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Tips for Zero Waste shops reopening after Covid-19 ease

Posted by Pawan Saunya on

Zero waste and bulk stores are not exactly Covid-19 friendly, as they most often operate on a self service basis and encourage reusing containers and bottles, as well as being in close contact with products and food items.

Here are a few things you can put in place in preparation to reopen:

Social distancing

  • Keep entrance door open so no one has to touch it, similarly with door to back room or any frequently touched areas

  • 2 meters distance between any person in store and in the queue

  • A limit of 2/3/4 customers in at once depending on the size of your shop, one in one out rule is useful here so customer in line know when to come in without a staff member monitoring

  • Advise customers to come shop alone if possible and make a list prior so that those in line do not wait too long

  • Markings inside and outside the store to keep customer aware of social distancing rules

  • A limited number of staff members on the shop floor, till, or back room so as not to overcrowd a space

  • Placing the customer’s shopping away from you when packing and paying so that they can grab their items without being too close

  • Card/ contactless payment preferred

Personal Protective Equipment

Sanitisation

  • More regular and robust cleaning checklist and sanitisation protocol may be required for staff to go through daily, especially on frequent touch points such as card machines, door handles, scoops, utensils, baskets, liquid taps, and food containers, lids, or jars

  • Customers may not be allowed for some time to bring their own containers to refill, unless they have been sterilised beforehand or are only touched by the customer

  • Products may have to be pre-packaged into paper bags of varying quantities for customers to grab and go, preventing them from touching surfaces, food, or utensils and staying in store for too long

Staff members

  • Checking for best before dates and discounting items that are nearing their out of dates

  • Opening hours may have to be reduced, as staff members that are high risk may not be able to come into work and as more time is needed to clean and sanitise at the beginning and end of each day

  • Minimum spend of £10 so daily sales targets are achieved despite limited opening hours and decrease in customers

Supply chain

  • Suppliers negatively affected by Covid-19 and the consequences of lockdown may have limits on their supply

  • many items may not be available or take longer to be delivered in store, which affects stocks and waiting time for certain items, communicate this to customers so they are not disappointed if what they are looking for is unavailable

  • In particular staple items such as flour, baking yeast, oats, rice, pasta etc can be harder to procure, offer alternatives such as spelt flour, lentil pasta, barley flakes, baking soda etc.

Click and collect + Deliveries

  • Introducing a click and collect service allows customers to shop and pay online, and pick up in store without having to come in or touch anything

  • Deliveries within a few km radius helps those that may not be able to come to the store for pick up - this will be more work for staff but does ensure the safety of customers and limits the flow of people in store

  • A click&collect and delivery service may be a way for the shop to reopen for business without having customers in at all


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Salomé Savary

writes blog posts on all things zero waste, from cooking tips to travelling hacks. She is passionate about encouraging others to adopt low waste habits in any and every aspect of their lives.



 

Mother's Day 2020: sustainable gifts ideas

Posted by Pawan Saunya on

Mother’s Day is the day that you can show how much you love her (grand)mother. Do you want to stay away from all the cliché gifts? And be more original? Go green this year. Sustainable gifts for Mother's Day, with which you not only pamper your mother, but also Mother Nature and the climate.

‘Stay home, stay safe', has been the advice for weeks. Luckily, there’s online shopping! If you open the worldwide web, you’ll discover many beautiful, sustainable gifts for Mother's Day. And what stands out? The range of gifts with a green touch grows with the year. Certainly, in this bizarre quarantine time in which we’re confronted with a large sum of (temporary) sacrifices, we will be examining our lives including lifestyle. And that's great! Who knows, maybe your mother is at the beginning of her zero-waste journey, has she already taken the first steps in the green direction? Either way here are three tips on how to turn Mother's Day green:

 

  • Another Mother’s Day gift that not only makes your mom, but also local do-gooders happy, is a culinary gift card. A smart idea that many restaurants have embraced. Okay, it’s a pity that you can’t have fun with your mom on Mother’s Day, but hey, she can look forward to the finger lickin’ good food date! Check which restaurants have created a culinary voucher. Do you want to go for the most sustainable option? Then vegan restaurants are your preferred choice. #SupportYourLocals.

 

  • Of course, you can also make this Mother's Day very special with a video call with your favourite woman of this globe. Have a shot of caffeine or a cup of tea and start chitchatting. A smile from ear to ear will be the result. And that, that’s priceless!

 

The State of Our Environment 2020

Posted by Pawan Saunya on

News of varying environmental issues comes across our screens everyday. Because the environment is ever-changing and our impact on it is ever-evolving, it’s hard to keep up with where we stand with many of these environmental issues. Here’s a breakdown of the state of our environment in 2020. 


