This is the year that everyone is talking about the big W word. Waste.
Whilst many of us have known for years how bad plastic is for the environment and that we should all recycle, for many it can be hard to actually do something about it. Being conscious about how much we waste and throw away can often make people feel like they need to make a huge lifestyle change. Which is unsurprising, considering that we now live in a ‘throw-away’ culture. We live in a world where instead of fixing that hole in our jeans or repairing that wobbly table leg, we simply just throw it away.
Over the years, this lifestyle has had a detrimental impact on the planet. For example, not all of our waste will decompose, meaning that the more waste we produce, the more it will just pile up in landfill sites. Burning waste causes air pollutions and toxic substances, and throwing things away wastes resources such as the materials and energy it took to make them.
Despite this all sounding a bit doom and gloom, there is hope. I don’t know about you, but over the last few years especially, people seem to be a lot more aware of how much waste they’re producing and are becoming much more committed to doing something about it (thanks David Attenborough).
Even some of the bigger companies are starting to jump onboard. Waitrose has recently announced that they plan to remove all disposable coffee cups from their stores by the end of the year. Fast food chains and restaurants such as McDonald’s, Wetherspoon, Pizza Express and Wagamama have all pledged a ban on plastic straws, with many making a switch to biodegradable alternatives.
If you’re looking to cut down on your waste this year, here are some super simple, easy peasy ways to start.
Switch to a reusable bottle/cup
It can’t really be a post about waste without mentioning plastic now, can it? I know what you’re thinking, ‘not another article talking about how bad plastic is for the planet’ and I hear ya’. But, there’s a good reason why this sucker always pops up because it’s the absolute worst for polluting our planet with waste.
Plastic takes up to 1000 years to decompose (so basically, never) meaning that pretty much every bit of plastic that has ever been made still exists. Plastic is also a major headache for our oceans too. Although it’s difficult to say how much plastic exists in the ocean, scientists estimate that eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans each year.
To help reduce your plastic waste, consider switching to a reusable bottle or coffee cup to save the number of plastic bottles and takeaway cups you buy when out and about. There are absolutely LOADS of options available, such as Swell Bottles, Chilly’s Bottles, JOCO Cups and Keep Cups just to name a few. Not to mention pretty much every supermarket sells reusable bottles and cups now too. As an added bonus, some coffee shops such as Costa Coffee and Pret-a-Manger offer discounts off your drinks if you bring in your own reusable cup. Win-win.
Try a bamboo toothbrush
This is something I picked up for myself recently from Zero Waste Club. Plastic toothbrushes are often overlooked as a source of waste but considering that many of us go through several toothbrushes. each year, this adds up to an incredible amount of plastic being thrown away. Switching to a bamboo toothbrush is a great alternative as they’re biodegradable and bamboo is considered to be a rather sustainable material in itself.
Buy your clothes second-hand
In a few of my previous blog posts, I’ve talked about the impact that fast-fashion has on the environment and how shopping sustainably is the answer. Last year, I made the decision to dramatically cut-down on the number of clothes I was buying from fast-fashion outlets and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.
To help minimise your contribution to fast-fashion, try going into your local charity shops and vintage stores the next time you feel the urge to do some retail therapy. Outlets such as eBay and Depop (my number one hun) are also a fab way to buy clothes second-hand at a decent price. If you don’t have access to a lot of second-hand stores, why not try a clothes swap with friends? This can be another great way to pick up some new styles without wasting the ones you already have.
Buying your clothes second-hand not only helps the planet but it also has a tonne of other great benefits, for example it saves you money and you’re able to pick up some really unique pieces to add to your wardrobe.
Finally, if you’re looking for some inspiration as to how you can wear some of the best seasonal trends using thrifted pieces, then I would highly recommend checking out Cruelty Free Becky’s Youtube channel. She honestly has an eye for picking up the best pieces and I am totally not jealous of her style (I totally am).
Carry a reusable bag
Ever since the UK introduced a 5p charge for single-use carrier bags, plastic bag usage has dropped by a staggering 85%. Carrying your own reusable bags is a bloomin’ good way to cut down on your plastic usage and means that you’ll never be short on bags when out and about. There a literally hundreds of reusable bags to choose from, from a classic canvas tote to string bag to carry your fruit and veg. Plus, they’re really inexpensive too. One of my favourites is my Lush Fighting Animal Testing bag. It’s super sturdy and I even use it as my main handbag every now and again.
Refuse the straw
As I said above, there is a heck of a lot of people beginning to realise the crazy amount of straws we use and throw away each year. For instance, around 8.5 billions plastic straws are thrown out in the UK every year. So, these devils contribute massively to the planet’s overall plastic waste. To help cut down on your straw usage, whenever you’re out ordering a drink, simply ask to have it without a straw. But, if you absolutely can’t live without one, perhaps consider investing in some metal or bamboo straws that you can carry around with you. You can pick up a pack of 4 from Amazon for under five pounds, and it even comes with a cute little cleaner.
Say no to unnecessary paper waste
Receipts, letters, bank statements, magazines. Add them all up and that equals a heck of a lot of paper waste. Instead, try and think about the little changes you could make to help cut this down. For example, when you’re out shopping and you’re asked if you want a receipt, decline or ask if they’re able to email you a copy instead if you would like a copy. A lot of Bank’s nowadays also have the option to send your statements and updates via email, allowing you to opt out of those frankly annoying letters.
Cutting down on the amount of waste you produce doesn’t have to feel like a massive lifestyle change. You absolutely do not have to do everything at once. Just trying out a few of these changes can be a huge step towards helping the planet. Have you made any changes this year to reduce your waste? Are there any other tips you’d share? Leave me a comment below or Tweet me.