Zero waste is a pretty hot topic at the moment. I love the idea of decluttering my home, simplifying my lifestyle and reducing my carbon footprint. Talk about a win win! But the enormity of the task left me completely overwhelmed. Where do I start?
After a couple of weeks of walking around in circles I decided the only thing to do was to start small. Instead of aiming to go ‘zero waste’ I decided to go ‘minimal waste’. If this was going to work I needed to take it one step at at time. Even the queen of zero waste Bea johnson took 10 years to reach her goal of zero waste.
A year on and I’m still working on my households ‘minimal waste’ lifestyle. There have been some epic fails (think exploding homemade toilet cleaning bomb) along with some great successes (we are officially free from kitchen paper towels, yey!). My approach is to do what you can, when you can and take it one step at a time.
Step 1. Make yourself aware of the waste you are producing
It’s not glamorous but our waste bins tell us a lot about how we live. Have a look in your recycling and black bin and see what is in there that you can live without. For us the big offender was fruit and veg packaging in our recycling bin. So now I buy our veg in the local farmers market or if I’m buying in the supermarket I always opt for loose produce.
Step 2. Make one Change per month
There is no doubt that living a more sustainable lifestyle has a money saving benefits but there is often an initial investment required. Making all the changes at once is not affordable for most of us. Picking one eco-friendly purchase a month is a great way to spread the load. For example, one month get your family reusable bottles and the next purchase a pack of bees wax paper to replace kitchen cling film. There are some great online stores who offer a wide range of eco-friendly products two of my favourites are the LittleGreenShop.ie and reuzi.ie.
Step 3. Get your household on board
This is by far the most critical step! It is so important to get your household on board before making any changes to the way you live. Without their support you are fighting a loosing battle and giving yourself a whole lot of grief. No matter what change you make be sure that your family or housemates understand what they need to do and why they are doing it. If there is too much resistance see if you can find a middle ground.
Step 4. Focus on one area at a time
It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by the scale of the task. Just remember that every little change we make, no matter how small adds up. Scale the project down into bite size pieces by focusing on one room at a time or even one cupboard or drawer at a time. Have a look at what’s inside and see what a) you can live without (in my experience that’s usually about 50% of the contents) and b) what you can swap out for a minimal waste alternative. One of the best moves we made was moving to a shampoo bar, they last much longer and there is zero waste.
Step 5. Focus on your Food Waste
Food is by far our biggest and most regular household purchase so it’s no wonder that it’s the biggest contributor to waste in our homes. Reducing food waste packaging by buying store cupboard items in bulk and buying unpackaged fruit and vegetable is a great place to start. About 1/3 of the food we buy is wasted (shocker!), meal planning and making good use of your freezer are just some of the tips from stopfoodwaste.ie. And, if you’re cooking from scratch there is always going to be some unavoidable food waste. It’s important to make sure this goes into your brown bin or home compost for food waste recycling. Oh and did I mention that the Obeo Food Waste Box is perfect for recycling your food waste (cheeky plug).
It’s been just over a year since I began to actively reduce our households waste. Slowly we can begin to see changes around the house. For a start my husband no longer has to jump on the green bin to squash the recycling before the fortnightly collection. These simple steps have really helped me to stay focused and keep positive about the small changes in our household. If anyone has any tips or tricks of their own please share them on our facebook page. I’d love to hear from you.
Competition time – Win a year’s supply of Obeo Food Waste Boxes
Get 2019 off to a green start with a year’s supply of Obeo Food Waste Boxes (150 boxes). To enter into the draw simply clink on this link and share your top tip for reducing waste at home. (Competition open for entries between 21st – 25th of January 2019). Good Luck!