The average person produces around 410kg household waste per year (UK). Yes you read that right, nearly half a tonne! With just 45% being recycled, that's a lot of landfill per person. While recycling is a much better option than landfill, it still requires energy and the process often has waste products of it own.
A far better option is to reduce the waste you produce in the first place. You may have heard of people who manage to fit their entire year's waste into a jam jar - as impressive as this is, for most of us, this isn't possible without radical lifestyle changes. However there are a number of fairly easy changes you can make, which will reduce the waste you produce enormously.
1- Start with your food choices
I'd be willing to bet more than half of the rubbish in your bins right now is food packaging. This makes food choices a great place to start:
Choose loose food at the supermarket where possible. For example choose loose fruit and buy meat/fish from butcher/fishmonger or meat/fish counter at the supermarket.
Don't buy pre-made sandwiches and snacks for lunch: these often have a very high packaging:product ratio. Instead try to make lunch where possible and transport in a reusable container; a great trick is to cook dinner for one extra person the night before and eat for lunch the next day. The food will likely be fresher, healthier and much cheaper too!
Don't use cling film or aluminium foil: these can't be easily recycled and are unnecessary when reusable containers or these fun beeswax food covers do the same job.
Compost your food waste: this is an easy one if you have outdoor space where you live: buy a compost bin to throw all your food waste into. It makes great nutrients for growing plants and flowers too.
2- Look at your product packaging
When purchasing products, sustainability is normally one of the criteria we consider and companies often talk about how recyclable their products are. However, something they rarely mention is the sustainability of their packaging, which is strange when you think for many products the packaging has a comparable weight to the product itself.
When purchasing products, look at the labels to see if it mentions whether or not the packaging can be recycled.
As a general rule the lighter the packaging and the fewer materials used, the better. In terms of materials, try to avoid plastic as much as possible: cans and glass are a better choice. Cardboard is one of the most sustainable materials as it is easily recycled and composted.
At Form all our yoga mat packaging can be recycled and you can even compost the cardboard (which itself is from recycled sources)!
3- Single use - no thank you
There has been a big drive away from single-use plastic in recent months which is great! It's not too hard to ditch plastic bags, disposable cups, plastic bottles and straws which are often the biggest culprits of unnecessary waste:
Try to take reusable bags out with you, especially when you head out for the weekly shop.
Get yourself a reusable water bottle.
If you're a coffee-addict like us, carry a reusable cup (coffee shops often give you a discount for this too).
4- Go paperless
Try to reduce the amount of paper you buy or receive through your letterbox:
Choose paperless statements and bills from your bank, utilities and phone provider.
Reduce the amount of junk mail you receive - you can thank us later!
Buy e-books and e-magazines on your kindle or e-reader alternative.
5- Reuse, repair and upcycle
Has an item reached the end of its life? Consider other options to throwing it away:
If it's broken, can it be repaired?
Can the item be re-purposed as something else? 'Upcycling' is a incredibly popular hobby at the moment and can be a great way to make quirky and functional items for your house. Head down the rabbit-hole of Pinterest to find ideas!
If it still works and someone might use the item, consider donating to a charity shop or list it on Freecycle, Facebook, eBay or Gumtree.