Thursday, 16 February 2012

Steps in Reducing Waste (1)

One idea behind this blog is that changes need to be made gradually. Human beings, especially busy 21st century human beings cannot cope with too much change all at once, indeed we tend to find big changes in our lives very stressful.

However, all the signs suggest that most of us need to make quite a few changes in our lives if we aren't going to destroy our environments, run out of natural resources and upset the climate, making many parts of the world uninhabitable. So, the best way to do this, I think, is by making one smallish change and then another, when we've got over the shock of the last one. Otherwise we make wake up one day to find we have suddenly got to change the way we live in many ways, all at once.

Reducing the amount of waste we create is a step in the right direction for all of us.  If we think about how much we really need an item and how long it's likely to last we shall stop filling our homes with impulse buys that are not as essential as the advertising blurb convinced us it was.  This will help us avoid clutter and mean that we are not mindlessly consuming rare resources.  It will also mean we have less cheap, broken, 'five minute wonder' gadgets to consign to the dustbin.

Cutting back on excess packaging is another way to keep precious resources out of our dustbins.  Even if packaging is recyclable, water and energy are still used to recycle the materials, and things like plastic and paper degrade each time they are recycled, so they cannot be used forever.

Karen Cannard is now on week 4 of her Rubbish Diet, but if, like me, you like to take things more slowly, you might want to look at her tips for reducing the amount of rubbish you bring into your house and put into your bin, sending it on its way to landfill, which she gave for week 2.  I find one or two changes a month is enough for me and the people I live with.

I've found that buying fruit an veg from a veg box scheme that uses minimal packaging, such as Riverford, has helped me have a lot less packaging for my bin or for recycling.

A lot of dried goods, such as fruit and nuts, pulses and cereals such as oats and rice have to be packaged. Oats I can buy in a paper bag, but the rest I try to buy from Suma as their packaging states clearly that it is recyclable. Since our wonderful little health food closed down I've found the Ethical Superstore is the best place for me to buy Suma products at present.

If plastic bag style packaging doesn't indicate whether or not it can be recyclable then this tip from Karen Cannard should be helpful,
 "any packaging film that's not labelled, will mostly be polythene (where you can push your thumb into the film and stretch it) or polypropylene (which makes a crinkly sound when you squeeze it). The polythene film is the type that can go in with carrier bags."


  1. great ideas; thanks for sharing and I loved peeking into your veg box. We're getting Abel and Cole ones at the moment and it's great to compare! I'm not a fan of the suma packaging - I've not discovered how to recycle the soft PET; we can't put it in with our bottles as Suma are advising... I'd rather they used polythene which they do for bulk buy of things like seeds or dried fruit. It's so confusing isn't it!

  2. Hello Rae, thanks for dropping by. We are lucky to have mixed plastic recycling in at least one place locally, but I must admit, knowing the Suma packaging is recyclable doesn't always make it obvious how to recycle it. I do wish more plastic packaging was recyclable.

  3. It's great what you are doing Karin. Our health shop sells dried foods in biodegradable bags which I think are made from some sort of starch. They can go directly into the compost bin. We use Riverford too, though their salad leaves come in plastic bags...

    Have a good weekend.

    Kay :)

  4. Every step in the right direction is good, of course, but I feel I have a long way to go to be truly 'green'. Hubby doesn't like the starch bags in the compost, he says they don't rot down properly, but I haven't got that option round here, anyway. We did have a local delivery service that used them, but they went out of business.


All relevant comments to this post are welcome, so feel free to have your say.