Louis Michael: Waste measurements


Recently I’ve been thinking about going zero waste. For those of you who don’t know what that means (or can’t guess) it’s when someone makes a conscious effort to produce absolutely zero waste in every aspect of their daily lives. No litter is the obvious one, but it extends to no food wastage, no unnecessary water use, no excessive electricity. Sound daunting? It is. As soon as you make the decision to attempt the feat you realise just how wasteful we actually are. And I don’t mean to sound sanctimonious, I was genuinely as surprised as anyone else!

Yesterday I was out in town and it was well past lunchtime and I was starving. So I popped into Tesco like I would normally and reflexively went straight to the sandwich section where I knew that my reliable good old meal deal was waiting for me. But as I reached my hand out to snatch up my falafel and humus wrap I remembered my new commitment. The wrap was in a cardboard and plastic box, and when I was done with the wrap I would throw that box into a bin that would then be added to the hundreds of thousands of tons of rubbish that England produces every single day. And I know it may seem like my little lunch wouldn’t do much harm, but every single item of rubbish that our country produces adds itself to the collective whole. Individually, no, one piece of rubbish isn’t a big deal, but collectively, we’re producing a catastrophic 31 million tonnes of waste annually. I think you’ll agree that’s not particularly sustainable.

The person who inspired me to start thinking about the waste I produce was my sister, and it was actually food wastage that she introduced me to. For a while she volunteered at a charity that reallocated supermarket food that was past its sell by date to shelters and food banks. Now, I’m grateful that I can say I don’t waste as much food as a supermarket, but I’m definitely forced to throw away the odd fruit and veg that I accidentally let go out of date. I think at some point today I’m going to have to raid the fridge for anything mouldy.

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