Hi, it's Veronika here and I'm wondering...
I've stumbled upon a term anti-waste while researching Aloe Arborescens (that's a story for another day) and it hit me. Is this a thing? You can hear everywhere zero-waste (on my blog too, yeah, of course), and also see how hardcore zero-wasters, on one hand, show that they accrued merely a half jar of waste over a decade but a moment after you hear them confessing "why I stopped being zero-waste" and how impossible it actually is (for really, practically everyone).
Shall you not try to live a zero-waste life then? Shall you feel continuously disappointed that your efforts are not met with success as you actually still somehow produce waste no matter how hard you try?
(Well, have you tried to blend amongst a group of monkeys and live like a modern Tarzan or Jane...? That may work...)

I'm either ridiculously behind and was living under a rock or anti-waste is some new thing.
Probably none of it though... It's just something I do while desperately trying to be zero-waste. I'm definitely anti-waste, but was never thinking about it that way.

Being anti-waste is a thing EVERYONE can do.

Let's just do a quick google search about "anti-waste" just to make sure I'm getting it right and won't be accidentally trolling instead =)

Ehm, alright - what did I find out?

The term anti-waste at a first glance seems to be foremostly associated with the efforts of not wasting food*. And there's apparently some political party with this name, cool.
So is it a thing or not...? Why isn't this term used more? I know, we all hear reduce-reuse-recycle or we can even include many more Rs (reinvent/rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse/repair, recycle, replace/rebuy,...), even the hottest one nowadays - rot (yeah, meant in a good way - like compost, biodegrade... but these words don't start with R, so rot looks better in the family of eco-friendly Rs =) But do we hear often (if ever) the word anti-waste? I know, it kinda feels like something negative as it contains "anti", but being anti is good if it's against something bad. And waste is one of the biggest evils of modern civilisation.

So why do we see - everywhere - zero waste that's, indeed, hard to achieve, but nobody talks about teaching people being anti-waste - which sounds more achievable, therefore I assume should be more appealing to a wider population...?
I still like the term zero-waste, but anti-waste is something I'm gonna adopt and promote more, I'd say. It may sound a little bit like "let's be vegan on weekdays" but it's not the same. Once again, being vegan is easy to achieve (easy may be relative, but in essence, it is achievable as millions of vegans all over the world, including me, can easily prove), so "being vegan on weekdays" is a ridiculous idea I'd say (yet, ok, better than nothing, sure). But being zero-waste? Please, show me how. I'm trying quite hard for a past couple of years but no luck so far. What I've achieved instead is actually being anti-waste. And I'm good at it. That feels satisfying. And I can practice what I preach. So I can't feel like preaching zero-waste but could certainly be talking to people more about (being) anti-waste. Not only when it comes to food. We can (and should!) be anti all types of waste.

I'm thinking: when I buy stuff, often it has to have a package. Well, that's essentially a waste. If I reuse it well done to me, but if it can't be reused or recycled, then even if it rots (biodegrades) that's still waste. So I'm failing being zero-waste (although it was somewhat eco-friendly as it biodegraded at least). But when I choose a product that has a minimum packaging (still preferring those, that can be reused, recycled or can rot) I'm already acting anti-waste and meeting my goals. I can teach this to other people and appreciate their efforts when they achieve being anti-waste in their daily decisions (as that's easier than being zero-waste), which creates positive traction and people will tend to do this more. That essentially should lead to being closer to zero-waste, indeed.

So focusing on anti-waste thinking may have better results than endlessly trying to be zero-waste which is, statistically said, highly unlikely to happen.

I still like the term zero-waste and I'll keep using it (in my shop and brand for example as it's a popular term, so starting using anti-waste may be confusing and will not help promote the brand - so that won't be a clever thing to do) but in my personal life and around on the blog I will try to focus more on "anti-waste" from now on. To encourage everyone. Even those who think that zero-waste is only for "weird hippie tree huggers" (I love hugging trees, btw).

So let me share a few anti-waste tips I do:

I think before I buy - I research and ask what package things come in. The less the better and I definitely prefer if it's a compostable option. Sadly I'm not trusting that much these days that recycling really gets the job done instead of just dumping it in poorer countries around the world - so if it can be recycled but also can decompose, I sleep better at night knowing that if it ends up dumped somewhere instead of being recycled as promised, it won't be around for hundreds of years.

