Zero waste is a recent concept that aims to dramatically reduce waste and plastic pollution. It emphasizes recycling, reusing, and decreasing consumption of single-use products, especially plastic. Achieving a zero-waste lifestyle can be difficult, as so many of the essential daily products we purchase are packaged in plastic and are often single-use items. It is these items that are often the cheapest and easiest to purchase, as plastic packaging is a cheap option. For example, milk in a plastic container reduces its weight, making it cheaper to transport, and therefore cheaper to buy. However, buying such products in plastic packaging is damaging the environment and contributing to literally tons of plastic pollution each year.
Living a plastic-free life can be hard to commit to, especially as busy students. We often opt for the cheapest and easiest alternative, even though it may sometimes involve products wrapped in non-recyclable plastic. Buying milk in plastic containers, seeds, grains, and oats in single-use containers and repeatedly buying new washing up liquid, laundry detergent, shampoo, soap and so forth can feel unnecessary when you’re essentially purchasing the same product each time but in new containers.
Due to the detrimental impact of such waste on the environment, many places around the UK have opened up zero-waste shops, selling everything from food to household hygiene products. These shops provide an easy way to change our purchasing habits and consumption. When buying your food or other necessities in these shops, you simply bring containers for what you want to buy, weigh them, fill them up, and weigh them again to get the cost of the product you are buying. It’s a simple and easy way to purchase what you need, while also limiting your packaging consumption. Prices vary depending on the product, but I find that it is cheaper for me to buy my essentials at a zero-waste shop. So zero-waste shops are friendly to both your wallet and the environment!￼
Some of the products available at zero-waste shops include:
Pasta, rice and beans
Nuts and seeds
Cooking oils and vinegars
Milk and eggs
Shampoo, conditioner and soap bars
Laundry detergent and washing up liquid
Home-made nut butters (my fave! So fresh they’re still warm)
A few zero-waste shops in Edinburgh are New Leaf Coop by the Meadows, Weigh to Go on Leith Walk, Eco Larder in Haymarket, and The Refillery in Newtown. They offer similar products and are easily accessible for students living by main campus, up toward the Leith area, and toward Kings Buildings. For more information about these shops, please visit @newleafcoop, @weightogoedinburgh, @theecolarder and @the.refillery.edinburgh on Instagram. If you are curious to learn more about the zero-waste movement and how you can live more sustainably and waste less, please visit https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/