If you're anything like me, the idea of filling a bin bag with rubbish and throwing it in to rubbish bin full of other bin bags, fills you will frustration and is just NOT an option!
I avoid packaging of all kinds as much as I can. Every week, I get on a train and I go to my nearest zero waste shop with my reusable cotton drawstring bags and fill them up with grains, pasta, seeds, beans, flour, sugar and everything else that I need for my weekly shop. Bottles of washing up liquid, surface cleaners, detergents and fabric softeners get refilled at refill stations and my face cream, make up remover and deodorant is made at home on my hob with simple ingredients!
When I go to the supermarket or the green grocers, I pick from the loose fruit and vegetables, placing them in my reusable bags and taking them home in my tote bags.
I am so pleased to have managed to cut down the amount of waste I have by at least 80%- HOWEVER, it is incredibly difficult to be entirely 100% free of all waste. There is always some little sneaky bit of packaging somewhere that is hard to avoid. But don't beat yourself up over this, be mindful of the efforts you are making and the good you have done for the planet!
This is my guide to disposing of any waste you DO have in the most sustainable way possible!
Image by Joke vander Leij
Composting is a great, natural way to dispose of food waste and create compost for your garden! If you have an outdoor space, I highly recommend getting a compost bin. It's particularly great if you are a vegan because, I don't know about you, but I get through a LOT of vegetables! I compost vegetable peelings, banana skins, apple cores, stalks, coffee granules, tea bags, tomato tops, stale bread and other plant based foods. I also put paper packaging and compostable corn starch packaging in my compost bin. It's worth checking a list of compostable food items before throwing everything in there. Be careful not to compost oils and cooked sauces as they can attracts rats, but most other vegan scraps are fine! You can find lists of acceptable composting foods on various websites.
2. Build ECO BRICKS
Eco Bricks are basically plastic bottles filled with little pieces of clean, dry plastic packaging that are used as building bricks for build projects such as garden walls, chairs, tables etc.
I started building eco bricks last year, finding the plastic bottles on beach cleans and littered around town. Every time I buy something that has that hard to avoid plastic packaging, I wash and dry the plastic and put it in an eco brick. For example, the little plastic wrap around a block of tofu, the plastic window in a paper bag, plastic labels, the rubber bands around bunches of spring onions and asparagus and so on. Eco bricks have to be packed so tightly that It took 6 months worth of little bits of plastic packaging for me to build one 500ml brick! Once you have built one, you weigh it to make sure it is heavy enough to be used as a brick and then you can either donate it to a local project collecting eco bricks or use it yourself!
3.TERRACYCLE RECYCLING PROGRAMMES
Image taken from www.terracycle.com
'TerraCycle reuses, upcycles and recycles waste instead of incinerating or landfilling it. This moves waste from a linear system to a circular one, allowing it to keep cycling in our economy.' Terracycle.com
I have a slight crisp and chocolate obsession! Honestly, there are so many amazing vegan chocolate bars and crisps and I was fooled by the foil looking wrapper and packets, thinking they were not plastic. In actual fact, they are! But Terracycle is a recycling programme that takes those 'hard to recycle' items and turns them in to new products! They have various recycling schemes for different types of waste. I have been keeping used crisp packets and confectionary wrappers, asking my family to collect theirs to give to me and I have also been finding them on beach cleans and littered in the streets. Over the last 6 months, I have built up a collection which I am almost ready to pack up and send off to Terracycle to be upcycled in to something new!
4.RE-USE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
Before thinking about how to dispose of items, ask yourself if they could have another purpose. Often things like jars, tubs, tins, bottles. bags and other containers can be used as tupperware, containers for zero waste pantry foods, plant pots, stationery holders, lunch bags.. the list goes on. I have dedicated a whole blog post to upcycling ideas for waste! You can find that blog post HERE and get some ideas!
5. Recycle as a last resort
Photo by Anna Auza
If you can't compost it, re-use it, Eco brick or Terracycle it, pop it in your recycling bins. The reason this is a last resort is because less than 50% of the items we put in our recycling bins actually get recycled in the UK. The good news is this: if you have cut right down on packaging and if you use all or some of the above methods, you should find that there isn't much left to recycle! I do have items that go in to my recycling each week- but it's mostly glass and it's not much at all!
So there you have 5 ideas of what to do with whatever waste you have! Another quick tip for any waste you may have that has not been covered by the above ideas, depending on what waste it is, make sure you put it in either a paper, degrade-able or compostable bin bag. It is just that little bit kinder to the environment.
Thank you for reading!
