The ultimate goal for Green18 is to go waste free as individuals and as a society. The way to achieve this goal is a three step process, which manages both what we buy and what we throw away.
The easiest way to minimise your waste is by buying only what you need. In the UK, we create 30 million tonnes of household waste every year, including over 5 million tonnes of packaging and 7 million tonnes of food waste. Cutting down on food waste alone can save each household more than £400 every year, and this can be very easy with some extra thinking and planning.
Make meals plans
Planning ahead will mean that you don’t buy extra perishable food that will grow mould before you can use it. At the end of a meal, you can freeze any leftovers or put them in a tub for lunch the next day.
Preserve your food
If you buy too much food, find a way of preserving it for a bit longer. Try cutting up your vegetables and freezing them, or making a soup or cake from fruit and vegetables close to the end of their shelf-life.
Find a use for your scraps
You can keep a tub of vegetable or meat scraps in the freezer to make stock. Scraps can include anything from the papery skin on garlic cloves and onions, to wilted radish tops to carrot shavings, but try to avoid vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, which will make stock bitter, and make sure to wash everything before you freeze it. You can also even add Parmesan cheese rinds! In addition to the scraps, it may be best to add some whole vegetables into the pot as well.
Store your food properly
Keep food in airtight reusable containers to keep them safe from mould and premature ageing.
Go packaging free
Buy less items in packaging so you throw less away when you get home. The best places to avoid packaging are at your local shops such as greengrocers, butchers, cheesemongers, fishmongers, and zero-waste supermarkets, where you can fill up your own containers with exactly how much you need.
Buy what you need
Avoid buying single-use items like disposable cups, plates and cutlery. Also think carefully about items you might only use once and then leave neglected in a drawer or cupboard.
Once you have bought things, make sure to use everything until it can no longer be used.
Take your household cleaning bottles to waste free supermarkets to be refilled or reuse your jars and bottles for your homemade jams, sauces, milk (!) and cleaning liquids.
Do you love the wrapping or tissue paper in which you’ve received a gift? Why not unwrap it carefully so you’ll be able to use it for your own presents? You can do the same with ribbon and gift bags, and it’s always handy to keep packaging such as bubble wrap and boxes for later purposes such as moving house or sending parcels.
Did you get a horrible jumper for Christmas that you’ll never wear? Did you buy something that you won’t use but didn’t return it to the shop in time? You can always find new homes for these things. Donate your old clothes, books, trinkets and toys to charity shops, or use services like eBay, Depop and Gumtree, to gift your unwanted belongings to others instead of simply throwing them away.
If we cannot eliminate waste, the next best option is recycling it. Many local councils have excellent kerbside recycling collections for everyday items, but they also have specialised recycling centres for items that you can’t put in your kerbside recycling bin, such as electricals, CDs, batteries, and furniture. Collect these to take to the recycling centre instead of sending them to landfill.
You can find out what you can recycle in your local area using this excellent website. Remember to follow some simple rules: wash packaging that has had food or liquid it it, and separate your different materials correctly.
Food waste isn’t always something we think about recycling. Indeed, 40% of it is sent to landfill in the UK. Remember to compost your food waste at home or put it in kerbside food waste bins. If your local council does not provide composting, look into options you can start at home, such as domestic compost bins.