week #20 reduce household waste

Recycling binI have addressed the issue of waste in a couple of previous posts and have already opted to carry my own reusable water bottle and accumulate less than 5 plastic bags a month (this can prove extra challenging at Christmas time!). My interest in the matter was rekindled when my sister emailed to say she continues to be astounded by the copious amounts of rubbish that her household generates. So, she has decided to write down everything she throws away for the next week and then review the list to see where they can cut down. Three cheers for effort! She also wrote that she had wrapped my Christmas present in junkmail in an attempt to save paper. I have my suspicions she just forgot to buy wrapping paper.

I like to think I recycle as much as I possibly can. Yet, admittedly, items such as fish smothered plastic containers prove too much hassle to deal with and they end up in the normal bin to after which they will tarnish our lovely Earth in a landfill somewhere. What I would like to challenge is my own accumulation of unnecessary waste and the way in which I dispose of refuse.

Too often I choose the conveniently packed fruit and vegetables over the loose ones. This is not only a more expensive option but most of the time the packaging isn’t even recyclable. Is convenience literally costing the earth? Unfortunately, most supermarket’s organic ranges come prepackaged and one is faced with the dilemma of prioritising health over being environmentally friendly. If I had a garden I would almost certainly grow my own fruit and veg. However, in a small London flat this simply is not an option. Okay…in all honesty, most of my friends and family would laugh at the idea of me attempting to grow anything. I am not renowned for having green-fingers. I have killed a cactus and they don’t even need water! Nevertheless, what is available to me is the local farmer’s market. Even a fortnightly visit to the market would save significant packaging as I reduce the need to buy prepackaged, fresh produce from the supermarket.

We are at a point, in environmental terms, where recycling is no longer an option but a necessity. Natural resources could be totally depleted within a couple of generations and the more we ignore this the harder it will be to counteract the damage we cause. I need to get serious about recycling every article that I can. Realistically, it is minimal effort to put on my rubber gloves and wash out a fishy-smelling tray. We are so spoiled in our area that we don’t even have to separate our recycling; it all just goes into one bag and collected on a weekly basis. It is shameful of me not to play my part in the process. So, if something can be recycled, I will make sure it goes into the recycling and not in with the general waste.

Another way in which to reduce waste is by buying bulk rather than individual items. I have become a huge fan of ethicalsuperstore.com. In many cases, household products can be bought from the store in large quantities, such as extra large kitchen roll. This minimises packaging on individual items i.e. less plastic wrap goes in the big.

Like my sister, I am going to pay attention to the waste we accumulate throughout this week and see if there are areas where we can cut back. The more small changes I make, the more I realise that doing something beneficial is more about awareness than extravagant gestures. By making myself acknowledge areas where I can improve, I am already halfway there. And the rest is one small step at a time.

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