Clean Expeditions – The Zero Waste Mentality

The above photo was taken on the #KayakRTI—if you look closely, you will see a drogue net streaming out behind the support boat—a side project to the 90 kilometre sea kayaking challenge was to gain a greater understanding of the pollution in the waters around the Isle of Wight; as well as create content that promoted a 'zero waste' attitude to outdoor adventure and life. We went fishing for plastic…

The sea pollution sampling project on the Round the Isle of Wight Kayak was the start of a notable change in my personal mentality towards waste and recycling. I have long been an advocate of recycling and reusing materials, and making the sustainable choice; but researching and then seeing the extent of pollution in my local waters, and knowing also of the level of roadside and landfill waste, motivated a conscious personal decision to adopt a 'Zero Waste' mentality to expeditions and life in general.

Zero Waste for me, means minimising wherever and whenever possible the amount of waste you send to landfill, and minimising the amount of pollution you create. It is a conscious attempt to do away with unnecessary packaging, to cut out non-sustainable products, and to reduce your carbon footprint.

These are the five personal goals I set myself:
  1. Send only 5 litres of 'General Waste' to landfill each fortnight (2 weeks)
  2. Shop local and seasonal—to cut back on product miles and packaging
  3. Favour products that have minimal packaging or have easily recycled packaging
  4. Use sustainable products and avoid micro-plastics whenever possible 
  5. Reuse and repair products (including packaging), and opt for long-lasting sustainably-sourced products

These above points have stemmed significant changes in the way I shop for products—both in everyday life, and for expedition kit. Below are three examples…

Sustainable Clothing Brands

Purchasing quality clothing made from sustainable materials is an obvious way to reduce waste and environmental damage. Quality kit lasts longer, and those made with sustainable fabrics have a much smaller negative impact on the environment.

The best brands I have recently featured in my kit reviews are Vaude Sport and BAM Bamboo Clothing—both have strong green credentials and make superb outdoor sports apparel.

BAM Bamboo Clothing

Local Providers and Homegrown Produce

I have always enjoyed supporting local producers, and we are lucky on the Isle of Wight to have many great local food suppliers. To reduce the amount of packaging I send to landfill or recycling (remember that still requires energy and effort), I have adopted a new strategy of food shopping…

I do a once monthly large online stock-up shop for bulky tinned, frozen, and store cupboard essentials; then I do a weekly shop at the local farm shop for fresh seasonal organic fruit and vegetables (in addition to my homegrown veg), as well as locally produced milk, yoghurt, and eggs.

This fresh approach minimises the miles that my food has travelled, and it reduces travel to and from the supermarket (I travel to the farm shop by bicycle). It significantly reduces food waste, and crucially it ensures you know and consider the origin of what you are eating—supporting local businesses that look after the environment.

Household Products

The final area I have made a conscious effort to consider is household cleaning products and personal care products. I was surprised by how much water pollution and landfill waste are created by these, and how easy it was to address through product choices.

First, I switched to eco-friendly household cleaning products that use recycled packaging and natural cleaning solutions rather than damaging chemicals. An excellent brand to look at is Method Cleaning Solutions.

Second, I considered personal care products that might be contributing to landfill and micro-plastic pollution. I switched to natural skincare products from Weleda—a brand that holds the NATRUE certification seal that guarantees their products are free from micro-plastics; not just the solid micro-beads, but also liquid and powder micro-plastics. 

I also moved to using Nothing Wasted Toothpaste Tablets, Mouthwash Tablets, and Natural Dental Floss; as well as their Bamboo Toothbrush. These sustainable dental products are not only great for the planet, they are great for your mouth; with added fluoride and Kaolin to help promote natural strength and whitening, and no nasty stuff like SLS and palm oil. [Use Code: NoWasteLife for a discount at the checkout]

Elsewhere in the home, I try to re-use and re-purpose packaging whenever possible. Glass jars for example are great for storing leftovers, and far better than clingfilm or plastic freezer bags. Similarly, seal-lock airtight coffee bags can be repurposed in all kinds of ways for storage of snacks and foods. 

Nothing Wasted Dental Products

These are just the some examples of my conscious effort to reduce wastage and landfill.

Do you have any further suggestions? Comments welcome below...


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