What changes could you make to #WasteNothing?

Daisy is a 31-year-old writer/editor living in Cotham with her partner Harry and their cat Bees. Since 1 April 2019, they have been participating in the Bristol #WasteNothing Challenge. Supported by Bristol Waste Company, the challenge involves 50 Bristol households reducing the amount of waste they generate over a year, working towards the ultimate goal of producing zero waste. Since starting the challenge, Daisy and Harry feel very connected to and conscious about what they consume.

Before becoming a #WasteNothing Challenge household, we were omnivores dipping our toes in ethically-minded food shopping. We’ve always valued eating well and cooking from scratch, but convenience regularly won out. We’d go through phases of online supermarket shopping, buying meat or fish, salad leaves, fruit and vegetables, ready-made pizza, filled pasta, breakfast bars, and so on, inevitably wrapped in single-use plastic.

We’ve since made some big changes around food. For one, Harry and I are now both vegetarian, motivated by minimising our carbon and packaging footprints, and I won’t be going back.

We’ve learned to plan the weekly shop to the hilt. It’s gone beyond just allotting meals – it’s about recipes built around food items we can find that are single-use plastic-free, bulked up for the freezer, and making the most of leftovers. Greengrocers, with all their lovely loose fruit and veg, are our go-to now for fresh produce, as well as Bristol’s refill shops. Refill shopping is a brilliant behaviour shift from the supermarket norm. You learn how to coordinate a BYO container collection of tubs, jars and sacks, so you only buy what you really need. This newly focused way of shopping also means we’re making nearly all our own bread, breakfast bars and protein balls from scratch, using plastic-free or zero-waste ingredients.

While our landfill bin hardly goes out for collection now, our household food waste is one of our biggest weekly outputs. This is obviously not ideal, though it has reduced since the challenge began. Being vegetarian, it’s mainly made up of veg-prep cast-offs such as cores, peelings and rinds. We were gifted a wormery through the challenge, which has absorbed modest amounts of our food scraps to become a happy little compost-maker! We live in a flat currently, so this works well for our garden space, but I’ve got a garden composter on my list for when we move somewhere bigger.

I’m also experimenting with growing veg, city-style! It’s shown me that you don’t need vast outdoor space. My biggest success to date has been with spinach, which has sprouted quite happily in a pot from seed.

If we can’t buy food without single-use plastic, we just won’t get it. It’s meant doing away with some old favourites (mozzarella!) but in the grand scheme, these are small sacrifices.

We’ve been really inspired by the challenge. It’s been a fantastic opportunity to learn how we can reduce our individual sphere of impact on the environment, and be part of something bigger, generating awareness. It’s impossible now not to be hyper-aware of waste. Our eyes have opened to the sheer volume of non-recyclable single-use plastic and overpackaging in our supermarket society, and how normalised it is. Now we’re aware of the alternatives available, we’re eager to vote with our feet. This is it for us. The other day Harry and I were discussing what we’d do without grocers and zero-waste shops nearby. We decided we’d have to make it work, even if it meant exploring new options.

Our top tips for anyone wanting to waste less are:

  1. Invest in reusable wraps, lids and containers to ditch clingfilm: We now have a drawer-full! Great for sandwiches, snacks and leftovers.
  2. Check out Bristol’s zero-waste shopping: We’re so lucky to have refill options in our city: Better Food, Harvest, Preserve, ScoopAway, Smaller Footprints, Wild Oats, and Zero Green. Preserve is also opening a sister store in East Bristol!
  3. Try greengrocers and farmers’ markets for loose, local and seasonal produce.
  4. Go meat-free minimising packaging and your carbon footprint.
  5. Plan your weekly shop down to the containers you’re taking and what to put in them.”

Follow the action by heading over to the Bristol #WasteNothing Challenge website where you can find ways to get involved, or follow Daisy’s Instagram @daisywmbee which is full of great ideas and inspiring pictures.

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