Discovering a Waste Free Lifestyle

I’m not a tree hugger or a preachy environmentalist. I can’t give you the hard facts on Global Warming and really don’t care to argue about whether or not it’s actually happening. Being eco-friendly can be a touchy subject for some people, and for me, it’s honestly a no-brainer topic. You don’t leave you room messy, so why leave mother nature a mess? Like my parents used to remind me when I had to do chores around the house—it’s not just about keeping a house tidy, it’s about respecting what has been given to us and reminds us of our privileges.

Growing up my dad was deemed the “living garbage disposal” because the man would eat everything in the fridge. Spoiled or not, he’d eat it. My parents hated food waste and I hated eating leftovers. I used to turn my nose up every time my mom tried to reheat something in the microwave (unless we’re talking about her vomacka or oven chow mein, that’s a different story). When I made my way into college, leftovers didn’t seem that disgusting anymore. Actually, leftovers became my main diet. Leftovers meant I’d get two (maybe even three) meals for the price of one. Like my dad, I stopped questioning how long something had sat in the fridge and hoped that I wouldn’t get food poisoning. I refused to waste my food because I had no money to waste.

With food waste comes garbage waste like plastic wrappers, tin cans, glass jars and any other packaging supermarkets can use on their shelves. As far as I can remember, recycling was always a part of my life. Around age 10 when I learned about the threat of Global Warming, I was terrified. I couldn’t swim and I didn’t want to die by getting eaten by a clan of sharks. Yes, that’s what I worried about late at night as a 10-year-old. The older I got, the more advanced the recycling techniques became over the years and I became more aware of taking care of recycling properly in hopes to avoid my potentially traumatic death.

This year, living in my flat with my partner I have never been more annoyed with the lack of respect for recycling and garbage waste. Our bedroom windows face the front of the building and it just so happens that the garbage bins are sitting right there. The people that live in our building don’t care to follow the recycling rules and often times mix garbage with recycling. We were all punished by the council in December because of this by not getting our garbage OR recycling picked up for a month. By the time our landlord showed up, foxes had torn open bags and garbage was everywhere. The lack of respect not only of the proper use of the recycling bins but also the lack of respect for our entire building was so frustrating.

After this situation occurred, I stepped up my recycling efforts and worked on buying less garbage waste. Because of the vast amount of waste from the other residents of our building, we could throw out one bag a week and we’d be doing the environment a favor. Yes, I’ll admit I was the one who put up a passive aggressive sign in the hallway informing the building residents how to recycle. Yes/No, it kind of helped. I mean if the guy upstairs climbing into the garbage bins and smashing everything down get rid of our garbage, I guess I can’t complain?

I’ve become a bit of hoarder of jars lately. Since I cook a lot, often times I mix my own spices, so I keep jars. I spray paint the tops of jars with chalkboard paint so that I can write on the lids what contents are inside the jars. I also started using these jars to protect our dried foods from fruit flies and gnats. By keeping my dried goods in containers with lids, I’ve had fewer bug problems.

What I’m saying is that I’m not a eco-fanatic, but rather I’ve fallen into being me eco-conscious. I really enjoy wasting less food because there are people who don’t have anything to eat at night. The most recent discovery is that I enjoy wasting less packaging from the items I buy. To do so, I need a place where I can go with my own containers and buy just the right amount of goods that I need. This is where the Bulk Market has stepped in and reshaped my way of thinking.

Bulk Market near Dalston Junction has a simple concept: I bring in my empty jars, weigh them, add the dried food that I want and pay for only the weight of the food—not the container! I then walk away plastic-less and with food that I actually need. Goodbye to wasting food AND the packaging!

Here I am learning how to live waste-free. I have been trying to go waste-free for a long time, but it’s really difficult. The supermarkets don’t make it easy and even the small shops have more plastic packaging than necessary. The challenge of going waste free is planning a time when to go to the market to buy my groceries in bulk. The trouble is I don’t have much spare time to go out of my way for groceries, yet I feel it’s worth my efforts.

Going waste-free isn’t about being a super crazy about the environment and over-the-top eco-friendly. I look at my garden and see how beautiful my flowers grow in fresh soil. Then, I think about all the waste that covers our parks, streets and even home gardens. My flowers don’t deserve litter in their soil and I don’t need to be a part of that lifestyle. Now, I’m not perfect and going waste-free could take me years. All I can do right now is one step at a time. Which means that this week I’m out of dried basil and wild rice… looks like I’ve got a bulk market stop to make!


“Plastic is a material designed to last forever, but is being used for DISPOSABLE stuff. The oceans are becoming a huge soup of microplastics. And this is entering our food chain.” A trash jar changed everything by Ingrid. Read more posts at the Bulk Market Blog

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