The “less waste” idea involves producing the least amount of waste to land in your garbage bin as possible. Sounds easy enough, but how to turn this increasingly popular slogan into real action? Here are some tips.
Google trends show that interest in the “no waste” (aka. zero waste) topic has risen four times over the last five years. The increasing number of inquiries about what zero waste is results from the growing environmental awareness of society and the need to start with your immediate surroundings. Although becoming actually “zero waste” seems unlikely (we support the attempts, of course), limiting what we buy, consume, and consequently, how much we throw away is anyone’s game.
The 3R Principle
The pro-eco 3R principle refers to three words: reduce, reuse, recycle, which are the secrets of “less waste” and taking responsibility for your daily, seemingly benign decisions.
Following this principle, you first of all reduce the number of necessities: buy less, reconsider the need to get another piece of clothing or technological gadget.
Another step is using what you already have to the maximum. You’ve bought something? Ok. Do your best to keep it as long as possible, whether it’s a discount t-shirt, expensive hi-tech item or a piece of furniture. Before you decide to throw something away, think if it could be used in a different form or for another purpose (reuse).
And when you eventually make the decision to bid something farewell, be responsible and minimize its effect on the environment (recycle). Dispose it to a proper container, take it to the waste collection point or maybe give it away, so that it can have another life, which might not have occurred to you?
Enough with the theory. In practice, you often need particular examples. We wrote about inviting eco-friendly habits into your life here and here. But there’s still a lot you can change (as close as your home), so here are another 7 tips to help you consume “less”:
1. Process Food (In Your Own Kitchen)
Let’s put it straight – we stand against highly-processed food and any ready-made meals. We buy locally and what’s in season, while the “processing” we encourage to take place in your own household. Making the food you won’t eat all at once last longer is a cakewalk 🙂
Some leftover sauce can be put in a jar and pasteurized – also soups, stews, and other liquidy dishes. The herbs withering away on your kitchen sill can be cut and dried on a piece of paper. A few days later you grind them into a little jar and keep as aromatic spices.
Most fruit, the tastiest and the cheapest in season can be frozen and used for smoothies, with oatmeal or cakes in wintertime. The same goes for vegetables, which will be perfect for soups or nutritious dinners. You can also freeze sliced bread to be toasted fast on some hectic morning.
Our previous posts mentioned reusable shopping bags and eco-friendly lunch boxes. You can also be “less waste” at home, no trendy gadgets required. Food jars can be washed, dried, and used for storing leftovers. The big ones are good for potting, and the small jars for spices or herbs (which you can dry yourself, remember?).
Don’t throw away the bread paper bags either – you can use them to pack a sandwich for work or wrap a piece of cheese to be put in the fridge.
Limit the use of plastic or aluminum foil. Instead of wrapping your food in plastic, use woskowijki – wax wraps. On top of limiting the use of foil, they’re also antibacterial and make your food last longer. You can buy them online (eg. here woskowijki.pl) or in wholefood shops.
3. Be Your Own Alchemist
Several years ago, when bloggers started making their first creams or deodorants, most of us treated them more like titbits. As time passed, the Internet has seen more and more simple recipes for essential DIY cosmetics or cleaning agents based on natural ingredients. Such easy-to-make, cheap, and effective products have been gaining popularity ever since!
This way, without unnecessary chemicals and buying huge plastic bottles of ever-new potions, we can make our own eco-friendly mixtures.
To make our alchemy game easier, online stores sell the ingredients and share all kinds of recipes on their websites as well. You can also buy ready sets of components to make your first cosmetic. Check here and see how much you can magic up at your own home.
4. Plant Your Herbs and Microgreens
You are probably familiar with the idea of flower meadows. The wildflowers have taken over not only grasslands, but also small city squares, and even on micro balconies. The blooming effects of this eco-action can be viewed on Facebook profiles Łąki Kwietne [Flower Meadows] or Fundacja Kwietna [Flower Foundation]. If you can grow a meadow on a micro balcony or window sill, why not try to grow your own herbs?
One large planter, the size of your window sill, will be an optimal use of space and suffice to plant several types of herbs. The fastest shooters are basil, mint, cress, and coriander. You can use mini-pots or cups to plant microgreens: leaves and sprouts – they are vitamin bombs, perfect with a sandwich or salad.
Microgreens sprout quickly, you can eat them after 2–3 weeks. Their growth can be stimulated in a sprouter, which produces a favorable microclimate (the multi-level one will also save precious space on your window sill). You can buy the basic 3-level model for 20–30 PLN. Both the planter and the sprouter can be reused for another seeding instead of buying a handful of sprouts in a plastic box.
And if you catch the gardening bug and decide to grow your own nano meadow, the city of Katowice and the KatoObywatel [KatoCitizen] project have launched the action #zaadoptujdonicę – adopt a planter. This initiative encourages planting flowers in abandoned urban planters. Reporting to action and indicating an empty flower pot (urban or your own), you’ll get a package of seeds and compost to start your own urban micro plantation. Check the details here (Polish only).
5. Choose Better Over More
The accessibility of products from all over the world and the speed of information exchange constantly fuel our need for possessions. The seasonally changing fashion collections got us hooked on regularly buying new clothes, especially when faced with grand sales. The never-ending technological and culinary novelties call for a quick spin.
How often does a discount top lose its shape or color after just one wash? Bet on higher-quality clothes and shoes, and they will be your best investment. Before you spend more than you would in a chain store, you’ll think twice if you actually like or need something and so avoid an impulse buy. You’ll treat an expensive item with more care, while the higher quality material and more careful workmanship will let it be of much longer use to you.
The same refers to your daily shopping. You might not buy craft sourdough bread or French cheese every day, but when you do, you’ll appreciate them enough not to leave any behind.
6. Tidy Up
Check all your kitchen cupboards today. We can bet you’ll find at least a few forgotten pots and utensils. Are we right? The same surely refers to your wardrobe, shoe rack, and any other storage area, slowly becoming a domestic black hole.
A thorough clear-out will make you realize two things: first, you’re a happy yet unaware owner of many items, some of which you have actually planned to buy (again); second, you have much more than you really need. And these are two reasons which next time you’ll buy less (and therefore generate less waste).
In spite of our best efforts, we’ll not avoid producing waste entirely. It’s important, however, to manage this “waste”. Most packaging materials are recyclable after all. We’ve written about the necessity, purpose, and ways of recycling in another post. If you’re not sure about your recycling skills, take a look here: https://wellcome-home.com/how-to-sort-your-waste/.
Remember that “less” today means “more” tomorrow – more satisfaction of conscious decisions and more chance for us and our planet. Good luck!