The Clean Kilo: How to Be Waste-Free in Style
by Kiki Athanas
September 19, 2018
I recently stayed with a friend in Birmingham, England, and she was all too excited to bring me somewhere she knew I’d go nuts for.
Well it didn’t disappoint, and totally opened my eyes to how very wasteful the local supermarkets I currently shop at in Toronto are…
High-vibe grocery shopping with zero waste. This is a store worth replicating, so take note. I connected with the awesome dude behind the venture, Tom Pell, to learn more.
Welcome to The Clean Kilo…
What’s it all about?Reducing plastic pollution .
High quality and local where possible.
Buy only the amounts that you need.
First off, you may be wondering, like I was, why this isn’t this more common already - ‘What’s taking so long?!’ I asked Tom,
Tom Pell: “The plastic pollution was not in the mainstream news until Blue Planet 2 bought the issue to the surface. Also people can be aware of plastic pollution but be completely disengaged with how much single use plastic they actually use themselves in day to day life - it will take some time to change habits.”
What’s the most challenging thing about running a zero-waste supermarket?
Tom Pell: “Well these types of shops are very labour intensive. It’s not just a case of stacking shelves with packets of food; dispensers need constantly filling, and frequently require cleaning. Because we get a lot of products from small, independent and local businesses it means there is a huge number of different suppliers which means many different orders need to be made when stocks are low. ! Initial set up cost of buying the dispensers and the till system is also high. But it’s totally worth it!
Secondly it is trying to get some people's heads around why we are doing what we are doing and changing short term 'convenience' habits for a long term amazing, positive difference to our planet.”
How can we as individuals reduce our environmental footprint?
1. Don’t fall for buying things that the shops want you to buy…have an idea of what it is you need/want to buy and try to stick to it. We always buy more things than we need; if it’s food it will often go off or is no good for our health, if it’s non-food it will often end up collecting dust in the back of a cupboard. Especially watch out for flashy/shiny things that are often sold by street vendors at festival or events that you’ll never use again.
2. Try to eat everything in your fridge before it goes off. This often means eating sometimes new concoctions made up from what’s left, but if everyone did this it would cut down on so much wasted food. Food waste is a massive contributor to carbon emissions, especially if it discarded in the bin rather than compost. In landfill biological materials decompose anaerobically, meaning that oxygen can’t be included in the chemical reaction and methane is produced instead of carbon dioxide. Methane is roughly 30 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide
3. Always be prepared with a zero waste kit - bamboo or stainless steel cutlery and straw, reusable bottle/coffee cup. Importantly, be quick and don’t be afraid to tell people that you DO NOT want a straw and that you have your own cup etc.
“Buying things that we don’t need - especially plastic wrapped ones.”
“Avoid drinking bottled water. It is a common misconception we can't drink the tap water in other countries as clean water is available in majority of the world - just take 2 minutes to check! Be a bit more prepared and fill a reusable before you go out.. or take a metal cup so you can fill it anywhere!”
I absolutely fell in love with the concept and energy of this store. I miss it already. If anyone has any waste-free developments and/or initiatives going on in Toronto - please hit me up and let me know how I can support you!