I know single use plastics are the hot topic of the moment, and sometimes looking at the big picture plastic/waste problem seems insurmountable. I certainly felt that way before, unsure of how one less coffee cup could make a dent in the mess we seem to have created on this earth. However, I’m a big fan of little changes for a big impact, so I decided to make a few little alterations in the way we live our lives to at least attempt to make a dent in my own contributions to the problem. Whilst I’m certainly not plastic free, I do feel happy that I’ve put positive change into effect at very little cost to my own routine, and so I wanted to share a few easy changes you could try to reduce your waste too. I feel like if we all do a little, we really could make a big difference.
Reducing your coffee consumption when out.
Now, I know you can’t always nip home for a coffee, it’s not practical to assume that we will only ever require or desire coffee when equipped with our own coffee making facilities. What I’m trying to do though, is reduce the unnecessary coffee stops. Making my own coffee at home in the morning, I can control how much waste that process is creating, I can buy my milk in recyclable containers, I can return my coffee pods to Nespresso for recycling, I can buy coffee syrups in glass bottles not plastic. I carry a Keep Cup in my handbag for the occasions when a takeaway coffee is necessary, and if I happen to not have a cup with me for whatever reason, I opt to drink my coffee in so as not to use a disposable cup. It’s not a perfect system, and there is still the odd occasion where I need a coffee on the run and I don’t have a cup, so end up using a disposable, but I’ve definitely eliminated 95% of the cups I was using.
Shop local + seasonal.
Honestly, I think the health benefits of shopping for your groceries locally should be enough to convince us all anyway, but it’s not always easy or practical. I try to do the bulk of our grocery shopping at the local farm shop, or Pick Your Own farm anyway, and when I do buy fruit and veg from the supermarket, I opt for loose, unpackaged options. I try to shop seasonally as much as possible, to ensure my plastic free veg hasn’t been air freighted from Spain, and honestly, shopping at the local farm shops is cheaper + the produce is much tastier. We buy our meat from the farm shop where I can take glass tupperware to be filled, rather than end up with more packaging, and I carry hundreds of totes so I’m not taking home plastic bags. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about making the best choice you can out of the options you have.
Buy in bulk.
Things like rice, pasta, herbs and spices, I’m trying to buy in bulk, preferably not in plastic. I have a kitchen full of glass jars in every shape and size imaginable, and I refill them as and when.
Stop buying convenience food.
I was a little horrified when I emptied the bin under my desk a few months ago, to realise how much waste my convenient lunches were creating. I try not to buy lunch at work anymore, those sandwich wrappers, microwave meal containers and snack wrappers add up, as well as the fact it’s not the most healthy option, nor cost effective. I’m trying to be better about meal prepping, or at least ensuring I have leftovers in the fridge I can take to work, and on the days I’m not prepared enough, I pick up a fresh sandwich from the cafe over the road, which they wrap in foil for me. Again, I’m not saying I NEVER buy snacks, but I’ve certainly dramatically reduced the amount I do purchase.
Make smarter packaging choices.
If I need spices from the Supermarket, I buy the Sainsbury’s own ones that come in glass jars over the branded plastic pots. I buy tinned or jarred rather than cartoned where possible, and I’ve been making my own tomato puree, blending tomatoes rather than buying tinned, and experimenting with easy slow cooker soup recipes.
Look into your composting options.
We live in a flat, so having our own compost heap isn’t practical for us. Our building doesn’t have food waste bins either, so I did a little research into how we could responsibly dispose of our food waste. It’s not a practical solution for everyone but most local allotments have community compost heaps where you can bring your food waste. We have one that’s a few minutes from the flat, as well as one that’s on my way to work, so I try to visit a few times a week. My parents also have a compost bin at their house, so I often turn up with a tub of compostables there, sorry mum!
Keep reusables on you.
I made up little bags of reusables, which we now keep everywhere. A tote bag, with a couple of smaller reusable bags, a coffee cup, a metal straw, and a tupperware pot. I keep one in my car, one in my kitchen ready to go, and a condensed version (one tote, a coffee cup and straw) in my handbag. That way there’s no excuse, you have what you need.
None of these changes are going to change the world, but I can tell you that the amount of waste we create at home has definitely decreased dramatically.
I’ve created a little collection of some of my favourite reusables below, if you’re looking for some additions to make reducing your own waste easier!
If you have any tips on reducing waste, be sure to share them in the comments!