We’re all spending a lot more time at home at the minute. Noting our spaces, what we like, what we don’t like. Perhaps we’re thinking of decluttering, having to reduce our spending, or trying to reduce our consumption all together.
There are some pretty shocking statistics out there about household waste, which will only increase due to the amount of time we’re all now spending at home. But it doesn’t have to be all bad news…
It’s different strokes for different folks. It’s important to recognise we don’t have to do everything perfectly. While I find myself on a journey to zero-waste and reducing my overall consumption, I think what’s most important is to make small, every day changes which in the long run will make a big impact. I’d like to share some practical, fun ways to start reducing waste around the house right now. Get the kids involved and hopefully they’ll learn something along the way!
We all know some of the basics: kick plastic bottles to the curb for a cool reusable one and fill ‘er up from the tap, do the same for your coffee cup, refuse straws, a ‘no junk mail’ tag on the mail box, take your own bags to the supermarket (even if it means having to bag your groceries yourself), re-useable produce bags, beeswax wraps instead of plastic-wrap, I could go on and on.
Here are a few other simple game changers that you can make straight away without having to change your routine too drastically…
- Switch to a bamboo toothbrush instead of plastic. Get some non-toxic markers and the kids can draw funky designs on their toothbrush so you can still tell them apart!
- While on the bamboo band-wagon – bamboo cotton buds, goodbye plastic sticks!
- Instead of a pump for soap, pick up a bar. Soap is self-cleaning, so you don’t have to worry about any germs kicking around on the pump afterwards… Bars are also available for shampoo and conditioner, readily available and the smells will tickle your senses.
- Is it possible to start a worm farm or a compost for food scraps? If not, check out ShareWaste, you may find a neighbour who wants your scraps. While this may not be appropriate under our current restrictions, it is a great thought for the near future!
- Make the switch to biodegradable plastic bags for the kitchen bin.
- How about supporting a company that sells 100% recycled toilet paper, who also donate 50% of their profits to build toilets in the developing world and are plastic free, check out Who Gives a Crap. You can subscribe and the box comes straight to your door! Not only that, but when the world panic bought all the loo rolls, they made sure their subscribers were taken care of… As they say “Good for your bum, Great for the world!”
With fewer boots on the ground, our rubbish and recycling workers are under the pump. So let’s make their lives as easy as possible. Here are a few tips to reduce waste overall:
- Creating a meal plan not only means fewer trips to the grocery store and contact with our grocery store workers, but this way you can buy just what you need – no extra waste!
- Instead of pre-made meals, this is a great time to make from scratch, learn some new recipes, exchange ideas with friends. Can you get the kids involved? Learning to cook for yourself, they don’t teach you that at school…
- Do you have a local bulk shop to support during this time? Or perhaps one that can deliver. Start using some of your old glass jars to store flour, oats, herbs and spices, the possibilities are endless. And bonus, supporting a local business – yay!
- Pick up a new hobby and learn how to mend clothes instead of sending them to landfill. At this point even our thrift stores are drowning in clothing, not an ideal option. Fast fashion is out! If you want to get creative with it check out visible mending. You don’t need much to get started and older kids can learn yet another awesome life skill!
In terms of recycling, for anything you can’t repurpose or craft into something new, remember to…
- check what your local waste management centre accepts;
- keep your recycling loose (no plastic bags please!);
- styrofoam and plastic lined coffee cups can’t be recycled, so they go straight in the bin;
- glass can be recycled an infinite number of times, let that sink in – infinite, so it’s important to make sure your glass gets in the recycling bin;
- soft plastics (anything you can ‘scrunch’) can be taken to your local Woolies and recycled there;
- TerraCycle accepts your old toothpaste tubes, post bags, coffee capsules, pens, gloves, make-up containers and so much more! Terracycle has diverted tons of kilo’s of un-recyclable, non-biodegradable waste from landfills. Not only that, but they provide great ideas for up-cycling projects, you can earn points towards earth friendly purchases, ideas for the kids – they’re doing great things!
- Something small, metal bottle caps are too small to be recycled, however, if you clean out a tin can (but keep the lin attached) fill it up, then when it’s near full, push the lid down, tuck in the tab and put the whole thing in the recycling bin.
There are so many areas to make changes, this list is really just the start. We would love to hear what you’re doing around the house to reduce your waste, what DIY projects you’ve taken on or what the kids are learning. Please take the time to share with us, we’re all learning together!