Zero Ways To Go Zero Waste
Zero Waste On A Budget

1st February 2021

Bea Gemps is part of OUR HAUS Creative Collective and has written a conscious yet humorous piece on her approach to zero-waste living. 

Words and Images Bea Gemps / Creative Collective Member

Just to be clear: Despite recent marketing tactics and greenwashing buzzwords; sustainability is NOT a trend.

Instead, sustainability is a shift in mindset that acknowledges the spaces and beings beyond our day-to-day interactions. It’s a careful consideration of our purchases, preferred way to travel, creative processes, and all the moments in between.
If you let it, practicing a more waste conscious lifestyle might allow for a meditative re-evaluation of your identity and priorities as a consumer; distinguishing desire from necessity.

In response to the climate crisis, the current leaders of our world are only just giving importance (and funding) to closed loop systems, environmental welfare projects, and methods of meaningfully managing consumer waste.

An unfortunate result of the call to climate action is the saturated market for so-called sustainable products or practices advocated by businesses whose actions do not reflect their advertised rhetoric. Not to mention the superfluous use of packaging by local supermarkets in shrink wrapping bananas, cucumbers, and other penis-shaped fruits, in individual condom-like plastic to protect from unwanted pregnancy, and make a weekly food shop more awkward than it has to be.
It’s ridiculous and incredibly frustrating. At times it might seem hopeless, but it’s important to bear in mind the potential for change a collective consumer consciousness has. In 2018, Generation Z demanded for sustainable buying options, and in 2021 we have zero-waste supermarkets, 100% ethically made clothing brands, and manufacturing transparency from multiple pre-existing clothing brands to name a few.
In questioning the system of consumption and production, we’ve made slow-paced, thoughtful industries essential. Ultimately, consumer priority will always have influence over market supply and fluctuations.

Now, as the introspection goes; How can I be the change?
The short answer to that question is self-awareness and consideration. Not in the ‘my-purchases-reflect-an-absence-within-my-inner most-self; so my online shopping addiction is a coping mechanism for my recent break up’ - kind of way, but rather that an intimate comprehension for the environmental impact your buying behavior has on the planet and It’s inhabitants, is normalized and constantly internalized whilst interacting with products for mass consumption.
While awareness can oftentimes be overwhelming, there are many ways to consumer consciousness can be creative and fun (and also cheap).

01 / Self Reflection
Remember that going Zero-Waste is a re-evaluation of your current lifestyle, so manifest a little bit. Identify your routines and goals, and reflect on the tools you require to achieve them. Get to know your bodies needs and the sources that provide this nourishment. Separate desire from necessity in an exploration of minimalism.

02 / Research and Planning
Carving out an alternative lifestyle involves research and planning. Before doing a weekly shop, check out what you still have in your fridge and consider modifying your recipes for the week to what you have leftover. Likewise, keep tabs on recipes you think you’ll enjoy. Planning out weekly meals as a reflection of what your body needs, can give you a sense of what you need to buy; this way you can avoid buying packaged foods, avoid food waste, and can budget your expenses. Familiarize yourself with your towns disposal scheme and other environmental initiatives; seek out zero-waste/plastic free supermarkets and cafe’s that are cup neutral, interact with places that make spending worth it. Acquaint yourself with your areas recycling points and garbage collection dates, so you can segregate and dispose your trash responsibly. Lastly, always read product labels to inform your purchases. Most labels disclose if the packaging is recyclable or not right under the Nutrition Facts, otherwise Google is your greatest confidant.

03 / Repurpose
On a student budget you’re not going to transform into a metal straw sipping, glass Tupperware using, up-cycled-coffee-grounds-based-Keepcup drinking, influencer overnight - so don’t expect to. Build an awareness for the false image of sustainability social media will project onto you through targeted ads, ‘Eco-tainers,’ and influencers, and think about how ironic buying ‘eco-friendly’ products to shift toward conscious consumerism is. Additional unnecessary purchases is not the only way to convert your lifestyle. Consider your containers; Regardless of their contents, all the containers you have in your pantry are probably reusable. Squeeze bottles, resealable bags, or jars of any size, can be washed and kept to be refilled with something else. You can also re-label these containers to suit their new contents.

04 / Creativity
If there are some items you lack, take to YouTube tutorials to create as much as you can. Revisit the non-recyclable items you’ve accumulated and try to repurpose or reuse them. Do It Yourself projects add a creative personal touch to your lifestyle whilst working in favor of the environment. Remember there is no one Zero-Waste starter pack, so enjoy it and go through it at your own pace.

05 / Make EcoBricks
If you’re having a hard time getting rid of large plastic items, pack them into liter bottles and send them to EcoBrick centers local to you. If you live in Brighton you can mail your EcoBricks to Bella & Nick Eco home builders located in Battle, or Pedrick’s Zero Waste shop in Caterham.

06 / Set Goals
Sometimes it helps to swap your bin with a small jar or bottle. This will help reassess what you choose to buy. Be conscious of your intentions, not only with your purchasing, but in your reason to make this lifestyle change. Be critical in choosing whether or not you’ll document it on social media. If this change is personal to you, avoid acting for validation or rewards. Your contributions and consideration for the planets health is universally appreciated.

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