I repurpose paper padding from delivery boxes - ya'll know the situation when you get a generously sized box with 80% of padding and 20% of the actual content (at best). So after I successfully find the actual product in the box full of paper, I wrap it in the very same (usually nice brown kraft-like) paper which makes it into an amazing gift. I think of these products as being sold with a free wrapping paper =)
If whatever I bought wasn't meant as a gift, I keep the paper for later. There are always random gifts that need wrapping (I also wrap into my old math papers - have a look if you haven't read about it yet - but now I use strings, not sticky tape... that was silly back in the days =)

I also wrote a whole article about zero-waste tips... but looking back, more appropriate would be anti-waste - for example, my silicone scourer is saving so many plastic-based sponges, so it's definitely saving waste. But it will become a waste one day itself certainly as silicone doesn't biodegrade, sadly (can be recycled, though) - on the other hand, thinking anti-waste - so far I have this ONE silicone scourer for about two years give or take! How many plastic-based "classic" scourer/sponges an average person uses per year...? (I don't know, I can't remember how many I was using before the change.)
And the silicone one is easy to keep clean (I just wash it here and there in the washing machine, while I also wash it in my hands regularly) unlike the organic cotton cloth I got later and also love to use. But it needs more washing, as otherwise it goes smelly and surely contains more bacteria friendly environment than quite sterile silicone sponge that dries way faster and it's practically non-porous. So while organic cotton is more eco friendly because it's compostable, a silicone sponge may be a more appealing solution to many people who don't want to go the extra mile and want to keep things simple and convenient. Therefore I'm still very happy seeing this silicone sponge trend amongst my friends and family and I don't force them to get organic cotton cloth as well. They did the step in the right direction - they were positively anti-waste by getting one scourer that replaces an enormous amount of disposable sponges. Good job, folks!

I bulk buy. When possible and reasonable, of course - bulk buys are one thing, but hoarding is the next level and not ok. Although I'm still trying to get things in plastic-free packaging (or at least compostable packaging), if it's not possible (the product I'm enquiring is quite essential and alternatives either don't exist or are for example out of my budget), mathematically, a bigger package has a better ratio of surface area to volume, meaning that for example one 5 kg bag or chickpeas uses less packaging than 5 bags that are each 1 kg. This is a simple but powerful maths - worth remembering.

Bamboo toothbrushes, very popular, right...? Do you already have one? Cool. I don't want to show off too much, but I have this type that has a removable head - so only a part of the toothbrush needs to be replaced instead of the whole piece. Next level anti-waste =)
But to be honest, due to personal circumstances, I use the bamboo toothbrush only when out and about on vacation during my outdoor adventures and such, and I use an electric toothbrush at home (though my partner saw somewhere that there are supposedly heads that fit electric toothbrushes and are compostable - I have to research this, that'll be great to switch to those). Having to use an electric toothbrush was bothering me for a while as it's worse than bamboo toothbrush on many levels, that's for sure, but on a very basic level, the health of my teeth is more important to me. So where I'm failing a bit, I try more elsewhere instead, to balance it. So I'm anti-waste, but I don't do it blindly just for the sake of it and risk health problems (not saying use an electric toothbrush instead of bamboo or else, this is just my confession about a thing that I'd like to change but probably won't do that in a near future).

Moving forward...

I wrap my food on the go into paper tissues and tea towels. I don't use plastic bags. Or better to say - I haven't bought any plastic bag for what feels like a century. But I still have a few around, so sometimes, I use them. Then I wash them and use again. And again. If you're gentle with plastic bags, even the thin ones, you can use them very many times.
Why do I not use the very popular waxed food wraps? Honestly? I don't know (well, I kinda know - more about that below). I still haven't gotten around it. I'm not perfect, I'm not completely zero-waste. But I'm anti-waste and refusing my family's tries to wrap thing for me in plastic bags (at least not in any new ones).
And the paper tissues, often still quite clean, can be used to wipe some rather bad stuff (like mould or something that stains badly) that I don't want to use a normal cleaning cloth for. Also, on our trips, they double as a good kindling - very useful when you're camping, cold and the fire just doesn't want to start on a wet wood, which is the only wood you have at hand at the moment, of course =)
As for the waxed food wraps - I like to see when people use them. Just not those with beeswax, obviously. Bees need their wax more than us. That's for sure =)
Also, my next step, some day soon-ish, I'm about to get myself the "unpaper towels" (I also wrote about it in the article mentioned above - read it here). I'd like to make them myself, but I'm afraid I'm too busy and don't have the materials so I may end up buying it ...this is the main reason actually why I don't have the waxed food wraps either - yet - as I'd like to make them myself, ideally. I find it more satisfying, make things that are zero-waste (or anti-waste call it as you wish) myself where possible.

