Zero Waste Challenge – week 1

It’s been a week, since we have started the Zero Waste Challenge. You may well be wondering how we got on. Is there already a difference in the amount of rubbish we produce? What changes have we introduced into our lifestyle? Has it been a breeze or a chore? I’ll tell you all about it, especially that there is a surprising conclusion I already came to.

zero waste challenge week 1 shopping kit mumbalance

What we already do to be zero waste

I’ve realised that I didn’t really give you an idea of what we do already to reduce the rubbish we produce, so here it is:

we use Cheeky Wipes instead of disposable wipes; these are washable cotton wipes for bums, and a separate colorful batch for cleaning grubby hands and faces (you can buy them here* and  here*); we do use Water Wipes*when we are out and about, it means there is one less thing to remember to take when we are leaving the house, as I can just keep them in the buggy

we use cloth nappies for Little S, and we have also started using them again with Big F

I use cloth bags when going shopping

I use wash balls (you can buy them here*), so we don’t need to buy washing powder or detergent; wash balls last for years and only occassionally need topping up; it’s a huge money saving and lighten’s the shopping load as well

for cleaning we use e-cloths (you can buy them here*), which means I can clean just with water; it’s an amazing piece of science; these cloths are so absorbent they soak up all the bacteria including salmonella and e-coli

I always buy dried beans, which saves me lots of money and means there’s only one small bag to dispose of rather than 4 or 5 cans; I’ve calculated exactly how much you can save using dried beans a while ago and it’s a substantial saving (we are veggie so there’s a lot of legumes in our diet)

we buy very little clothes and when we do it’s mostly in charity shops

You can read more about our efforts to make our children zero waste in here.

zero waste challenge week 1 shop

What we did this week to go towards zero waste

This week the biggest change was going shopping in the farmers market. It was a nice experience and it was lovely to buy fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables. It pushed me out of my routine a bit and I bought different things than I normally would. Some of these things just don’t make way to supermarkets – like multicoloured juicy tomatoes.

And I bought some rhubarb. I am really looking forward to making some rhubarb crumble muffins! They came out delicious last year.

It was definitely easier to avoid packaging, as most fruit and veg is loose. There was even a stall selling loose mixed salad leaves. Some things like strawberries and tomatoes were displayed in little plastic containers, but I just put the fruit into my bag and handed back the box. It will get reused. Greens like curly kale and cavalo negro were sold by weight, so I could buy as much (or as little) as I needed. Really helpful with reducing food waste.

The only packaging problem I had was when buying goat’s cheese. When the seller was weighing it he placed it on a piece of cellophane, in spite of my  protests. He told me it’s actually made of cellulose, but he wasn’t  sure if it’s biodegradable.

Milk came in plastic recyclable bottles and butter came in paper. I did buy loose eggs, but I had to put them into a plastic box, as I did not think to bring an empty egg box with me.

I’ve spent £42 plus a couple of pounds in a shop to buy yoghurt and bananas (I couldn’t buy organic ones, as they were in the bag). It’s pretty good, especially considering the excellent quality of produce (I am loving the sourdough bread!). I will still need to buy more bread for Daddy’s sandwiches and probably more fuit, but it will still comfortably fit into our £60 average weekly grocery bill.

The surprising conclusion I mentioned on the beginning is that so far to go zero waste we had to stop buying organic. I am not sure I am happy with this long term.

zero waste challenge week 1 buggy with shopping mumbalance

Are we producing less rubbish?

We have managed to fill up just one 50 liter recycling bin, this usually would be 2 or 3 per week. Though I have been more diligent with squishing bottles and cans and compressing the content of the bin.

One more reason for less rubbish in the recycling bin is that I’ve stopped doing wishful thinking recycling. I am more careful with checking whether the packaging is recyclable. I used to put pretty much all plastic packaging into recycling bin, as if just because I’ve put it there it will get recycled. The truth is, not only it won’t get recycled, it’s also causing more work at the sorting facility.

Our bin has actually a little more rubbish, because of the non-recyclable plastic packaging I would normally stick into recycling. This is packaging from things we have in cupboards from before the Zero Waste Challenge. With all this the bin is filled only about 10 cm deep. And there are Big F’s old wellies in there. They have holes in them, so unfortunately I can’t pass them on to another parent or a charity shop.

I guess the biggest reduction in rubbish happens later on in the process of going zero waste, as at the moment we still have disposable items at home. Things like ear buds and cotton pads and water wipes for when we are out and about. I want to finish using them to clear up the space at home, which is also part of the zero waste lifestyle – decluttering.

Once we have run out of disposable things, here’s how I will replace them:

ear buds – we will do what I used to do as a child in post communist Poland, use wooden sticks (matches or cut down skewers) with cotton wool twirled at the end. Once used, the cotton wool can be taken off the the stick reused. Apparently cotton wool can be added to compost, so I will be able to add it to the food scraps caddy provided by the council

cotton pads –  Daddy and I will have to start using Cheeky Wipes the kids are already using. I don’t wear make-up, but I sometimes like to give my face a good clean with (mostly organic) cleanser and toner. I wish I could do it everyday, but mornings with kids tend to be busy.

periods – I still have some sanitary pads left over, but I think I’ll pass them on to a friend, as I have started using Mooncup* last month and I was very happy with it. Look out for a review soon!

disposable wipes – we will switch completely to Cheeky Wipes.


What’s the plan for next week

I’ve found a milkman (and you can too on, so this will eliminate plastic milk bottles. It will be nice to have the milk delivered in traditional glass bottles.

Talking dairy, I will be ordering yogurt cultures to make our own yogurt to avoid yet more packaging. I’ll be ordering these yoghurt cultures*. It’s supposed to be very straightforward. And this website explains how to do it without a yogurt maker.

We will be receiving fruit and veg boxes from Riverford (they have kindly agreed to sponsor a couple to help me out with the Zero Waste Challenge). It means we will be zero waste and organic. This is promising to be the best option. Especially that everything gets delivered to my door (and they tend to have cute drivers…).

We still have a coupe of accounts, which send out paper statements, so I will have to cancel these. And place a ‘no junk mail’ sign on the door to stop the annoying flyers coming in.


I hope you have found some useful information and inspiration in my Zero Waste Challenge. Maybe you are wondering if zero waste lifestyle is for you. Head over to Kelly’s blog Our Little Organic Life, who joined me in the Zero Waste Challenge, to see how she got on. Every family is different, so perhaps she has found other ways of going zero waste that suit your family better.


Join me next Wednesday for week 2 update. I am in touch with an environmental specialist  and I am hoping to have answers to some intriguing questions. Do subscribe to make sure you don’t miss this post!



PS. All links marked * are affiliate links. If you click and buy I will receive a small commission, though you won’t pay anymore. My blog is my source of income and if I want to continue writing all things green and ethical, rather than work with un-ethical companies with big marketing budgets, I need to include links in some of my posts. These are things I have personally tried and can recommend.

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Mr and Mrs T Plus Three