On the Jersey path to zero waste – the end of week one!

A selection of recyleable material and a white bin bag full of non-recycles Les.
Detritus from week one.

It hit me, at exactly 3.30am on New Year’s Day, that this path to zero waste isn’t going to be an easy walk in the park.  Three and a half hours into my zero waste journey (and slightly tipsy) I was happily scrubbing the make up off my face with a single-use cloth wipe plucked from a plastic packet.  Luckily I only use make-up on high days and holidays, so this packet of face wipes will probably last me a good few months, but once they are finished I’ll trial some other, natural, plastic-free methods of make-up removal and tell you how I get on – or better still, share your tips with me!

Shelves filled with small portions of fish, shrink wrapped in plastic and film
Plastic coated fish

We eat a fair amount of fish in our weekly diet, but in the last few years seem to have fallen into the habit of picking up plastic-wrapped fish as part of our supermarket shop.  This week I took the the baby step toward zero-waste by deciding to take a fresh look at what alternatives there are for buying fish on the island, starting by reacquainting myself with the Fish Market in Beresofrd Street.

A tall, naturally lit building housing the three fishmongers of the market
The historic Beresford Street Fish Market.

We’re lucky in Jersey that we still have a thriving Fish Market in the centre of town, and have the choice of three fishmongers to choose from; Dunn-Ross Fisheries, Faulkner Fisheries and Fin and Feather.

A selection of fresh fish, on a bed of ice, in a fishmongers shop.
Plenty more fish in the sea…

The first thing that struck me is just how healthy and fresh the fish looked.  Okay, so they looked like fish, with head and eyes and all, but I’m not so far removed from my food that I don’t know what a fish looks like, so I’m happy to see them in their entirety.  The nice thing about being in the fish market, rather than staring into the sterile supermarket shelves, is that you can ask the fishmonger questions – is it caught locally, how do I cook it, please can you use your dangerously sharp filleting knife to prepare it for me…….

A selection of whole fish, served on ice, sitting on a shelf far the fishmongers shop
A small selection of the available fish.

The second thing to strike me was the selection of fish available, such a lovely variety of fish to choose from.  If I’m honest supermarket fish usually consists of salmon, cod or kippers, but at the market we had bass, grey mullet, turbot, gilthead bream, lemon sole, monkfish, plaice, brill and Dover sole.

A selection of oysters and whelks served in wooden platters.
Oysters, farmed locally in Jersey.

And not just fish, but a whole selection of fresh seafood too; oysters, whelks, prawns…..

An open front shop with the name above in bright blue letters, and an array of difference shapes and sizes of fish on sale from the open shop front.
One of the local fishmongers in the market

I chose to visit the lovely Graham Smith of Dunn-Ross Fisheries, taking with me my glass pyrex bowl and it’s plastic lid. I made my choice of bass fillets and casually asked him just to pop it in the dish, With no other wrapping – and he didn’t even bat an eyelid! No problems! My first major zero-waste win.  Huge choice, fresh and plastic-free fish, no fuss, and best of all no unnecessary packaging. Zero waste!

A sign outside the market giving the opening and closing times
Opening times for fishy shopping.

I now have a zero-waste option when it comes to shopping for fish! There are other fishmongers around the island – such as The Fresh Fish Company and Battricks, as well as fishmongers in a few of the larger supermarkets.  All I can suggest is to ask; I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be acceptable for you to take your own vessel to buy fish.  The hardest part is getting in to the habit of taking a dish with you to go shopping in the first place.

A selection of recyleable material and a white bin bag full of non-recycles Les.
Detritus from week one.

This is the extent of my rubbish for week one – one plastic bag weighing 1.9kg – destined for the energy-from-waste plant.  This mainly consists of non-recycleable plastics.  We also have a collection of recyclables – paper, cardboard, metals and plastic bottles and, as we have been finishing off the last of the christmas chocolates, a collection of crinkly wrappers for various crafting groups.

AND (drum rolls please………) I haven’t purchased anything new this week, except for food items.  Which, to be honest, is quite normal for me anyway.  I hate shopping! But we’ll just wait until I see that one ‘must-have’ item, and see how well my resolve stands up then.

