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Waste and plastic pollution is a huge pollution is a huge problem for our planet. The total waste from households increased in 2020 to 22.6 million tonnes. This statistic blows my mind as it is so shocking.
There is a waste crisis and damage is happening to our planet every single day. It is our responsibility as individuals to make changes to better the planet. In the last few years I have become really aware of my own carbon footprint and how I can have a positive impact on the planet. I have started to embark on a minimalist life, which for a stationery lover is hard work!
I am making small changes, but it is a learning process and I am not perfect, it is all about trial and error. It can be hard to fight against a system where waste is not deemed to be a priority. I like to think about positive eco-friendly decisions by this analogy. ‘When you talk about going back in time, you wouldn’t do anything differently because you may change where you are today and that is the same for positive changes. Every small way you reduce your waste can have a big impact. Especially if everyone made a few changes we could really make a difference. I have put together a list of 16 simple changes, which you can make to reduce your waste.
Here are 16 ways that you can reduce your waste starting from today:
1. Clear out your email inbox
All emails, including spam, any unread emails or the ones you have simply forgotten to delete are generally stored in the cloud. Cloud storage requires a lot of electricity, which in most parts of the word is still generated by fossil fuels.
So, once a week, as part of a weekly reset or once a month (a far bigger task) as part of a monthly reset, you should set aside some time to delete emails – but, remember to clear your deleted emails too.
2. Switch to online communications and go paperless
There are so many companies who offer paperless communication and billing such as your bank, where you can opt to view your statements online instead.
On the high street, there are many retailers who are now offering the receipt via email instead of a paper-based one. This can be beneficial for you to reduce your paper waste as well as if you need it for your records, for refunds, for budgeting etc.
3. Plan your meals
One simple way to reduce food waste is to plan out your meals. The idea is that you create a menu ahead of time, so you know exactly what you will be eating; therefore, you know exactly which ingredients you need to buy each week. This results in less food waste.
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4. Recycle where you can
Recycling has become one of the easiest practices to start and is now fully integrated into many councils’ waste collection services across the UK. Some brands have even changed their packaging so that it can be recycled, or the packaging may even be made from recycled materials. There are places such as: bottle banks, clothes banks, battery bins and specified areas at the local tip as well as designated recycling bins that allow you very opportunity to reduce your waste.
England’s recycling rate in 2020/2021 reduced by 1.7% which is interesting and could somehow be related to the Coronavirus and the lockdown which we all experienced. Hopefully, these figures will rise again this year.
5. Avoid disposable razors
So much plastic waste can come from disposable razors. Switching to a more sustainable razor will vastly reduce your plastic waste.
I use an Estrid razor which is a steel razor and a subscription service, which you can tailor to your usage! I love it! I even bought one for my little sister and my partner bought one too. I would definitely recommend the Estrid razor.
6. Say no to plastic straws
Restaurants still offer plastic straws in some areas. Where possible, say no to straws! Alternatively, you could invest in an inexpensive metal or bamboo straw. I have a reusable bamboo one from SeaForYourself and I love it!
7. Use up what you already have
Sometimes, this can be difficult with new trends appearing continuously. Just in the planner and stationery community, there are so many new products being released regularly. It can be hard not to have the latest products especially if they are plastered all over social media.
Taking the time to use up all your products is not only better for the environment, but it also helps you to declutter your home or space.
I have been slowly switching to vegan skincare and make up, but I still have a few products to use up first. I am also trying to use up the notebooks and stationery before I purchase anymore – this has been extremely difficult!
8. Use reusable cups and bottles
If you are someone who enjoys their coffee, using a reusable cup is a great way to reduce your waste. In a lot of coffee shops they offer benefits to their customers for using their own cups. There are so many retailers on the high street and online that offer a range of reusable cups.
Purchasing water bottles and cups from cafes is now becoming common practice. Unfortunately, too many bottles still end up in the world’s oceans as many people fail to recycle them properly. A plastic bottle will break down into 10,000 micro plastic pieces over time and this type of pollution is very difficult to clean up.
Investing in a reusable cup or bottle can benefit the planet as well as being cost effective because in many places you can refill your bottle for free.
Photo by Alexandra Tran on Unsplash
9. Take your own bag
Plastic bags take between an estimated 15 – 100 years to decompose depending upon the environment. A landfill environment can allow plastic bags to sit in the ground for decades or centuries with minimal degrading.
Worryingly up to 1 million birds, 100,000 turtles and many other sea creatures die every year from ingesting plastic bags that they confuse with sea life. The plastic bags clog their digestive tract and they starve. They can also become entangled in the them and drown.
Switching to cloth bags is cost effective and they are also easy to get hold of as they are widely sold. They can be washed and reused for years. Similarly, you can always reuse your plastic bags when shopping. Always remember to take your own bags.
10. Donate unwanted items
If you plan a spring clean or to declutter, you may come across items that you no longer want or use. Instead of simply throwing then away, you can donate them to loved ones, a charity shop or even a shelter, allowing your item to have a new lease of life.
11. Buy second hand
Before you purchase a new product search charity shops, Facebook groups and other online sites for what you are looking for. It could save you money and you would be saving the environment. By shopping in local charity shops you can also cut your carbon emissions.
12. Switch to sustainable products
Swapping out your disposable products for more sustainable ones can reduce your waste and your carbon emissions. For example, choosing products and services that use recycled materials or waste as a raw material or resource is pretty simple.
I have made a few sustainable changes including my deodorant. I use WILD and receive my products through a subscription. The little amount of waste it does cause is all recyclable and compostable. There are so many vegan and sustainable products on the market now; it is so much easier to make the swaps.
13. The freezer is your friend
Buying fresh produce is great, but it doesn’t last long, so utilise your freezer. Batch cooking and freezing your food can also help you to reduce waste. Purchasing frozen food can be a great way to reduce your weekly shop as well as giving you less food waste.
14. Repair items before buying new ones
Before you buy anything new to replace that item which has been broken, see if you can repair it instead. Sew up the hole, paint or buy new screws. Do what you can to fix it; try to avoid the ‘throw away’ culture.
15. Pick up after yourself
It is alarming the amount of litter that can get left behind n the beach, in arks or on nature reserves. Ensure that you are careful when in the environment, take your rubbish with you and dispose of it properly. Your rubbish is your responsibility!
16. Avoid single use items or food
Try to avoid purchasing items like salads or sandwiches. Also, try to say no to plastic cutlery, straws and cups.
These are some small changes you can implement to start reducing your waste. However, there are other ways you can reduce your waste and carbon emissions including:
- Buying products in bulk
- Shopping locally
- Compost your food waste
- Reduce the amount of meat you consume
- Grow your own food
- Try reusable or sustainable period products
- Build your on furniture
- Go on a budget
- Purchase reduced products at the supermarket
- Try cloth nappies
- Purchase e-books instead of paper ones
Hopefully, this post has enlightened you into how you can start making changes to reduce the amount of waste you are contributing as well as lowering your carbon footprint.