Over the last few years I have gradually been going zero waste/low waste. My local council has a very limited recycling programme, but through carefully planned food shopping and refusing items that aren’t essential, I have had my basic routine pretty much sorted for some time now (another blog post to come on this…eventually!). The aspect that is taking ages for me is my choice to go through all of my belongings and make sure everything is sustainable, for want of a better umbrella term. Again, the reasons behind this and the process I have been using are for another post, but my basic method has involved asking the following questions:
- Do I need this item?
- If so, can it be reused, repurposed or recycled after its life with me?
- If not, how can I responsibly dispose of it, should I need to?
And so, in my typically meandering way, I come to the topic of this blog post: candles. If I were buying candles today, I would be opting for environmentally friendly types, but having ignorantly bought parafin-based candles years ago in ridiculous quantities, and having received some as gifts, I unfortunately have a fair few left to use up. I spent some time pondering the dilemma of waste versus carbon footprint, but ultimately, I can’t dispose of them without sending them to ‘landfill’, which in my area means an incinerator, so they’re going to be burned anyway. I might as well use them for a bit of extra heat on a cold evening (it’s surprising what a difference they make!), instead of putting on my gas central heating, avoiding waste and saving money in the process.
It is easy to melt down the left over wax, but how do I go about finding new wicks? After a bit of research, I had decided to try wooden wicks (although I could still be going down the wrong path). I couldn’t find anywhere to buy them locally, however, and so it was going to involve buying them online, potentially adding to carbon emissions, and risking them being delivered in packaging that will ultimately end up in landfill, or worse. And then it occurred to me that in lighting candles I have created a batch of matches that are only slightly charred at one end. Would these work as wicks? (Again, I already had lots of matches before finding out they aren’t vegan and attempting to live a zero waste lifestyle, but I am researching the pros and cons of a metal refillable lighter).
Everything seemed to work! While my setup seems to be perfectly safe (using old tea light foils and jam jars as containers as well as a fireproof surface), I feel I ought to make it clear that anyone who wishes to replicate this method does so at their own risk. Next time I make some I will do another post with full instructions, however.