That’s all it takes: small steps from each of us, followed by another small step, and another, and yet another. Before you know, you’re walking then running.
BUT. I have a real problem with books and articles and websites that seem to suggest we should ‘ditch the plastic’ and go out and buy new stuff made from something else (bamboo, metal….). Surely not?? If we already have plastic things that still have life in them, and are doing no harm, shouldn’t we carry on using them for just as long as we possibly can? Not searching plastic out, but at least squeezing every last drop of use out of what we already have.
We have ‘single use’ plastic food bags we have used and washed and reused for years (including the bag that once contained our porridge oats, before we switched to buying them from a shop selling them in paper bags that I then compost). Until I find an alternative way of freezing bread I shall carry on using them.
And as for buying new stuff, if there’s something we really need, shouldn’t we be looking first to see if we can repurpose something we already have, or buy something secondhand (or get it for free!)? Those things already exist: the more we buy new, the more we encourage making new.
Fortunately charity shops (maybe called goodwill? thrift? elsewhere??) and Freegle are excellent places to look for things that will help you in your quest to move towards a zero waste home. Jars galore (beautiful ones too – I often see Kilner jars and Le Parfait in perfect condition), far cheaper than you could buy them new. Our local Freegle often has offers of free jars for storage and food preservations. I have even ‘rescued’ some beautiful jars from neighbours’ recycling boxes.
I have a particular love of old Tupperware (I mean actual branded Tupperware, not just any old plastic boxes), which I look out for in charity shops. They are well designed and well made. I inherited a few things from my mother-in-law that I use all the time. The jug I keep my sourdough started in; a container we keep sugar in; my favourite sandwich box.
A few years ago I found three smaller matching versions of the Tupperware jug in a charity shop in Germany. I use them to make my kefir.
Even longer ago, I rescued a collection of discarded (single use) flip top beer bottles when we were on a cross-channel ferry. I use them each year when I make elderflower cordial, sloe gin (this year I’m planning to make elderberry cordial). The larger olive oil bottles I rescued from a recycling bin are perfect for my kombucha (or just cold water) in the fridge.
We keep all our dry goods (seeds, nuts, grains, pulses) in a matching collection of old mayo jars. Because I am slightly obsessive about matching. I’ve also given away a set of 6 of these jars on Freegle. My guess is that most people just recycle them. We have to change that culture, and nurture our habits of re-using for as long as things are useable. ‘Zero waste’ mustn’t become another reason for increased demand for new stuff.
All it takes is a shift in mind-set, and a good imagination.