Recycling is one of the best ways we have to reduce the amount of waste we create. Until we all make a move away from over consumption recycling and reusing is one of the ways we can minimise our impact on the planet. From how to properly recycle to what you can upcycle and repurpose. This is the place to learn how to make what you have go a lot further. Remember: Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Refuse and Recycle!
While we know that the main polluters of the planet are the large companies refusing to take action. That being said, we still need everyone to be aware of their impact on the environment and to take steps to reduce individual effects. This alongside campaigning for change to policy and global attitudes is how we’ll make a real difference.
So, you’re ready to get started with being more sustainable and eco friendly. Then you Google ways to be green and become overwhelmed with all of the options. This is where we started! It can be so daunting trying to begin going zero waste, we’re not all the way there yet either. What’s a good swap? How easy is it to maintain this new habit? Do you have to buy expensive products to get started?
We’ve done the beginner work and we’ve got these simple swaps you can make, that you’ll actually be able to stick to.
Swap cotton rounds for sustainable bamboo ones
If you’re someone that wears makeup or follows a skin care regime chances are you have seen cotton rounds in your bathroom. If you’re a big fan of makeup you’ve probably got an instagram worthy jar filled with them at this very moment.
You would be completely forgiven for thinking that these are cotton, made from plant fibers, they can’t be bad for the environment, right? The problem is that farming cotton and producing these products takes its toll on the planet. Chemicals from the manufacturing process pollutes rivers and damages wildlife. The other damage is the amount of water used to produce conventional cotton. About one kilogram, the size of a t-shirt, can take more than 20,000 litres of water to make. This is before you even consider that these cotton rounds come wrapped in plastic.
A simple swap you can make is to opt for reusable bamboo rounds. We love these ones from My Little Eco Shop. This set has 20 cotton rounds, comes with a bamboo wash bag and arrives quickly in sustainable packaging. You can use these and wash them again and again. We switched to these specific rounds a few months ago and we’re never going back.
Reusable face masks
Next time you’re in public, count the number of disposable masks lying around on the floor. On a recent walk we counted no less than 16 masks lying in the gutter! Not only is this dangerous for humans, these masks could be contaminated, they pose a real threat to wildlife. We’ve seen far too many reports of animals becoming entangled in the ear elastic and suffering the consequences.
If you can’t dispose of these masks correctly we suggest giving reusable masks a try. As of September 2020 the UK government is still recommending that we wear masks indoors and reusable masks will help to cut down on the waste generated while still keeping you safe.
That being said if you feel more comfortable with a disposable mask or you don’t feel you can properly disinfect a reusable mask then by all means continue as you are.
As always, check with your local authority for mask recommendations and regulations.
Reusable menstrual items
It has never been easier to make the switch to reusable period products. Next time you use a pad or a tampon pay attention to the amount of plastic wrapping you’re throwing away.
The wrapping, the applicators, the backings and then the pad or tampon itself has plastic in it! Then add up how many of these you use and send to landfill each month, then times it by 12 and then by the number of years you’ve had a period. The cost alone at this point will make you fall over before you consider the amount of plastic sent to landfill!
Reusable period products help the environment by being mostly plastic free and saving you money. We won’t lie there is an upfront cost, but once you’ve made that switch you’ll be able to reuse that product again and again without having to spend more money or worry about running out.
There really is something for everyone: pads, menstrual cups and period underwear are some of the best places to start. If you’re someone that has a period, we really recommend you looking into this. Most places even create a beginner kit so you can get started straight away and give these products a try.
Reusable food wrap and plastic bags.
We’re all trying to cut down on food waste An easy way to do this is to save leftovers and store produce correctly in your fridge. If you’re currently using cling film to seal leftovers you could end up going through a lot of plastic. It’s a sad fact that only 32% of all plastic is recycled, that’s up to 68% of plastic floating around the environment and more worryingly the oceans.
We suggest switching to reusable wax wrap to seal your leftovers and preserve foods. If you’re vegan there are now beeswax free wraps you can use so you can keep animal products out of your life. These aren’t vegan but we love using these ones from The Beeswax Wrap Co.
On a similar note, to cut down on plastic from sandwich bags you can find reusable bags that come in a variety of sizes and are perfect for carrying your sandwich to work or storing veggies in the fridge. It’s even easier than ever to have a plastic free kitchen.
Ultimately, whatever switch you can make right now will make a difference. The more of us that make these changes and show we don’t want single use plastics the more businesses have to adapt to meet consumer habits.
