There is no doubt that we must all do more to reduce both wastage and our carbon footprints. For those who want to go further, you may be considering a zero-waste lifestyle; where you aim to throw away as little as possible pledging to recycle and reuse wherever you can.
There are the little things that we can do every day: swapping plastic shampoo bottles for shampoo bars or choosing reusable soap nuts in favour of detergent and washing powder. There are also big things like composting and growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs. But the more you know, the more opportunities you have to live a waste.
Here we take a look at what you can do to have a zero-waste lifestyle at home.
Focus on going plastic-free first
If you want to commit to a zero-waste lifestyle, one of the first things that you are going to have to learn to live without is plastic. Unfortunately, while plastic is becoming a huge problem for eco-systems across the world, it is also enormously widely used. You might not be aware of just how much plastic waste you go through on a daily basis.
As a country, we generate around five million tonnes of plastic waste every year – and only a small proportion of this waste can be recycled. It is important, then, to do everything you can to eliminate your reliance on plastic – and most crucially, single-use plastics such as bottled drinks, food packaging, plastic carrier bags, plastic cutlery and more.
Much of this comes down to the way that we shop. You might be used to picking up all your fruit and vegetables in plastic containers, but if you bring your own reusable bags to the stops you can select plastic-free produce instead.
Make better use of food waste
It can be easy to plan meals ahead of time to ensure that you never accidentally waste fruit, vegetables, meat, and other produce – but it can be easy to believe that there is simply nothing you can do about food waste such as scraps, or peelings. In fact, you might be surprised at just how many options there are to make better use of food that would otherwise be wasted.
- Potato peel – potato peelings might usually go directly into your bin if you can’t compost in your home, but if so, you are missing. Instead, rinse them under the tap, toss them in oil and then bake them in the oven for delicious homemade crisps.
- Vegetable waste – it’s a great idea to store up vegetable waste such as carrot tops and onion skin, these can be stored in the freezer until you have enough to create vegetable stock.
- Things you didn’t know you can eat – there are many perfectly good parts of vegetables that are often thrown away. Broccoli stork can be trimmed and cut into slices, the heart of the cabbage is just as nutritious and highly flavoursome, and cauliflower leaves can be cooked and eaten too.
Buy second hand
It is also a great idea to think about what you are buying and try to ensure that you never buy anything new. It is very possible to buy almost any item you need secondhand – from clothes and furnishings to furniture and entertainment. Charity shops are a hugely valuable resource, as are websites like eBay and Freecycle.
Invest in green technologies
It might be the case that your property can go a long way to sustaining itself. You can go a step further than zero waste with green energy investments, as you can actually put green electricity into the grid at times of peak use.
Solar panels can be a hugely cost-effective investment, as they are able to generate electricity for the house and even sell some back to the grid at peak times. But there are far more options than simply solar panels.
Ground source heat pumps have been gaining popularity in recent years. These pumps draw heat from the soil using a tube buried in the ground. According to clean energy specialists Geo Green Power, ground source heat pumps can reduce your fuel costs, lower your carbon emissions, and even provide your property with income. And they require very little in the way of maintenance, making them extremely easy to live with.