Climate Change

  • 2019 was .95 degrees celsius warmer than the 20th century average

  • Atmospheric carbon concentrations are at an all time high 

  • 19 of the 20 warmest years have all occurred since 2001

  • Arctic sea ice is declining at a rate of 12.85% per decade 

  • Sea levels are steadily rising, with each inch of sea-level rise moving the ocean 50 to 100 inches inland

  • Indonesia is having to move its capital city because the current one is sinking

  • The U.N. says the world is on track for up to 3.9 degrees celsius warming by 2100 

  • In 2018, just 15% of world energy consumption is from renewable energy 

  • This past January was the warmest on record, putting 2020 on track to be one of the top 10 warmest years in history 

  • This warming is increasing storm intensity and making weather patterns more variable


Deforestation

  • The world is losing an area of forest the size of the UK every year

  • 17% of the Amazon has been destroyed in the past 50 years

  • Cattle ranching and soy production are the two largest contributors to deforestation in the Amazon

  • In tropical and subtropical countries, 73% of deforestation is linked to agriculture

  • Soy producing countries are rapidly being deforested, mostly to grow soy for livestock 

  • Deforestation is the second largest source of human carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere

  • Stopping deforestation could have the same carbon impact as removing all cars off earth

Biodiversity Loss


Water Scarcity 

  • Water scarcity impacts one in three people

  • One in nine people lack access to safe water 

  •  60% of water used in agriculture is wasted due to leaky irrigation 

  • Have of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed since 1990 


Plastic Pollution 

  • 8 million pieces of plastic find their way into our oceans every day 

  • 12.7 million tons of plastic enters the ocean each year

  • 7.9% of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic that has been produced since 1950s has ended up in landfills or oceans 

  • Drink companies produce 500 billion single-use plastic bottles annually 

  • Starbucks produces 4 billion disposable coffee cups each year


So, what can you do? 

  • Vote, protest, call your politicians, and be generally politically active 

  • Vote with your dollars each and every day 

  • Write and call environmentally unsustainable companies and encourage them to change their policies

  • Eat less meat 

  • Carry around a zero waste kit to avoid creating waste on the go 

  •  Buy used items when possible


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Kayla Guilliams

is the blog manager for Zero Waste Club, combining her love for writing with her passion for all things environmental sustainability. She is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is studying journalism, environmental studies, and food studies in hopes of building a career in environmental activism. You can find her on Instagram as @kaylaguilliams.


 

The Environmental Impacts of Paper

Posted by Pawan Saunya on

The age old paper vs. plastic debate transcends beyond grocery bags. There are plastic and paper options for cutlery, cups, binders and more- and paper is always framed as the eco-friendly option. However, while paper is more eco-friendly if you’re primarily concerned about plastic pollution, it shouldn’t be viewed as the holy grail of environmentalism. 

The impacts of paper start at sourcing. 40% of the world's wood harvest is used for paper manufacturing. While some wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests, most isn’t, driving deforestation, destroying habitats and leading to carbon emissions. This is, arguably, equally as bad as the resource sourcing that is required for plastics, which includes natural gas extraction and refining. 

The next step is to turn this wood harvest into paper, which is a very greenhouse gas-intensive process. 9% of carbon dioxide emissions from the manufacturing industries comes from the paper industry, and in the U.S., the paper and pulp industry is ranked as the 4th largest emitter of greenhouse gases among all manufacturing industries. When compared to plastic bags, paper generates 3 times more greenhouse gases. The manufacturing process also requires a large amount of water; 4 times more than plastic bags. 

The greenhouse emissions continue through disposal. While paper is recyclable and has a relatively high recycling rate of 65%, a lot of it still ends up in our landfills. Paper makes up around ¼ of landfills, and releases methane as it degrades, contributing to global warming. However, the good aspect of paper is that it is biodegradable and compostable- unless it is colored or contains a glossy coating. Unlike plastic, it can be reincorporated into the environment and doesn’t cause the health issues that are connected to plastic pollution. 

Paper underperforms plastic in some aspects, is equally as bad in others, and in terms of disposal, is better. This means that, all in all, we should work to minimize our primary resource consumption of both paper and plastic. Here are 5 ways to do that. 

Use Reusables 

If you buy and use reusables made out of materials like glass, metal, bamboo or stainless steel, instead of single-use products made out of paper and plastic, you can avoid these environmental impacts altogether. When you go to the grocery store, you shouldn’t have to use paper or plastic- you should bring a reusable bag. However, remember that reusables, like single-use products, still have environmental impacts. They require raw materials, energy and water to be produced, which impacts the environment. When you buy a reusable item, you should view it as an investment, and should use it until it’s on its last legs. Ideally, you should make do with what you already have. Upcycle an old pasta sauce jar into a coffee cup and recycle old clothes into a reusable grocery tote.

