefully I might one day find something of the like in the area, and manage to reduce packaging in some way. Another food I’d like to make myself is crisps, which prove to be harder than expected. I’ve mastered the making of garlic bread chips (which I will blog about soon), but crisps is the ultimate league which needs to be conquered in 2016!