Reducing waste, one step at a time

A smiling woman looking towards the camera

Reducing waste one step at a time

Meet entrepreneur Jyoti Shaw, founder of Eqo Living, who is striving to live as ‘zero waste’ as possible.

Mother-of-four Jyoti Shaw started her business, Eqo Living, when her youngest child was born. She wanted a business that she could run from home while looking after her children.

Non-plastic fantastic

Jyoti’s two oldest girls had started school and at the time she couldn’t find a stainless-steel lunch box in the UK and ended up sourcing one from America.
This got her thinking that there must be a gap in the market for reusable non-plastic items.

When she started Eqo, Jyoti hadn’t heard of the ‘zero waste’ lifestyle. She started the business because it made sense that using reusable water bottles and making packed lunches was just the right thing to do.

It wasn’t until a year later when a friend in France mentioned the author and speaker Bea Johnson that she started looking into living a ‘zero waste’ life.

Bea Johnson is French and lives in the USA. She began blogging to document her family’s successes and challenges in reducing their waste.

Bea’s blog was so popular that she wrote a book on how to live a ‘zero waste’ life. This is what inspired Jyoti to make changes to her own life to move her family towards producing less waste.

Not ‘zero waste’ but…

Jyoti is very clear that she doesn’t live a completely ‘zero waste’ lifestyle, with a family of four it would be extremely difficult to achieve. The ‘zero waste’ lifestyle for her is more of a conscious journey that she is always improving on.

She says, “When I shop for food I ensure that almost all of it is plastic-free. This is harder in smaller local convenience supermarkets, so I make sure I shop in the greengrocer using my own cloth bags, take my own containers to the butchers and fishmonger, as well as using bulk food stores like Scoopaway.”

We’re so lucky to have a variety of zero waste shops in Bristol, we have the opportunity to choose a lower waste option.

For non-food items such as shampoo, washing up liquid and laundry liquid, she uses shops that will accept refill containers. She has even experimented with making her own cleaning products and deodorant.

She says there are so many appealing natural personal care items on the market these days that come in glass or cardboard packaging so the need to make her own is unnecessary now.

Jyoti says, “One step I am constantly taking towards a ‘zero waste’ lifestyle is simplifying. This is often a challenge with a large family, but regular decluttering and simplifying the food we eat and the products we use definitely makes a zero-waste lifestyle much more achievable.”

Where to start?

Jyoti highly recommends borrowing Bea Johnson’s book ‘Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life’ from the library. This is what inspired her to arrange a ‘zero waste’ event in Bristol in March 2017 with Bea as the headline speaker.

She says, “While you’re reading the book, use a reusable water bottle, a lunchbox and a reusable coffee cup. Try your hardest to buy your food plastic-packaging free. This will mean shopping in different places for different things, but you’ll quickly get to know what items you can get where, packaging-free.”

She recommends using all leftovers. If you can cook leftover food into another meal, have it for lunch or even compost it, every little helps.
Another option, if you have space, is livestock. Jyoti says, “We used to have chickens which were great because all leftovers and veg peelings could go to them which was fab!”

She also says that if she is out and about and ends up with something plastic, she keeps hold of it and takes it home to recycle rather than “mindlessly throwing it in a bin.”

And finally…

Jyoti’s top reuse tip is to keep all glass jars. She says, “They are perfect for storing leftover food in the fridge, especially opened canned products which aren’t safe to keep in the fridge, I transfer them to a glass jar instead.

“I use them to make homemade salad dressings in, make little desserts for taking out and about for the kids, use as snack containers, drink from them, and of course take them to zero waste shops for refilling with something from the bulk food bins!”

Find out more about Eqo Living by visiting the website Jyoti has also launched her own range of stainless steel lunchboxes called My Cleverbox, find out more at

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