Zero Waste Week 2016: One Month On

In 3rd week earlier this term, Just Love Oxford took on the challenge of spending 5 days thinking and praying about the problem of waste and the impact it is having on God’s beautiful creation in their Zero Waste Week. Over 100 students joined in through Facebook to find out more about what they could be doing in their day to day life to cut down on their waste, and to keep updated on events going on during the week.

One month on, two of the students taking the challenge share their experiences below!

Helen Zha, 3rd Year at University College

The community aspect of Zero Waste Week was encouraging: grounding each other in the Biblical basis for what we were doing, a positive infectiousness and delight in having a slightly (tiny bit slightly…) more righteous relationship with the earth and people. But also to avoid self-righteousness and inward-focused, small blips of tunneling guilt – my mindset towards packaging waste is only one of many way in which my life does not glorify God, and even one of which I am in some ways disproportionately aware. And my natural state of being is to for the most part have these habits, thought patterns, priorities, etc. vaguely lurking in the back of my mind – so I ask God please to make me humble and sincere and bring the unrighteousness in my life to the forefront in a way that brings clarity and light and love (and even make me sincere in making this plea, please..) knowing that in You alone and Your mercy poured out on the cross lies life, renewal, holiness. “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.” (Ps 25)

Miriam Lee, 2nd Year at Corpus Christi College

I have always been very pro-recycling and pro-compositing so I thought that I would find Zero Waste Week quite easy. However, I found it so much harder than I expected because I realised just how susceptible I am to making decisions at university based purely on convenience. I eat in hall quite regularly and am busy for most of the day meaning that I shop quite irregularly and tend to go to a supermarket at 10pm on my way home from some other activity. It is easy to buy some zero waste things in the supermarket – individual rather than packaged fruit or tins of soup for example. However, other staples like bread are much more difficult to purchase as zero waste from a supermarket. This was my main dilemma of the week – I normally buy a loaf of bread and freeze half of it so I can use it over about two weeks for sandwiches etc. Supermarket bread is nearly always in a plastic bag of some sort, most of which cannot be recycled. We had some delicious artisan bread from a bakery at the ZWW Launch and it would be so ideal to be able to use this instead. However, that type of bread cannot as easily be frozen and I can’t rely on sharing the bread I buy with flatmates due to their dietary requirements as Gluten Free. Thus, in ZWW I decided to not buy any bread as I couldn’t move beyond the inconvenience of not being able to buy the bread I liked in the supermarket at the time I wanted. This really opened my eyes to the fact I so often place time and convenience over my desire to commit to making purchasing choices which won’t have an adverse effect on the environment. However, I know this is not an insurmountable problem and even if I can’t purchase everything as zero waste, there are so many easy swaps people can make. I really want to stress how easy it is to make simple changes in your purchasing to make it more ethical as well as environmentally friendly. Fairtrade at St Michael’s (on Cornmarket Street) is an absolute treasure trove and just buying fruit and veg individually in a supermarket or at an actual market stall is so easy, cheap and requires so little extra time out of your day. Do consider what simple changes you could make! If all of us made the changes we can and work together then, even when limited by time restraints or our need for convenience, we can make a massive difference.