Zero Waste Challenge

Zero Waste Challenge: Day 1

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I decided to start my challenge on a Saturday for two reasons. Firstly, the nearest farmer’s market is on Saturdays – and I was sure would be crucial to my plans. And, secondly, I didn’t want to deal with plastic-free work lunches just yet. I was both excited and dreading our first shop, but it actually went pretty well.

 

Food Shopping

The farmer’s market was tiny, which was a bit disappointing. Not at all like what you see in the movies. We’ve heard about another one, a bit further away, so we’ll try that next week. We’ve decided we like a farmer’s market…

That being said, I managed to get almost all our usual bread, fruit and vegetables for a fraction of the cost.

1lb carrots = £1.25

1 cabbage = £1

6 bananas = £1

4 lemons = £1

4 oranges = £1

1 cauliflower = £1

1 loaf of freshly baked bread = £3.50

4 leeks = £1

4 potatoes = £1

3 peppers = £2

Tomatoes = £1

Cucumber = £1

Eggs = £2.50

I also found homemade tiramisu in a foil container for £3, which was a nice little bonus… The meat and cheese were all wrapped in plastic; but we have a freezer full of meat anyway, so we just it. We already have some other bits and pieces in, so I just didn’t buy them again (as I normally would). And, since the choice was limited, I didn’t end up with a lot of unnecessary things (again, as I normally do).

Since the farmer’s market is outside, it meant we could take the dog and do our shopping together for once. Normally, I do it online by myself and then Dan bitches about what I got. Not this time. We made a morning of it, and it was actually a lot of fun! You do need to remember to say “no” when they reach for the plastic bags, and they do look at you like “ugh, dirty hippy” – so watch out for that.

There wasn’t any cooked meat at the market, so we had to make a second trip to the deli counter at the supermarket on the way home. They were iffy about not wrapping it in plastic – live and learn, next time we’ll bring wax wraps. While we were there, we picked up some tins of baked beans and cans of Coke (I know I shouldn’t, but I love the stuff). We spent about £6 on cooked meat for sandwiches and £2 on baked beans. Turns out, baked bean tins are lined with plastic. But they do recycle them with “tin”, so I’m only deducting half a point for that one.

Dairy is a problem.

A quick Google search found a milkman (milkandmore.co.uk) who would deliver milk in glass bottles to our door three times a week. It costs about the same as the milk at the supermarket, but it’s plastic-free and organic. Plus, I don’t have to send Dan to get it. Far less bitching and whining… They had all kinds of other stuff as well! If you were so inclined, you could basically do your entire shop with them. That was a bit of an eye-opener… I ended up adding cheese and orange juice to my recurring order. They even have a section just for plastic-free!

I have yet to find a butter-solution… Butter Gate. The Great Butter Crisis.

There were definitely things I couldn’t get. That being said, I don’t think we’re going to go hungry… As much fun as we had at the farmer’s market, I’m also not sure we’ll have time to go every single week. I may need to look for plastic-free delivery options. Don’t Waitrose have a plastic free aisle?

Cost analysis: I would normally spend about £70 on food a week, and this week we spent £40.

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Cleaning

Since we work full-time, the weekend is for cleaning in our house. And carpets + dog means regular carpet cleaning. I would normally buy powdered or spray carpet cleaner, but, since we didn’t have any already, I had to make my own. Took all of five minutes to do, was completely non-toxic, and smelled amazing – I’m never wasting my money on carpet cleaner again!

Carpet Cleaner Recipe

1 cup bicarbonate of soda

20 drops of Thieves oil

10 drops of Lemon oil

15 drops of Lavender oil

  1. Mix the oils in a few drops at a time to make sure it’s evenly dispersed through the baking soda
  2. Sprinkle baking soda and oils over the carpet
  3. Wait half an hour and then hoover it up

 

Cost: 1 cup of baking soda approximately 50p (you can get 1kg of baking soda for £9; I’m not counting the essential oils, as they’re something I buy every month)

I need to replace to bi-carb now. Amazon has it, but I couldn’t tell whether the packaging contained plastic or not. In the end, after a quick Google search, I got a great bargain on some in boxes at Ethical Superstore.

