4 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste
As with lots of things the best way to start reducing your waste is to gradually start changing your habits. Starting a new routine can be hard at first but eventually it will feel like you’ve always done it that way!
Since the charge on plastic bags was introduced many people started carrying their own bags. Make sure you’ve always got a bag stuffed somewhere ready to use on those unplanned supermarket runs for emergency snacks. Personally I keep a couple in my car, one in my nappy bag (although pram baskets are also a great alternative to plastic bags), and one in my every day handbag. Re-usable bags don’t have to be fancy canvas totes or netted market bags. You could simply have some old plastic bags stuffed in the side pocket in your car.
Now this one is bit more difficult than always having a bag on you that barely takes up any room. If you’re prone to a coffee on the go and know you’ll pick one up on your way to work or as you wander around the shops then just make sure to grab your re-usable cup before you leave the house, simple! The problem I found was when I was out and about and an unexpected coffee craving would come on and I was cup-less. I now know better and always have one on me, it just took me a bit of time to get into a habit of cleaning it and remembering to put it back in my bag. I always leave the house in a rush so it’s safer for me to just have a bag packed and ready to go, coffee cup and all. The great thing about taking your own cup is you’ll often get a wee discount on your coffee and if you ask the barista nicely they don’t mind giving it a quick clean for you if you’ve already had a hot beverage that day. You don’t even need to own a take away cup I used to work in a cafe across the road from an office block and workers would simply come in with the mug from their desk (I wouldn’t recommend this if you've got further to go than across the road however, coffee does burn.)
Lunch on the go
Are you a serial lunch buyer? Start taking a pack lunch! Do a bit of meal prep on a Sunday and pack your lunches ready to grab for the week. If you buy lunch on the go it is often impossible to find a plastic free lunch. You’ll reduce so much waste by making your own. Packing your own lunch is also a great way to use up leftovers reducing your food waste. It takes a bit more effort and organisation but it is so worth it financially and from a packaging perspective. You could even treat yourself to a nice lunch out once in a while in a cafe/ restaurant as a pat on the back for sticking to your new lunch prep routine. Just make sure you put your home prepared lunches in re-usable Tupperware or sandwich bags and not clingfilm!
If you find you often over buy veggies and don’t quite get around to eating them before they go bad you might want to a) plan your shopping a bit better b) find a use for them before they turn. If you’ve got some vegetables on the turn you could make some soup or vegetable stock. Soup is a great way to use up vegetables and I find most combinations work out pretty well you don’t need to make anything fancy. Soup will also help you towards point 3. Another option is to make vegetable stock. You can also use the ends of vegetables for this. Just boil them down and pour into an ice cube tray, then freeze. Take a block or two out of the tray when you need some stock and put the remaining ones back.
Implementing these tips might seem like a bit of an effort sometimes so don’t beat yourself up for forgetting your coffee cup now and then or throwing some vegetables out. You will get there eventually. As the saying goes we don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.