Is your bin full of packaging waste? Are you tired of putting the bin out for collection every week? Then you might like these tips for reducing your household waste:
- Buy food and other items unpackaged: take your own bags and containers when you shop and avoid prepacked items. Write a list to buy only what you need. You can read more here about my favourite places to by unpackaged in Leighton Buzzard. The market and independent shops are great for this.
- If you can’t find it unpackaged, choose glass, paper or card over plastics, or investigate refills: as well as being made from non-recyclable fossil fuels, plastic is harder to recycle and can often only be “downcycled”. It therefore likely to end up in landfill sooner, and takes centuries to biodegrade. Glass and paper however can be endlessly recycled and paper can be home composted. Easy swaps from plastic include switching from plastic tubs to butter in paper (Waitrose), from tea bags (which often actually contain plastic as well as coming in plastic wrap) to loose tea in card (PG Tips is widely available), oils in plastic to oils in glass bottles (you can also get refills of flavoured oils at Dobbies in Bletchley), bar soap (bought loose or in card), refills of laundry and washing up liquid (in Leighton Buzzard these are available at Nature’s Harvest), laundry powder in card (Aldi), dishwasher powder and salt in card (Waitrose or Sainsbury), milk in glass bottles (Pecks Farm deliver in the Leighton Buzzard area or you can take your own bottle to fill from the milk vending machine at Clipstone Dairy). You can find out more about plastic in tea bags in this article from Treading My Own Path and a list of easy swaps in this article from Happier, Sustainable, Less Skint.
- If you can only find products in plastic buy the largest size available for less packaging pro rata as long as the product stores well and you will actually use it all. For example we buy 5kg bags of basmati and long grain rice from the world food section of the supermarket – if you live close to an Asian supermarket you may have more options and be able to find rice in paper.
- Use reusables: take your own coffee cup or water bottle out, use cloth handkerchiefs, cleaning cloths, washable feminine hygiene products such as cloth pads or a menstrual cup, instead of disposables. Take your lunch to work in a reusable lunch box ( I have a lovely stainless steel one from A Slice of Green but we also continue to use a lot of plastic ones we had already as well as using containers such as ice cream tubs). Extend the reuse of products by buying second-hand and donating things you no longer need – as well as the charity shops there are numerous local sharing groups for giving away or requesting items, often for free – you may be surprised what things people can make use of when you no longer need them, and how often someone else no longer needs something you do. You can find links to some of them at the end of this post -a search for local similar groups on Facebook is always worthwhile as I have only mentioned a couple I use in the list. Repair things rather than replacing if you can. Many areas (although sadly I’ve not found one near me yet) have repair cafes where you can get help to fix your broken items. If you don’t have one near you can often find information about repairing things online (local people offered me plenty of advice on recent problems with my washing machine via local discussion group Nextdoor – in the list of links at the end).
- Have a go at making your own: If you have time bread, cakes and pasta can easily be made from ingredients largely sold in paper bags. White vinegar is great for cleaning and can be bought in glass bottles. You can make your own deodorant and apparently toothpaste from coconut oil (glass from Aldi) and bicarbonate of soda (in card from Selections or Wilco) with a few drops of essential oils. I have saved links to lots of useful recipes on my boards on Pinterest.
- Reduce your food waste: meal plan to avoid overbuying and use your freezer to save leftovers. Love Food Hate Waste has lots of tips. Washed peelings can be saved up to make stock, and fruit scraps can be used to make scrap vinegar or tepache.
- Compost as much as you can – pretty much anything organic can go in. Like many councils Central Bedfordshire offers discounted compost bins and information.
If you want to know more and are on Facebook, the friendly groups Zero Waste Heroes and Journey to Zero Waste UK are great places for sharing ideas or asking questions about reducing your waste, and there is now also a local group Zero Waste Bedfordshire.
Local sharing groups and other useful links:
- Information on recycling in Central Bedfordshire
- Recycle Now – information on recycling across the UK
- Give Away Leighton Linslade Freebies (Facebook Group)
- Leighton and Surrounding, Items for Sale, Wanted and Freebies ( Facebook Group)
- Freecycle (offer or request items for free)
- Freegle (offer or request items for free)
- Streetbank (for sharing skills and lending things)
- Nextdoor ( used to be called streetlife but has recently merged with US site Nextdoor – local discussions including offering or requesting items for free or sale)
- Olio ( an app for offering surplus food to reduce food waste, now extended to other items as well – all free)
- Lets Buzz – a local trading and exchange group