The zero-waste movement is picking up momentum, with more and more households aiming at eliminating their rubbish output entirely. Zero Waste Home and The Zero Garbage Challenge are among many global efforts to achieve a human lifestyle that is in harmony with the planet. But what if you're not ready to go the whole hog, or the demands of the zero-waste lifestyle just aren't practical? What are the easiest and most effective ways to cut down on waste?
Today we'll be looking at three key zero-waste strategies, as well as easier yet still effective waste-reducing options, to help you make sure that you're not creating any nasty consequences for the environment.
1: Prevention is better than cure
When it comes to household waste, one of the worst offenders is the grocery shop. Despite increasing awareness of environmental issues, many food manufacturers still insist on using multiple layers of packaging, or making their packaging from recycle-resistant materials, or in ways that make recycling difficult (we're looking at you, TetraPak). With this in mind, you can save yourself the responsibility for unnecessary waste by choosing products with minimal packaging, or by shopping at grocers and wholefood shops, where you can buy products with no packaging at all. Even items which are ordinarily packaging-intensive, such as cereal or dried fruit, can be bought straight from the jar, letting you use your own reusable bags in place of cardboard and plastic.
Minimising the amount of potential waste you bring into the home is a key part of any zero-waste strategy, but even if you're only looking at reducing your waste, this is a simple, effective way to start.
2: Get composting
In most of the UK, regular recycling collections mean that paper and plastic rubbish is fairly easy to dispose of in a responsible way. However, food waste remains a problem, and contributes to the landfill crisis. But, by getting into composting, you can transform your food waste from an environmental hazard to an environmental boon. The Confessions of a Composter blog is a great place to look for tips on how to get the most from your waste with the minimum of effort.
Composting is at the core of every zero-waste household, but once again, you don't have to go all the way to make a difference. Install a composter in your garden, and a food waste bin for your kitchen, and you're bound to notice a huge drop in your household's waste output.
3: Clean doesn't always mean Green
The way we clean our homes today requires the use of hundreds of chemicals, many of which are actively hazardous to the environment. Additives like plastic micro-beads used in abrasives do not decay, and, according to Greenpeace studies, pose a risk to the future of life in the oceans. So what can we do to minimise our chemical waste? The first step is to take stock of what cleaning products you use, and look for alternatives. Instead of using disposable wipes, why not recycle old cotton clothes into rags? When they get dirty, simply add them to your compost bin.
If you're taking the zero-waste challenge, cutting out chemical waste from cleaning products is a must. If you're interested in finding out more about how to lessen your reliance on chemical-based cleaning, check out our recent article on the subject.