Inspired by Bea Johnson at Zero Waste Home I’ve spent a year seriously evaluating my shopping habits.
A year ago I believed I was doing pretty well from an environmental perspective but after reading Bea’s blog pretty much steadily for a week (Yes I should have been writing essays… don’t judge! we’ve all been there) I felt the world shift under my feet. I suddenly realised that I was allowing myself to be duped. I was living in a cosy world where my landfill rubbish and recycling was taken away from my front door and I happily forgot about it. I recycled much of my waste and thought my landfill bag was pretty small. Suddenly overnight I started thinking about where my landfill rubbish was really going and my modest amounts of waste now appear huge.
Even worse I started really thinking about the large amounts of energy needed to recycle the waste I hadn’t even really considered to be waste. Even worse I accepted that much of my “recycling” bag would probably also just end up in landfill but just via a more circuitous route.
From happy denial I was plunged into shock. I vowed to go zero waste. I suddenly saw all the packaging that I paid for, that wasn’t needed, that had taken precious energy to create and that would sit around polluting the world for decades and longer. Initially the shock worked wonders I stopped shopping, and swapped some really easy products over. Most notably I now shave with a solid soap and brush avoiding aerosol cans of shaving soap. In addition I haven’t bought a razor cartridge since November last year I ran out of my stock a few weeks ago and finally put my grandfathers vintage double edged safety razor to the test. It was a scary moment but happily I can report the vintage razor worked wonderfully.
Unfortunately I found out, as many commenters on Bea’s blog that going zero waste is a slow process. It’s hard to change habits of a lifetime especially when we live in a world that in packaging mad. Following my initial crackdown on packaging the modern world fought back and I found myself accepting that some packaging was going to be hard to avoid. I currently have a self imposed ban on buying non food items new which avoids much packaging and where possible I avoid shopping full stop. Unfortunately food is an essential item and it’s often difficult to adjust life to naked shop for your supper.
Our veg is usually package free because it is delivered in a reusable box from the wonderful Riverford Organic Farms but we buy much of our staples such as tomatoes, cheese, flour and rice etc from Tesco. Before leaving London Fields I read about a great shop called Unpackaged who seemed to be the answer to my zero waste dream. Unfortunately I’m lazier than I like to admit and I never made the time for a visit to their little shop of unpackaged dreams. I’ve just found out that they will be opening a new shop on my old street! It’s enough to make you cry. Just as we leave Hackney Unpackaged arrived in Hackney.
Still it’s not all sad. I’ve just heard of another naked grocery shop south of the river. Bambuni aren’t going to be on our street but they will be near enough for us to visit and since they are close to one of my best friend’s house I hope they will be a regular on our food shopping list. Fingers crossed I can get off my bum this time