I think I’ve always been pretty eco-conscious. My mum used to bring home huge bags full of tins and jars that weren’t recycled at the old M&S store she used to work at and put them in with ours, so I’ve always been quite aware of the importance of recycling. It hasn’t been until recently though that I’ve become more acutely tuned into the amount of unnecessary waste filling up our lives on a day-to-day basis.
Since getting back from three months in India-
ALL: ‘YES, OK, WE GET IT. YOU’VE TOLD US. Shut up about your fucking gap year for Christ’s sake.’
The sound of crickets chirping in the awkwardness.
LEILA clears her throat self-consciously, gulps and looks down at her hands. She realises she had started to pick dirt out from her nail beds and stops herself by sitting on her hands.
LEILA: ‘… it was… three months.’
A fight breaks out and all are banned from ever returning to Costa.
Anyway, as I was saying – I became ridiculously aware of waste when I was traveling, mainly because there weren’t any bins on the streets where I visited. Not once did I see a rubbish truck or a wheelie bin or a triangle made of three green arrows. Most of the time, litter was thrown out of windows, off of balconies, and onto the streets where animals would try to eat it and/or it would be swept into piles at the pavement’s edge and set alight. However, as awful as it was to see, I couldn’t help but feel that our situation in the UK is somehow worse because it’s taken quietly off to landfill where we never have to see it again. We’re blind to what’s going on because we’re not being forced to look.
For that reason, I’ve decided to try going zero-waste (or as close to it as I can) for the month. I’ve already started buying all my fruit and veg from the local shop where I can buy good quality produce without any plastic wrapping and I refused buying plastic bags a while ago, instead carrying a canvas bag around with me. The whole ‘zero-waste’ effort goes a lot further than just ditching the placky bags though, and I’m going to have to adjust some habits of a lifetime if I really want to reduce my impact on the earth.
Some ground rules for myself (because discipline makes everything more fun):
I can use up things I’ve already bought that may be wasteful as the damage has been done already (sorry, Planet)Recyclable items are an alright last resort but preferably not plastic as it takes a lot longer to process and can’t be recycled as many times as paper/glass etc.The aim of the game is to create absolutely no landfill this month, however any ‘slip-ups’ will be kept and recorded for self-shaming
So… with all that in mind, let us pray.
It’s New Year’s Day and I’m flopped out on the sofa with not only a hangover and five hours of sleep under my belt, but perhaps the worst period pains of my life, too. Two ibuprofens, a pint of water and many biscuits later, I’m feeling very positive about this whole less-waste stuff. Without leaving the flat all day, I manage to watch an awful lot of Netflix that I hadn’t expected to get through until at least next week. I congratulate myself wholeheartedly and am halfway through the first episode of Black Mirror whenthe protagonist has a pizza delivered. Without looking away from the screen, I say to no one in particular, ‘I want a pizza.’ Alice, my housemate, replies, ‘get one then.’ I turn to look at her and realise she is very wise.
With no choice of a vegan pizza delivery service at this ridiculous time, I settle on a Chinese instead and ‘Go To Checkout’ from my sofa at eleven o’clock at night. Fifty minutes later, it arrives. I leap down to the front door and carry it back up the stairs, cradling it in my arms and beaming down at it like a parent bringing their baby home from the hospital for the first time.
It’s not until I’ve devoured the salt and pepper chips and am halfway through my satay tofu and rice that I realise the food had come in not only plastic tubs but a plastic bag too.
FOR FUCK’S SAKE. THIS IS ONLY DAY ONE. After a brief bout of shrieking, I sink back into the sofa and sigh.
This is going to be harder than I thought.