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More adventures in zero waste (not all successful)

A few weeks ago, London was knee deep in snow. Well, ankle-deep. Alright, maybe toe-deep. Anyway, there was snow, and as always, it meant everything went a little crazy.

Happily, I wasn't scheduled to be at my normal hospital placement (handy, as the trains decided they wanted to stop running -- presumably they wanted to go for a snowball fight, like every other entity in the vicinty). The teaching I had to get to instead was really interesting, and not a million miles away from a branch of As Nature Intended.

I remembered reading that they have bulk buy bins where you can get things like rice, nuts and seeds, so I took along a couple of plastic tubs from home to stock up.

If you're thinking of doing the same, it's worth knowing that although it's pay by weight, you can't tare your own containers.  (As Nature Intended does offer plastic or paper bags that don't count towards the weight, but that didn't seem to be ever so zero waste, so I gave it a swerve.) The downside then is that you end up paying for the weight of your container as well, so find the lightest tub you have (or attach a couple of helium balloons to it!) to keep costs down.

Trying to do my best to up my zero waste game, I declined the receipt for my purchases too, but it was only once I got home that I realised I must have been overcharged for my zero waste buys by a fair margin. I expected to pay a bit more due to the weight of the tubs, but given the amount I handed over, I was either overcharged, or the tubs must have been made of lead or whatever the heaviest substance known to humans is (Oganesson, according to my lazy use of Wikipedia.)

So, lesson learned: if you want to do zero waste more cheaply, find somewhere that lets you tare (taring, as far as I can work out, just means deducting the weight of the container from the weight of the produce so you don't overpay).

My next zero waste stop was the internet. I've been trying to shy away from internet shopping in favour of bricks-and-mortar -- too many online purchases seem to come swathed in eye-watering amounts of plastic.

Then I stumbled on Anything but Plastic which, as the name implies, is a shop that sells things that aren't, well, plastic. It has all sorts of nifty alternatives to things that normally involve plastic, including shampoo bars, glass drinking straws, metal lunchboxes, bamboo toothbrushes, reusable cups and all that good stuff.

It caught my eye for two things I'd been hunting for for a while: dental floss and mascara. Both seem to come with massive amounts of packaging wrapped around them normally, so I was looking forward to dumping for them for a less polluting alternative.

Only... the dental floss was out of stock when I went to order, and I haven't tried the mascara yet, as my normal brand hasn't run out yet.

I did pick up some other bits and bats which I loved though: paper tape and FitPit, deodorant in a jar. Paper tape replaces sellotape (genius! I'm having an eBay selling binge, so this comes in really handy). And deodorant in a jar? That's nifty too.

I was using a Faith in Nature refillable roll-on before, only when I went to buy a refill, I found they'd stopped making them, so you have to buy a whole new roll-on. Now I'm convinced that deodorant in a jar is the way forward. You take a pea sized bit, rub it in your pits, and wander around smelling fine all day. Proof if proof were needed: doing away with plastic means you'll be coming up smelling of roses.

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  1. I always learn a little about zero waste approaches when reading your posts about your efforts - I like the sound of anything but plastic shop. I recently read about plastic microbeads in swimwear and felt really sad at how enmeshed plastic is in our world! In bathers! As for the deodorant, I think there is a thing about not touching our armpits that roll on deodorant encourages and so I like the sound of that fit pit stuff.

  2. For me taking a glass or plastic jar to such a place would just not be convenient unless it was a place local to me, the closest place that does this kind of thing is Bristol. i think i would prefer brown paper bags in 3 sizes that I could then fill and decant into glass jars or other containers when I got home. I think its terrible if they charged you for the weight of your containers - you should check. I would not have been a happy bunny and it would def. put me off from doing again. I am intrigued about dental floss as those containers as you rightly point out are pollutants.

  3. If you don't take your receipt, don't they still print it out? I was reading recently about dental floss that comes in a glass container, but haven't seen any yet.

  4. At least you're trying, I really need to step up my zero waste efforts with Earth Day coming up.

  5. Great article. This article is very helpful for me. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post.


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