To begin your transformation towards more sustainable practices, you can start by adopting small daily reflexes that allow you to reduce the amount of waste you produce, which often ends up buried or incinerated (which is in any case harmful to the environment). Here are 19 tips to get you started with confidence.
TLDR- It is important to reduce waste so that a significant amount of pollutants do not reach the water we drink, the air we breathe and the soil that feeds us. That's why we offer 19 easy-to-implement hacks to start reducing your waste today.
Why is it important to reduce my waste?
Reducing our waste saves valuable and exhaustible raw materials. It also limits the impact on the environment and the climate. And, at the local level, it means less need for waste incineration or storage, and controls the costs associated with waste management (collection, recycling, energy recovery, disposal). The good thing is that we can all take concrete and systematic action on a daily basis.
The three main lines of action to follow are:
Better purchasing - it means thinking about future waste right from the purchase decision stage, by giving preference to products that are less packaged than others, have an eco-label, can be repaired or refilled, etc. It also means buying second-hand, borrowing or renting.
Better use - it means following the instructions on how to use a product to extend its shelf life, respecting the prescribed doses for health and maintenance products, and better managing your food stocks to avoid waste.
Less throwing away - it means using products as long as you can use them, giving or selling what you no longer use, composting your organic waste.
What happens to my waste otherwise?
It is easy to throw away and forget. Often we don't think about what happens to our garbage. After all, it is thrown away, so it is not my problem anymore. Yes, but this waste has a negative impact on the environment whether you think about it or not. What exactly?
Energy waste - the bio-waste contained in residual household waste garbage cans is characterised by a very high water content, in the order of 60 to 90%. Incinerating them therefore amounts to... burning water. An expenditure of energy is necessary and requires the incinerator furnace to be fuelled with waste with a much higher lower calorific value (LCV) to allow combustion at constant temperature.
Soil and water pollution - the bio-waste stored in the bins releases the water they contain more or less quickly. The juices, which are mixed with rainwater percolating from the surface of the bins, concentrate the pollutants and toxic substances contained in the mixed waste, particularly heavy metals. Therefore they are a threat to the soil and water resources.
Greenhouse gas emissions - the compaction of waste also causes the fermentation of bio-waste in an oxygen-free environment, creating conditions that are favorable to the emission of methane into the atmosphere. This gas has a global warming power 25 times greater than that of CO2. According to the Inter-professional Technical Center for the Study of Air Pollution, approximately 16% of methane emissions in France come from household waste storage centres.
How to reduce my daily waste?
Without further ado, here are our tips to start reducing waste today.
1. Sort your waste - a well-sorted waste is a well recycled waste which doesn't end in a landfill. Recycling legislation depends on your location and your local recycling process. To know what to recycle and how to best recycle it, check with your community or city.
2. Compost your waste - install a composter in your garden or apartment to reduce the amount of organic waste in the garbage can. Compost is a very good natural fertiliser for your plants and vegetable gardens. It is also a good way to protect your garden from global warming.
3. Cultivate your vegetable garden - if you have a garden or a balcony, you can grow your own food that reduce your waste, saves money and makes you more resilient. One step closer to become a Climate Coper. Plus, thanks to compost, you will have good seasonal fruits and vegetables, and without pesticides!
4. Preserve your food - by preserving your food following the guidelines written on the package for example, you will reduce food waste. It is important to differentiate the indications "to consume until" and "to consume preferably until". Indeed, some products can be kept for 3 to 18 months longer!
5. Buy products in bulk - by using reusable eco-friendly cotton bags or glass and bamboo jars, you save countless packagings from being produced and thrown away. The advantages are multiple: no plastic packaging, savings, and you only buy what you need!
6. No waste cooking - instead of leaving your leftovers lying around and throwing them away, reuse them in delicious recipes. Following meal preps programs is a good way to use 100% of your products for different delicious meals. Learn how to bake salty cake with the vegetables from the day before, pesto from radish tops, vegetable steak with the rest of the chickpeas, vegetable peel chips, etc So many greedy and economical choices!
7. Keep glass jars - you can buy food in glass jars instead of aluminium cans, and use these jars to store food purchased in bulk, or to take leftovers to work. Additionally you can use these jars and learn how to make homemade preserved food such as jam, apple sauce, tomato sauce, soup...
8. Use reusable cloth bags - rather than using the plastic bags offered by supermarkets and merchants when purchasing fruits and vegetables in bulk, you can bring your own cotton mesh eco-friendly bags.
9. Buy cheese, meat and fish cut up - this way you only buy the quantity you want and it may even be cheaper per kilogram. The best of the best is to bring your own container to eliminate 100% of packaging waste.
10. Drink from a reusable stainless steel flask rather than a plastic bottle - bottled water is usually the same as tap water, plus a plastic packaging. So instead, you can filter tap water in a filter carafe, or simply store the water for 1 hour in the refrigerator before drinking it. Then pour it in a steel flask and you are good to go!
11. Prefer reusable cups and cutlery - anyway, their disposable cousins are about to be banned in many countries. At work or on the go, bring your own cup for coffee or tea. For picnics, remember to bring washable cutlery in your bag.
12. Avoid stretch film - instead, you can store food and leftovers in jars, or get reusable stretch lid to fit every leftover you have. Pretty smart and useful!
13. Wash with solid cosmetics - solid soaps, shampoos and toothpastes are increasingly easier to find in supermarkets and online, and you can even make them yourself. They require no plastic packaging and way last longer. To begin with a lot of choice, you can check out Lush.
14. Make your own household products - they are easy and quick to do. You probably already have all the necessary ingredients at home actually. Plus, many websites and blogs now offer very accessible recipes for free. Check out Greatist for example.
15. Use reusable swabs - instead of single use plastic swabs, and even better than single use bamboo swabs, reusable silicone swabs are just as effective as disposable ones. Plus they have the advantage of generating no waste.
16. Stick a "No Ads" sticker on your mailbox - so that you don't receive any more advertisements that usually end up in the trash. It doesn't always work 100% but it does reduce the amount of trash mail you get. Also, you don't need to buy one of these stickers. You can simply print it at home from an online template and stick it with tape.
17. Buy second-hand furniture, clothes, books, etc - it is a great way to reduce waste as they can be reused multiple times until they really are wasted. Also, bring items in good condition that you no longer use