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The 40 Easiest Ways to Reduce Your Waste

In 2018, the average person in England produced 394kg of rubbish. At least for me, that figure is scary. We should not be producing this much waste. Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade and even then it doesn’t completely break down. According to the National Geographic 91% of plastic isn’t even recycled. This has made many people switch to a zero-waste lifestyle. I know, it sounds hard but it brings a lot of benefits. However, even if you make a small effort just to reduce your waste, it will make a big difference.

1. Say no to paper receipts

Every year just in the USA, 1 billion gallons of water and 10 million trees are sacrificed to provide people with receipts. What is the point in this? Most receipts are thrown away straight after. Most receipts can’t even be recycled which surprises many people. So stop asking for receipts unless it’s necessary. Companies need to make receipts digital because this is waste that we don’t need.

2. Look after your clothes

Not enough people realize how much waste comes from the fashion industry. This is the result of fast fashion. People constantly want to update their wardrobes to keep up with current trends. But is this vital? We need to stop this greed. As long as you have enough clothes you do not need to keep buying more. Most do not even wear most things in their wardrobe but they still keep buying more.

3. Buy second-hand clothes

Apart from looking after your clothes, when you do need to buy something new, shop from second-hand stores. A lot of water and resources are needed to produce clothes and shoes, so start going to charity shops where you can find high-quality second-hand clothes.

4. Stop buying packaged vegetables and fruits

Plastic seems to be everywhere. Try buying fruit and vegetables without plastic packaging. Fruit and vegetables already have a protective layer why do we need to add that extra layer of plastic? Supermarkets like Sainsbury’s in the UK have gone a step further and eliminated the plastic bags used to weigh vegetables and fruit and you can now get a reusable bag for £0.2.

5. Use beeswax wrapping to wrap your food in

There are various companies that have found a creative and sustainable way to store food. Beeswax wraps are one of them. You can store any food using these. They work like clingfilm only they’re better.

6. Make your own beauty products

Make your own lip balm, soaps, toothpaste, and even mascara. Beauty product packaging is often hard or impossible to recycle. As you will be the one making them, you will look after them better and you will not want to waste any. Therefore they will last longer. This is a great way to reduce your waste.

Related: 21 Homemade Products To Try Out Now

7. Stop buying processed food

All processed food comes wrapped in packaging- usually in plastic. Stop eating processed food and start making your own. This is healthier and you will be protecting the planet. There are no down-sides to this.

9. Leftover food 

Do not throw away any leftover food and compost whatever can’t be eaten. Eating leftovers will also save you money and save you cooking every day. We do not need more waste in landfills. There are so many countries facing food insecurity and we are throwing away perfectly good food. This is not right.

10. Reusable bag

Get reusable bags for all your shopping. I don’t understand why plastic bags are not banned yet. Everyone by now should have stopped using plastic bags when going shopping (which shouldn’t be too often if you are trying to reduce your waste).

11. Stop online shopping

Think about how much packaging gets wasted. You can online shop if you have no other choice but try to reduce it in general. Have a look at your local stores first. Online shopping should be your last resort.

12. Eco-friendly toothpaste

There are many alternatives to normal plastics. For instance, you can get toothpaste in the form of tablets or powder. These can come in recyclable material or come with refills. We need to break out of our daily habits. They might seem insignificant but they still have an impact.

13. Reusable water bottle

This is common sense. There is no need to buy one-use plastic bottles anymore. Studies show when drinking bottled water you are probably consuming microplastics. This is another reason to stop drinking water from single-use bottles. The best kind of reusable bottles in my opinion are the metal ones. They keep your water fresh and cold for longer.

14. Stop buying takeout

This includes food and drink. So much packaging is used and in most cases, it can’t even be recycled. Is having take-away food really worth it? If you really want something, then take your own container. Of course, this is not always possible, but I’ve seen several people doing this.

15. Switch to online bills

Switch all your paper bill to online billing. Even though paper can be recycled, why waste resources if you can prevent it. You can do the same with bank statements. Now that everything is going online, take the opportunity and save precious paper.

16. Stop buying physical books

You can read from a kindle or another similar device. You will have access to pretty much any book you want. Alternatively, you can borrow books from a local library or take part in book swaps. This is for the people that read a book and never touch it again. What’s the point in having a full bookshelf with books that you will never read again. Donate them, sell them, or swap books with others.

17. Repair before you buy

If you can repair something that’s broken, why buy another one. It will be cheaper and better for the environment. You could try repairing it yourself and if that’s not possible, get someone else to repair it for you. Bottom line, we should stop throwing away everything just for the sake of it.

18. Grow your own food

If you have a garden, use it to grow fruit, vegetables or herbs. This can be a very fun task too and it’s another way to reconnect with nature. Think how satisfying it would be to know that you grew everything that you are cooking. Reduce your waste and have some fun.

