The process of reducing waste takes time because it is about adopting a different lifestyle.
Every year we dump a massive 15 thousand tons of waste in the UK. This stunning amount of rubbish is generated partly because 99 per cent of the stuff we buy goes in the landfill within 6 months and partly because recycling services are still not widely available.
But how can we reduce our waste without disturbing our lifestyles and have family and friends onboard?
A good start is to have a discussion with everyone who may be impacted by these changes (at home or work) and get them onboard to help in achieving your goal. It will be much easier if you create a set of realistic milestones for them to work towards and take it to their stride. For example, swapping to a more eco-friendly toothpaste can take time to get used to because the taste and consistency are usually different from the ones in plastic tubs we are used to.
As long as you remember that the process of reducing waste takes time because it is about adopting a different lifestyle you will have fewer chances of giving up along the way. How much you can change also depends on your situation, therefore, comparing yourself with others or stressing too much about it won’t help you to achieve your goals.
There a lot of things we can all do to reduce our waste footprint, at our homes, workplaces, schools etc but some of the easiest things we can do TODAY in order to reduce our plastic and energy consumption are the following:
- Have a reusable grocery bag in your handbag/car and ditch the plastic ones.
- A reusable water bottle to replace the plastic ones.
- Reusable coffee cup.
- Replace/refuse the plastic straws with paper/metal ones.
- Opt for only one general purpose cleaning product (an eco brand perhaps?) – or make your own.
- Buy soap bars instead of liquid soap (or refill from a bulk store).
- Buy laundry soap in cardboard boxes avoid the ones which come in plastic containers.
- Next time you need a toothbrush get the ones in biodegradable/recyclable material.
- Swap plastic razors with safety razors.
- Throw a set of cutlery in your handbag to avoid using the single-use ones.
- Subsequently, have a small food container to hand for when you need a takeaway meal or a container for your leftover food when eating out.
- Gling film can be replaced by glass containers with lids or cloth dish covers.
- Avoid the use of aluminium foil by cooking in ovenproof dishes.
- Check if your council offers food waste services and start using it. You won’t need to buy plastic bin liners for your refuse bin if that’s the case because your rubbish won’t include food waste.
- Buy unpackaged food or food in glass/cardboard containers as much as possible.
- Switch off by the plug all the electric appliances when not in use.
- Take a shower instead of a bath (a ten-minute shower only uses 30 litres of water whereas the bath uses 80 litres), boil only as much water as you need when using a kettle and finally turn off the tap when brushing your teeth/washing your hands.
The following list includes zero waste suggested projects which may take longer to swap and getting used to.
- Make your own bread (perhaps invest in a bread maker machine).
- Replace self-hygiene products with zero waste/homemade ones. Cotton buds, makeup removal pads, menstrual pads/tampons etc can be replaced by more eco-friendly options such as biodegradable materials and reusable items.
- Use wooden or bamboo pot scrubbing brushes instead of kitchen scourers.
- Shop second hand when possible.
- Shop from your local market and opt for bulk.
- Instead of buying tinned food like beans, chopped tomatoes etc, you can buy pulses in bulk precook and freeze them. Also, you can get fresh tomatoes to use in sauces instead.
- Prepare your lunch at home to avoid buying food in single-use packaging.
- Opt for loose tea and coffee.
- Create a meal plan and a shopping list for the week ahead to reduce your food waste.
- Keep less stock in your fridge/freezer to minimize the amount of food that goes out of date before consuming it.
- Take your container to the meat/fish/cheese counter instead of buying the prepackaged options (consider a plant-based diet perhaps?).
In today’s society, we have the illusion that everything is disposable. The relatively low prices and constant supply have made us lost our connection to where the products we buy come from and their true value.
Are you committed to reducing your waste? What are your favourite tips? Share in the comments below or get in touch with me on Twitter