With the recent panic buying and reports of food waste increasing I asked what impact the members of Zero Waste York (ZWY) thought the current situation we all find ourselves living in would have on the zero waste movement.
We appreciate that this is a tough time, but in the spirit of pulling together I’d like to share some things that have helped the ZWY community.
Alison Dyke suggested that food and beverage cartons (tetrapacks) can be cut along the bottom (or the side, as pictured below) and used as small pots for seedlings – the tops are then easily flattened and stored.
Many members are also increasingly using local green grocers and milkmen to minimise the number of shopping trips they need to make. Many shops already offered these services but more shops are now adding local delivery options.
Many vegetables can be grown from their own scraps, such as the tops of root plants. Just place them in a container of water and within a few days there will be new green growth. Let the roots develop and then you can transplant the new plants into the ground. For instructions on many more plants here’s a handy guide by Jonathan Engels.
If you are new to cooking, or just lacking inspiration, the website SuperCook suggests recipes based on what ingredients you say you have in your cupboards.
Anne Dawson Calliou says it’s the simple things: homemade bread was going a bit stale, so we did toasties, and then with the ends that have the breadmaker paddle hole in them, we made croutons!
With City of York Council announcing that they will not be starting green waste collections in April now could be a good time to set up your own compost heap. You can read how to set up a compost system without a compost bin here. If you have any compost queries, do get in touch with St Nicks and we’ll do our best to help.
Fiona Hughes found that swapping to reusable dishcloths and nappies meant they aren’t needing to try and find them in shops. Her family
are also being careful with portion size and making sure they use up all ingredients. Fiona commented that this “feels like a bit of a reset and opportunity to actually make mindful choices rather than doing the thing that’s most convenient”. This sentiment was echoed by a few people inclduing Louise Cantalay who suggested now is the time to reassess what we really need and step up our actions when life is back to some sort of normal.
Anne Dawson Calliou felt that the steps she’d taken towards zero waste really helped her family cope as she had been making her own cleaning products, bread and yoghurt and buying in bulk for pasta, flour and oil so hadn’t needed to buy anything extra to meet her family’s needs. They are also prioritising meal planning to ensure that leftovers are always used up.
Another ZWY member, Mary Alice found that her family are now appreciating the changes she’d implemented to reduce waste as they were already using cloth nappies, and getting veg, milk and toilet roll deliveries so didn’t experience the shortages felt by many.
Karen Boardman swapped to buying orange juice from their milkman and her family are making their own bread, yoghurt, hummus, cakes and biscuits so they are reducing waste from packaging, minimising food waste and learning new skills.
In the garden Christine Friend is reaping the benefits of her compost bin as it has provided 10 bucketfuls of soil nourishment for her garden. Christine also stated that her household are wasting less food as they are valuing the ingredients more by cooking from scratch.
It’s important to remember that as staffing becomes stretched local authorities may have to cut back on waste and recycling collections so anything we can do to reduce the volume of waste being collected will help. To keep the collection crews safe local authorities are asking residents wash the handles of their bins and recycling containers before they put them out for collection and again once they’ve been emptied. St Nicks’ team also appreciates all of our residents’ efforts to keep recycling without endangering them.
There are many advantages and environmental benefits to reducing waste. We believe this difficult time will reveal those more clearly to everyone, not just existing enthusiasts. If you would like to get involved in the discussion please do feel free to join the Facebook group Zero Waste York.
This post was curated by Waste & Recycling Manager Sam Taylor.