Let's talk about zero waste!

Many people say that waste is just the result of bad design, but I think it’s a bit more complex than that. However, as we drown in plastic, non-recyclable packaging, gadgets, styrofoam, glossy leaflets, fast fashion, fast furniture (!) and other such products – the result of consumerism running amok – there are some glimmers of hope like the zero waste movement.

If you’re aiming for zero waste in your life (or maybe you already live a zero waste lifestyle!), we’d love to hear from you :butterfly:

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OK, the mound of crap on my desk is testament to the fact that I’ve no right to give anyone advice on zero waste, but I did enjoy this Guardian article on how to make your own cleaning products :raised_hands:


Oh yes, bicarbonate and cheap vinegar are the best. I usually add a couple of drops of essential oil to the mix.

Do you know Anne-Marie Bonneau, aka the Zero Waste Chef? She’s very creative and versatile, making zero waste seem like a fun game. I tried some of her recipes for cleaning products and homemade cosmetics. They do work. And her pantry looks like one from a zero waste fairy tale :smiley:

Here’s her website “No packaging. Nothing processed. No waste.” :shamrock:


I hadn’t heard of her before - so cool! :see_no_evil:

I see what you mean about making it seem like a fun game, like with the bingo card thingy:

But I do worry that some people take zero waste to an unrealistic (and unhealthy) extreme sometimes.

Like, I saw a post on a zero waste FB group from a woman who was SO ANGRY at her husband for buying some individually-packaged chocolates after they’d agreed to try and go zero waste together.

Everyone was commenting saying she should sit him down and explain to him how betrayed she felt, and how harmful his purchase was.

I felt so sorry for the poor guy :see_no_evil:

Trying to produce less waste shouldn’t come at the expense of personal relationships - right?!

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Yeah that’s a big problem I feel when we try too hard to go “plastic free” or “zero waste”. It’s definitely possible, but it may ruin your mental health or your relationships. It’s better to aim to go in that direction (and do your best to take it step by step) rather than follow anything to the extreme. We can’t be really kind to the planet if we are not kind to ourselves (and to others) at the same time, so we can work to find a good balance, even though it’s not easy :angel:

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Well, I don’t think zero waste is extreme in any way. I think a society that forces you to consume in a wasteful way is extreme. Before plastic was invented in the 1950s, household waste and retail waste was not an issue. People used cloth bags, and wrapped sandwiches in brown paper, and had special picnicware inherited from grandparents, and used glass jars, and so on :smiley: Plastic was meant for industries that had nothing to do with packaging, disposables… I mean, they created a product that lasts for centuries and somehow it got into the world and became this ‘disposables’ monster it is today.

All people I know who aim for zero waste or already live zero waste never mentioned they had a problem with members of their families or friends. I think it’s all about the individual’s character, the general flows of communication in a group. Same with politics. There are couples that separated because one voted Brexit or voted Trump. Basically any issue can become a huge problem :slight_smile: Including the way we squeeze the toothpaste :wink: (classic!)

I think it’s about how smooth communication works in a family, couple, etc. on all levels.
And yes, it’s a small steps process, but I suggest fixing communication. Zero waste is not the problem. It’s a beneficial step for everyone involved. The problem is the way the zero waste ‘initiator’ deals with it.

Maybe sharing more suggestions on how to do this would help :slight_smile:


Totally agree! and definitely agree that the history of plastic packaging is extremely random and sad.

However in our society today in almost all major cities you have to navigate extremely carefully to avoid plastic, and if you do have to make exceptions, it’s better to be aware that it’s a difficult (if indeed totally unreasonable) reality, and accept that it’s OK to make the exception, rather than become desperate and panic, or silently blame yourself for it.

In my experience, even the most admirable of intentions, when starting to manifest as a kind of fundamentalism, they become rather dry, unhealthy, and less inspiring for others.

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The Guardian article has a useful link to Bulkmarket, a plastic free shop in Hackney.

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Last year we published this article about shops aiming for zero waste :slight_smile: https://ethical.net/ethical/10-ethical-zero-waste-indie-local-shops-across-uk/ Hope you’ll find it useful.

We try to do everything as close to zero-waste as we can, and we do pretty well I think.

But like the example of the guy buying the chocolates that someone posted above, I don’t think you achieve much by being super militant about it, that just seems like a good way to stop people from listening to your opinions to be honest.

There is also the question of privilege. We are lucky enough to be able to choose what we buy and where, but that isn’t the case for everyone, and very often the cheapest and most easily found choices come with a load of packaging. It’s nice to think that we should always make the conscious and ethical choice, but it it’s a question of being able to feed your kids today or saving on plastic waste, that’s not even a question to most people.

We wrote a blog post about that recently actually - https://mysteriousbeans.com/zero-waste-new-old-and-privilege/

I have been using The Wheat Way for the last few months and they offer some great sustainable alternatives to everyday products. There Wheat Straws and Bamboo Cotton Buds are 100% biodegradable!