We do live in the real world though and we know that these things do cost money at the beginning to get set up. These items can be found for cheaper at local shops and online we’ve just recommended some ones that we know and love. Even if you can only do one of these things right now, it’s the perfect place to start becoming zero waste and being more eco.
What do you do with your old clothes or clothes you don’t really like anymore? Let them take up space in your wardrobe? Throw them away?
According to the charity WRAP the value of unused clothing in wardrobes has been estimated at around £30 billion.
Considering the amount of damage the clothing industry does to our environment, this cycle of buying excessively and throwing away is not sustainable. In order to prevent clothes going to landfill we have some things you can do to give your clothes a new lease of life.
This is quite literally the oldest trick in the book. Previously clothes would be altered to suit the new fashion, longer and fuller skirts could be taken up and taken in so they could be enjoyed again and again.
With modern clothing this often can’t be done due to the material used and the style of the original piece, modern details such as cut outs and sheer panels can make alterations tricky. However, it can be done! Shirts with damage can become crop tops, tank tops or even bandeau tops depending on the fabric. Turning jeans into shorts for summer is a classic upcycle that you only need scissors to do as denim doesn’t fray.
Instead of throwing clothes away, take this opportunity to practice your sewing skills. The more you do it, the easier it gets and if you’re unsure YouTube always has tutorials to help.
What to do with socks?
In a previous life socks would be darned and repaired again and again. Unfortunately this skill is fading from memory and most people wouldn’t know a darning mushroom if it tripped them up.
Instead of throwing away older socks, repurpose the material into a heating pad.
- Turn the sock inside out and sew closed any holes from damage.
- Fill the sock about halfway with rice and either tie the end of the sock or sew it closed if you don’t have the material.
- Insert this sock into the other one from the pair knot or seam first.
- Microwave for 1 – 2 minutes being sure to make sure that it doesn’t smoke or burn.
This little heat pad will work wonders for sore necks and back pain. Just don’t keep it on for more than 15 – 30 minutes at a time.
T-shirts are often bought very cheaply and this means they stop looking good fast. Think of the £3 ones from Primark where after a few washes the hem unravels and somehow you get holes in it. If you don’t want to wear it as a T-Shirt anymore, you’ve got yourself a few yards of material that you can transform.
Depending on where the damage is to the T-Shirt you could turn it into a baby grow, a tote bag or if the damage is far too extensive you can turn it into reusable rags for around the home. A quick trip to pinterest will show you the many ways you can turn your t-shirt into something useful.
The thing to remember when it comes to clothes is that it’s ultimately fabric. Fabric can be repurposed into so many different things that there is no reason to throw away any clothing. Turn old clothes into scrunchies, glasses cases and quilts if you’re having a big clear out.
If something cannot be donated, then it absolutely should not be going to landfill. Keep hold of those smaller pieces to turn into stuffing and make cat toys, absolutely everything can be reused down to the thread and spare buttons.
Don’t be intimidated by sewing there are a million tutorials online and the best way to get better is to practice, what better way to learn than by using old material in your wardrobe that would have previously gone in the bin.
We were taught these three words in primary school. The way to reduce our impact on the environment is to reuse what we have and recycle. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Unfortunately, despite the good intentions of this phrase, it’s simply not enough.
It’s time to add Refuse to this saying. Even though we can recycle a large portion of what we use, the problem is that companies are still producing plastic and single-use products, they will only switch to sustainable alternatives when the demand for single-use has gone. The best way to get this message across is to refuse their products.
It’s a simple switch but it will make a difference. Refuse paper cups, refuse straws and refuse as many single-use plastic products as possible.
You’d be surprised how many businesses are getting on board with this way of thinking. Most bars will now ask if you want a straw instead of just adding it and larger delivery companies like UberEats give you the option to add on utensils instead of just automatically sending them.
Once you’ve added Refuse to limit the number of single-use objects being brought to the market the next step is to add Repair.
For example, around 350,000 tonnes of clothing goes to landfill per year in the UK. For comparison, a Boeing 747 weighs approximately 487.5 tonnes at takeoff. That is far too many clothes going to waste each year.
By learning basic repair skills like hemming, patching and replacing buttons you can extend the life of your clothes and bring down the number of clothes going to landfill.
Learning how to fix things around the home will save you money, make you feel like a wizard and hopefully reduce the number of things sent to landfill.