The ultimate guide to reducing your waste at home
According to a recent study conducted by the British organisation Verisk Maplecroft, each year more than 2.1000 million tonnes of waste is generated. Just to give you an idea, this equates to 800.000 olympic swimming pools filled with waste. And only 16% of it is recycled. We live in a consumerist era. It doesn’t come as any surprise to find out that the countries that are producing more waste are those in Western Europe and North America. The more income per capita, the more economic growth. The more economic growth, the more consumerism there is.
Consumerism has been a key factor in the urban solid waste crisis. Products are created from materials that don’t exist in nature, we are using more and more single use products, and the packaging is getting more a more excessive. But behind all of this also hides a lack of awareness within the general population.
As part of the European Week of Waste Reduction, we’ve wanted to talk to you about the small changes you can include in your day to day life to reduce your own waste. It’s true that we should all aspire to follow the quote that says: ‘the best waste is no waste’, but since we know change is hard, we’ll begin with the small steps first and then we can all slowly work our way up. So for now we’ll simply follow the quote: ‘change your habits, reduce your waste’.
The EWWR is based on three main pillars: reduction of waste, reuse of products/materials and recycling, the three Rs. A collection of actions that could be summarised into 5 big subjects:
- An awareness campaign focused on the current excess of waste – explaining the issue on an environmental, sociological and economic level, encouraging the implementation of everyday actions, etc.
- Produce better – avoiding waste in the different stages of the life of a product, avoiding waste within a company’s activity (this includes office waste), etc.
- Consume better – promoting responsible buying practices, giving priority to sustainably designed and eco-certified products, prioritising wholesale, promoting renting and lending, etc.
- Extend the life of products – promoting repairs and donations, giving a second life to objects, etc.
- Throw away less waste – by improving our day-to-day habits, avoiding food waste, keeping a close eye on expiry dates, promoting auto-composting, etc.
We’ve created a list of small actions you can take in order to start implementing some of these changes into your life. The more we do for our planet, the better.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
- Avoid consuming overly packaged products
- Bring your own reusable bags or shopping cart when you’re going shopping
- Don’t throw stuff away! Reuse everything you can: paper, cardboards, bags, etc.
- Avoid taking promo flyers on the street – take a photo instead!
- Buy better quality clothes and shoes so that they last longer, and repair them when they break
- Buy local products
- Buy in bulk
- Don’t buy products that come on white trays
- Avoid buying bottled water
- Use glass every time you can, and avoid buying brics or plastic containers
- Don’t buy anything that’s bottled in PVC
- Buy fresh produce
- Don’t buy over-packaged food (individual plastic bags, etc.)
- Buy detergents that are phosphate-free and/or surfactant-free
- Buy rechargeable detergents
- Use the minimum required quantity of detergent – it should be more than enough
- Only use fabric softener when you really need it
- Use vinegar to mop the floors, degrease surfaces, etc.
- Don’t buy air fresheners – use plants instead
Bathroom supplies and cosmetic products
- Don’t use over-packaged products
- Use bars (for deodorants, soaps, etc.)
- Don’t use anti-dandruff products made from selenium sulfide
- Don’t use/waste more than what you need
- Water paint is less toxic and way less polluting
- Don’t use sprays – apply products using a paint brush or similar
- Bring the waste of these products to your local waste facilities
- Whenever you can, avoid using battery-powered devices (try using automatic or solar-powered devices)
- Use rechargeable batteries – they’re more expensive, but last way longer
- Avoid button-cells
- Get rid of your batteries by throwing them into a special container or leaving them at a pick up point
- Don’t use sprays
- In case you have a plague, try using home remedies to get rid of it
- To get rid of insects, use half the juice of a lemon with cloves inside, or put basil pots on your window sills
- For the body: use a lemon and lavender essential oil mixed with your normal cooking oil
- Natural fabrics such as wool, cotton or linen are easier to recycle and are way less polluting
- Buy second hand, or sustainable clothes
- Don’t throw away your clothes just because they aren’t in style anymore – instead, give them to a charity or use them for something else (kitchen cloths, etc.)