19. Use up everything you have

Why go buy something new if you already have one? Before buying an item just because it’s new, make sure you have gotten as much use as possible from your current products. A good example of this is makeup. Many throw away makeup (usually because they bored of it) even though there’s still some left and buy another product. Remember when our finite resources are gone, we won’t be able to get any more of it.

20. Stop buying new gadgets

Updating your phone is normal now. Most people in the western world buy a phone every year or two even though their current phone works perfectly fine. This also goes for laptops, headphones, tablets…

21. Stop fast fashion

Stop following trends and buying cheap clothes every month. You don’t need that many clothes. Landfills are getting filled with clothes. Many do not want to wear the same outfit twice. This nonsense has to end. Be grateful with what you have and be happy with a minimalist wardrobe.

Related: The Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion

22. Cook your own food

Learn a useful skill while reducing your waste. You will also know exactly what is going in your food. You have full control. Processed food can have harmful ingredients for your health.

23. Second-hand electronics

If you can’t repair your phone and you need to buy a new one, instead f buying a brand one, get one from a second-hand store. It will still work perfectly fine. Don’t get sucked into this mentality that you need a brand new phone. You don’t

24. Metal straws

Ditch plastic straws. Ditch all one-use straws. I don’t care if they are plastic or paper (paper ones are better but still hard to recycle). Instead, invest in metal straws that you can use over and over.

25. Avoid single-use items

This encompasses so many things. Just don’t buy anything if it can only be used once.

26. Refillable makeup & refillable deodorant

There are new brands that produce makeup that can be refilled. for example some give you an empty pallet and then all you need is it buy the colours you need to fit in your pallet.

Refillable deodorants give you the option to order a refill for your deodorant instead of buying a new container each time.

27. Reusable shaver

Get a reusable shaver instead of the plastic disposable ones. There are many good ones out there and I think everyone should invest in one if they use shavers.

28. Compost

If you have a garden, use it to compost your food where it will naturally decompose. Otherwise it will be sent to landfill where it will not be able to break down because of the lack of oxygen,

29. Disposable plates and cutlery

These are completely unnecessary. Refuse them every time unless there’s no other option.

30. Stop buying fizzy drinks

So many cans and bottles get thrown away and end up in the oceans. For the sake of the planet and your health, stop buying these. They are no good.

31. Cancel newspaper & magazine subscriptions

In this age of technology, we really do not need to be using newspapers and magazines. Trees need to be cut down for them. I think people forget that everything they buy has to come from somewhere. They don’t just appear out of thin air.

32. Kitchen hand towels

Use cloth hand towels instead of paper towels. This is probably one of th easiest and cheapest swaps you could make.

33. Donate clothes

If you are done with a piece of clothing, donate it to a charity shop so someone else can use it. Maybe it doesn’t fit you anymore or you don’t like it but you never know, someone else might love it.

34. Reusable containers

Get some glass containers to keep food in. They are more durable than plastic too. Getting these will eliminate the need to use cling film and aluminium foil to store your food.

35. Bar soaps/ shampoo

Stop buying shampoo and conditioner in plastic bottles and instead get bars. You could even make your own if you want. This is another great way to reduce plastic waste.

36. Recycle

To prevent materials from ending up in landfills, recycle what can be recycled. But learn what can be recycled or not. There are many products that many people think they can be recycled when in reality they cannot.

37. Sell old items

Again if you don’t want something and you think someone else you find it useful, sell it. It will increase its lifespan which is more important than you think. The more we use the things we already have, the less we will need to manufacture.

38. Travel coffee cup

When going to a coffee shop, instead of using their plastic takeaway cups, take your own reusable one. Imagine how much plastic you will save in a year. Those plastic cups are also nearly impossible to recycle.

39. Buy in bulk

If you have a shop near you that allows you to buy in bulk, take advantage. Take your own jars and stock up. It will save you a ton of plastic waste.

40. Just stop buying stuff

If you want to reduce your waste, this the best way to do it. If you don’t need something, don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that. Having loads of stuff will not make you happier or more popular. It will only make you broke.

Bonus tip:

Make your own mask

Since it’s has become necessary to wear masks due to COVID-19, why not make your own? There are many tutorials online and they are really easy to make!

Lastly

You might not be able to become zero-waste completely but trying to reduce your waste is a great start. It’s something that everyone should try and do because, and I think I’m speaking for everyone here, no one wants to live on a planet of garbage.

Author

  • I've always cared about the planet but never knew how I could use my skills to create an impact. But that's when I decided to start Terra Movement. To get other creatives involved in the climate movement and inspire more people to help the planet and its people.

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