Tis’ the season to start reducing your waste. As we near the end of the year, we often take time to reflect back over the last 12 months, as we reminisce about the year gone by we can’t help but think about the waste which we have produced. We create 2.12 billion tons of waste globally each year, from plastics and household waste to clothes and food wastage, much of which can be easily recycled but is not. This is causing unnecessary items being sent to landfill, when taking a few simple steps can prevent this, reduce you waste and potentially save you money!
In the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas, we have devised a 12 days of waste campaign, this will include a dozen tips of how to reduce your waste and encouraging you to re-use and recycle more.
Day 1 – Use a lunchbox for your homemade lunch
When it comes to lunch, many of us grab a pre-prepared sandwich and snack from the shop or even go to a local cafe. Although very convenient, these sandwiches and extras will come wrapped in packaging to conceal its freshness. If we do this daily, or even regularly this is a lot of excess waste that could very easily be avoided simply by taking a homemade, prepared lunch in a re-usable lunch box. Saved Tupperware tubs from takeaways are ideal for this, it will reduce packaging waste whilst still keeping your lunch fresh. It could also save you money, as commonly a homemade lunch is far cheaper than a similar shop bought one.
Day 2 – Plan your meals
Food is a large contributor to household waste, with unwanted and decaying products been disposed of each day. Spontaneous purchasing is a large factor in this problem, where we buy foods we do not need in excess or simply buy food and later forget about them, leaving them to rot. A great way to overcome this issue is to plan your meals. Doing a weekly schedule of your meals will help you then create a shopping list, this will discourage unnecessary buying as you have a clear idea of the foods which you need.
Day 3 – Reuse shopping bags
When doing the weekly shop, instead of buying a new shopping bag each time make sure that you leave the house you are equip with a carrier bag, whether this is to the supermarket, a clothes store etc. If you do have to buy one at the shop +or supermarket, make sure you then save this, instead of disposing of it immediately. Even the 5p “single-use” carrier bags can be saved and re-used.
Day 4 – Shop locally
Instead of travelling miles down the road to the big chain supermarkets why not try shop locally first. Many towns and villages have butchers, grocers or bakers where you can buy fresh goods with far less packaging. The other beauty of this is that you can also purchase specific amounts of food, which helps minimise food wastage, and of course shopping locally means less travel time, so less CO2 is being emitted into the atmosphere by driving to supermarkets.
Day 5 – Avoid single use items
Despite the name, many single use items such as bags and water bottles can be re-used several times. However there are many that are still only able to be used once, for example paper coffee cups and single use coffee pads, and shower gels. There are many alternatives that can be used to reduce this waste. For example buying jarred coffee (where the jar can be re-used) instead of pods and take a flask on the go instead of buying a hot drink.
Day 6 – Re-use water bottles
Many of us regularly buy bottled water or fizzy drinks whilst on the go or to take to work with us – once they are empty a lot of the time these perfectly good bottles go straight into the bin (hopefully the recycling bin). However, we are trying to encourage people to stop discarding these bottles after just one use and instead re-fill them to be used again.
Day 7 – Say no to plastic straws
When you are out and your purchasing a drink, many times the waiting or bar staff may ask if you would like a straw, this is where you should stop and say no! Straws are not a necessity in many drinks, and as such should be avoided if possible. Sadly straws are a plastic item which cannot be easily recycled, this means they will be disposed of in the general waste bin, this often results in the straws ending up in landfill or worse into our oceans. Say no to straws is a quick and easy way to prevent unnecessary waste.
Day 8 – Take unwanted clothes to a charity shop
Clothes waste is often a forgotten area when it comes to the types of rubbish we produce. Clothes waste is not a daily problem, however this is one of the many reasons why this issue is going unnoticed. Thousands, if not millions of perfectly good clothes are thrown away each day, many of us throw away garments because they no longer fit, we won’t wear them again, they are “out of style” among many other reasons. If clothes are in a good condition, instead of disposing if them in the rubbish bins, take them to a charity shop for someone else to re-buy and wear. One mans trash is another mans treasure, so recycle your clothing in a productive way, not only are you reducing clothe waste but also supporting charities too.
Day 9 – Use a food caddy
When disposing of your leftovers, unwanted food and peelings, change from putting them in your general waste bin and instead, invest in a food caddy. A food caddy is a small waste container that collects all unwanted raw and cooked food, when left overtime your food will compost down and become manure. You can then use this manure to grow your own crops, which will cut down on food waste and packaging even further.
Day 10 – Freeze your leftovers
We have all been guilty of making or buying too much food, when we are finished eating, sadly this perfectly good food goes straight into the bin. Next time instead of wasting these meals, save them for the following day by putting them in the fridge or freeze them down and save them for the following week. Usually, fresh frozen food lasts a minimum of 1 month in the freezer, so you have ample time to enjoy your delicious food afterwards.
Day 11 – Repair not replace
Overtime items get worn, damaged and begin to rupture, this is when most of us will discard of these things and we purchase new ones. This type of waste can be very easily reduced by repairing the products before they get sent to the rubbish bins. From stitching up old clothes and buffing up dull shoes to repairing bikes and electronics – there are many mending options we can take before we resort to disposing of them.
Day 12 – Recycle!
And of course, the best and easiest way to reduce your waste is to recycle! Luckily we are relatively good at recycling here in the UK, thanks to local recycling schemes and systems, but the key to reducing your waste via recycling is by fully understanding what can and cannot be recycled. We really encourage you to educate yourself on recycling, ensuring you are miniming the risks of contamination and doing it in the right way.