The people living ‘circular’, low-waste lives

Gather opened in 2019 with a mission to “help others make the same changes [Gorst’s] family had made” and the public one of “mak[ing] low-waste living super simple for the people of Peckham”. It has not been easy. Gorst built the shop “from scratch, literally, with secondhand furniture and scrap wood scavenged from skips” and she stresses Gather only survived the pandemic rather than doing well.

But through “​​sharing the highs and lows”, whether through social media or the shop’s long-running book club, connections were made that felt deeply “purposeful and meaningful”. Gorst continues, “The sense of community is strongest with those who shop with us, [though], rather than those who follow us on Instagram.”

According to a report published in 2020 by Women’s Wear Daily, #zerowaste garnered more than 4.7m uses on Instagram that year, making it one of the fastest growing and widely used sustainability-related hashtags on the platform. I ask about this pandemic-era proliferation of low and zero-waste trends and tribes, endeavours and advocates, and to what Gorst would attribute their appeal; she theorises a combination of people having “plenty of time on [their] hands to try new things and embed new habits” and “a desire to exert some control over [their] lives in a tangible, manageable way”.

Control, it seems, is key. This is worth keeping in mind when beginning a sustainability journey. This is how you might combat climate anxiety along the way, says Gorst, by “doing whatever [you] feel able to do” and by “taking control of the things [you] can control”.

Kim Rodiz

Kim Rodiz is a national journalist who wrote a lot of reports since 2014.

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