Cutting Back on Waste
A date for your diary: September includes Zero Waste Week
Waste is created in many forms. it's a good chance to ask ourselves:
What can we do to reduce waste as an individual?
This means looking at our own levels of waste at home and ways to reduce them. As an individual, there are things we can all do to stop waste. It may be that you are doing a lot of them already
- Reuse by recycling and turning it into something else or buying items which have been recycled.
- Refill e.g. a coffee mug from home, a water bottle
- Refrain from using or buying it in the first place – do you really, really need what you are about to buy? What purpose does the purchase have for you? If you must have it, how about buying it second hand? Preworn stock nearly 900,000 items of second hand clothing for instance and given fast fashion contributes towards climate change, this could be a great way to reduce waste in the industry as you can buy lots of brands secondhand from Preworn.
- Revisit the purpose of what you’ve got – is it still essential? Don't forget to look at every aspect of your home and life - you could do one a week, for instance. Do you really need all the stuff that’s taking up room on your phone, your computer? Why not have a few days doing a massive delete of all the things you don’t need – it will reduce your carbon emissions and make your systems more effective.
- Revisit the way you use the earth’s resources so that you don’t waste them. The power crisis we are all facing has one good thing: it is cutting back on the amount of wasted power used. For example, is it really necessary for office blocks to be lit up at night throughout the night? Are Neon lights really essential after most people have gone home? Why not stop mowing verges and let wild flowers blossom for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, thereby saving local governments and tax payers time and money? Do we really need to have the heating on so high in our homes and wander about in a t-shirt? What can we do with all that water we waste?
- Visit sites such as Refill.org.uk (or find similar for your own country) and find places with free water refills, places offering discounts and rewards for bringing your own cup, places you take your own lunchboxes to get your food to go, public water fountains you can use and more.
- Look at the items you throw away. Is there any way to avoid using them in the first place? For instance, instead of using a plastic container with shampoo in it, why not try a shampoo bar? Can you use plastic containers to plant seeds in? Think about where the items you throw away could end up. Can you make your own compost from some of your food waste? Can it be repaired? I recently took a pair of shoes to a shoe repair shop - it cost £7.50 to get them repaired and was far cheaper than a new pair of shoes
- What can you recycle in your area? It is amazing how much can be recycled now. Recycle4Charity enables you to recycle ink cartridges for charity, for example - it's free and easy to use. Recycling is an incredible resource and shows you how you can recycle a great many types of products.
- Find out what efforts are being made in your area to deal with wasted food. For example, some local authorities collect unwanted food and take it to food banks. What do your supermarkets, local restaurants and cafes do with their left overs?
- Hunt out companies which are doing something about waste and reducing it. Give them your support, by raising awareness of their efforts on social media or using the services if you can.
- Remember that animal charities can be really creative with many items you may throw away. Old blankets and towels may come in very useful. Some charities may want old loo rolls for animals to play with. A number of zoos will take in Christmas trees after you've finished with them.
7 Questions you could ask yourself about waste:
- Do your buying habits need a shake-up? Have you got into a routine/habit of buying stuff without really thinking about what you need? Is your weekly pile of waste trying to tell you something about your buying habits?
- How far do the producers you buy goods from go to eliminate waste from the production chain? Email them or ask them on social media. Show you care.
- What can you use that the planet gives you for free, such as wind to dry your clothes after washing them, rainwater to water the garden with? You could create your own compost from food you don’t use. And where you can, you can walk, cycle or car share instead of using a car on your own, if you use one already.
- Ask your very elderly relatives or people you know who are very elderly what they used to use before some of the products you use were invented such as cling film and central heating!
- What is going on in your area that you can join up with so far as waste is concerned? This could be putting pressure on local councils to have a food waste collection, or even seeing if there is anything your employer can do to cut waste.
- Reduce what you take in the first place, so you don’t waste anything. Food is a big one here. How much food do you waste each week? Is there a pattern? There's nothing wrong with imperfectly sized vegetables and fruit so tuck in!
- Take a look round you at your garden, local parks and verges. Can you turn them into havens for wildlife so that every space possible can be shared with nature? Areas like this aren’t wasteland – they can be an opportunity to make a difference and give wildlife the essential habitat they need to survive.
What can we do as part of a bigger effort to stop the rot and reduce waste?
This involves seeing what we can do to join initiatives and campaigns that are already taking place, maybe to start up our own, and putting pressure on governments and corporations to see how we can move them to reduce / stop waste.
Dates for your diary
September includes Zero Waste Week and the website is a mine of information. They help householders, businesses, organisations, schools, universities and community groups waste less. Take a look at their infographic from September 2022:
There are more and more beach cleans and clean up days taking place around the world which is a good chance to see what products most end up as litter. AnimalsCharities.co.uk features some of them on its list of awareness days