“You can just use our bag and then transfer it into your own bag” says the man at the Pick and mix stand. Well, that defeats the whole purpose of me bringing my own, doesn’t it? “But why do you want to do that?”
Just trying to produce less waste I say. How I first discovered zero waste and became engulfed by the idea of it is kind of a blur; I faintly remember seeing it pop up on youtube as I was following ethical and sustainable fashion bloggers. Somehow, I started watching more and more of them and seeing how desirable that lifestyle looked to me. Less clutter, less smelly bins, more local produce, more organic and it seemed like a life less complicated. I wanted to give it a go, and why not?
It was the natural next step to understanding and exploring my carbon footprint and effect on the environment. I have been inclined to a more conscious and slow lifestyle for a while now but always been the only one out of my friend group and people around me to employ these habits that correspond to my values. So doing something completely new to lessen my personal negative effect on the environment didn’t seem too daunting.
I embarked on my journey to a less wasteful life and my first food shop was at the local store where I stuffed a load of fruits into my own bags and came back home feeling satisfied until I hear my flatmates ask me what I’m going to do with the stickers. Ah, there’s a conundrum and my first obstacle.
The main thing to remember while trying to do zero waste is to not take your failures too seriously. What you’re doing already is miles ahead of what a lot of other people are doing, and just because you get the fleeting feeling that you are alone and defeated doesn’t mean you should stop trying.
The zero waste living extends to all areas of life; what do I do to wrapping for gifts that are given to me, what about letters and post that I receive, what if something breaks and it’s unrepairable? In these situations you do what it realistically possible for you, but you also have to be strict, meaning just because something is hard doesn’t mean you give up. And that’s also one of the best things about becoming less wasteful; it pushes you and shows you just how much you are willing to do for your values and what you get out of it is the satisfaction of feeling like you’ve tried to do your part.
There are some things I depend upon so much it becomes a compulsive obsession: at one point I went back to As Nature Intended twice a day for a week to see if they had refilled the chocolate covered brazil nuts container that had been gaping empty for a while. I have since had to find an alternative, which I am not going to lie, takes time and effort.
Whacking out my to-go container and reusable coffee cup in a cafe and getting responses like “Oh, you came prepared!” and “I love that you’re doing this” is what keeps zero waste life fulfilling. People love to hear about what you’re doing, and it will make you feel all the more accomplished. So why not give it a shot?
Jennie Barck is a fashion journalist whose interests lie in conscious design and slow fashion. Hailing from Finland but having been living in Singapore, Milan and now London, she has always had a global outlook on fashion and therefore a curious mind for different cultural practices and how they translate into fashion. After having contributed to titles such as .Cent magazine, The Upcoming, Fizzy mag and Popspoken, she has honed her niche in on artisanal, slow fashion and culture. Jennie is also the founder of The Maker, a magazine focusing on the art of making by hand, artisanal craft and local production, which she is looking to expand into a website and build a community around.