YOUNG VOICES

This Girl Can Fit Six Months' Worth Of Her Rubbish In This Tiny Jar

'I can't emphasise how easy it is.'

10/03/2016 17:40 GMT | Updated 11/03/2016 11:12 GMT

Brittany Pummell - nickname 'Bee' - is a third year student at Coventry University. She can also fit all her rubbish from the past six months into this tiny jar.

 

Brittany Pummell

Contrary to what you might think, Pummell says the transition to a waste-free lifestyle has been easy.

"All it requires is a little more thought on a daily basis, but once you get into the flow, it becomes second nature," the 23-year-old tells HuffPost UK.

"I've found there's a waste-free alternative to anything."

The Disaster Management student was working in the Philippines last summer, helping with the relief effort following Typhoon Haiyan, when she realised the extent of rubbish she and her colleagues produced.

"There were around 100 of us working for the reconstruction organisation, living together in an old warehouse.

"I began to notice how much waste we accumulated on a daily basis. It seemed counterproductive that we were here to help clear up debris caused by a natural phenomenon, yet we were contributing unnaturally large quantities every single day."

Pummell says the experience made her think where waste ends up.

"Statistics like the fact that in 2050, the sea will contain more plastic than fish, scare me, so I began thinking about what lifestyle changes I could make so I wasn't contributing to this.

"I began looking into the waste-free lifestyle, and was ecstatic to find a whole community online, offering tips, advice, and above all emphasising how easy it is. I adopted the lifestyle last September, and haven’t looked back since."

Pummell says her daily challenges are "incredibly minimal". She uses a mix of coconut oil and baking soda as a natural alternative to toothpaste, although adds she hates the taste so is looking for a substitute.

 

Brittany Pummell
Britanny Pummell has been living a waste-free lifestyle since September

 

"Another challenge is that a large percentage of the waste free community live in America, whereby you can purchase any food item loose – from pasta to cereals to chocolate.

"In the UK we’ve unfortunately yet to transition to such purchasing options, and I find it frustrating that I’m unable to shop in this more sustainable manner."

Not only has the experience made Pummell more aware of the environment, she says she has started using natural alternatives to many of her daily products.

"At the start of my journey, I began looking at the ingredients list on products I was using every day, and was disturbed that I couldn’t even pronounce the names of the chemicals they were made from.

"And so I began looking into natural alternatives to these everyday items, and began making my own products. I now use homemade deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, washing up liquid, dry shampoo, shaving cream, moisturiser, cleaning products…there is a natural alternative to everything.

"Making the products is fun," she adds, "and it gives you a holistic idea of the origins of products."

To live 'waste-free' means I send absolutely no waste to landfill – by purchasing only items that can be composted (loose fruits and vegetables) or recycled (items in recyclable packaging), and making ethical considerations when purchasing non-food items. Anything else that I use or is given to me that doesn’t fall into either category goes into my jar.

Pummell stresses the waste-free lifestyle isn't solely about recycling.

"Recycling is of course an option, but recycling itself creates pollution in the process," she says. "And so first we should consider whether we can refuse the wasteful item; reduce our overall consumption; reuse what we already have and rot organic matter in the compost."

Although the waste-free lifestyle might not be palatable for everyone, Pummell insists parts of her lifestyle are easily adaptable.

"All it takes is a little extra consideration:when you’re at the supermarket, instead of buying a bag of onions wrapped in wasteful packaging, why not opt for the loose alternatives? It’s often cheaper, too.

"When you need a new top, do you have to buy it from a fast fashion chain, or could you buy one second hand for a similar price? Refuse the 5p carrier bags.

"If you have a garden space, could you maybe compost your organic waste instead of sending it to landfill? Why not choose your reusable thermos flask to carry your morning coffee in over a disposable cup?"

 

Brittany Pummell
Pummell wraps her presents in scarves instead of paper, a Japanese art called 'furoshiki'

But there is one thing Pummell admits to missing. Crisps.

"I occasionally miss certain foodstuffs that I can no longer eat due to the wasteful packaging – such as crisps," she concedes, "and it can be difficult to suppress those cravings during stressful periods at university."

Brittany Pummell
Pummell's homemade, waste-free deodorant 

Pummell says she won't ever return to her "wasteful habits", and her ultimate goal is to only eat food she has grown.

"With our growing population and climate change on the rise, it’s critical to me to carry on with this lifestyle to help promote sustainability and to encourage respect for the earth, the only home we have."

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