If you are new to eco-living, the term “Zero Waste” may sound unattainable as you look around your house, at all the packaging and plastic, unwanted clothes, magazines and leftover foods, but we all need to start somewhere in our challenge to reduce waste and there’s no better place than home! Here are some handy tips to help you reduce household waste through every day purchasing choices, and get started on the path to more eco-friendly habits:
1. Be A Mindful Foodie
First things first, you need to get into a more eco-conscious head space. By simply being mindful of what you are purchasing and throwing away each week, you can reduce food waste. Bread is one of the worst-offenders for being thrown-away the most, because it goes stale quickly and we often overestimate how much we need. Buy less, make your own, or freeze half the loaf if you think you won’t eat it all. You can also be a more eco-conscious consumer when at the supermarket by choosing foods with less packaging and, even better, where possible, support smaller, local businesses and farms by shopping at organic markets and food stalls instead. In purchasing locally grown produce, rather than imported goods which have had to travel many kilometres, you are also helping lower your carbon footprint.
2. Pass On Plastic
There are many ways to prevent the need to purchase one-use plastics – but you do need to be organised and prepared to not be forced to. For starters, use your own refillable water bottle when out and about, make coffee at home, or enjoy in a real china cup at the cafe, to prevent having to throw away a one-use coffee cup. If you really need a barista made morning coffee fix while on-the-go, take a reusable coffee cup with you. Say no to plastic straws, even if your 3 year old has a tantrum – they really are one of the worst offenders when it comes to plastic waste polluting our oceans, harming our marine life and washing up on beaches across the world! Use reusable sandwich and produce storage bags rather than cellophane ones and, most importantly of all, take your reusable canvas bags to the supermarket! There’s also no need to individually bag fruits and veggies.
3. Forgo The Fashion Fix
Instead of following the latest trend – that you may not be able to justify the cost of anyway and so have to purchase a cheap, mass produced version of it, that will be thrown out next year (come on, we’ve all been guilty of doing this at some point!), only to add to the landfill crisis – why not forget about what’s in-vogue and instead start purchasing fewer, higher quality garments in classic, timeless styles that will not only stand the test of time but for which you will be happy to wear again and again, for years to come.
4. Save The Trees
There are a few easy ways to reduce paper consumption at home, firstly by opting for email bills and online statements rather than paper ones, secondly by reading the news / your favourite magazine online instead of buying a paper version each time, and thirdly by putting a “No Junk Mail” sign on your letterbox to prevent unwanted mail and more paper waste accumulating.
5. Reduce, Re-use, Recycle
Keep in mind the 3 R’s. Now you’ve reduced the use of some every day things, how much of your household waste can actually be reused or recycled? Food scraps can be composted for example, paper and glass recycled, unwanted clothes sent to the op shop, and reusable rather than disposable kitchen items can be purchased from now on. By re-using rather than throwing away each time, you are reducing waste, and helping others and the planet recycle.