Photo Credit Artificial Photography
Fast Fashion encourages a throw away attitude that creates and leads to many environmental and ethical issues. Rather than fixing or up-cycling our clothes, we just replace them with new ones and throw the old clothes 'away'. In fact in 2017, 235million items of clothing were sent to Landfill in the UK alone (BBC News). We rarely think about why these clothes are so affordable, how they have been made and what effects they have had on the planet, the workers and the animals.
Here are 10 reasons why you should stop funding the fast fashion industry and begin to create a more sustainable, compassionate wardrobe:
'Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget.' The United Nations Environment Programme
'Clothes washing in the UK is estimated to generate around 4,000 tonnes of plastic microfibre pollution every year, of which 1,600 tonnes could be ending up in our rivers and estuaries. One washing load of clothes could be shedding up to 17 million tiny plastic fibres.' Ethical Consumer
'Around 100,000 marine animals are killed each year by plastic waste, including microfibres' UN Environment
'In the textile factories, some workers do not earn enough in a month to pay for one of the garments that they are producing. They are forced to work in unbearable conditions in order to meet the demands for disposable discount fashion' Fairtrade
'Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans.' The United Nations Environment Programme
'Cotton farmers often can’t afford to pay for essentials for their families like medicine when they are ill, school fees for their children and even food.' Fairtrade
Fast Fashion doesn't allow a budget for sustainable, organic cotton farming. 'Conventional production practices for cotton involve the application of substantial fertilisers and pesticides. Pesticides threaten the quality of soil and water, as well as the health of biodiversity in and downstream from the fields. Heavy use of pesticides also raises concern for the health of farm workers and nearby populations.' WWF
A higher demand for clothing, leads to a higher demand for animal products such as leather, suede, wool, feathers, fur and animal- derived glue. (I will be doing a whole blog post about the issues involved in creating these animal products)
It takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt, enough to meet the average person’s drinking needs for two-and-a-half years.(National Geographic) Now think about those £5 cotton t shirts in a high street chain fashion store and imagine how much water usage it all equates to!
'A 2018 U.S. Department of Labor report found evidence of forced and child labor in the fashion industry in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam and other countries.' World Recourses Institute
Around 60% of clothing is now made from Polyester, a synthetic material made from plastic. As well as releasing micro plastics in to the water when they are washed, Polyester garments are 'thrown away' when they are no longer wanted and will sit in landfill for around 200 years!
What can you do to help?
Firstly, cutting down on the amount of clothing you buy will make a huge difference. Have a look through your wardrobe and reacquaint yourself with clothes that you forgot you had, mend clothing that can be easily fixed, upcycle clothing in to new, exciting pieces!
When you need a new item, try browsing charity shops and online auction sites for pre loved gems that you can offer a new home to. Swap clothes with friends and enjoy knowing that you are saving those items from reaching landfill sites and stopping the need for the production of a new, fast and cheap garment.
Think about how much money you spend on clothes, shoes and accessories and how many of those items you regularly wear. When you start to buy less, you find that you can afford to occasionally invest in the more sustainable items of clothing. Organic clothing, upcycled or recycled clothing and well made clothes from responsible, ethical companies that will last much longer and have less of an environmental impact during their life span.
We live in a time of consumerism. We acquire more items than we need and throw away everything from food packaging to clothing to furniture because it is so easy, quick and cheap to replace it! It may be easy but, unfortunately, it is not sustainable.
Even if we recycle all of the items that we no longer need, we are still fuelling the production of more and more needless items, putting a strain on the planet and encouraging unethical practices. Plus, in the UK, less than 50% of our recycling actually gets recycled. The rest ends up on Landfill sites! I am not saying recycling is bad- No! recycling is good, but re using as many items as we can is much better!
I wanted to create a blog post to give you some ideas on fun and creative ways to up-cycle items that you may otherwise throw away! Here are 8 super creative up-cycling ideas!
No. 1 : paint pot plant pot
NO.2 JAZZ UP OLD LAMP SHADES
NO.3 Fairy Light Loveliness
NO.4 old jeans- new bag
NO.5 FROM CLOTHING TO CUSHION
NO.6 Peanut Butter Pantry pots
NO.7 FROM INSTRUMENT TO ART
NO.8 paint new life in to old furniture
So there you have it! 8 ideas to get you started! The best thing about up cycling is that you get to channel your inner child and use your imagination to create something unique. Every time you go to throw something away, just pause- look at it and wonder if it could become something more and if it could have another use. Equally, every time you think you need to buy something new, check that you don't already own something that, with a little love, could be revamped and used instead.
Up-cycling is a win win win! You get to be creative, save money and help save the planet too! Whats not to love?