Zero Waste Warriors: Real life examples of how to reduce your household waste

Zero Waste Warriors: Real life examples of how to reduce your household waste

Susanna Jackson, an environmental data analyst at Comply Direct has taken a look at some real life examples of how to reduce your household waste. She has a personal passion for promoting sustainability, helping companies reduce their environmental impact and making a difference herself.

Susanna explains that below are some extreme examples of people who have significantly reduced the waste they produce just to represent some of the ways it can be done. However, it’s very important to remember that the key isn’t for a few people to do it perfectly or to this high level, but for everyone to do a little bit in order to make a big change. But let's have a look at the benefits from the examples below...

Ander Zabala – Recycling Manager, Hackney Council

Ander completed the Zero Waste Week challenge and then decided to keep it up, setting a goal for 2019 to not have any waste collected. At the end of 2019, his household had produced a total of 5.72kg of non-recyclable waste for the whole year, compared to the average London house producing 10kg of waste a week.

How he did it:

  • Put waste into a jar instead of a bin to see what he was throwing away
  • Got a veg box delivery every week
  • Bought things loose from local corner shops, Bulk Markets, and a Turkish supermarket – took his own containers and bags to fill with cereals, flour, pasta, rice, coffee beans, spices etc. and got refills of shampoo, washing up liquid, laundry liquid, toilet cleaner, and even wine from a local shop
  • Took his own tubs back to the Indian takeaway to be refilled

Biggest benefits:

  • Has had to explain to people what he was doing and the response was generally positive
  • Used local shops more
  • Done a lot more cooking – made things you can’t get without packaging e.g. he made his own oat milk
  • Saved money by reducing consumption and stopped buying things they don’t need
  • Eats healthier as bought less processed food

Cate Cody – Green Councillor, Tewkesbury

Cate hasn’t put a waste bin out for collection since January 2017, the only bin in the house is one small bin in the kitchen which is only occasionally filled with non-recyclable plastic packaging from gifts received.

How she did it:

  • Weekly veg box delivered full of local and seasonal produce
  • Forages for nettles and wild garlic and grows her own salad
  • Buys pasta, rice and pulses in bulk from ethical cooperative wholesaler – oats come in 10kg paper sack, toilet paper in biodegradable packaging which goes to compost, and get biodegradable dental floss
  • Use loofahs made from natural materials that can be composted instead of regular sponges
  • Made own toothpaste from bicarbonate of soda, coconut and peppermint oil
  • Uses scarves/newspapers tied with string instead of wrapping paper
  • Uses a bar of soap instead of bottled shower gel
  • Uses an old cloth instead of kitchen roll and small hankie/piece of cloth instead of makeup wipes

Biggest benefits:

  • Only buy what they need and used 2nd hand where possible
  • Found a solution for almost everything – made an old bike inner tube into a tool belt
  • Satisfaction from not throwing things away and skills gained learning to make things herself

Claudi Williams, Workshop Manager, Stroud

Claudi tried not to buy any plastic for a year in 2016, her waste went down to almost nothing and became the new normal.

How she did it:

  • Cooked everyday and made own packed lunches
  • Bought unpackaged food from farmers market and local shop
  • Created cleaning products from bicarbonate of soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap
  • Created own windscreen wiper fluid for the car using a recipe on the internet
  • Made her own toothpaste and deodorant
  • Bought shampoo refills or shampoo bars
  • Bought toilet paper from a subscription service and receives 48 unpackaged rolls in a cardboard box
  • Picked plants in her garden to use fresh for tea leaves, and dried them in her cupboard for use in the winter

Biggest benefits:

  • Bought more local and seasonal which reduces food miles
  • Lives with less stuff
  • More self-reliant and smarter about how she shops

To read more stories on our Circular Economy Blog please click here