I clean my ears. And I'm totally against disposable earbuds. But I really, really HAVE TO clean my ears with some earbuds. I-HAVE-TO. Here and there at least. Luckily I've grown up knowing only the make-yourself ones, made from a piece of a wooden skewer (you know, that thin stick you have probably somewhere lying around the kitchen that looks like dried spaghetti) and a bit of cotton wool that you wrap around the end and dispose afterwards. And the stick, believe it or not, I still have the same one since I moved to the UK - be it way over 5 years, while it wasn't even new when I moved. So using the plastic disposable ones is totally unnecessary and I'm totally against them as I said above.
Yes, I've heard about the silicone earbud marketed as "your last earbud" (what a clever slogan, I actually like it). But it seems weird and I've heard generally bad reviews about it. So I'm sticking to my one piece of stick (ha-ha) and bits of cotton wool that will be thrown away, yes, but will decompose. Btw, I have still the same bag of cotton wool originally of a size of about two handfuls that lasted me nearly a decade - so one would say that's so little waste that it's almost zero-waste. Almost. The better term is that my actions are powered by my efforts being anti-waste. I'm fine with that, although I'm not zero-waste when it comes to earbuds either...

I've told you - being zero-waste is nearly impossible... we just like the sound of it, so I'm not technically taking it away from anyone, just having a moment of inspiration, that's why I'm writing this article, in the middle of the night, from an impulse not completely clear to me.

So what else I do that's demonstrating my continuous anti-waste efforts?

I prefer used over new (where possible and reasonable) - used clothing, yes, be it from a second-hand shop or from my relatives. A book? Sure, the last one I bought (and I haven't bought any book for ages - I usually go to a library or borrow from friends) was from a library clearance. And I'm planning on giving it later to someone else who I think may like it. A "new" phone? Only refurbished. Used car, of course (although I'm fairly happy with the fact that I'm the second owner only, not fourth or so). Having a look in charity shops for used goods? Yeah - my partner and I got a nice baking dish that we use for baking bread practically weekly, for example. Another great idea he had was to look for refurbished vacuum cleaners as we needed a new one that would be actually working, not just pretending to suck the dust from the carpet like the old one.
So although we still buy certain things, because we decide that we need them to have nicer lives, we try to get them mindfully, focusing on lowering the possible waste. Because we are anti-waste, both my partner and I.

I also wrote a letter to my family about gifts. I decided to be it a letter as it was a bit longer to explain in person to everyone. A letter where I explained that I'd rather get no gifts than wasteful gifts. Like random stuff just for the sake of giving something. So I offered a few tips on what I generally find useful or what I do like/enjoy, therefore what's good as a gift. For those who insist they want to be giving gifts no matter what. And it went (surprisingly!) well on Christmas - I got way more gifts that I could be genuinely happy with (like a certificate about sponsoring a sheep - I love sheep, did you know? -  on a rescue farm for a year on my behalf - what a lovely idea!) and almost zero nonsense wasteful stuff. Not that it would be always so bad but last Christmas was really exceptional. I got what I asked for - winner!


That was very many paragraphs starting with I. And I... am getting tired - it's way past midnight and I've been typing since I noted the term anti-waste a couple of hours ago...
Now - how about you? What are your anti-waste efforts? How close can you get on everyday basis to the zero-waste lifestyle? I'm not buying any more this whole "waste for the last 7 years fits in one jar" thing but I'm ready to be impressed and inspired by others as well. Let me know in the comments what you do or don't do to minimise your waste footprint (I just made that up but it sounds cool =)

P.S. One thing I don't have as I live in a flat is a place to compost food waste (what's worse, they stopped doing food waste collection a while ago where I live). Creating a composter will be one of the first things I'm going to do when I move to a house and I'm so much looking forward to it! Home compost is actually one of the uber zero-waste things totally upside down as you actually create something new and very valuable (a nutrition-rich soil) from your waste - hooray!

*As for the not wasting food part - last year, I really enjoyed - for a little while - getting a delivery box with surplus or "visually unfit for supermarkets" fruit and veg, but unfortunately after a short time the company stopped offering an option to get plastic-free produce. I haven't found an alternative yet so here's an idea for entrepreneurial minds - please, feel free to think about creating such a service (ideally with an option to deliver to Scotland where I intend to move for about last 12 years and I'm closer than ever to seal the deal, finally) - it's got a huge potential and will have great benefits for many - the business owner, the farmers, the customers, the environment,...

Hi, it's Veronika, your vegan friend and content creator of Veronika Honestly (no, not my surname).
I'm mathemagician (making money as maths tutor! ?), a bit of an artist (well, trying to get back to art) and also animal and adventure lover.
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