Sunday, 24 April 2016

Five easy ways to reduce your waste and the zero waste movement | The Small Desk

The other day a friend told me about a woman who has managed to fit all of her waste from the past three years into one Mason jar. My first reaction was 'no way, she must be sneakily putting her waste somewhere else', but then I watched her Ted talk and saw that she is part of the zero waste movement. This woman is called Lauren Singer and she runs the blog and YouTube channel, Trash is for Tossers. She shares lots of tips and tricks on how to reduce your waste.

One of the major ways that she reduces her waste is by buying from shops that sell products packaging free; she brings canvas bags and Mason jars to the shop to contain the food. However this is not so easy in the UK, especially with convenience stores such as Tesco Extra or Little Waitrose; in some cases even their lemons and limes come in plastic packaging. But the thing I like about Lauren's motto is that she is not judging people for not being completely zero waste, but that people can take small steps towards reducing their waste. I've found it difficult to be 100% zero waste but have made some small changes that I hope will make a big difference.

The zero waste movement was started by Bea Johnson, who runs the blog, Zero Waste Home. I feel that's Bea's way of living is harder to achieve and relies on one person being at home and really managing the household's waste with an iron rod. I even saw an Instagram of her re-stuffing her old pillows the other day... it just made it feel really unachievable.

The rules of the zero waste movement circle around the 5 R's: reuse, recycle, rot, reduce, refuse. Reuse means to buy as much as you can second-hand, recycle (obvious), rot means to compost, reduce just means to reduce your waste and refuse means to refuse to buy or take things that create waste, e.g. a straw in your drink.

I've started small and hope to get better at reducing my waste with time. I realise there are a lot of things that prevent people from being zero waste and one of mine now is that I don't have a garden to myself to even have a compost bin. Anyhow, I thought it might be useful to share five easy ways to reduce your waste. Trust me, these are very easy and simple switches to do, and even someone with no garden, who works five days a week with a long commute can do!

1. Reusable water bottle
This is probably the easiest switch and it makes such a big difference. By refusing to buy plastic water bottles you are making a huge difference. There's a website called 'Ban the Bottle' that has lots of interesting facts about why plastic water bottles are so difficult to get rid of. I bought a reusable plastic one from Lakeland that has a little cup on the top! It's so cute, I love it!

2. Shampoo and conditioner bars, and soap
Another super simple switch is to buy shampoo and conditioner bars. I bought mine both from Lush and I keep them in little plastic (reusable) tubs in my shower. I'm not 100% happy with the feel of my hair after using them, but I want to try out J. R. Liggett's shampoo bar from Amazon that I've heard a lot of good things about. I bought the Montalbano shampoo bar, which I am happy with, and the Plumps conditioner, which I think isn't too great. Also, swap your shower gel for soap! Easy!

3. Reusable carrier bag
I sort of feel like I'm teaching you to suck eggs with this one, but I find it best to have a small foldable reusable bag that I can just carry around with me everywhere, that way I never get caught out with having to buy a carrier bag.

4. Think: what can I recycle
Now this one sounds really easy, and in theory it is, but it is so easy to just chuck something in the bin without thinking, can this be recycled? I do it all the time, but am slowly getting better. For example, sometimes you can recycle some plastics that you might not expect to. It's good to always see if there is a recycle symbol on the packaging.

5. Use lemon and lime
This one is a huge deal for me. I LOVE squash and fruit juice, but most of them come in plastic bottles! Nightmare! To compact this I now have a slice of lemon or lime in water instead. I've actually come to like this a lot and it also makes me feel pretty good in the morning.

I hope you've enjoyed this post, and that it's at least got you thinking. Please do share with me in the comments any tips you've got for reducing your waste! Thanks for reading!




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