Bishopston family take on the #WasteNothing Challenge

A Bishopston parent has recently taken on Bristol Waste Company’s #WasteNothing Challenge and so far her determination has paid off!

For several years before taking on the challenge and going Zero Waste, Katharine Wilkinson, who lives with her husband Matt and their three children, had been concerned with the climate crisis and had been actively trying to reduce her family’s household waste.

Katharine had already cut down on the family’s use of plastic, taking steps such as switching to delivered glass milk and juice bottles, sourcing a fruit and vegetable box and using their own water bottles and Keep Cups.

But despite making these changes, Katharine was aware that her family were still producing a considerable amount of waste. So when she read about the Bristol Waste #WasteNothing Challenge, she thought it would be just the challenge her family needed!

Katharine explains:

“I was conscious that we still generated quite a lot of waste as a family of five, which I in part justified on the grounds of being a working mum and generally feeling overstretched. Deep down I knew we could do better so when I read about the Bristol Waste Zero Waste Challenge, I thought this would be the push we needed, albeit a rather extreme one!”

So, alongside 50 other Bristol households, Katharine and her family started the year-long challenge in April and are now four months in and going strong.

When Katharine initially signed up to do the challenge, Bristol Waste provided her with a helpful starter pack, which included a small wormery for their garden, and lots of helpful information.

The 50 households who are doing the zero waste challenge are all in regular contact, supporting each other in their efforts and boosting collective morale!

Plus, local shops and businesses on Gloucester Road have been a great help to Katharine’s family in supporting their going Zero Waste:

“We’re very lucky we have access to the wonderful Gloucester Road with it’s array of refill shops, greengrocers, bakeries, fishmongers and butchers. Without this, we would have found it almost impossible.”

Katharine notes that Preserve, Scoopaway and La Ruca are great for refills and that Preserve even has a range of liquid foods including oils, vinegars and soya sauce, plus a peanut butter machine!

She reports that local greengrocers are generally free of packaging and that Dave Giles Butchers, Murray’s and The Fish Shop will happily put items into your own Tupperware.

Katharine’s children have been involved in the family’s zero-waste challenge from the start and have been enthusiastic:

“Generally they’ve been fantastic (although to be fair they don’t have to do all the shopping and cooking!). I know they miss their normal snacks and treats such as shop-bought biscuits, fruit bars, rice cakes and crisps (I tried making crisps but they went floppy after a few hours!), but they have been surprisingly okay with it.”

Katharine explains that now the children’s treats come in different forms than before, and are more healthy, too:

“Generally they are eating healthier because the convenient options just aren’t available without packaging (although the odd doughnut from Joe’s Bakery has been a lifesaver!). As the children are learning a lot about environmental issues at school, I think they understand the context of what we are doing which helps them accept they can’t have all the foods they had before. They do miss berries though, so we are excited about being able to visit some pick your own farms this summer!”

Katharine estimates that her family has eliminated about 90% of the family’s use of both hard and soft plastic waste so far; a great achievement.

Her family has swapped cling and aluminium film for Tupperware or sandwich wraps instead (she particularly recommends the “washable and gorgeous” wraps made by Little Sausages).

They also source all household cleaning products such as laundry liquid, floor cleaner and bathroom products like shampoo and shower gel in refillable 5L bottles.

Katharine notes: “We are not 100% perfect – for example, we still have normal toothpaste and I occasionally buy cheese and items like tofu or veggie burgers (my guess is that tofu in plastic is still better ecologically than meat without packaging).”

As part of the zero-waste challenge, Katharine’s family have to weigh their waste, including all their recycling, by category and report back to Bristol Waste. She has found this helpful as she can see the quantities reduce over time; this visible progress which has been a huge encouragement.

Katharine sums up going zero waste and its impact:

“I do think “zero waste” on its own is not the solution – not least because it doesn’t make sense to put everyone back in their kitchens for hours a day – I think people have more value to add to society than that. However, most of us can easily reduce their waste with a few simple changes and it’s obvious from any trip to a supermarket that there is so much unnecessary packaging around.”

And although Katharine has found that that being a zero waste family has been time-consuming, the benefits “far outweigh” all their hard work and they are enjoying the challenge!

Well done Katharine, taking on the #WasteNothing Challenge is a great thing to do and such a positive for our environment. You are an inspiration to others!

To find out more information about the Bristol Waste #WasteNothing Challenge, visit: