First launched in 2008, zero waste week takes place every September to raise awareness of the environmental impact of our waste habits, and encourage change where possible. Contrary to its name, it’s not about switching to a zero-waste lifestyle in just one go, but about making positive changes, step-by-step. If anything, think of it as the freshers’ week of the zero waste movement – albeit significantly less raucous one – offering you the chance to start your zero-wate journey!
Of course, it's always good to know where to start, and so with that in mind we've picked out a few of our favourite low-waste figures from the food, beauty, fashion and general lifestyle categories for you to add to your must-watch list!
Here’s a horrifying thought for you: In the UK, it's estimated over three million
tonnes of fruit and veg goes to waste before it’s even left the farm. And according to WRAP, who advise the government on waste issues, a further 4.5 million tonnes then goes to waste via our kitchens. Needless to say, it’s time to shape up.
Max La Manna
Thanks to lockdown, crippling boredom and the powerful allure of a braggy Insta’ story, we’ve all just about mastered the art of saving too-ripe bananas by baking ever increasingly showy #bananabread. Now, it’s time to up your game once more.
Having long styled himself as a low-waste chef, Max La Manna
knows more than a thing or two about how to buy consciously and make the most out of what you have in the fridge. Follow him for recipe inspo, shopping advice and the facts behind the figures. Brocolli stem pesto, anyone?
Much like people, fruit and veg grows in all sorts of shapes, sizes and at different rates. But in much the same way as people, at some point along the way, beauty became arguably more important than the food itself: all of a sudden that apple is too big, that carrot a funky shape or that courgette slightly
the wrong shade of green.
rescue fruit and veg that the big supermarkets reject, buying it directly from farmers and delivering it to their customers’ doorsteps every week. Working with the seasons, you’re never quite sure what’s
going to turn up. All you know is that it’ll be fresh, tasty, and beautiful, in a slightly ugly way. But really, how attractive do you need a parsnip to be anyway?
A serial entrepreneur who's already named in Forbes 30 Under 30 list, Grace Beverly is basically our no.1 girl crush right now. While still a student she founded TALA, an affordable, ethically produced activewear brand that makes over 90% of its products from upcycled materials including plastic bottles and factory offcuts. You'll often find her sharing her thoughts about topics such as sustainability over on her Instagram
Admittedly, luxury activewear probably isn’t what springs to mind when someone mentions the words ‘abandoned fishing gear dregged up from the seabed.’ However, this is exactly where Scultura’s beautiful pieces start their days. Created using ECONYL® regenerated yarn, their pieces use reinforced stitching and material resistant to oily substances like sun cream – crucial if you’re a summer runner. Earlier this year, they wrote handy guide on the questions to ask when choosing eco-friendly fitness wear
for us and explained how to avoid greenwashing.
Along with her brother William, Anna co-founded skincare brand UpCircle Beauty
, which makes skincare products from the items that traditionally go to waste – think face scrubs using coffee ground, soaps using chai tea spice. She advised us on quick wins when it comes to lowering waste in your beauty routine: “When it comes to skincare it’s easy to end up with lots of unnecessary lotions and potions. Firstly, I always say to swap out your single-use bottles to a bar of soap that can be used on both the face and body. For those products you need to buy in packaging, check if you can you make swaps for aluminium tube (like our UpCircle coffee scrubs) or glass jar options. You can also swap out your disposable razor for a safety razor that will last a lifetime.”
Period plastic now the 5th most frequently washed up plastic on UK beaches; every year, it’s estimated that 1.3 billion single-use, non-recyclable tampon applicators are thrown away in the UK, not to mention countless pads.
Of course, how to handle your monthly gift from Mother Nature is entirely an individual preference, so it didn’t seem right to shout out to just one zero-waste hero here. Instead, we’re going for three: DAME who make reusable tampon applications; &Sisters, whose pads are made from 100% cotton and use biodegradable liners; Intimina, who make menstrual cups that can last for up to 10 years. Earlier this year, we spoke to all three
to find out how their products work, how they impact your health and about their ‘field to foo-foo’ process.
Even with the best intentions, it’s probably healthy to admit that once in a while we all need a reminder about why
we’re cutting down on consuming and how to get started.
A grandma on a mission to keep us all clearing up and taking responsibility for our own consumption habits, Pat Smith – aka @action_nan
– is kind of like the Mary Berry of the eco-world. Follow her feed for dreamy snaps that’ll remind you just how gorgeous the UK is when it’s not covered in rubbish, the occasional bout of brutal reality, low-waste recipes and a wealth of resources about initiatives taking place across the UK and beyond.
And last, but absolutely not least, it’s Kathryn Kellog, aka @going.zero.waste
. As the ‘going’ in her insta handle suggests, she’s all about the journey
, not the destination, declaring that: “It’s not about perfection; it’s about making better choices.” We couldn’t agree more.
Kathryn's blog provides a wealth of information about how to get started, even going so far as to have a dedicated ‘zero waste for beginners’ section on her blog. Her Instagram provides the reassurance you’ll need: "You don't have to give up makeup or shaving. You don't have to whittle your possessions down to 100 items. You don't have to move into a cave. You don't have to quit using ALL plastic." Phew.