If you have decided to tackle the amount of waste in your life, but don't know where to start, let us try to help you.
Before you begin have a look in your bin. Everyone's waste is different, so its important to identify what you need to reduce specifically.
Also make sure you know all your local recycling options, such as what can be recycled on your doorstep, at local shops and supermarkets and independent schemes such as TerraCycle schemes.
And one final tip: don't try to change everything at once. Replace as you go. When a product is getting close to running out, take the time to find a kinder alternative. Every change makes such a difference but if you become overwhelmed with these changes it will be easy to slip back to old ways.
Not all changes will be possible or appropriate for all people but it's important to all try to do what we can. Some suggestions for environmentally friendly, ethical alternatives are as follows:
Food & Drink
· Swap bottled water for a re-usable water bottle.
* Swap takeaway cups from the coffee shop for a reusable cup. Some even offer a discount for doing this.
· Take a packed lunch to work in a re-usable container, washable snack bag or wax sandwich wraps (which can also be used instead of cling film at home in the kitchen).
* Use your own re-usable shopping and produce bags and buy loose fruit and vegetables rather than packaged. The easiest way to do this is to support local greengrocers and farms.
· Take containers to the butchers shops and meat and deli counters in supermarkets.
- use rags, or cut up squares of material for kitchen roll. Alternatively buy some pre made cloth kitchen roll or an eco friendly version.
· If you need to buy an item in plastic, buy in bulk. This could include items such as rice or pasta.
· Choose products in paper and cardboard over plastic packaging.
· Bake your own bread and biscuits and avoid packaged options. Choose chocolate in foil.
· Eat more seasonal food to reduce food miles.
· Switch to a milkman to do away with plastic milk bottles.
· Minimise your food waste by meal planning and batch cooking fresh vegetables to prevent them going off.
· Compost your food waste.
* use metal straws or no straw.
- carry your own cutlery in your bag to stop your reaching for the disposable plastic cutlery at fast food outlets, cafe's and take outs.
- where you are eating in, ask for plates instead of polystyrene boxes.
- purchase soft drinks in cans, which are recyclable, rather than plastic bottles.
* be more conscious when consuming meat i.e the amount of meat you consume and the process in which that meat was reared
* cloth nappies rather than disposables.
- cloth wipes rather than disposable.
- wooden toys from sustainable sources rather than plastic. They often have a good resale value, a kinder production process and don't lead to plastic in landfill if they get broken.
* Organic cotton clothing. It benefits cotton producers, the wearer and the environment by avoiding the use of potentially harmful toxic pesticides. It also has a good resale value when it is outgrown.
- Preloved clothing, toys and other items where possible. Children grow out of things fast! Often before a product has had its full use. It is therefore easy to buy children's goods preloved with a lot of life still in them.
Bathroom and cleaning
· Opt for a compostable bamboo toothbrush.
· Switch to deodorants in recyclable packaging such as glass, deodorant bars or take a homemade approach.
· Use soap and shampoo bars instead of liquid soap and shampoo in plastic bottles.
· Dry clothes outside or on an airer indoors instead of using tumble driers to cut down on energy use.
· Only wash clothes when you need to and run a full load.
· Switch from laundry liquid to soap nuts, eco balls / eggs or powder in a cardboard box.
· Switch to menstrual cups and re-usable cloth pads.
· Switch to reusable metal and wood safety razors with recyclable blades instead of a disposable razor.
· Use re-usable make up wipes or flannel.
· Use cotton handkerchiefs instead of paper tissues.
· Simplify the cleaning products you have in your house. Avoid purchasing cleaners in plastic bottles and instead opt for soluble cleaning pods or refills. Alternatively consider making your own using natural ingredients.
- Use a cloth to wipe surfaces instead of cleaning wipes. Invest in a few good ones and you can pop them in the washing machine.
* Insulate your home
· Paperless billing for bills, bank statements, correspondence etc.
* Choose energy efficient appliances, when your existing ones need replaced
· Change any newspaper and magazine subscriptions to electronic subscriptions.
* Install solar panels
· Use brown paper tied with twine for gifts rather than non recyclable wrapping paper.
· Opt out from Royal Mail’s junk mail list here
· Fix rather than replace when it comes to items around your home.
· Reduce your energy and water consumption by turning off appliances and lights when not in use, turn down the heat and put on a jumper, turn the tap off when brushing your teeth.
* Have a shower instead of a bath to reduce water use.
· Cut down on presents you give and receive and focus on good quality items and experiences/doing things together or buy second hand – or make homemade gifts.
· Walk and cycle short journeys, use public transport and car share as much as possible.
* Switch to ethical banking
- Use Ecosia instead of Google for Internet searches. They use ad revenue from your searches to plant trees!
· Reduce the number of flights you take. For business this could be achieved by Skype calls or taking one longer trip over frequent small ones. For holidays you could swap to a holiday in the UK or if going abroad, travel by bus or train.