A Day of Zero Waste

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Last week we touched on all the ways we try to be more environmentally aware as a business, and this week we want to switch the focus to what we can do individually. We’re by no means experts, but we do try our best, and are always trying to do more. But it’s definitely a case of picking your battles. The more we look into the impact of our day to day actions, the more we realise that living in today’s society means we’ll always have some level of negative impact. Starting out with the intention of living an entirely zero waste, eco-conscious lifestyle is the 2019 equivalent of quitting gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol all at once: difficult, and definitely not a sustainable way of doing it.


It’s also an online conversation so often filled with guilt and anger, and that’s maybe not the best approach to take. As a society, we are trying to retrain ourselves out of life long habits; if you forget your keep cup once or twice, have to buy spinach in a plastic bag or end up throwing away a cauliflower you forgot to use, you are not a bad person. The fact that you’re consciously aware of the impact is, for now, enough of a change. In fact, opening up about what you are and are not doing is maybe better than pretending you’ve got it sorted; a 10 minute conversation about our ‘good and bad’s’ in the office led much more personal improvement than keeping tight lipped about our downfalls. If we’re all too busy pretending we’ve got it nailed, we lose the opportunity to help one another out.

So let’s start with that ‘good and bad’ from team Pollen:

Jemima, Sales:

  • Good: I cycle or walk everywhere and very rarely use public transport or taxis

  • Bad: I don’t always rinse my recycling… and I definitely need to buy a keep cup

Jeanette, Sales

  • Good: I manage to do most of my grocery shopping completely plastic free using farmers markets and dry goods refill stores (Planet Organic and Get Loose mostly)

  • Bad: I have really long showers, I could definitely cut my time in the shower to save water

Kerry, Marketing

  • Good: About 80% of my wardrobe is from charity shops and I cycle pretty much everywhere

  • Bad: Until recently, I had a bad habit of putting my food waste in the general waste bin rather than the compost, after researching landfill more, I feel pretty bad about every onion skin and orange peel in landfill because of me.

Steph, Co Founder:

  • Good: I’m take the quickest showers in the world - I grew up with water restrictions in Australia, so I got really good at showering in under one song.

  • Bad: I’m eager to change to eco-friendly cleaning products at home, but don’t really know where to start, and worry they won’t be as effective.

Kris, Co Founder:

  • Good: You won’t find anything that isn’t eco-friendly and cruelty free in my house. Nothing. Even my dishwasher tablets are eco friendly.

  • Bad: I don’t always carry my keep cup with me (oops) and I occasionally forget my tote and have to get a plastic bag.

But one area that stood out for all of us as ‘I definitely need to try harder there’ is zero waste shopping. When you’re time poor, trying to move towards zero waste seems like far too much of a task to take on, and it’s quite easy to keep putting it off. So we set ourselves a challenge; to cook an entire day of meals without creating any waste, or at least as little as possible. We also wanted it to be affordable, align with our usual free-from’s, and not require any hard-to-find ingredients. Here’s how it went:

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Zero waste breakfast recipe + our experience

We made a Hazelnut porridge with roasted apples + nut butter. We totally forgot that we’d have to make our own m*lk which definitely upped the cooking time, but finding packaging free fruit, nuts and oats was easy enough in London, though maybe harder somewhere without bulk store.

Zero waste lunch recipe + our experience

We made adzuki beans, with roasted carrots, brown rice and avocado mousse. With the exception of a few stickers, it was easily zero waste, though cooking beans from scratch definitely requires more patience than we currently have…

Zero waste dinner recipe + our experience

We made Roast squash with hummus, salsa verde and Harissa roast seeds. It was definitely our favourite of all the recipes, though sourcing packaging free herbs was quite the challenge. Making your own hummus, whilst time consuming is such a game changer both for single use plastic reduction and making every meal 1000x more delicious.


“we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly”

pollen + grace