How to get started with ‘zero waste’

Packaging and other waste products have become major issues in modern life and we all need to play our part to eliminate unnecessary waste.

The amount of packaging we throw away each day is often beyond ridiculous. For example, some fresh fruit is packed on plastic trays and wrapped in cling film. We carry it home in a single-use plastic bag and as soon as we get home we throw the packaging in the bin.

Plastic bags and plastic bottles cause a massive strain on our environment, yet replacing them in our day to day lives is the quickest and easiest change we can make. Invest in reusable shopping bags.

Try to buy food in glass bottles and jars and avoid foods stored in plastic containers. You can reuse many glass jars, or at least recycle them. Use water bottles and never buy single-use water or drinks if you can avoid doing so. Most retail centers offer water filling stations, or you can find a tap to refill your bottle.

Eliminate disposable or single-use products. This includes plastic bags, straws, paper towels, napkins, plastic spray bottles, and the like. Replace paper towels with reusable rags. Pack meals in a container or a reusable bag instead of the single serving sandwich bag. Invest in bamboo or stainless steel straws. Use cloth napkins instead or paper ones.

Take your own cup with you when you buy a take-away coffee. There are plenty of thermos cup options on the market that keep your coffee hot. Many cafes will charge you less for the coffee too if you bring your own cup or mug.

Recycle as much as you can, including batteries, electronics, mobile phones, printer cartridges, bottles, cans, light bulbs and more. Create a compost heap and recycle your vegetable scraps and any packaging that can be composted. Some fast food companies are now using packaging that can be composted.

Reduce your food waste by shopping daily. This way you avoid a huge shop where you buy things you may not use or that go off in the fridge because you have too much food in the fridge or pantry. Using a shopping list helps you avoid impulse purchases. Cooking in bulk, then freezing food for later use will not only save you money but also minimise waste. Use perishable food before it goes off. Use off-cuts to make soups or stock.

To really eliminate packaging waste you could also make your own toothpaste, soap, cleaners, insect spray, deodorant and shampoos. Here are guides to making your own: