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Reduce Waste

Minimalism

How to Reduce Your Waste Footprint

This week I finally caught up with watching the ABC’s #WarOnWaste program hosted by Craig Reucassel and was completely shocked at the level of waste in Australia. And not just the unwanted stuff, but the perfectly good food that is going to waste.

I do try and be mindful of our waste and try to be conscious of waste in my home. Whether that be by only buying what is on our list, trying to use up as much of our fresh produce as we can and by recycling everything that we can. I wasn’t aware of the true situation of Australia’s waste and couldn’t be more grateful to this show for helping me realise that. If you are yet to see it please do. You will not regret it and living in ignorance is a big part of the problem. Let’s be educated! You can watch all three episodes of War on Waste on ABC’s iView.

I’m hoping to share some information I got from the show as well as tips you can try at home to reduce your waste and impact on the environment.

SOME QUICK WAR ON WASTE FACTS

  • Every year the waste we generate in Australia is growing twice the rate of our population.
  • As a nation we use over 2 million shopping bags a day.
  • In Australian households 20% of food is binned.
  • The average family throws out $3500 worth of food each year.
  • 40% of bananas along with other fruits and vegies are binned due to strict cosmetic standards. Often these are just because a banana is too long or short or curved, or a potato has an irregular shape – the freshness of the item is not taken into account.
  • Australian’s throw out a tram-full of coffee cups every half hour.
  • the greenhouse gases produced by food waste in Australian landfill each year is equivalent to the emissions of Australia’s steel and iron ore industries combined

TIPS ON REDUCING YOUR HOUSEHOLD WASTE

  1. Meal plan and shop from a list to avoid buying excess food. You can always buy more but you often can’t take the excess back. Only buy what you need. If you only plan to use two tomatoes don’t buy a pack just because they are cheaper. When you bin four of them they won’t be. See here for more tips on how you can save on groceries and reduce the food waste in your home.
  2. Buy a reusable coffee cup. I got one from Keep Cup and have seen many others in Kmart, Typo and other stores.
  3. Bring your reusable bags. Shopping bags are the worst thing that an end up in landfill and are very hard to recycle. Bring your own reusable bags instead and help reduce the number of bags ending up in landfill.
  4. Bring in any spare bags to your supermarkets bag recycling bin.
  5. Extend the life of your herbs by putting them in a glass of water as soon as you bring them home.
  6. Test eggs by dropping them into a glass of water. If they sink they are okay to eat.
  7. Avoid taking bags for fresh produce. Put them in your trolley, basket or reusable bag.
  8. Check your fridge regularly to see what leftovers you need to eat or groceries to use up.
  9. Rotate your new food to the back, and older food move to the front so you can use up the food items that will expire sooner.
  10. Put your food in a container as soon as you open it can help minimise waste and keep it fresher for longer.

RECYCLING TIPS

  • Remove the lids from your plastic bottles and make sure they are empty before you place them in your recycling bin. In the sorting areas of recycling plant paper and plastics are separated. If bottles still contain liquid it will stop them being blown up into the plastics sorting area in the chain line so be sure to empty them out before you put them in your recycling bin.
  • Any recycling items left in plastic bags are not recycled. This slows down the sorting process so those bagged items do not go on to be recycled. Keep all your recyclables bag free.
  • If you have broken glass or ceramics like ovenproof dishes, drinking glasses or mugs, creatively reuse or place in your rubbish bin, because just 15g of ovenproof glass can contaminate one tonne of normal glass, making it useless for recycling.
  • Consider composting your food scraps to reduce the wood waste in land fill and the emissions that creates.
  • When recycling containers give them a quick rinse, they do not have to be spotless. Remove stuck on food from paper and cardboard before recycling.
  • Recycle your Printer Cartridges via the ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark‘ recycling boxes in participating Australia Post, Officeworks, Harvey Norman, and Dick Smith Electronics stores.
  • Mobile Phones can be recycled through MobileMuster.
  • Batteries, CDs and light globes can be taken to your nearest library. Check with them in advance to make sure they accept these things.
For more tips on recycling check out the Planet Ark website.

