zero waste fails, reusables, reusable coffee cup, reusable water bottle

How to avoid these 10 zero waste fails

My household is not a zero waste household by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is most definitely a reduced waste one as we strive to throw away less and less over time. It doesn’t always go to plan though. So, I’ve put together a list of how to avoid these easy to make zero waste fails!

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10 zero waste fails you can avoid

  1. Food left in the oven accidentally overnight.

Sometimes I put bread dough in a warm oven for it to rise. Or I leave food in the oven after its finished cooking to keep it warm. For whatever reason it gets forgotten and left in the oven overnight. It is so frustrating because it is such a waste of food and money! To avoid this I set a timer to remind me to take the food out of the oven.

2. Freezer door problems. 

Freezer doors don’t beep like fridge doors do when they haven’t been shut properly. Sometimes something obstructs a freezer door from closing and it can get left open by accident. Always make sure there are no obstructions that could prevent the freezer door from shutting properly. If you are likely to forget stick a sign on the freezer to make sure you will do it!

3. Putting leftovers in the fridge and then not getting around to eating them in time.

I have found it is far better to freeze leftovers straight away so they don’t just sit in the fridge.

4. Eating stuff because you don’t want it to go to waste

I’m a firm believer that if I don’t need it or want it, then eating it is just as much of a waste as putting it in the compost. I try to avoid making too much by weighing out things like rice and pasta. I try to avoid serving too much by not putting all of it on plates straight away. With leftover food on the plate I put it in a container for the next day.

5. Putting things in the recycling that probably shouldn’t go in there.

I feel better about putting something in the recycling than in the bin. However it is important to follow the rules about recycling. Otherwise it can contaminate a batch and the whole batch needs to be chucked away. A massive waste and upsetting if you have gone the extra mile to recycle! Play it safe by following these recycling rules:

  • Follow your councils rules! Only put the stuff in the recycling that the council says you can.
  • Make sure you put things in the right recycling bins.. E.g. separating out the different types of waste as per your councils instructions. I used to put batteries to be recycled in with my paper recycling in a bag. But then I read that they needed to be in a bag on top of the bin.
  • Make sure it is clean! Before you put it in the recycling wash out jars and tins. Avoid putting paper and cardboard that has any food remains on it in there.
  • Double check that it is what you think it is! What seems like paper and card actually may have thin layers of plastic in it. Often wrapping paper can’t be recycled as it contains plastics such as glitter.

6. Composting stuff that shouldn’t be composted.

Only natural fibres are biodegradable and can be put on your compost heap – synthetic fibres should be sent to landfill. This means that if there is a possibility your dryer lint, the contents of your hoover or a holey piece of fabric might contain synthetic fibres then it is best to throw them away. On the other hand if you know that they only contain natural fibres, you can put them on your compost heap. Getting to know what fabrics your carpet, clothes and soft furnishings are made of will help with this!

7. Trying to do it all at once and feeling overwhelmed.

At times I have found some zero waste activities completely out of my comfort zone. I think the best way to approach being zero waste is to take it one step at a time and if something seems like too much at any point stop doing it. Do the easy things first, congratulate yourself on your successes and come back to the things that seem tricky another time. It is important not to get too overwhelmed as otherwise it is much more likely that you will feel like quitting altogether.

8. Rushing out and buying the kit.

Before you start buying reusable bottles, bamboo toothbrushes and reusable lunch boxes, spend some time reading a few reviews. I prefer to go for plastic free options, but glass breaks and metal dents and if they don’t last that long it isn’t really a zero waste option in the end. You have to find the material that is right for you! Biodegradable brushes may have non-biodegrable bristles and if something says BPA free, but still contains plastic, it doesn’t mean it is necessarily safe to use. Also take a look around your own home to see what you can make use of already before rushing out and buying something new. 

9. I forgot!

It is so easy to forget to take your bags to the shops, to forget to say no straw please, to forget to take a reusable mug with you and so on. With the reusable bag problem there are various solutions. Try leaving them everywhere you might need one and replace them when you are done. You could do the same with the mugs and the straws. Also I mainly shop in local shops and I have made such a big deal about using my own bags I would actually feel embarrassed to buy stuff from them without them now. 

10. They forgot!

You asked for no bag or no straw but they bring you one anyway. Visual prompts help – I sometimes take my kids plastic straws that they got from parties (but rarely use) and show them to the waiter or waitress when I ask for no straws please (it helps to remind me too!).

What are your zero waste fails? Have any of these things happened to you? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!

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  1. Zoe

    I'm sure a lot of people are – it is so easily done 🙂

  2. Someone got very shirty with me the other day when I asked not to have a plastic lid on my coffee. In contrast, the cafe just along the road were more than happy to find an an alternative for the plastic glass they normally use for another type of drink. Guess where I am more likely to go, even if I have to pay more?

  3. Carol

    If I forget to take a reusable bag when shopping I buy another one instead of using a plastic bag. I soon stopped forgetting it was costing me too much

  4. Zoe

    Some people really don't get it! Glad you found somewhere that was helpful.

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