How To Reduce Your Waste
By Bethanie Patch
Image credit: Reduce Reuse Recycle Refuse Facebook Group
I am slowly transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle. Here are 5 easy ways to start reducing waste in your home.
1. Choose reusable products
In starting my journey to reduce waste, I decided that the first and easiest step was to buy a reusable coffee cup. Granted, using a reusable cup lowers the impact of waste on the environment, however, it would take between 20 and 100 uses for a reusable cup to make up for the greenhouse gas emissions of a single-use cup. Thus, I realised there was no point switching to reusable products and then forgetting them at home; in buying reusable products, I needed to actually use these products.
Since I made a promise to carry my reusable coffee cup with me everywhere, if I forget it, no coffee for me! Alternatively, I take a moment to sit down at the café and enjoy my coffee rather than getting a takeaway cup.
While I don’t often buy coffee out, I do still use a nespresso pod machine that relies on disposable pods. I have only just learnt about reusable pods, so I will definitely be making the switch.
2. Separate your hard and soft plastics
For an embarrassingly long time, I only thought that cardboard and paper could be recycled. I did not realise that certain types of plastics can also be recycled.
Different types of plastic are denoted by a little triangle with a number stamped or printed onto plastic products. This is the Plastics Identification Code (PIC) and it tells you the type of plastic used to make a product.
Although the triangle looks a bit like a recycling symbol, not every type of plastic can be recycled by your local recycling service.
As a general rule, soft plastics cannot go into your home recycling bin.
Only hard plastics, that is, plastics that cannot be ‘scrunched’ such as plastic bottles, plastic jars, plastic plates etc. can be recycled through your local recycling service.
Soft plastics that should not go into your recycling bin: Plastic shopping bags, Cling wrap, Plastic bread bags, Chip packets, Bubble wrap, Cereal bags, Plastic foil food bags, and Zip-lock bags. Soft plastic polystyrene and foam meat trays can also NOT be recycled in your home recycling bin.
3. Grow your own herbs
While I generally advocate for growing your own fruit and vegetables at home to reduce waste, a great place to start with growing your own produce is with herbs! Herbs are incredibly easy to grow, whether you grow them in soil or in one of the Association for Urban Farming’s hydroponics systems. Herbs are such an easy way to make your food more flavoursome with minimal effort. Herbs bought at the supermarket are not only exuberantly overpriced, they are usually covered in plastic.
4. Simply refuse.
Last year I came home from a work conference with 3 ‘reusable’ shopping bags full of books, brochures and free pens. While I may read these brochures and books, it may only read them once again before they go straight into the recycling bin. I usually go to conferences like this often and every time, I am handed a lot free stuff, and almost all of it ends up in the garbage or the recycling. Very rarely are these freebies good enough quality to last or be passed on another person. Thus, from this experience I decided to start saying no to freebies, brochures and the like. Rather than take someone’s business card or pamplets, I’ll take a photo. When someone offers me a straw with my drink, I decline. I’ve changed all of my mail preferences such that anything that can be delivered via email, does not end up in my mailbox.
I admit composting is not something I have yet to have been able to incorporate into my day-to-day routine. Although I used to grow up with a compost system living in Tasmania, Australia, I have not managed to maintain the setup. However, being surrounded by so many eco-smart friends, I have realised the great value of composting. In fact, in a 2012-2013 waste composition survey, the Ministry of Environmental Protection in Israel found that 46% of household waste is biodegradable and can be treated either by anaerobic digestion or turned into compost rather than landfill.
While I can easily start a compost pile in my backyard at home, I’ve decided to purchase a compost bin which will not only help to retain heat and moisture but will also help with decomposition. A compost bin also helps to keep the critters away from the food scraps! I will be able to use my compost to grow my little vegetable patch.
What are you currently doing to reduce your waste going into landfill? Leave a comment below.