REUSING ITEMS AROUND YOUR HOME

  1. Another way to reduce what your household sends to landfill is to find creative ways to reuse what you do have. This is a great way to get crafty, save some money and help the environment. Try these handy tips:
  2. Reuse old candle and condiment jars. They can holds spare buttons, screws in your garage, 100s and 1000s, tea bags etc.
  3. Wash out takeaway containers and re-use as much as possible before they break. Smaller ones for gravy can be used to bring small snacks in such as lollies or nuts.
  4. Wash old shampoo and conditioner and other bottles to use when travelling. I also use these to store our current soap in a smaller container that doesn’t take up as much space as the bulk 1kg containers.
  5. Use an old baby formula tin to make a home-made wet wipe dispenser
  6. Cut up old towels into cleaning rags instead of using sponges or paper towel.
  7. Re-purpose gift containers or things that come with boxes such as perfume or a watch to organise junk drawer items.
  8. Give an old pot plant some new paint to give it a new lease of life.
  9. Up-cycle old cereal boxes or cardboard boxes into storage boxes for your drawers. Cut the bottoms off and wrap with your favourite coloured wrapping paper.
  10. Repair old clothes if possible rather than binning them. Sew on a new button, or take it to the alterer for repair if it is something out of your skill level.
  11. Use toilet rolls to wrap and identify your spare cables. They can also be used for arts and crafts projects with the kids.
  12. Use old sauce jars for decorative pieces. We put musical craft paper in ours with a candle and some yarn as a wedding ornament.
  13. If you have excess frames get a picture or make an artwork for a gift for a family or friend.
  14. Use an old t-shirt to make a bag. I cut up old t-shirts of my husbands that were perfectly good, but that he didn’t wear and made two laundry bags for travelling.
  15. Decorate old tin cans and use for planting herbs or storing stationery.
  16. Use old CDs to create a shiny mosaic artwork or mirror.
  17. Donate an old bed sheets and some pegs and a torch for your kids own fort kit.
  18. Drilling into an old dinosaur toy can make a cool toothbrush holder for your kids.

>>If you want more information on how you can reduce your excess consumption check out
10 Benefits of a Minimalist Inspired Life

LET’S GET CREATIVE

Other creative ways to help reduce your household waste:

TOY LIBRARIES

Old toys are donated here and can be borrowed, just like library books for kids to use and return in a few weeks. This is a great way to reduce unwanted toys ending up in landfill, having excess permanent clutter in your home and to save money. Kids can outgrow toys fast so this sounds like an amazing solution. Click here for more information from War on Waste and here to locate your closest toy library.

CLOTHES SWAPS

Thanks to fast fashion clothing is ending up in landfill in larger numbers than ever before. With the current price of clothing and often lack of quality materials, it’s no wonder we are binning more clothes than ever. In order to combat this clothes swap meets are a great option. You  can bring some unwanted clothes to swap for someone else’s unwanted items and go home with something new that you love all the while avoiding adding to landfill. For more info on Clothes swaps click here. The Clothes Exchange holds occasional clothes swap meets that are free of charge when you register.  Or you can hold your own clothes swap parties with friends or family. Ask everyone to bring in a few pieces they would like to swap and a plate of food and get swapping!

REUSING YOUR OLD MOBILE PHONES

If you have a spare (or multiple) old phones lying around consider these options to reuse them:

1. Make a kid friendly phone for your kids (no more dropping your phone ;))
2. Use your phone as a dedicated MP3 player and save all your memory on your current phone.
3. Use your phone as a digital radio.
4. Turn your old phone into a hand-held gamin device
5. Use it as a security monitor for your home.
6. Use your old phone without a sim for storing encrypted data.

Click here for more information on how you can reuse your old phones from War on Waste. Alternatively take your phone to be recycled at your nearest Mobile Muster recycling box.

Share the Dignity

Share the dignity is an Aussie charity that aims to provide assistance to homeless women. Each year they do a collection called “It’s In The Bag” in the weeks leading up to Christmas where they ask you to donate a handbag in good condition to someone less fortunate and fill it up with useful things such as sanitary items, toothbrushes and toothpaste, a book you no longer need, pajamas, tissues, lotions -anything to make a women facing hard times feel special. I did this last year and look forward to doing it again this November. If you have any jewellery you no longer want, or can spare some extra cash with your weekly shop add a few things to your trolley that you can put into your handbag for the next collection. This is a great way to dispose of some unwanted items thoughtfully and make someone in needs day 🙂

WHAT ELSE YOU CAN DO

If you want to do more, War On Waste have provided some more information and the contact details for each State that is yet to Ban The Bag. If we all Ban(d) together and take action by emailing our State’s Premier we might have a chance of making a much needed change!

Do you have any tips to reduce food and other waste in your home? Have you found creative ways to up-cycle items around your home to help limit things ending up in landfill? Share your tips below 🙂