Following the recent uprise of the importance of sustainable living and the impact that humans have on the planet, I decided to trial a zero waste week. My initial thoughts were ones you could compare to the overwhelming feeling you get before a performance; I was terrified. It felt like I was taking on a pact with not only the planet but my self, one that I couldn’t break with a fear of being disloyal.
I assume you are all wondering, did I manage it? Well, I can assure you that I did; in fact, what was initially a job was transformed into a pleasurable experience. I set off with many doubts, thinking I would have to plan each and every day to the second to keep me ticking like a clock but I was wrong. The task became empowering and satisfying and like with many things, there were some sacrifices that had to be made, but ones that I am now going to replace my current ways of being with.
Bulk shop: to begin your week it’s important that all the ingredients you are planning on using are package free, conveniently, in Exeter, there are two package free shops (The Real Food Sore and Nourish of Topsham) that provide all the ingredients that I needed. All of my nuts, dried fruits, pulses, grains, fruit, and veg were brought with no plastic, and indeed with no packaging whatsoever.
Meal prep: this step is crucial in your journey to reduce your waste if you don’t prepare your food yourself then you can’t be sure what you’re consuming is waste-free. After my bulk shop, I made, what you could call, a game plan; I wrote what I’d be cooking throughout the week and stuck to it.
I set off with baking a loaf of sourdough bread which I paired with some beetroot hummus; lunches? Check.
I also baked a batch of flapjacks and made several energy balls to help me get through my slumps; snacks on the go? Check.
For my dinners, I cooked batch meals; curries, stews and at the end of the week a roasted veg soup to clear the fridge and not waste a gram! Family Meals? Check.
Final touches: I concluded that whilst the larger part of my waste was from food, I also had to stop the waste from other aspects of my life. You could say that my week was a test of my will strength, I had to resist buying from high street stores, not dispose of any pens or paper, carry my own water bottle, which became quite a task, remembering to pack it and resisting to buy water when my mouth became the Sahara, proved to be the most difficult aspect of the week.
My conclusion: I loved every part of the experience, from cooking to the conscious decision making, that I hope will now be a habit. It brought me closer to my surroundings and has helped me to understand how much respect I should have for our planet; the week was a challenge but let’s face it, it’s not climbing Everest, leaving no room for pitiful excuses.
I am not an environmental expert, nor am I a superhero that is innocent and can guarantee to not trip up here and there; I am simply human. We all are, we are all also capable of making a difference; my zero waste week isn’t a pledge but I am so ready to live with less plastic and packaging and not be suffocated by the cloak of waste that the Earth is dressed in.