You might have arrived here from my post Top 10 Easy Changes To Reduce Your Waste. If you’ve already made those changes part of your daily routine, well done. This post includes ten next steps you could take to reduce your waste. They might require a little investment up front, but will help you save in the long run. Or there may be some planning involved or a change of routine to incorporate them into your life. Or you might need to accept that there will be a period of ‘trial and error’ where you work out what suits you best.
1. Compost. We bought our compost bin at a reduced rate through a council scheme with Evengreener. Most councils have these schemes from time to time, so it might be worth ringing yours to enquire. Or if you’re handy, you could make a compost bin from old pallets or wood offcuts. I saw one on a group recently where a couple had repurposed an old bed into a compost bin! Our waste reduced by a carrier bag’s worth of rubbish when we started composting.
2. Buy second hand or ethical. I used to feel a little down if I came out of a shop empty-handed, but when I started reading more about fast fashion and its impact on not only the environment, but also the people involved in making the clothes, I changed my mindset on shopping. Now, I always look in charity shops first before resorting to buying new. If I have to buy new, I try to save up and invest in a better quality piece that is ethically-made. There are occasions when I need something urgently and don’t have time to scour charity shops or save up and I resort to fast fashion, but I try to make these as infrequent as possible.
3. Cook from scratch. Cooking from scratch is something my husband and I have always enjoyed doing. Cutting down on processed food tends to cut down on packaging waste too, as well as being healthier. We still keep a few packets of fish fingers in the freezer for emergencies!
4. Swap disposable menstrual products for cloth pads or the menstrual cup. The average woman uses about 15,000 disposable sanitary products in her lifetime, costing about £2000. You can read more about disposable sanitary products and the benefits of switching to reusables at Go Real. Switching to cloth sanitary pads or a menstrual cup could save you hundreds of pounds and will also save the environment.
5. Swap disposable razors for a safety razor. Likewise, switching disposable, plastic razors for a safety razor will have the same benefits: more money in your pocket and less impact on the environment.
6. Change your personal care routine. Making some swaps in the bathroom will also reduce your waste, though there could be some trial and error involved until you find the products to suit you. Switch shower gel for bar soap. Switch shampoo for a shampoo bar or alternative haircare routine (there are loads out there!). Switch anti-perspirant for a natural deodorant or make your own. Switch plastic toothbrushes for bamboo ones. Start searching online and you’ll find the possibilities are endless!
7. Swap disposable nappies for cloth nappies and wipes. As with reusable menstrual products, cloth nappies and wipes may need a bit of up front investment, but you’ll save in the long run and the environment will thank you. There are so many options available that I’m not going to go into them here. Rather, I would advise you to hunt down a cloth nappy group, either locally or online, where you’ll find loads of advice on what would suit your baby best. You’ll also be able to buy second hand, saving a bit of money into the bargain.
8. Take your own containers to the butcher’s or deli. This can take a bit of courage the first time you do it, but it’s worth asking. Don’t be embarrassed if they say no. Politely ask why and see if you can find some middle ground. I found it best to ask during Zero Waste Week or Plastic Free July, then they feel like they’re joining in with something and have a good reason to do it. Hopefully they won’t mind carrying on after the event is over!
9. Take your own container for leftovers in restaurants or to the takeaway. Again, another one that takes a bit of courage and forward planning. If you can’t use your own containers, try finding takeaways that have the least environmental impact. For example, they might use containers that you can reuse at home.
10. Change your lunch habits. Try thinking ahead about your lunch and using reusables to take a packed lunch or leftovers from home. There are more ideas for zero waste lunches here.
Don’t forget to let me know how your zero waste journey is going in the comments. 🙂