There’s always room for improvement when it comes to taking care of the planet.
But being sustainable doesn’t mean you have to go into full eco-warrior mode, or turn into a Womble and start recycling every piece of waste into something else. Your family can make a few little changes here and there to reduce waste and become that little bit eco-friendlier.
To make your home more sustainable, here are seven easy steps you can take to help your family reduce its waste.
1. Say no to plastic bags
Let’s start with the basics – stop using plastic bags! It’s easy to nip to the shops and just pay the charge for a plastic bag, but to reduce your family’s waste, swapping to a material-based bag is key.
The majority of supermarkets now offer woven ‘bags for life’, with some now also having paper bags, so through investing in a selection of these long-lasting bags, you’ll never need a plastic one again. But just remember to put them back in your car after using them!
2. Leftovers = lunch
The sight of a cold slab of lasagne might not seem the most appetising of propositions, but that’s no reason to waste it! Get the reusable Tupperware (more on that to follow) out, store it in the fridge and take it to work with you the next day – a quick spin in the microwave and your taste buds will be taken on a trip to Naples! For the kids, leftover veg with a bit of humous can be great in a pack up, or for a Friday treat, a bit of cold pizza or chicken nuggets will make you a fans’ favourite.
3. Keep your old containers
Step away from the clingfilm, tin foil and sandwich bags! From wrapping up sandwiches to covering up the top of bowl, we use these things like they are going of fashion and simply creating more unnecessary waste.
Instead, keep your old jars and containers and reuse them to hold your consumables. An empty box from the Chinese takeaway makes for a perfect sandwich container rather than being thrown out, whilst an old jam jar can be used for fruit, yoghurts and a serving of soup.
4. Start a compost heap
Reducing your waste doesn’t mean changing your indoor habits. Any vegetable peelings, fruit waste (i.e. apple cores, banana skins) or tea bags are the perfect ingredients for a compost heap out in your garden. Over time, these will rot and add super-sumptuous nutrients into the soil you’ve got stored, and help you create your own eco-friendly garden – Titchmarsh, watch out!
5. If you don’t want it, sell it!
“Mummy, please! I promise I’ll play the drumkit!”
“Yeah, golf is my new thing. I’ve bought all the gear.”
“But if I buy this exercise bike, then I won’t need my gym membership.”
Sound familiar? All three of the above will never come true, and we all know it! So, four years later, when it’s time to get rid of all that unused, unloved stuff – what do you do? Don’t even consider throwing them out – be savvy to save on waste.
Get your unwanted goods listed on the likes of Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and eBay and sell them on to someone who is on the lookout for exactly what you’re selling. If you can’t sell it, pass it on to the local charity shop instead so it goes to a good cause rather than to waste.
6. Ditch the paper mail
The classic image of envelopes pilled near a door can often by associated with a famed Destiny’s Child song – Bills, Bills, Bills. But with all these comes another problem, the paper waste caused by the mail.
However, the majority of banks and utility providers now offer the option of ‘going paperless’. So making the swap is an easy way to prevent waste, meaning the only post your family will get is the deluge of birthday cards on the kids’ big days, and the measly one or two on yours. Putting a small sign near your letter box saying “NO JUNK MAIL” can also help stop unwanted and unnecessary paper waste falling into your home.
7. First in, first out
Imagine being the first at the train station, the platform gradually gets busier and by the time the train arrives you’re the last to get on. Well, in a weirdly metaphoric way, this is happening in your fridge and cupboards – and it’s creating a whole heap of waste.
We have the tendency to pack our pantries and fridges with the newer food at the front, and the older stuff at the back – as daft as it sounds, we’re all guilty of it. To help avoid food waste, adopt a ‘first in, first out’ policy, making sure you eat the older stuff first – using pens to colour coordinate the dates is a good way to implement this.
To help your family reduce the amount of waste it creates, be sure to follow these seven steps and live that little bit more sustainably.