Words: Heleayner Davis
Happy New Year!
Not only is it a new year, it’s a new decade and many of us are taking the time to re-evaluate and make promises to become better versions of ourselves. Let’s face it, New Year’s resolutions can be very overwhelming; spend less time on Instagram, travel the world, go to the gym at least four times a week (how’s that going?). However, not all New Year’s resolutions have to be scary. So, if you’re still undecided on what changes to make in 2020, why not consider doing something for yourself and the planet by adopting a zero-waste lifestyle?
According to a report by WWF, we are predicted to produce a mind-boggling 6.3 million tonnes of plastic waste by 2030, with 67% being sourced from packaging. That’s only ten years away; although many supermarkets and brands are starting to introduce recycling schemes and packaging alternatives, we still have a very long way to go.
Living an entirely waste-free lifestyle can be intimidating, and it is certainly not something that just happens overnight. However, we believe that the smallest changes can make the biggest impact. So, why not enter the new decade eco-conscious and waste-free?
Keep reading to see our top 10 tips on how to have a waste-free New Year.
Buy unpackaged fruit and vegetables
In the past, it was only possible to purchase unpackaged fruit and veg at your local greengrocers (and it was often more expensive). In 2019, Sainsbury’s became the first ever UK supermarket to remove plastic from its loose fruit, vegetables and bakery items. Additionally, following a ten-month trial in selected stores, Morrisons has introduced plastic-free fruit and veg isles to a further 60 stores nationwide, and you can now choose up to 127 varieties of fruit and veg to either buy loose or put into recyclable paper bags.
Minimise food waste
According to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), 7.3 million tonnes of household food waste is produced in the UK each year, with the equivalent carbon footprint of 22 million tonnes. Why not consider keeping track of what you have bought and used; making sure not to overbuy on things that you already have stored in your kitchen. You can also plan ahead by using your weekends to batch-cook your lunch and dinners for the week. This not only reduces your food waste but saves you time and money, as you’re not having to buy lunch on-the-go. Alternatively, another option is to donate any unwanted tinned, canned or boxed goods to your nearest food bank, but be sure to check that they are not past their use-by dates.
Another excellent and inexpensive way to reduce food waste is to compost. Composting is a natural process that transforms your kitchen waste into nutrient-dense food for your garden. According to the national recycling campaign for England, Recycle Now, composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces per year, or your washing machine produces in three months! All you need to do is choose an outdoor space with at least 3 square feet for your compost bin and then make your container. Once ready, you can compost almost anything - egg shells, flowers, coffee and even tea bags. Just bear in mind that the trick is to aim for equal amounts of ‘green’ waste such as fruit and vegetables and ‘brown’ waste such as wood shavings and dry leaves to keep your compost healthy. Turn your mixture over every week or two, and you’ll begin to see your food scraps turn into soil. Cool, right?
If you haven’t already, purchase a refillable water bottle
The average UK person buys more than three plastic water bottles a week, working out at a staggering 150 bottles each year per person. Whether you’re a commuter, hiker or gym goer, a reusable water bottle is essential in ensuring that you stay hydrated without contributing to plastic pollution. There are also thousands of refill stations across the UK and coffee chains such as Pret, Costa and Starbucks now offer a free refill service. If you’re a coffee drinker, invest in a reusable coffee cup. You’ll find that you’ll save yourself a bit of money, as many coffee shops now offer a discount to customers who provide their own cup. No excuses.
Switch to glass
Stop recycling your glass jars and save them to be reused! They can be used for anything: taking lunch to work, storing leftovers and can be taken to bulk food stores so that you can buy ingredients without the unnecessary excess packaging. Glass jars are an excellent choice in replacing so many other storage containers; they can even be used on-the-go for breakfast smoothies, overnight oats or coffee.
Swap single-use cotton pads for reusable ones
According to WWF, 20,000 litres of water is needed to produce just one kilogram of cotton, causing a loss in natural habitats for plants, birds and fish. Cotton pads are an essential part in many of our beauty routines, however they are not recyclable or biodegradable. Reusable cotton pads are designed to be used hundreds of times and are made from soft bamboo fabrics that are suitable for even the most sensitive skin, including babies. Once dirty, simply pop them into the washing machine with your normal load. Clever, eh?
It takes a lot of energy and resources to make new products. In particular, purchasing new clothing can be very wasteful and harmful to the environment, and fast fashion is known to be one of the most polluting industries in the world. In the UK, an average of 11 million items of clothing end up in landfill each week. Additionally, a 2019 report by the charity Bernardo’s found that British people would purchase more than 50 million outfits that Summer, to only be worn once before being discarded. Not only does shopping second-hand ensure that perfectly good clothes are kept out of landfill, it also supports charitable causes. You can have a rummage in your local charity shop or find websites online that are dedicated to purchasing and selling unwanted garments. You will also find that you’ll save yourself some money, as you’ll most likely only pay a percentage of the original price.
Invest in reusable sanitary products
According to the Women’s Environmental Network, a woman will go through more than 11,000 disposable menstrual products in her lifetime. Although they seem practical and convenient, conventional tampons and sanitary towels are made of harmful plastics that are non-biodegradable. In fact, according to downtoearth.org one sanitary towel could take 500-800 years to decompose. Thankfully, there are now many reusable period products on the market, including menstrual cups, reusable tampon applicators and even period pants. Not only are these alternatives good for the environment, but they are also free of harmful and toxic chemicals that are contained within generic sanitary products.
Make your own cleaning products
Household cleaning products are encased in non-recyclable plastic bottles and often contain nasty chemicals that can trigger allergies and asthma. So, why not invest in reusable spray bottles that you can refill with homemade cleaning alternatives? You’ll benefit the environment by reducing your plastic waste and you’ll also be doing a great thing for your health. Ingredients such as baking soda, white wine vinegar and lemon juice are preferred natural alternatives that can be used to remove stains and cut-through grease.
Switch to refillable beauty products
Recycling company Terracycle has revealed that the cosmetics industry produces a staggering 120 billion units of packaging per year and only 50% of beauty products are being recycled, according to Recycle Now. The trend of refillable beauty is taking over the beauty industry and many brands (like us) are now making it possible for you to refill your empty shampoo and shower gel bottles once they have been used to the very last drop. Here at The Conscious Beauty Co., once you have reached the end of your reusable aluminium bottle, simply head to our online refill shop and purchase your next desired refill pouch. Once your bottle is replenished, we will recycle the pouch for you! Just post it back to us using the recycling bag that comes with your first order, and your bottle continues to live on.