The End of #WasteFreeFeb #WasteFreeFeb has been an eye-opening challenge for us here at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. We’d be lying if we said it was easy to produce zero landfill waste in the UK but we are pleased to of identified a number of simple changes which enabled us to recycle more. So we thought we’d share our stories with you; Jessica, Community Engagement Officer for Waste “Turns out I’m not living so waste free after all that waste reducing, recycling and composting… My biggest challenge was definitely the plastic packets that so much of our food comes in (and I wasn’t able to resist oatcakes or the odd packet of crisps). In the shops it’s annoying having to choose between buying organic veg in a packet or loose veg that’s been produced with more chemicals (first world problems eh?). I would love more bulk stores where you can rock up with your own bags and fill up on pasta, rice etc. As we found out, it is possible to produce biodegradable and compostable packaging so why aren’t more companies using it? It’s encouraging to see more pressure being applied nationally on packaging like one-use bottles and initiatives are being widely talked about such as bottle deposits and refill. The plastic bag charge has perhaps helped build the momentum and a bit more people pressure might just get us there! I’m definitely up for some campaigning and writing to these companies to apply a bit of pressure about their packaging.” Gemma, Education Officer for Waste “I managed to be pretty strict with myself during our Waste Free Feb challenge, I really did reduce the amount of rubbish I created by cooking from scratch and changing what I bought from the supermarket and also where I shop. I found that if it wasn’t for medical supplies, from having a few injuries, my jar would have been half as full! Other culprits in my jar were apple stickers, a teabag packet from the local café (why do they need to be packaged separately?) sly bubble wrap in my raspberry tub, plastic wrapped around my honey lids and under milk/soya bottle tops as well as teabag drawstrings and plastic labels. Packaging, packaging, packaging - it has a lot to answer for but hopefully we will help to reduce it by applying pressure to companies and supermarkets and backing campaigns such a #PlasticFreeAisle and bottle deposit schemes. So with the best will in the world I found it was unavoidable to create even the smallest amount of waste and I have a greater respect for people managing to live waste free longer term. I will certainly continue to keep my waste to a minimum by shopping more responsibly and cooking from scratch when possible and I will certainly continue to raise awareness about our packaged society. I’m also going to take part in the annual Zero Waste week in September – fancy joining in again?” Chelsie, Education Officer for Waste “I’ve never spent so much time staring at packaging and different options within supermarkets as I have this past month but I say that with a great tinge of humour! Unrecyclable crinkly plastics became my arch enemy, hidden in almost every packaged item from salad bags to pasta boxes with little windows. On the whole, I didn’t have to make too many sacrifices; I mostly found alternative recycling schemes or recyclable options for items I love, such as chocolate. I started buying chocolate slabs that are wrapped in foil (recyclable) and cardboard (recyclable). I bought live salad plug plants which came in a stretchy plastic bag which I recycled in the supermarket collection bins rather than the unrecyclable bagged salad options I usually go for. Unfortunately some things still had to go and in moments of weakness, my jar did fill! I had to rule out crisps and cereal bars for February as I could not find a recyclable option whatsoever… I also found it near impossible to avoid cling-film type wraps on certain foods and couldn’t escape crunchy plastic in my cereal boxes, laminated foil lids inside coffee pots, milk bottle lids and honey jar lids. You begin to become highly frustrated by these little pieces of additional packaging – are they really necessary? Even with my little frustrations, I felt a sense of great pride on bin collection day – my partner called me on route to work to ask me to pop the black bin out and I had the great realisation that I had actually produced no waste in those two weeks! Although I find myself constantly going back to the manufacturers and questioning ‘was that packaging really necessary?" What can we do about our packaging problem? It’s pretty obvious that all three of us struggled to avoid a number of un-recyclable packaging materials, mainly crunchy plastic and stretchy films, so what can we do about it? Well a good place to start would be to support A Plastic Planet in their #PlasticFreeAisle campaign by signing up here. They’re applying pressure on UK supermarkets to offer packaging-free alternatives – sound impossible? Well it’s not! In other European countries, such as Germany there are supermarkets where every single item comes unpackaged. By taking your own containers to the supermarket for items such as cheese, meats and fish from the deli counter, you will buy the exact amount you want and reduce your food waste at the same time. The easiest thing to do is to simply try and avoid purchasing items in un-recyclable or un-necessary packaging but if you want to take it a step further, you could put pressure on your supermarket by filing a complaint through Trading Standards. Going the extra mile We’re hoping by now you’re as keen on recycling and waste issues as we are! If this is the case, then why not see about setting up additional recycling points for ‘hard-to-recycle’ items, it’s easier than you think thanks to schemes such as Terracycle. And again do your bit by recycling even more, at the HRC you can recycle the plastics that can’t be dropped into your home blue lidded bin such as yogurt pots, ice cream and margarine tubs, plastic packaging and rigid plastic. By disposing of it at a HRC these items will find a home again maybe in the form of a fleece or carpet and will be spared a life sentence in the landfill site. If you’d like further advice on living waste free then contact us for our guide to the ‘Waste Free Challenge’. Share your knowledge! Spread the word, knowledge is power so tell the world about you are learning and how we can ALL make a difference. Get local children involved through school workshops, assemblies. Hire our team to deliver a workshop or event in your town or school. Share your thoughts and helpful recycling tips with us on social media - Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.