BSc Neuroscience University of Glasgow. MSc Neuroscience with Education University of Bristol (current). Secondary Sciences Teacher with Biology Specialism.
My challenge
I hope to halve the amount of waste I produce (packaging) each week

How does it feel to have made a change these 30 days? 

I think it has been a rollercoaster, at first I thought it would be easy, but there are so many situations in daily life where you get packaging/waste without having any control over the matter. I didn’t eat much meat before, but this process totally cut meat out of my diet (unless I was eating out). I am quite proud of having made it the 30 days, halving waste each week until this last week, in which I produced no waste.

What have you learnt about yourself?

I have learned that I produce more waste than I thought I did. I think because I was recycling I wasn’t really worrying about how much packaging I was producing. But of course it is better to have no packaging than having the carbon of recycling packaging. Looking how much waste I, one individual, produced in a week shocked me a little at first. Since then I have changed several behaviours: no more takeaway coffees (even when I thought I desperately needed one!), no more takeaways (didn’t get too many of these anyway but, they always come with so much waste!), less caffeine, no more using the car for short journeys when I can cycle. I have also had to think more creatively about my cooking, I love food, but when so much of it comes wrapped it meant having to create certain things from scratch, incredibly time consuming, but if I made the time for it then actually enjoyable and cathartic. Namely I have cut out cereal boxes (refillable cereal stations at world matter and I pack it out with fruit), tetra milk packs (I now make my own oat milk (so much cheaper!), and no more tinned goods! Amidst all this I have re-discovered my lockdown love of bread baking, sourdoughs, foccacias, the lot! 

What do you deeply care about for yourself and others?

Be kind. Be humble. Small acts of kindness. Be forgiving. Treat as you would wish to be treated. Take care of the planet. Family. Friends. Teaching and Learning. Outdoor education. Equality and Inclusivity. 

Will you continue you with your challenge going forwards. 

No, I’m not sure how to half zero waste! But I will be taking the mentality forward. This process occupied a significant amount of working memory and energy, which I hope to invest elsewhere. I would like to try some of the other ideas too, and so will create space for that, e.g. an hour each day in nature without technology. 

Thanks for the wonderful journey, the on-going support and your collective shared wisdom and enthusiasm. 

Best of luck everyone! 


I have found these last few days of the challenge particularly hard, as I am basically down to zero waste now. My behaviours have changed, in that I now do a shop every day or every other day, picking up fresh fruit and veg, which is forming the main basis of my diet. I purchase bread from World Matter in Easton and I recently found that Public Market in Easton do refillable oat milk! I have found cooking to be particularly difficult, because where I would traditionally use jars and tins (e.g. tamarind, chipotle paste, rose harissa, tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, herbs and spices) I am now limited to anything that doesn’t come in packaging, which is basically just fruit and veg! I have been meaning to find a cookbook/online website which lists zero-waste recipes, but haven’t yet done that. 

What I have done though is start making my own oat milk! It literally took less than 10 minutes and I was surprised how good it tastes! I can get oats from the organic shop from a refillable container, so no plastic. I even saved the oat pulp and had it for breakfast the next day as porridge! 

I am a climber and I go to the centre most days, this means I need quite a high calorie intake, and I am struggling to get that from the current situation/enough nutrients (especially protein). 

Is the solution to just eat out at cafe’s and restaurants every night? Is this better than being personally responsible for where your own waste goes (i.e. you can ensure it is recycled appropriately but control what a restaurant does). 

I also find that I have gone back to avocados (makes for a delicious lunch on sourdough bread) which I had previously given up because of the mileage required to transport them, the amount of water they require, and mostly because of the damage they do to the Peruvian and Bolivian economy/diet. What else can I have on toast that doesn’t have packaging? 

At the weekend I was in Glasgow for a Stag Do. When the lads jumped off to Greggs for a pastie, I had to head into Lidl and grab myself some fresh fruit without packaging, and a couple of pastries without getting a takeaway plastic bag. When we went for dinner, I couldn’t have ketchup with my chips as they only had the individual sachets! When the chaps went into an assortment of fast food chains at the end of the night, I stumbled back to my hotel room for a sad apple and orange, not the ideal post boozing nourishment one craves. This hotel was better than the last though, in that it had shampoo/conditioner affixed to the wall, which they presumably just refill (though I again had to restrain from having the coffee/tea sachets in the mornings and head out to a nearby coffee shop instead). The hotel room also had a card that you put into the slot to work the electrics in the room, so it stops lights from being left on unnecessarily. I did get caught out in one of the night clubs however, as past a certain hour they are no longer allowed to use glass, and so use single use plastic cups. I was determined not to let this affect me too much though, so I ended up asking the staff to reuse the same cup and to not put in the inevitable straw (who drinks whisky through a straw?). 

Anyway, it just hit home how much we are surrounded by this single use plastic and sometimes how hard it can be to get away from it. (e.g. buying bus tickets with no option but to take the paper, which you will only use that once!). 

Despite my best efforts, I’ve somehow managed to nearly double my waste mass this week, up to 900g. Though this is due to finishing glassware jars/bottles from previous weeks, and as I had friends visiting over the weekend. 

I haven’t bought any new tetra milk packs and tried my local organic shop, but it didn’t have any refillable milk stations. I did buy a few bits of fruit and a «past its best» loaf of bread, but it came to more than £6! 

I’ve bought loose tea which I’m composting. The organic shop does have cereal but, I’m concerned over the price. I’m going to hunt now for somewhere with refillable milk stations, and failing that I will try make my own! It has also motivated me to make my own breads again, but still there is all the flour bag packaging and other ingredients (e.g. seeds) to consider. 

My flat mate is motivated to try the challenge next month and has been inspired to reflect more often on their use of single use plastics and their waste etc. 

Last week I collected any litter/waste I produced and put it in a container. I somewhat shocked myself how much packaging came from my breakfasts (I’m a cereal fiend). It wasn’t just the cereal boxes but the alternative milk cartons which I was ploughing through, probably 3-4 1L cartons! The other thing was how many tea bags I was using, not ideal as the fancy Earl Grey’s were individually wrapped. Anyway, I weighed it all at the end of the week before putting it all out for recycling, and it came to 550 grams! Though I’m not sure if measuring the mass is going to be the most reliable measure of impact, as different packaging will have different footprints? In fact, this was probably lighter than usual, as I had purposefully not got a takeaway for fear of all the additional packaging! 

This week is off to a decent start, though I am finishing some glassware (jams and condiments) that I fear carry a higher mass load. I still have food from the supermarket shop I did the night before the challenge, though it won’t be long before I need to do another shop – I’m thinking the organic shop across the road…I wonder what the finances are going to be like!

P.S. I had a night in a hotel and had to try VERY hard not to steal all the tiny adorable shampoos, conditioners, and cereal boxes that everyone loves.