Ten ways to reduce waste at home
01 June 2015 | OVO Energy
Anything that isn’t recycled and is put in a black rubbish bag ends up in landfill, and landfill is a problem for a number of reasons: it eats up natural habitats, destroys eco-systems, emits pollutant gasses to the air, pollutes the ground and water sources, and means that tonnes and tonnes of precious materials are wasted every year, when they could be recycled or reused instead.
But there are lots of ways you can play a positive role in reducing the need for landfill. Reduce waste and your reliance on the black bag with these easy tips!
Start at the supermarket
If you think about it, most of the waste that ends up in the bin comes from food packaging, so making a few alterations to your shopping list could prevent a lot of stuff being chucked out.
- Make a meal plan for the week and write a shopping list before you leave the house. That way, you won't be tempted to buy more than you need and you'll end up throwing away less.
- Buy loose fruit and veg instead of ones that are pre-packaged, and unless you’re buying lots, skip the plastic bag. That bell pepper will be just fine in your trolley on its own!
- Buy only what you need. BOGOF (buy one, get one free) deals can seem appealing, but if you’re not going to get to that carton of juice before it expires you’re just creating unnecessary waste.
- Look for products that are reusable. Instead of buying a plastic container of herbs, for example, look for refill packets that you can decant into existing containers.
- Think quality, not quantity, when it comes to sponges and wash clothes. Decent ones will last longer than cheap ones, which will need to be replaced more often (meaning more in the bin!)
- Sounds like a nobrainer, but remember to bring a canvas bag or a rucksack with you when you go shopping. If you're prone to forgetting, invest in this stylish fold-up shopping bag keychain - attach it to your house keys and you'll never have to ask for a plastic bag again!
- Don't go shopping on an empty stomach. Your hungry brain will not only trick you into buying junk food and spending more money than intended, but you'll also buy everything in larger quantities, creating more food waste later.
Think before you throw
Most of us have a recycling bag or box, but how much recyclable stuff inadvertently goes in the black bag instead? RecycleNow is a great site which gives you info on your local area and tips and guides on how to recycle to make sure you’re not wasting a single lick of recyclable material.
Tasty waste still counts!
It’s easy to overlook food waste in the grand scheme of your bin, but add it all up and it’s a real problem. The UK chucks away 7 million tonnes of food every year – that’s enough to fill nine Wembley Stadiums! And your bank balance suffers, too. According to Love Food Hate Waste, the average household could save £60 a month if they made a few simple changes to their food habits. Find out how, here.
Create your own compost
No matter how militant you are with your food waste, you’re still going to have a few scraps left over. Make the most of them by creating your own compost heap instead of turfing them in the trash.
Ditch the junk mail
Ugh, junk mail. Who needs it? Every morning you’re greeted with sheets and sheets of paper offering ‘great deals’ and special offers, and guess what? It all ends up in the bin (well, hopefully the recycling bag). Sadly, ‘No junk mail’ stickers above letter boxes rarely work, so take five minutes to register your details with the Mailing Preference Service and you should see the amount of unwanted post peter out.
Eliminate electronic waste
Okay, so it’s unlikely that you’re dumping old washing machines and dishwashers in the bin, but what about smaller electronic gadgets and gizmos, such as old phones, clippers, clocks and toys? Putting these items in the bin is a huge waste of valuable materials, not to mention a big problem for landfill – but it’s not difficult to recycle them! Take a look at this guide from RecycleNow, which gives you a comprehensive guide on how to recycle electrical items.
Modern technology means we now live in an age of instant communication and digital media. Make the most of it and you could do the environment a favour, too:
- Sign up for electronic bank and utility statements (no more paper waste!)
- It goes without saying, instead of buying CDs and DVDs, opt for digital downloads
- Think before you print! And if you do need to print, make sure your printer is set to print on both sides of the paper.
Bring back your batteries
Batteries are tiny little things, so popping a couple of those in the bin doesn’t cause any harm, right? Afraid not! Battery waste can be a big problem in landfill, so take advantage of the nationwide ‘Battery Back’ scheme. This means you can drop off your old batteries for recycling at any shop that sells them, whether you bought them from there or not. This helpful tool from BatteryBack will help you find your nearest collection point.
Consider cloth nappies
Your little bundle of joy will go through an average of 4,000 nappies in his or her lifetime, and even the most well-intentioned green parent would struggle to find a way to recycle them (yuck). So if you find you bin is filling up with your little’uns unmentionables, why not consider recyclable nappies instead? Find out more about disposable vs reusable nappies in our handy blog post.
Say you’re embarking on some DIY and you need a drill, do you go out and buy a cheapy one that’ll do the job but then sit in a cupboard gathering dust? Or do you reach out to your local community to see if someone has one you could borrow for the afternoon? The second one, of course! Collaborative consumption is a growing movement that sees folk sharing their stuff and negating the need to buy more (which will end up in the bin!).
Here are some easy and practical ways to reduce your carbon footprint and if you are not sure about the difference is between ‘eco-friendly’, ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’? Read our guide to these environmentally friendly terms.
All the facts in this article were sourced by our partner, the Centre for Sustainable Energy. If you’d like more free impartial advice on anything from tips on energy efficiency and renewable energy to how to apply for grants and financial support just give us a call on 0800 408 6601 (mobile 0117 934 1999) to speak with an energy efficiency expert or you can email us.