From the expensive gadgets that we discard every couple of years to the plastic water bottles that we buy daily, the UK is brimming with products that meet their eventual end in the rubbish. 209 million tonnes of waste entered the country’s waste system in 2014, of which only 44.5% was recovered through recycling and the like, with around 23% going to landfill, according to the latest figures from the government,. These numbers are an unfortunate fact of our consumerist culture, and aren’t likely to change overnight anytime soon.
Despite this bleak reading, there are a variety of ways that we can adapt our lives to minimise the amount of waste that our day-to-day routines produce. Though it might seem like a drop in the ocean at first, if enough people were to unsubscribe from our throwaway habits, Britain’s numbers might begin to add up to something approaching respectable.
With this in mind, we’ve come up with five simple rules that you can follow to reduce waste in your life. Read on to find out more.
Have a go at fixing a gadget before casting it aside
This is a rule that applies especially to the many gadgets that make our lives a little easier. If, instead of getting frustrated with an underperforming electrical item, we took the time to fix it, we wouldn’t feel the need to throw it away so quickly.
For example, if your laptop or computer is beginning to run extra slowly, rather than deciding it’s time to upgrade, taking the time to search for a solution can remove the need completely. A simple Google search can lead you to a guide, such as this one from Let Us Fix IT, that takes you through all of the possible solutions to the issue. Not only could this save the planet, but it could save you some money too.
Choose re-usable items over their disposable equivalent
We’ve already mentioned bottled water, but there are countless other disposable items that could be replaced with re-usable versions.
Taking plastic bottle as an example once more, just six of the world’s biggest drinks manufacturers create over two million tonnes of bottle waste each year, according to research by Greenpeace. If more of us used our own refillable containers when we went to work, the gym, or just out and about, it could reduce this number quite drastically. The same argument can be made for items like carrier bags, rechargeable batteries, and coffee flasks, so it’s worth keeping this in mind the next time you use something disposable.
Make conscious purchasing decisions
On a day-to-day basis, there are many opportunities to make small purchasing decisions that can reduce the impact of waste. For example, if you are looking to buy a pasta salad for your lunch at work, opting for the one with a recyclable cardboard packet over plastic is a tiny vote for more sustainable food packaging. Similarly, choosing 100% recycled printer paper over the regular version is a small victory for the rainforests. It may seem trivial, but enough people making the right choices when shopping will begin to send a clear message about customer habits to companies responsible for waste.
Buy vintage or pre-loved products instead of new ones
When the time comes to buy something, it’s often worth looking beyond buying a new version straight from the manufacturer or shop. There are plenty of products that we purchase that have perfectly good used or second-hand versions that can be picked up at a reduced price. In doing so, not only are you saving yourself money, but you’re taking something that could potentially end up in a landfill and giving it a new lease of life and purpose.
You can think as big or as small as you like when it comes to this philosophy, ranging from choosing a used car over a new one to buying pre-loved clothing from a vintage or charity shop. What’s more, with websites like eBay, Etsy, Craigslist, and Gumtree out there, it’s easier to purchase a quality second-hand product than it ever has been before.
Rehome or donate everything you can
Following the same logic as the previous point, any older items that you want to get rid of can often find a new home that isn’t the rubbish tip. While selling is an option, there are also plenty of charities out there who could do with your belongings, so there’s really no excuse for simply throwing away things that can be put towards a good cause. So, the next time you need to get rid of something, think twice before you do. It really can be surprising to see what items can be donated or what people want to buy.
So, there you have it: five easy-to-adopt rules that can help you to resist the throwaway lifestyle. Keep them in mind and you can be one of the many to change the world for the better.