In the UK alone, over 18 million tons of waste are sent to landfills every year, and the amount we produce is increasing every year by 3%, meaning that if we do not take any action, the waste sent to landfill sites will double in 25 years.
As much as we would like to think that we are conscious consumers, only 45% of our waste is recycled every year in the UK. We can increase this rate by making small and conscious changes in the way we shop and act.
The best way to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills is to consume less. Think Reduce, Reuse and Recycle before you consume and throw anything in the bin.
It sounds easy, right? Well, it can be. Below there are 10 easy to implement ways to reduce the waste you send to landfills:
1. Ditch your plastic
Replacing plastic bags with reusable cotton bags is the easiest way to reduce waste while you shop. In just six months after the implementation of the new law in the UK, 6 billion plastic bags were not sent to landfills. A huge number, is not it?
Keep a cotton bag in your bag, in your car, and by your door, that way you are never caught without one.
2. Reduce your food waste
Do you always end up throwing food away? If so, maybe it's time to start planning your meals better and buying only what you will eat.
It sounds very simple, but a lot of food gets thrown away every day in the UK. Actually, £ 13 billion worth of food is thrown away in the UK each year.
Before you go shopping, make a list of the exact amount of food you will need to prepare for each meal and stick to your list. You will be surprised by how much food and money you will save each week.
3. Repair rather than replacing it
Do you remember the last time you tried to fix something that broke in your house? No? You are in the same boat as a lot of other consumers.
We live in a society in which it is too convenient to just replace your used electronics rather than repairing it. Billions of valuable materials are thrown away each year, which costs society money to produce new materials and send it to landfills, not even considering the enormous environmental costs of mining for all the precious minerals used in electronics.
Let's change our habits and start looking to repair our items. There are lots of YouTube channels that can teach you to repair almost anything, like this video that teaches you how to fix any zipper problem, or this video that helps you fix broken headphones. So next time something is broken, try to fix it first before replacing it, you may even learn a new skill.
4. Stop using disposable plates, cutlery, cups and straws
It is estimated that 50% of the produced plastic is used only once and then thrown away. This is an extreme waste of our resources and money. In the US alone, 500 million straws are consumed per day.
"In the case of straws that are given out routinely, the product may have been manufactured and then disposed of without even a single use - this represents a senseless waste of resources as well as a waste management issue. " - Emma Snowden, litter campaign officer with the Marine Conservation Society.
Let's get our hands dirty and start using products that can be washed and reused again.
Every morning, take your reusable coffee cup with you to your favorite coffee shop and ditch the single use coffee cup. You can even save 25p -10%! - bringing your own reusable cup to Starbucks, Costa, Price and Manger and Paul.
5. Start using a refillable water bottle
Humans produce about 20,000 plastic bottles every second and only 7% of all bottles thrown away were recycled in 2016. It sounds like lots of waste, does not it?
You can help reduce this number by simply switching to reusable water bottles.
Even if you live in a country where you can not drink tap water, it is much more monetarily and environmentally sensible to install a water filter to refill your bottles.
Pret A Manger introduces free refills at their new filtered water station, starting at three Veggie Price in the UK.
6. Donate and buy second hand items
We live in a consumerist society, where we need more and more every day, but all this "more" we think we need to end up going to landfills. Start to rethink what you need to buy.
A great option is to donate and get what you need at freecycle.org . There you can advertise the things you do not need anymore and find things that someone else is giving away, besides you can save a lot of money as well as being part of a thriving community movement.
Charity shops such as Traid, RSPCA and Oxfam also welcome donations that can be sold again. Donate your clothes and browse around for other things you need. Besides upcycling, you are also helping a good cause.
"One man's trash is another man's treasure."
Composting is nature's way of recycling and you can do it in your home. Just by composting you can reduce your household waste by as much as 30% and you can create compost that can be used in your garden.
In the UK, a lot of councils already collect food waste from your home. If you do not have this collection yet, or would like to start your own compost in your garden, click here to learn more. If you want to compost, but live in an apartment or a small house, there are few options for you, just click here to find out more.
8. Buy items with less or no packaging
Fruits and vegetables come in a perfect nature's package, so there is no need to wrap it in plastic.
M&S has introduced a new labeling system that tackles the problem with stickers on fruits and vegetables. The label is laser-printed on the fruit, adding all the information such as brand, country of origin and best by date. You can find out more this initiative here .
Choose items (if possible) with no packaging or minimal packaging. Buy bulk products you consume a lot of and store them for later use in your home. There are lots of products that also offer refillable items, like the Ecover brand .
If you can, also try to opt for items that come in a cardboard package instead of plastic.
These small changes can make a huge difference for the environment.
9. Cancel unnecessary mail
No one likes to open the letterbox and find lots of junk mail, so take a few minutes of your day and follow some steps from the Citizens Advice Bureau to stop your junk mail. Also, opt to receive online statements from your bank, bills and any credit cards you may have.
It's only a few minutes of your life that will free a lot of unnecessary rubbish in your house.
10. Get to know more about recycling
There are tons of blogs and websites where you can learn more about recycling and how to create a zero-waste home. Get involved, talk to your friends and neighbors about it, and try to influence others to take these simple steps to reduce waste produced at home. Best youtube channel?
'A Future without Rubbish' is a project aimed at increasing recycling rates and clearing public spaces of litter. It does this by integrating schools, councils, businesses, and communities into a series of interlocking activities, wherever it works. At the moment it is active in 4 UNESCO sites in Romania, with a launch being also planned for UNESCO-listed Westminster. If you want to find out more about this project click here .