Buy Recycled Materials 

Recycled paper requires 60% less energy to produce materials made out of recycled paper than it does non-recycled paper. So, when you absolutely have to buy a paper product, opt for ones made out of some percentage of recycled content, like these notebooks.

Embrace Minimalism 

If you reduce how much you buy, you’ll reduce how many resources you consume, reducing your carbon footprint and the carbon footprint of manufacturing industries. Considering consumerism is responsible for 60-80% of environmental impacts according to this study, minimalism is one of the best things you can do for the environment (and your wallet).

Recycle and Compost 

Recycling paper mitigates the energy needed to produce products out of new paper, and composting paper products can mitigate the methane emissions that come from paper degrading in the landfill. It can also improve soil quality and can reduce the need for chemical fertilizers if applied to farmland. Just remember- colored and glossy paper can’t be composted.

Opt for Hemp or Bamboo

Hemp is positioning itself as an eco-friendly alternative for paper products. Hemp grows faster than trees, produces twice as much fiber per acre, and sequesters a lot of carbon as it grows. Bamboo is similar- it’s fast-growing and can be used as a substitute for paper in things like toilet paper, single-use plates or notebook paper.


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Kayla Guilliams

is the blog manager for Zero Waste Club, combining her love for writing with her passion for all things environmental sustainability. She is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is studying journalism, environmental studies, and food studies in hopes of building a career in environmental activism. You can find her on Instagram as @kaylaguilliams.


 

How to Have a Sustainable Valentine's Day

Posted by Pawan Saunya on

Valentine’s Day, like most holidays, is pretty unsustainable. The chocolate, the stuffed toys, the plastic covered flowers- it all comes at an environmental cost. Here’s how you can make your Valentine's Day more sustainable, whether you’re spending it alone or with someone special.

Give fair trade chocolate

58 million pounds of chocolate will be consumed during the week of Valentine's Day in America alone, most of which will have been grown in socially and environmentally unsustainable conditions. 70% of cocoa beans are grown in West Africa, where thousands of children are forced to harvest cocoa and 70% of illegal deforestation is linked to the drive for cocoa production. If you buy fair trade chocolate, you can support operations that are working against these unsustainable conditions. Fair trade chocolate companies ban child and forced labor, and pay farmers a fair price. A lot of fair trade companies, like Equal Exchange, also work with farmers to develop sustainable harvesting practices to promote environmental stewardship. 

Buy flowers locally 

Despite being a product of nature, cut flowers have quite the impact on the environment from the beginning to the end of their life. First, the flowers are grown, where a lot of agrochemicals are used. The flowers are then transported overseas to be sold. Three weeks of flower delivery flights results in 360,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions. After they’re flown they are put on a truck where they have to be refrigerated, which requires a lot of energy use and results in more CO2 emissions. Bouquets are then wrapped in thin plastic that can’t be recycled. To avoid these negative environmental impacts, do your research on your local florists to see their business practices, or visit your local farmers’ markets for local, in-season flowers. 

Give experiences instead of things

Consumerism plays a huge role in climate change and other environmental issues, with one study citing consumerism as the source of 60-80% of environmental impacts. Since less is more when it comes to sustainability, consider gifting experiences rather than things. Give a spa day certificate instead of a giant teddy bear, or theatre tickets instead of jewelry.  

Opt for plantable cards 

While most traditional greeting cards are recyclable, they still have quite the environmental impact (especially if they’re integrated with music and glitter and not recycled). Creating a paper card requires deforestation to harvest lumber, large quantities of water and energy to manufacture the cards, and soil and water pollution from the factories that manufacture the cards. Not to mention the large sum of paper waste that’s created if these cards go unrecycled. If you still want the sentiment of giving a real card but want to avoid these environmental impacts, opt for a plantable card. These cards are made from recycled paper scraps and are mixed with wildflower seeds so you can plant them instead of throwing them away- making them sustainable from cradle to grave. 

Vegan is best 

When you’re planning your Valentine's Day dinner, make it vegan. Cutting meat and dairy from your diet is one of the number things you can do to reduce your carbon emissions and resource consumption. For example, one Beyond Burger uses 99% less water, 93% less land, 46% less energy and results in 90% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a regular burger. Just replacing one 


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Kayla Guilliams

is the blog manager for Zero Waste Club, combining her love for writing with her passion for all things environmental sustainability. She is currently a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she is studying journalism, environmental studies, and food studies in hopes of building a career in environmental activism. You can find her on Instagram as @kaylaguilliams.