If I were to answer one of those quizzes you find at the back of magazines on how waste free I am, I’d score a “Good effort, but you could be doing more to save the planet”. I’m no green maven, but I try to do my bit to reuse, reduce and recycle.
The recycle part comes easily to me. My mother is a nursery school teacher who believes everything can be recycled or reused in some way. Thinking of throwing away that eggshell? Wash it clean, let it dry, crunch it up and it’s a Reggio teachers sensory dream. I call it hoarding, she calls it childhood development. Nevertheless, I’ve learnt to separate papers, plastics, bottles and cans into their recycling bins for collection. It a habit that pays dividends during rubbish removal strikes, when your home isn’t the one with the mile-high rubbish collection.
I never tumble dry clothing, instead I use a line and some sun, have never been very into disposable dinnerware and pretty much never do takeout which means minimal single use plastics. In the past few months I’ve made saying no to plastic grocery bags an almost habit. I got a few reusable totes and keep them in the car to use for shopping. Pick n Pay is currently selling amazingly big and super sturdy totes, the best I’ve used.
A lot of reducing waste is really economically savvy, not just for the environment but for your pocket. Sure you have to pay more for a sturdy shopper, reusable coffee cup and spend the time recycling or composting; but it’s an investment that pays out exponentially.
This Sunday is World Earth Day, a global annual movement geared at protecting our environment. This year is all about ending plastic pollution which is threatening the survival of our planet by poisoning and injuring marine life, disrupting human hormones, littering our beaches and landscapes, and clogging our waste streams and landfills.
To mark the day, I asked 10 people to share how they’re reducing their waste and going waste free. Share your waste free tips in the comments!
Recycle at home. Our waste that’s collected weekly by the municipality has reduced significantly since we started recycling at home to about half a black bag a week! We use a recycling collection service called Urbanise Recycling that help sort our recycling and they collect 1-2 bags a week. The difference is astounding. My second tip is screw the straw! I’ve had a steel straw for about a year now and it saves the environment and makes me feel more heavy metal too.
Learn to compost. I keep a container on my kitchen counter where I throw all the left-over veggie peels, fruit cores and egg shells when cooking. Every few days I take the container outside where I have a compost bin and this slowly decomposes and makes the most beautiful, rich and nutritious soil for my veggie garden. It doesn’t take up a lot of time or space, but it saves throwing food away and therefore producing a lot of waste and is good for the garden as well.
1. Invest in items like glass straws and reusable coffee cups. It does cost money but is so worth it and will literally last you a lifetime. Another sneaky tip is to give friends and family things like glass straws as birthday gifts. It’s such an easy way to give them something you know they’ll use and it lets you share the message about sustainability at the same time.
2. Eat a wholefood, plant-based diet. Animal agriculture makes a massive contribution to global warming and uses a huge amount of irreplaceable natural resources like land and water. There are so many amazing products available today that it is one of the easiest and healthiest changes you can make.
3. Always carry a reusable shopping bag with you and keep a spare bag in your car or handbag. They’re affordable and can be purchased at most shops and always come in handy.
I run green. I am a runner and when I compete in races I carry my own fluid in my hydration pack to reduce the use of single-use plastic water sachets and cups. I only purchase my water and drinks in glass bottles. I drink smoothies daily and take my own glass smoothie bottle and eco straw along to smoothie bars and food stores like Kauai to reduce plastic cups and straws.
My main way of reducing my waste is ditching the Big 4 single-use plastics – Plastic Bags, Plastic Bottles, Plastic Straws and Coffee Cups.
Always be prepared with your reusable alternatives when you’re out and about. I have a little “zero waste” kit I take along in my handbag so I’m never caught off guard. A reusable straw, a keep cup, mesh bags for fruit and vegetables if I’m going shopping, a fabric shopping bag, reusable cutlery and a small container for takeaways if needed.
1. I never take plastic bags from a cashier.
2. Refuse straws and paper napkins
3. Pack my own lunch to work in reusable Tupperware.
5. If I do buy a drink, I choose the glass option.
John McInroy, @johnmcinroy
1. Carry a reusable glass bottle, this will encourage you to drink water consistently all day plus you’ll have no need to ever buy plastic bottled water again!
2. If you are a runner refuse to run in races that use single-use plastic until they change their approach. Carry your own hydration and fuel.
3. Carry a reusable bag with you so you don’t have to use plastic bags which often end up in the sea and inside of animals. Alternatively shop at places like Shop Zero
4. My last tip that can make the most difference, but people are least open to is to stop eating animals. You are stealing the lives of a fellow living being and the left-over waste is the violent world we live in, that we have created. As well as the enormous environmental waste that our actions are impacting on the world. If we truly love animals we cannot eat them and love them at the same time. If you truly want to live in a gentler world, it starts with you. You can change the world!
One thing I’ve found really helps is investing in a good reusable coffee cup, and if you happen to be in a situation where you don’t have it on hand, skip the coffee or take 5-10 minutes to sit down and have it in the shop.
Never buy plastic bags from shops, always keep a cotton reusable bag with you. Also earbuds are bad for both your ears and the environment.