From the cardboard cup that carries our morning java, to the disposable cutlery we use at lunchtime, and even the pasta left over after dinner (because we still overestimate how much we need); most of us produce a lot of waste in our daily lives. But many young people these days are embracing a zero-waste lifestyle. Just as we're increasingly mindful of what we're putting into our bodies, we're increasingly conscious of what we're putting out into the world and environmental impact. And the movement is huge on social media. Young female bloggers such as Kathryn Kellogg, Celia Ristow and Lauren Singer are spearheading the conversation. Instagrammers like ZeroWasteHome, TheZeroWasteGirl and ZeroWasteNerd have thousands of followers and the hashtag #zerowaste offers up an endless reel of tips for cutting down landfill waste. Businesses are getting involved, too. Silo in Brighton was the UK's first zero-waste restaurant. In a bid to produce as little waste as possible, it trades with farmers directly, uses local ingredients that themselves generate no waste and uses reusable delivery vessels. Wine bottles can easily be refilled, for example. Silo even mills its own flour, churns butter, rolls oats and brews its own drinks to avoid packaging. It turns food scraps into compost, which is then used to grow more food. "Waste is just a failure of the imagination... Everything is productive, some things just need a bit more love," says Douglas McMaster, founder and chef at Silo.
"We hope to be a big part in the shift from disposable to reusable culture, and have just swapped our compostable straws to stainless steel straws that can be infinitely reused." So, how can we all get involved in the #zerowaste movement? Even if we don't go the whole hog (it's debatable whether it's possible to be truly zero waste), there are easy ways to reduce the sheer amount of stuff we get through each day.
Shop smartRemember to take your own reusable tote bags to the supermarket, advises Singer. And if you're going to a farmers' market or Whole Foods-type store where produce, such as nuts and olive oil, is sold without packaging, take Mason jars. Find out where the nearest stores are that allow you to buy in bulk.
Leftovers are your friendsMost foods can be given a second life with the help of a freezer. Freeze wine (to use in future recipes), freeze cheese in sandwich bags, freeze brown bananas for smoothies and ice cream. Even eggs can be frozen (just not in their shells). Don't overlook the frying pan, either – turn stale bread into croutons and sauté soggy spinach. Check out the Love Food Hate Waste website for more ideas.
Reuse before you recycle"Always reuse before recycling," says McMaster. "Our furniture and fittings are created from a desire to re-use, tables and chairs made from materials that would otherwise have been wasted, innovative, functional and beautiful." Keep your breakfast in a used jam jar.
The Huffington Post has now produced a film exploring how today's young people are getting involved in the zero-waste movement as part of its #PowerShift original documentary series. Silo features alongside zero-waste blogger Lauren Singer. Watch the film here: