As well as decluttering and simplifying my life and home, I’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce waste. There is a lot of information available about this online – many admirable bloggers write of their zero-waste lifestyles, producing only a small jar a year of items that cannot be recycled. Sadly that’s not all that possible for the majority of us, but I feel like I’m making a good start. In making changes to how I shop, there are far fewer things coming in and out of my house, but with regular food shops still being a necessity, I figured my kitchen would be a good place to start! Most of the waste in our house comes from the kitchen, be it food or packaging – in an ideal world we’d all be able to visit packaging-free shops and buy purely local, fresh ingredients, and although we’re not quite there yet, there are a few small steps that can make big changes to the waste you make.
1.) Assess your waste
Where are you making the most? Mine mostly was plastic food packaging, and then tea and coffee. So many things came in unnecessary plastic outer wraps, and although I try not to purchase them, I was still finding myself getting through huge amounts of plastic bottles every week. Whether I was picking up tea or coffee or making it myself, I was still throwing away ridiculous amounts of paper cups, plastic lids, wooden stirrers, bags and pods etc. These felt like the two biggest areas to focus on.
2.) Make Conscious Changes
When you are purchasing, be more conscious in what you are picking up. When you are choosing between two of the same items, ask yourself have the opportunity to make a better choice? If you can pick something up in a paper or card package, opt for that over the plastic. If it’s in a plastic pot, is it also available in a glass container that you could reuse, or recycle? Also, ensure you’re buying un-wrapped veg. There’s really no need to buy it in a plastic bag, as it’s usually always available without it, and if that doesn’t seem possible at the supermarket, head to a local greengrocers instead.
3.) Bring Your Own
When shopping, always take re-usable bags to save you buying plastic ones. Take a selection of smaller canvas bags too if you’re buying loose items like carrots and potatoes, this again skips the need for plastic packaging. Carry a water bottle with you that you can refill, and try not to visit cafes without taking your own re-usable cup. Bring your own lunch and snacks to work in reusable containers, which stops you needing to picking up overpriced sandwiches and salads, and the plastic packaging they come in.
4.) Plan ahead
…and don’t shop hungry! Plan your meals ahead of time, write a list of the ingredients you need and stick to it. Shopping on an empty stomach can mean many things that look appealing at the time end up in your bag, but if you don’t end up using them, they just go to waste. Only buy what you are going to cook with and eat, and writing up a plan is a great way to help stick to this!
5. ) Make it yourself
So many items can be easily created at home, saving on packaging and also money! I’ve recently started making my own granola, coffee syrups, coffee creamers and more, and having so much fun with it. Pinterest is full of endless recipes and inspiration of what to make and how to make it, and you can make things exactly how you like them. ‘Quick and Easy’ options tend to make more rubbish too – do you really need to buy something prepackaged, when often it will be cheaper and better if you buy the ingredients and make it yourself.
This is a way I’ve seriously reduced my tea and coffee waste too, I have switched to brewing loose leaf tea in a metal basket, skipping out teabags and boxes, and swapped my pod coffee maker for a good old fashioned french press, which I just use ground coffee in, removing the waste of pods and filters.
These are just a few things that I’ve found helpful in trying to create less rubbish and waste at home. If you had any tips to share, please leave them below as I would love to read them!