July 2020 Could you live a Zero Waste lifestyle?
You may have seen the stark warnings about the climate change disaster facing the planet.
This has led to lots of debate about how best to reduce carbon emissions and much of the focus generally is on very grand schemes. However, a new study from the catchily titled Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIEMAP), suggests better resource management could move us much closer to hitting our carbon reduction targets.
In other words, by wasting less – particularly food, clothing and electronics – and reusing more we could make a significant impact in the fight against climate change.
Avoiding food waste could bring the UK 15 per cent closer to meeting its next emissions target (and save an average family £700 a year too).
Some of this will require government intervention but much of it is within the day-to-day control of us as individuals.
As a result, an increasing number of people are choosing to adopt a low or zero waste lifestyle, where they to aim to ensure they send hardly anything to landfill or an Energy from Waste Plant.
It might sound a daunting and impossible thing to try and do but many people are successfully doing it. If you want to make an individual contribution to reducing your impact on the planet but don’t know where to start then maybe these tips will help:
Start by logging your waste
Just being aware of what and how much you are wasting can be enough to help you identify a starting point for your waste reduction journey. Keep a record of everything you throw out, then maybe start small by identifying one or two recurring items and ways you can eliminate them. Then repeat the process.
Make the easy swaps first
People often start by thinking big and forget the simple things. Start your journey to a zero waste lifestyle by making these easy swaps first:
- use reusable shopping bags
- take a reusable water bottle out with you
- refuse straws with your drinks
- use a reusable hot drinks cup
- pack your lunch in a reusable box or wrap
- use solid shampoos and soaps
- swap packaged snacks for fruit, loose nuts or seeds
- use reusable cloths instead of paper kitchen towel
One room at a time
If that’s all still a bit too much then start with one single room and go low or zero waste in there. Once you have mastered it you can move on. The bathroom is a good place to start. Below are some ideas:
- swap your liquid soap in a plastic bottle for bar soap
- swap your shampoo bottle for bar shampoo
- you can make your own deodorant. Search online for a recipe or if that's not for you, remember to recycle that aerosol can in your green bin
- swap that plastic toothbrush for a compostable bamboo one
- you can get toothpaste in tins or jars which can be reused. Have a search online
- the plastic wrapping your toilet paper comes in can be recycled in the carrier bag recycling point at most of the larger stores of the major supermarkets. Check in-store if you’re unsure. Or if you search online there are some toilet papers that come wrapped in paper
Reduce your food waste
The average household in the UK throws away over £700 worth of perfectly edible food every year, which is the equivalent of throwing 1 in ever 5 bags of shopping you buy straight into the bin. The recent lockdown situation has reinvigorated a lot of people into thinking more about their shopping and cooking, now that they have more time at home as well as perhaps only one weekly shop, and this has seen a real resurgence of cooking from scratch, using store cupboard ingredients as well as planning meals.
The Love Food Hate Waste website (opens in a new window) has lots of ideas and tips on how to cut your food waste.
Check out Zero Waste Shops
Zero Waste Shops are growing in popularity. They stock a range of products to help support your zero waste lifestyle and allow you to bulk buy some foods in your own reusable containers so avoiding the need for packaging waste.
There are a number in Worcestershire, with more springing up all the time (so apologies if you know of one that isn’t on this list!);
- Pack It In, The Gallery, The Shambles, Worcester WR1 2RD. It sells a range of grains, rice, flours, dried fruit, teas and coffees as well as a wide range of reusable products. Website: Pack it in (opens in a new window)
- Nature’s Intention, 2 High Street, Bromsgrove B61 3HQ. It sells a range of grains, rice, flour, dried fruit and Vegan foods as well as cleaning and plastic free products. Website: Nature's Intention (opens in a new window)
- Eat.Love.Yoga, 1a Comberton Hill, Kidderminster DY10 1UA. An ethical café, a yoga studio and a plastic free shop in one! They sell a range of grains, rice, flour, pasta, dried fruit and tea and coffee.
If you are not able to visit any of the shops (although most do online shopping), follow the zero waste rules:
- refuse what you do not need
- reduce what you do need
- reuse items more than once or switch to reusable products
- recycle what cannot be refused, reduced or reused
- rot (compost) the rest. You can order a compost bin here
You may also find these blogs useful: (please note Worcestershire County Council is not responsible for and does not endorse content held on external websites).