A narrow set of green painted drawers, with spiral metal handle, the calm facade hiding the messiness behind.
The mess is lurking behind the calm facade.

And as for the challenge about de cluttering my life of stuff? Well…… given that it’s a bit of an odd week (think New Year partying, after-effects plus the starting of a new job) I wasn’t inclined to start a huge decluttering project.  Baby steps…….. Whatever I am tackling, be it decluttering, trying to be zero-waste or a project at work, I always try and break it down into manageable tasks.  That way I’m not overwhelmed by the huge volume of work to be done (have you seen the junk in my attic?) and I get a real sense of achievement when I finish the small task, which then motivates me for the next one.  So this week I tackled a small but messy set of drawers lurking in a corner of my kitchen.  Seriously, who needs 79 pens? Isn’t that a life time supply? This has been suitably de-cluttered and now houses a modest supply of stationery (including 20 pens, which is still a lifetime supply), my (thinned down) map collection and my 2 birdwatching books for twitching out the the nearby window.  I have a small bundle of items to be gifted on – either to a local charity shop or the Jersey in Transition gifting table which we run on a month basis (https://www.facebook.com/groups/jerseyintransition/)

I even have an empty drawer.  Empty! Nothing to fill it.  It has no purpose.  I’m quite traumatised and keep trying to think of something that could be housed there.  I think I need to de-clutter my brain as well as my belongings……..

So, all in all, a good start on my Jersey path to zero waste. How did you get on? Come and join the discussion on the Zero Waste Jersey facebook page.

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  1. Hi Sheena
    I enjoyed your first post on recycling. Great stuff! Looking forward to more. Yes there is so much packaging now, even plastic round cucumbers! Ridiculous! I like shopping in the market and I reuse the brown paper bags again and again for my vegetables. I have made some cloth bags so very seldom do I have to use a plastic bag. I’d love to recycle food waste like veg peelings but I don’t think there is any place that collects it, is there? I don’t have space where we live to do our own composting.

    1. Thank you Caroline! I grow lots of my own fruit and veg, but it is very much eating according to the seasons, and can be temperamental with successes in one year and abject failures in another – so we do still buy them too. I am only now re-acquainting myself with the markets as got out of the habit of using them, but also use places such as Greenacres organic farm and homegrown for veggies – place which don’t shrink wrap as a matter of course. I saw some swede wrapped in plastic last time I was at the supermarket! I was given some cloth vegetable bags as a christmas present so putting them to good use! There’s no-one collecting food waste for composting as yet, but there are a few options – a wormery takes up fraction of the space that a compost bin does, and can even be used indoors (though I’m not too sure about that in reality). The other thing is to ask around your neighbours or work colleagues – there may be a keen gardener who would be pleased to take your organic waste. At my old work I used to collect the fruit/veg/coffee grinds/tea bags from the whole office and bring them home with me daily to compost, so there are like minded people about.

  2. When I was on my own in the 80s/90s I managed to get waste down to one very light small swing bin full per month. It was largely crinkly plastic (pasta bags).

    1. My bin last week was mainly full of plastic trays, wrap and film that couldn’t be recycled. This is why I set out on this journey, if it can’t be suitably disposed of why are we using it for so many products? But pasta – pasta I’m hoping to learn to make somewhere along this journey….

  3. Wouldn’t it be great if st helier had kerb side pick ups like the rest of the island, considering we pay the most. Personally for us it’s the biggest detracting factor as we have no means to transport it. Shame really we did it every week in st breade but now we live in st helier everything goes in one bag. Ironically we did try separating it the first couple of times but then recieved notice they wouldn’t be taking it away and it’s supposed to be taken to la Collette or any of the other sites in st helier. But if left mixed I recieved no notices. Kerb side picks please after all we do pay a premium for services in st helier.

    1. Is there a rationale for why there is no kerb-side collection in St Helier? My initial reaction would be that as there is a larger proportion of apartments there and there isn’t the storage for all the different boxes you need to have in order to separate your waste – paper, card, plastics, metals and glass. That, and the fact that all those boxes out on collection day would make the town look ‘messy’. We don’t have kerb-side collections in St Saviour either, but I usually drive somewhere so just pop the recycling in the car and drop it off if and when I’m passing one of the recycling bays. I do think that people would recycle more if there were collections.