How I went waste-free for a month
Lent is the 40-day period before Easter Sunday where many Christians give up a luxury or start a new habit as an act of self-reflection, so every Lent I like to take part in an unusual challenge. Most people give up chocolate or meat, but I find that by doing a less stereotypical Lent I feel like I have improved myself even more. This year I resolved that I would throw nothing in the bin! I was allowed to recycle, but I only did this as it would have made it nearly impossible for me to eat or get on with daily life (which really flagged up how much we rely on packaging). It was hard, and here’s how I went waste-free for a month:
I ate vegetables and composted the peelings
These became my best friends over the month. Where I live, there is a local market twice a week and they sell loose vegetables. I bought these fantastic reusable veggie bags by Veggio, which were great for separating my fruit and vegetables and stopping bits such as onion skins from littering my uni bag. Also, on my campus is a compost bin, and I was given permission to put my vegetable peelings in it (my whole flat soon got on board with this and I was making about two trips a week to the compost bin!). I froze my peelings first, and when I had accumulated enough I would make vegetable stock for a soup, and then I would compost the leftovers.
Loose food shops are underrated
I fell in love with my local loose food shop! I bought loose cereal, nuts, dried fruit and pasta from this place. Yes, it was more expensive but I found that I was eating less of foods such as pasta as a consequence of the extra cost, and more vegetables. The biggest surprise was the herb section. I walked in with a herb jar that I already had, where they weighed it empty and all I had to do was fill it up and they would subtract that weight from the new one. In Asda, their cheapest jar of basil was £1, but here it only cost me 12p to refill it!!
These have been all over the news lately, and I have to say that I am really happy to see places giving money off your drink if you use your own cup! It was simple going waste-free with this as all I had to do was keep a cup in my bag. I used a watertight flask which meant that I could carry my drink around in my bag without having to worry about spilling it.
Teabags… (or not, as the case was)
Giving them up came as such a surprise to me as I had been under the impression that they were compostable. However, they are NOT! Most teabags contain about 20% plastic, meaning that they are not decomposable. As an avid tea drinker, I couldn’t give up tea, so I resorted to loose leaf tea. In this process, I was introduced to some incredible teas and I now only drink loose leaf, as it really is no trouble to use a tea strainer instead of a teabag.
As with most things in life, there were a few moments where I had no option but to receive a few things with non-recyclable elements. One such thing was clothes labels. The actual label was fine but it was the little plastic bit that connects it to the clothing that was an issue. I don’t buy many clothes, maybe an item a month, but it really showed me how plastic and non-recyclable goods are integrated into our everyday lives without us even thinking about it.
Overall, I would recommend that most people try and cut out a little waste in their lives. I realise that going totally waste-free for a month is extreme, but I would urge that people try small changes such as the reusable coffee cups! There are so many ingenious solutions, some of which I find better than the original product, such as my new place to buy cheap herbs!