It’s Zero Waste Week, that one week a year where we’re encouraged to help the environment by producing less waste. But, if truth be told, every week should be Zero Waste Week.
In the UK, we produce millions of tonnes of waste every year and each year we’re producing more waste than the one before. And it’s a global problem. For example, globally, the amount of food waste each year could feed almost 1 billion hungry people. And it’s not just the food itself that’s wasted; it’s also the environmental resources used to produce that food. So, we need to start reducing the amount of waste we produce, to save ourselves money and to benefit our planet as a whole.
As we all know, anything that’s good for the planet is also good for our health. Why? Because human beings don’t exist alongside the environment, we are a part of it. We have an impact on it and, in turn, it impacts on us.
This year’s theme for Zero Waste Week is “Re-Use”. So, with that in mind, here’s 5 ways to waste less and live better by re-using and recycling – this week and every week.
1) Don’t bin your leftovers
Tonight’s leftovers are tomorrow’s lunch. Or you could freeze them and voilà, a ready meal! You could also re-use leftovers as ingredients in another meal. It may require a little imagination, but hey, it keeps your brain active! I love making meals from a random selection of leftovers; in my family, we call these meals “If-Its” (i.e. If-it’s-in-the-fridge-you-can-eat-it!)
2) Use up food scraps
What do you usually do when you top and tail a carrot? Throw both ends away… Or when you peel a potato? What about lemon rinds? (OR if you happen to have a thing for juicing, what do you do with the pulp?) None of it needs to go to waste. Bits and bobs like carrot ends and potato peelings can be used to make vegetable stock. Lemon rinds can be added to cakes. And pulp from juicing can be added to anything from cakes to fritters. And anything that really, really has to go and can’t be eaten can be composted. In fact, sometimes you throw something in the compost and it grows. Then you end up with more food than you started with! Yay!
3) Don’t throw away your unwanted possessions
Sell your unwanted items on internet auction sites or give them away to charity shops (or you could use initiatives like Freecycle). Why is this good for your health? Well, first things first, if you give things away, it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside. But, secondly, having too much stuff has been shown to make us feel more depressed, so a bit of a de-clutter may even make you happier! And happier people are healthier people!
4) Step away from the plastic
Everything comes in plastic, which ultimately gets thrown away. It takes plastic hundreds of years to decompose and many of these plastic items end up in our oceans, harming our wildlife. Choosing re-usable non-plastic alternatives is only one part of the solution, but it’s an easy change to make. For example, you could use cloth bags instead of plastic carrier bags and you could store food in glass jars rather than plastic containers. It has also been suggested that plastics are directly harmful to human health, but whether this is true or not, if our ecosystem is disrupted by our waste-problem, it’s going to harm us all in the long run.
5) Look beyond the obvious
Just because an object is designed for one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t use it for something else. I often use jars as vases and I actually have one flower pot that I use as a breakfast bowl… (It’s too pretty to be a flower pot!) If you’re tired of something, try and think of a way you can change that object’s function and breathe new life into it. That way, you’ve not thrown something away (e.g. a jar) AND, at the same time, you don’t need to buy yet another item (e.g. a vase). What’s not to like?!
For more ideas on how to waste less, visit http://www.zerowasteweek.co.uk/ and check out their blog and resources!