You may have read my New Year post last year where I stated my aims to go reduce my waste and have toxic free home. As most of you may find, some resolutions work better than others.
Going completely zero waste was not my aim, but putting waste foremost in your mind can really help to change your habits. I will be honest, at times it wasn’t easy. Sometimes I forgot my own produce bags or reusable cup and often I just couldn’t get what I needed without all the pointless packaging. It’s not easy on a very limited budget too so I had done what I can. However, it has made a real difference and I’m really happy about that.
When I first went to the supermarkets with my reusable produce bags proudly in hand, I was genuinely surprised (and disappointed) at how little fruit and veg was available without all the plastic. Not only that, but the unpackaged produce was more expensive. This has to change to encourage people to make the switch, so I welcome the government’s plans to make the retailers rethink packaging. However, although things are changing (mainly due consumer pressure) any legislation will likely be a while in coming so we could all do with rethinking our shopping.
Frustration at the lack of unpackaged produce led me to my local green grocers. Again, this has been a slightly more expensive option, but it does mean I am supporting local small business and helping to keep our high street alive as well. They now know me well in there as I always untie their plastic bags of fruit to put into my own reusable bags. In fact, this has spurred them on to remove all their plastic bags from inside their shop, which shows that even my small actions have had an effect.
I have noticed from becoming more aware of my waste that there is a lot more you can recycle than you think. Always check on the back of any plastic packaging as it should tell you. Some plastic packaging can be recycled along with shopping bags at larger supermarkets. Try to avoid black plastic though (these are often food trays) as these cannot be recycled at all.
I also did a waste bin audit which helped me find areas I could improve on. This involved tipping out my rubbish bin on the lawn and rifling through it (washing up gloves are advised!) Luckily, as I compost all food waste, my bin only contains dry rubbish – which also means I don’t use a bin bag either. This exercise made my snacking more apparent, as was my use of microwave rice, both of which I have reduced to bring my waste down further. Becoming fully vegan also had to added benefit of adding more whole food items in my diet which have no or less packaging.
I spent some time unsubscribing from unwanted catalogues, phonebooks and direct mail campaigns (junk mail) and switching to paperless billing. There are several ways you can stop receiving unsolicited post, but I have to say this has not be successful. Even sticking a sign on my front door has not stopped the deluge of charity bags, flyers and menus from coming through the letterbox.
Reducing consumption of ‘stuff’ in general and buying second-hand has a real impact not just on waste produced but on saving the earth’s dwindling resources. Not to mention the money it saves. I am even looking at getting parts to fix my old hoover myself rather than getting a new one. I have invested in a some new, reusable products such as a silicone mat to replace tin foil, washable cloth sandwich bags & make-up pads and kishu charcoal stick instead of water filter cartridges. I have put together a useful list of swaps and changes here and there are lots of ideas on my Pinterest board here.
My aim to make my own cleaning products however, was not such a success story. I found that the recipes I tried for various things, including bathroom & toilet cleaners, shower gel and hand wash did not work at all well. I guess that If I had more time I could try out different recipes and would find ones that do work well. I ended up using more of the product with worse results and it took a longer to research, make them and clean with than I had thought. Maybe this is something I will come back to now I have all the staple ingredients, but in the meantime I shall use non-toxic brands such as Ecover and Method instead.
Overall, my efforts have meant that I have gone from putting out my household waste bin every month (there is only two of us, admittedly) to only twice this year and my recycling has gone from every fortnight to once a month or every six weeks. I aim to reduce this down further next year by purchasing some goods from a bulk buy merchant and by making more of my own food, including bread!
Going forward into the New Year I plan to grow some of our own food and make my own bread but mostly to build on what I have done so far and further reduce our overall consumption of goods. From what friends and family have told me I have already influenced some of them to adopt new habits so hopefully you can too and help bring about a less wasteful 2019! Let me know what your plans are to reduce your waste too.
Happy New Year to you all
#zerowaste #newyear #pointlessplastic