Tomorrow, I need to clean the bathroom and kitchen. I’m going to have to make cleaning spray… But if it goes as well as the carpet cleaner, I’m going to be very happy.

 

Entertainment & Other

I spent a small fortune on books and oils already, so we’re not doing much this weekend. I don’t have to worry about avoiding plastic outside of the house until Monday.

 


Learning Points

So far, loving this zero-waste lifestyle! I suspect I’m a born crunchie… Dan finds it equal parts frustrating and amusing. He enjoys pointing out when I can’t have something.

I haven’t had to make any big sacrifices, and it’s been fun and easy. It was great to be able to make a family day out of the farmer’s market, and I’ve even saved some money!

That being said, there’s no way we will make it to the farmer’s market every week. I need to consider a supermarket alternative, which I suspect will be far less fun. I also need to invest in some beeswax wraps and glass food storage containers, if I’m going to do this long-term. I’ve learned it’s crucial to shop around. There are plastic-free alternatives, but you may have to look a little harder for them.

A great link to a Country Living article I found for some funny, and sensible, tips for going zero waste. It’s written by a woman who took the challenge for one week, as I’m doing, and so was extra-relatable to me right now!

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13 thoughts on “Zero Waste Challenge: Day 1”

  1. Yay on your first day! Remember it’s an adjustment so don’t expect to get it all at once. Liked the cleaning alternative. I haven’t bought chemical cleaner in 4 years. I go old school: in a spray bottle I mix white vinegar, dish soap and a little water. ( I also add lemon juice for a lemon scent) Cleans everything in my kitchen and bathroom. Love it. If I need to scrub something I use baking soda.

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  2. I also use Milk and More instead of the plastic supermarket stuff. I take my Tupperware boxes to put meat and fish in for when I use the supermarket. Plus I save all my brown paper bags for fruit and veg. I’m trying too and bit by bit I’m sure we can make a difference.

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  3. Oh you’re already there, doing all these things! I have to say, dairy has so far been the most difficult for me to find non-plastic alternatives… I considered the milk and more!

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  4. I think all the small changes are what really makes a difference, to be honest! That’s what I’m finding as well. And that actually it isn’t as hard to do more than I thought… I’m having a lot of fun with it!

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  5. Glad you had fun at the farmer’s market! I find it a little ironic that the people at the freaking FARMER’S MARKET gave you sass for asking for no plastic bags, but I could totally relate. When I go to the store I always have to remind them like, twelve times. “No, I don’t need a plastic bag for one eye pencil, I’ll just stick it in my purse thanks.”

    I am curious about your baking soda. What did it come in? Ours always comes in cardboard boxes. I guess since those are recyclable they don’t count as trash?

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  6. I know! It was madness! I did enjoy the farmers market though, but I honestly cant see myself having time to go every week. And you definitely cant get everything there so I think I’ll have to rely on the supermarket going forward…

    Yeeeh proper zero waste involves no cardboard or paper, no glass… that, I think, is not practical for me. Or most people. No plastic is going well, but if I had to get rid of paper etc as well… I don’t think I could do that. Since that stuff is biodegradable anyway, and doesn’t contain any nasty chemicals, I really dont think I’ll ever bother to go that far!

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  7. The other difficult thing to me about any sort of no-trash or no-plastic lifestyle is work. Like, my job frequently hands me trash, says give this to the students and throw away the extra. It’s even worse if you work in the food service industry.

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  8. My job probably creates a fair amount of plastic rubbish. I’m not responsible for that though! The main thing I’ve found hard so far as the tiredness after work, when you have no choice but to cook… the intense level of organisation this requires… that’s actually been the hardest thing

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