If you’re not aware, every Monday evening at 8pm GMT the #EthicalHour chat takes place on twitter – and we love it! Each week there’s a different topic to do with ethical and sustainable living, and there are always so many fantastic tips and ideas discussed. But the problem with a twitter chat is that they all get swallowed up by the feed! So we thought we’d put together a weekly recap of the chats we take part in, starting with today’s chat all about zero waste. We’ll be featuring some of our favourite tweets, tips, and ideas – but the chat moves so quickly that this is only a taster! If you’d like to join in future chats, make sure you’re ready with a cup of tea at 8pm next Monday, and follow @EthicalHour to vote on each week’s topic.
So, Zero Waste – where do you start?
First up, we love Sophie’s mantra: Your money is your vote. If you purchase a product with loads of unnecessary plastic packaging, you’re telling that company that that’s what you want. When you can, always spend your money on things you want to vote for.
Also, we need to talk about the term ‘zero waste’. Of course, it’s great to have this general, catch-all term because it makes the topic easy to google and discuss online, but it can sound a bit limiting, as Moral Fibres and Cast No Shadow pointed out. It does make it sound a little like you’re either zero waste, or you’re totally wasteful. We love Moral Fibres‘ use of the phrase ‘progress, not perfection‘ and we’re totally going to steal it! Everyone has to start somewhere, whether that’s with composting, or making some products of your own – and we’ll get onto where to start in a little while. Transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle takes time, and a lot of people might not every be able to be completely zero waste, but don’t let that put you off! Any amount you can reduce your waste is great, it all adds up and makes a difference, no matter how small it may seem…
…which brings us onto Lainey‘s concern, which is that when you live in a big, pollution-filled city, it can be difficult to feel like it’s worth the time and effort to reduce your waste when you can see waste all around you! It must feel like a drop in the water. We agree, it can totally feel like you’re climbing an uphill battle when you work hard to reduce waste in your own home, only to go outside and see it everywhere. So it’s important to engage with others in the community through social media, blogs, and local meetups, so you can interact with others who are working just as hard to you and you can start to see the collective impact you’re contributing to!
What simple, immediate changes can I make?
Overall, the tips fell into four main categories: food, clothing, beauty, and homeware. But we wanted to start off with this great tweet from What Daisy Did where they showcase some great products you can buy that’ll immediately have an impact! They use these toothbrushes which are made from bamboo, they use products by Lush (who let you return empty packaging to be reused) and Method (who sell refills so you don’t have to buy a whole new product), they feature the mooncup which hugely reduces waste in the form of tampons or pads, and they use a refillable water bottle. If you’re getting started and you’re a bit intimidated but want to make some quick, easy changes, consider buying a product that can be reused, refilled, or recycled!
Reducing Waste – Clothing
So let’s start off with clothes, since we focus a lot on fashion here at Revival Collective. Of course, there’s humblestuff‘s simple tip of buying less and getting the most out of what you buy, but we also love goriami‘s tip of learning repair skills! Knowing how to do things like patch jeans, sew buttons back on, and fix fastenings can really increase the life of your clothes, which means you’ll need to buy less to replace things after they break!
We also love Natural Beauty Box‘s message – she’s pregnant and buying her maternity clothes and baby clothes second hand. If you’ve got something coming up that means you’ll need more clothes, but you won’t need them for long, definitely buy second hand then donate them again once you’re done! So if you’re pregnant, or you baby will quickly grow out of things, or you’re going to a costume party or an event where you’ll need an outfit you’ll only wear once – get it secondhand, use it until it’s not needed, then donate it again!
Then we love eleanor‘s idea about swapping clothes with friends! There’s no need to even spend money on second hand clothes if you’ve got a group of friends who have similar styles. We suggest turning it into a party! Get a group of friends to bring along a few items of clothing that need some more love, provide some snacks, get in a bottle of wine, and try on each other’s clothes to find something to add to your wardrobe while getting rid of something else!
Reducing Waste – Beauty & Homeware
There were loads of great ideas surrounding beauty products and home products, like surface cleaners, and we’ve grouped them together since a lot of the tips involved making your own products with natural ingredients. First up we wanted to point out Tamsin‘s tip of switching to a reusable menstrual product like a mooncup. It’s a big change and a very personal one, but it reduces a huge amount of waste and there’s so much support out there for cup newbies!
Next up, we asked if anyone reduces waste by making their own products from scratch, and we got so many responses! Making your own products not only reduces the packaging (like plastic bottles) the products come in, but it also bypasses any waste that was generated in the process of making the store-bought product. Savannah said she makes her own toothpaste, which we saw a lot of people do, and Fairmondo make their own deodorant! Both of these recipes seem super simple and cost-effective!
We also saw that a lot of people make their own cleaning products, and the most recommended ingredients for this were vinegar, lemon juice, and bicarbonate of soda. These recipes also seem super simple and cheap, and people were singing their praises!
Reducing Waste – Food
By far, the biggest place seemed to be reducing their waste was in food. We love Sarah‘s suggestion of meal planning – there was a lot of support for this tip! By meal planning, you know exactly what you’ll need, how much you’ll need, and when you’ll need it, which really reduces the amount of food being wasted because it’s gone out of date or because there’s just loads left over.
Another really popular tip was bulk buying food! Unfortunately, food stores that sell food in bulk, which you can buy using your own containers, are often really hard to find. There are some in London and I know there’s at least one where we’re based in Brighton, but a lot of people were saying they wished they had one in their area. If you are lucky enough, try and head over there as much as you can, and bring your own containers to reuse whenever you shop there! We love Earthmonk‘s tip about buying bulk in a group. Although bulk buying saves money in the long run, it can be difficult to have the money up front for six months’ worth of rice – so head to a bulk buy store with a group of friends and split it between you!
Lots of people were saying that they found it difficult to buy fresh produce in supermarkets because they cover absolutely everything in plastic, or tell you to put all of your items into little plastic bags! So many people were frustrated with this, so we love Jules‘ image of how she handles this with her own reusable, fabric bags. Everything is all neatly kept together in these light bags without having to use plastic!
There was also discussion about once you’ve bought your food, making sure you get the most out of the leftovers to reduce how much gets thrown away or composted. goriami shared her brilliant tip for potato peelings: she said that if you pop them in the oven they make delicious crisps – we’ll definitely be doing this! Fairmondo also pointed out that you can use all of your leftover veggie scraps to make homemade stock, which they were during doing the chat! You can then freeze the stock to be used later.
We got so many fantastic tips from this chat, and to end it off #EthicalHour asked us why we want to live a zero waste lifestyle, and we just loved Heal My Home‘s answer to this: ‘To stop polluting this beautiful planet that is our host while we’re here + to stop polluting ourselves.’ We couldn’t have put it better ourselves!
I hope you got some useful tips from this post, I’ve got a list as long as my arm of things I want to try to reduce the amount of waste my home produces! I’d love to hear some of your zero waste tips, and would love to see you at next week’s chat!