It’s no secret that everyone is cracking down on reducing waste and looking for ways to be economical. Even big corporate companies are now on board with ways they can make a difference.
But it seems like such a big obligation doesn’t it? To save the planet. I mean, realistically what can one person really do??
The truth is, we all have a part to play if we want to make real change. Even one small thing can make a big difference, if we all do it.
So here are some of the things I’m being more conscious about, and things you can start with (even if just one).
1. Be recycling savvy.
This is probably the easiest one, as you don’t really need to do anything. All local councils will offer some form of recycling scheme with your waste collection, so just make the most of it. It’s also a good idea to take any bigger items of waste (such as big cardboard boxes or old appliances) to a local recycling centre; this can be done for free in most places.
For us, we have a box for recycling cardboard and glass, a sack for recycling plastic containers, tin cans and cartons and then a food waste bin, all of which are collected weekly. We then have our normal landfill bin which is collected every three weeks; this only holds around 3 bin bags so we do have to make sure we recycling everything we can.
2. Reduce plastic packaging.
Have you noticed that almost an entire weekly food shop consists of plastic packaging? I’ve even seen a peeled orange in a plastic pot in a supermarket?????
I’m not saying you need to stop buying these kinds of foods but it is easy to cut down on the amount of plastic packaging we take home. For example, when buying bananas for example, pick a loose bunch rather than a packaged bunch. You then won’t have an unnecessary plastic bag to throw away and often they will be cheaper.
I love buying some fruit/veg from our local farm shop as none of it comes in plastic bags and it can be much fresher than the stuff you get from a supermarket.
I have seen online that a supermarket ran a trail where customer’s could remove the plastic from some of their items and leave it at the store. Personally, I think this is a great idea as would put the responsibility on the supermarket to dispose of it. I’d love to see this come out in more stores.
3. Take your own bag.
I think it’s a rite of passage to hoard literally hundreds of plastic carrier bags somewhere in your house. You’d be lying if you said you didn’t have one. But this really can be a problem. Did you know it can forever for a plastic bag to decompose? Yeah, that’s the truth! Some scientists believe that they don’t ever actually decompose, they just break apart into smaller and smaller pieces. So that bag will literally be in the ground, in the sea or in in your cupboard forever.
But this can be so easily avoided if we just use our own. A lot of reusable bags are made from much more durable materials, such as canvas, so will last a long time and can then be recycled. It can be a pain but I try to keep a reusable bag in my car and in the house so I’ve got one to hand if I pop to the shop. I also keep a stash of bigger reusable bags for when I do my weekly food shop so I don’t need to pay 5p for plastic ones when I get there.
Also, if you do forget your reusable, most supermarkets or recycling centres have a place for you to recycle your plastic bags.
4. Stop single use.
This is something I feel very very passionately about and believe can be eradicated immediately. My friends will tell you, I’m always going on about the use of plastic straws or disposable drinks bottles. Like plastic carrier bags, these can take hundreds of years, if not longer, to decompose and often end up harming the environment before they do. I’m glad the government are stepping up and talking about putting a stop to single use straws etc as this will make such a huge difference.
Instead, pick up some paper straws or invest in some swanky stainless steel ones (I picked up a pack of four for only £4 on Wish).
I also wouldn’t go anywhere without a refillable plastic bottle. Not only does it prevent disposable ones ending up in a landfill site or in the ocean, but they can be super cute and don’t contain BPA (a chemical found in some plastic packaging). Again, you can pick these up really cheap in most discount stores, supermarkets or online.
5. Coffee to go.
If you’re like me, and can barely function without a coffee, then you can probably guess that mountain of paper cups that are circulating every day. And whilst some of these cups can be recycled, some cannot and will take up to 30 years to decompose.
But now that everyone is on the ‘cutting waste’ bandwagon, a lot of of coffee franchises are jumping on board.
For example, Pret introduced a discount for customer’s bringing their own reusable coffee cups; Costa will recycle any takeaway cup (not just Costa ones) and most coffee shops now offer their own range of reusable cup.
I realise that these five tips won’t resolve an environmental crisis overnight, but at least it’s a start.