ISWA YPG UK Blog-Writing Competition: So, What Happens to My Waste?

Oi-Wa Whitmore, Coventry University

26 Apr 2018 -

My background is in Environmental Health, studying it for the past 4 years and always being aware of the environment influenced an inkling that I wanted to become a full time zero waster. Inspired and ready for a challenge I’m going to try to live zero waste for a day and reflect for scientific purposes.




8:00am - To wake myself up I decided to take a shower, I have tried to use less packaging since seeing people from the zero waste community on social media have influenced me to use shampoo bars. Packaging for toiletries are mainly plastic and using this solid bar does make my bathroom smell delightful. Sourcing zero waste products and finding alternatives is a challenge at first, then you find so many great and simple ideas!


9:00am - As a food lover, seeing it go to waste is sad. I started the morning with milk decanted into a jar followed up with some cereal from a tub. Already from eating breakfast I have noticed that the original packaging was largely plastic, plastic that is widely recycled.




12:00pm - After doing a spot of coursework, as a final year student this took a lot of motivation and the thought of throwing my hat in the air in November is a good goal. An article in the news about marine litter caught my attention. Is it very disheartening that marine is affected by man-made materials such as plastic, it is not natural at all to have plastic floating in the sea however since the mass production of plastic, not enough has been done to combat the huge amount of waste.


1:00pm - Whilst at the library I threw away my recyclable material into the bin at uni, which is ergonomically designed for non-municipal waste and recyclable waste. Encouraging students to be more aware of their waste creates a better culture, instead of just throwing everything into municipal waste where it cannot be used again.




5:00pm - After the family dinner, it was time to put the blue lidded bin out. A recent module taught me about what happens to my waste and it has made me realise that there is a cycle is a lot of resources created.


So, is a zero waste lifestyle sustainable?


My experience for one day has been challenging at first however, I would love to invest in this lifestyle. Small changes like the ones mentioned and many more exist to help make the world a sustainable place. Sustainability in our environment is key for healthy animals and biodiversity, clean seas for marine life and clean air to breathe.


A world without waste, could you imagine it?


Sounds almost too good to be true seems we produce so much of it. A small difference could help clean our seas from man-made materials that endanger marine life. Plastic was created to be an amazing material if it isn’t recycled what happens to it? It ends up thrown into the sea and takes a long time to degrade.


I urge you to join the zero waste community and help make the environment a better place for the future.

About the author:

As an aspiring Environmental Health Practitioner, I blog about my journey from uni to hopefully becoming chartered before 2020. Almost a graduate, I’m very passionate about zero waste and environmental issues. I would donate a third of the winnings to charity in order to help provide a sustainable environment for future generations.


This blog has been submitted to the 2018 ISWA YPG Blog-writing Competition. The Young Professionals Group, supported by the Chartered Institution of Waste Management and the International Association of Solid Waste, is dedicated to (and coordinated by) young professionals in order to encourage them to be proactive and support them in building their careers in the waste industry.




The sponsors of this year’s competitions are Veolia and Biffa

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