In week 2 of our 5 weeks to waste management, we are going to look at reducing our waste.
Reduce is one of the 3 original routes to waste management and simply means
“to make smaller or less in amount, degree or size”.
Less is more, and this is something we should all live by. Reviewing our lifestyles about what we consume daily, is key to start finding ways to reduce what we consume and save resources.
But what is the problem?
The UK produces 10 million tonnes of food and drink waste every year, of which 70 % could be avoided! 7 million tonnes of this waste come from households, so surely there is something we can do about this? Although food waste is a big area we need to reduce, we will also be discussing different sectors where we need to think big about what we consume and how we can reduce it, from clothes to water use and everything in between. Lets get into it.
What you have in your home
Take a look around you. Do you see things that are collecting dust? Things you bought and thought ‘ooo this will come in handy’ or that item of clothing you would wear to a summer BBQ that just never happened? All these items have needed lots of time, energy and resources to be able to create it… for it to sit on your shelf/in the cupboard. So ask yourself
“Do I really need it?”
The answer is often no. So why not do a summer clean out and sell them . There are plenty of places to sell unwanted clothing, trinkets or books. Try marketplace on Facebook or even eBay. Join a zero-waste page on Facebook (Journey to Zero Waste- Sussex is a fab place to start) and see if anyone wants what you no longer do. If you do not want to sell them, donate to charity or a homeless organisation. I’m sure they would be more than happy to take in your clothes etc. and find them a new home.
If it is books you are thinking about, head down to Mill Road x Leyland’s Road at the Windmill Pub on your daily walk. The post box there has been turned into a lovely book den where swapping books has become the norm.
Swap shop events are also a fab place to drop off some clothing or books etc., and maybe pick up something new, without it all going into landfill. A lot of my clothing (after I stopped fast fashion shopping) has come from events like this as well as Vintage Kilo events. This is where you get vintage clothing that has been saved from landfill and you pay by the kilo. I got a coat from one, I got home and put my hands in the pocket to find a pantomime ticket stub in it from 1997! How cool is that. This brings me onto my next point; if you need to buy clothes, understand where they came from, who made them and how they were made. Remember last week's ‘Ask yourself do you want it, and do you agree with where it came from’ if the answer is no then you don’t need it’. Fast fashion, buying from the high street and online brands, tends to be made with a short life in mind to get you to keep coming back. Try second-hand shopping to
1. Extend the life of a piece of clothing
2. Not contribute to fast fashion
3. Save yourself money
Meat you eat
I am not saying give up meat if you do not want to, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and preference. But reducing meat consumption can be beneficial for both person and planet. Just by reducing your meat intake by 55-99g a day could see an immediate carbon footprint reduction of 22%.
Meat and dairy production are more energy intensive and the animals need a lot of feed. 85-90% of soya grown is to feed cattle and in Brazil, one football pitch sized chunk of land is being deforested every day to make way for this soya and cattle to be farmed. The production of this livestock for human consumption contributes 14.5% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions.
Like I said, you do not have to give it up. But perhaps think about reducing your consumption and make the meat go further. Instead of it being the main part of your meal, work it into recipes that include more veg, beans and pulses to still get your proteins and fats. Go to the butchers and get the more unusual cuts of meat to make use of the whole animal rather than reaching for the popular cuts. Have you heard of a flexitarian diet? Switch between meat and veggie days to help do your part for the planet. I assure you, there are many MANY delicious veggie and vegan recipes that will get you hooked and not miss meat as much as you may think. Start off with just cutting out meat in your lunch for a day... then two then three. Not hard right? Now move it onto dinner and so on. See what great concoctions you can whip up. Or join in on the nationwide campaign of meat free Mondays. It really is not that hard.
One that not everyone knows… water
One of the big things that shocked me when researching how to reduce water consumption was that of the 71% of the water on the planet, only 3% is fresh, with only 1% available while the remaining 2% is locked away in glaciers and ice caps. Although they do make for beautiful photos and adventures, it is worrying that we only have 1% making me want to do everything I can to not waste so much. A little (not so) fun fact: For one burger, it takes 660 gallons of water to make! That is equivalent to 2 months’ worth of showering for us humans. We need to really think deeply about uses for water.
But why should we be cautious?
Besides the obvious, water is necessary for life as it used for the food we eat, the crops, livestock and even our clothes are made using water (linking back to why we should buy second hand and quality over quantity). Things that we would not even think twice about, like the above, use up a big chunk of our 1% of water, but this isn’t even accounting for our water usage for recreational purposes. Certain sports, spas and other activities that require water for maintenance will soon be forced to stop if the rate of our water consumption continues.
How can we help?
1. Get a water butt/ use it: We live in England; it rains a lot. A water butt collects the rainwater, which you can use for watering plants/ grass in the garden!
2. Vegetables: Rinsing them in a bowl, instead of washing under a tap, will save 9 litres of water a minute, which you can then use to boil them with. You can then use boiled water from cooking potatoes and veg (as long as you haven’t put salt in it) when its cooled down, to water the plants!
3. ‘Save a flush’ toilet devices which reduce the amount of water flushed away. They can save up to 5,000 litres of water. If you use Southern Water, fill in this form for your free toilet device! https://www.southernwater.co.uk/help-advice/request-a-save-a-flush-bag
Few more Scrapless tips
1. Head to Love Food Hate Waste to use up the leftovers you have in the fridge
a. Or take them to work
2. Purchase what you plan to consume, with a bit of planning of what you will eat over the week
3. Careful use of your freezer. Have a freezer note-book to keep track of what goes in and what goes out! Is a great way to not over buy but also use up what you have in the depths of the freezer!
4. Opt for package free, compostable and recyclable products (bulk and refill stores are fab)