The zero waste week challenge
We all know that reducing our waste is a good thing, right? Lowering our carbon footprint, reducing the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, managing our requirements for landfill in a more responsible way – it’s got a lot of benefits. But how easy is it to actually reduce the amount of rubbish you have, without completely transforming your way of life? Last year, a New York woman showed how you can fit two years worth of waste into a tiny mason jar – an incredible feat, but don’t be disheartened if you can’t manage this just yet – progress not perfection is the name of the game. Here’s a few ways you can start to reduce your waste to zero starting from today.
Don’t buy anything new unless you absolutely need it
The ‘buyerarchy’ of needs goes – make do with what you have, borrow, swop, thrift, make and then buy. There are a lot of stages to go through before you need to resort to buying anything new, and in the process you could save yourself some money too.
Cut down on food waste
Throwing away expired, uneaten or unwanted food is one of the biggest sources of rubbish. There’s lots of easy ways to cut down on your food waste:
- Still peeling those vegetables? Scrub them clean instead and leave the skins on.
- Buy your food in bulk and freeze or keep in the cupboard until you need them instead of doing a weekly shop.
- Start your compost heap and add scraps to that.
- Make a meal plan and stick to it so that you don’t buy or throw away anything more than what you need.
- Start a vegetable garden of your own and grow what you want, and gift what you don’t eat or use.
- Anything you know you won’t use before it goes off, you can donate to homeless shelters or a food bank.
Changes to your shopping habits
Most people remember to bring their own bags when shopping now to avoid the mandatory charge, but re-using bags will also cut down on waste. If possible use cloth bags instead of plastic which are even more environmentally friendly. Many shops will also ask you now if you require a receipt for your purchase (half the time it’s not really necessary anyway), and some will even offer to email a copy of your receipt to you instead of giving you a physical piece of paper – how many of those have you quickly discarded from your pocket or handbag and thrown in the rubbish instead?
Make your own everyday household cleaning products
From homemade cleaning wipes to shampoo and toothpaste, you can make these everyday essentials yourself instead of buying them. In most cases, these replacements are made using natural and non-toxic ingredients, so they’re better for you as well as the environment, and because you’re not relying on manufacture’s packaging you can cut down on the amount of waste plastic and cardboard you’re using as well.