When it comes to plastic, it really can be found in every aspect of your life. From your fridge to your bathroom to your workplace, plastic has taken over and just in case you haven’t heard the memo, plastic's bad. Bad for the environment and bad for our health.
So here at Give a Sh*t we have come up with 20 ways to reduce your waste right here right now, this year!
First of all, arm yourself with knowledge, knowledge is power and when you can understand the facts about plastic you can fully understand the magnitude of evil that it possesses. This also helps with motivation when you feel like giving up.
Second, write a list. Yep, you read that correctly, Jot down a list of all the plastics you use in your life. Categorize them under sections, for example: bathroom, kitchen, skincare, make up and so on. Trust me: it’s harder than it sounds and the results of just how much we have come to rely on this material will astound you. I have heard plastic being likened to the cancer of the world which I know is harsh but once you understand its impact you can see how this correlation makes sense.
Third is a messy one but important: audit your bins and take your rubbish home with you. Try not to take out your trash for a month, really let yourself live with the rubbish you create. It really will change your perspective on how much of a trail we leave behind us everywhere we go.
Once you have mastered these first three steps you are ready to start step four...
Step number four: take those categories you scribbled down earlier and pick one. Start at the least intimidating one, or don’t ... if you’re that way inclined. Now take that chosen category and start doing some research on plastic free and sustainable options you could swap to.
The next three steps require you to split your food shopping into three categories.
- Supermarket shop
- Refillable shop
Step five: Figure out your food cupboard essentials. What it is that you can keep buying from the supermarket? Hint hint, that's your food that comes in tin cans and glass jars. Although reusing is the ultimate waste free level, tin cans and glass are infinitely recyclable and make for a great eco-friendly swap.
Step six: Now don’t fear if some of your supermarket essentials didn’t make the eco-friendly cut, this is where you find your nearest refillable store. There are more and more eco-friendly, refillable shops popping up around, you just need to hunt them down. These shops are great as you have one jar at home that you just keep refilling, and you can make it look super sexy, like cupboard porn. At first these shops may be overwhelming so start with the basics like your dried pasta and rice. Take baby steps and within no time you will learn to run... or fly, that could be cool too.
Step seven: Find a veg-shop that doesn’t wrap everything in plastic. They do exist, if you are lucky you might have a grocer near you.
Step eight: Shop local. Shopping local produce and products is always the best for our environment. Not only does it support the community you live in, it also has far less of a carbon footprint if it didn’t have to travel across the world to get to your plate.
Step nine: Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags! Make sure you have them on you at all times and try not to rely on the shop having paper bags. Although paper bags are a great step away from plastic bags, they still are not the answer, we need to think reusable not single use.
Step ten: COMPOST!!! If you don’t have one, I need you to stop reading... Actually no, keep reading, but after you finish reading I want you to go and get yourself a compost bin. Composting your leftover food is so important as food scraps that are placed in normal landfill bins will rot and emit methane into our atmosphere, this is due to landfill not being the right environment for the food to break down.
If you don’t have a garden and are unable to get your own compost bin, do some research on places that may take your scraps, like local community centers or kindergartens.
Ok, I know this is getting long, so I will keep the next ten steps short and sweet.
11. Dine in, don’t take away. This simple option of dining in can eliminate so many wasteful, one-use containers and cutlery sets... and you don’t even have to do the dishes.
12. Or bring your own container In your bag and ask them to put your food in your container. You would be surprised at the amount of places that will actually be very happy to do so.
13. Carry snacks in your bag. Carrying snacks in your bag that you may have in bulk at home or made at home can reduce so many little bits of plastic and can save you money. So much of my wasteful slip ups come from decisions made when I’m hungry and have no other option... This step helps to eliminate that hungry purchasing.
14. Make sure to specify no plastic straw when ordering a drink. It's weird to think that places still have these silly things... But they do, so save yourself the surprise and just add “no plastic straw please” onto the end of the sentence every time you order a drink. And if you love straws, carry your own bamboo or metal straw in your bag.
15. Always carry a refillable water bottle. Water is an essential, never leave the house without this one. The best is a bottle that filters your water, so you can fill it up anywhere.
16. Don’t be afraid to ask. People are becoming more and more clued-up to the sustainable way of life. If you have a container you want filled, or you don’t know whether a certain drink they may bring you comes in plastic, just ask. And if they still serve their sparkling water in plastic bottles, and you have just asked maybe it will be a good hint to them that it’s time to ditch it.
17. Share with family & friends. This one can save you so much money. More often than not, your family or friends will have something sitting at home that they don’t use, but you are thinking of buying. You can either borrow or they might just give it to you .
18. Buy second hand. It kinda goes along with the last step... Someone out there has something you want, that they don’t want anymore. It really is always true, finding them is the hardest part. Figuring out your local second hand store, online platforms and mobile apps is the best chance of finding these items. I love using Facebook marketplace.
19. Get familiar with a sewing kit. Repairing things you already own is always going to be the most sustainable option.
20. Buy quality and take your time. Quality items that you have taken some time to research and think about is such a good way to reduce waste. Buy it once, but buy it right.
Last but not least, remember don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. The world needs millions of people reducing their waste imperfectly not a handful doing it perfectly.
Best of luck and feel free to always reach out to us at Give A Sh!t with questions. We may just be able to lend a hand :)
- Jodie Hacon