2016 was the year of the plastic bag.
2017 waged war on microplastics.
2018 tackled the plastic straw.
What can we expect to change in 2019?
The ambitious team here at Enviro Waste are keen to encourage waste reduction of all types. We are keen to see people make conscious decisions while they are shopping, as much as we are keen for businesses to evaluate and assess their operations, their products, their services, and their supply chains. If we are going to make a change, it’s going to have to be a team effort.
For this reason, we’ve put together our list of all of the best New Year’s Resolutions that can help you, your household, your family, your colleagues, your teammates, and your communities to maximise your waste reduction efforts.
27 New Year’s Resolutions for Waste Reduction
- Carry your own plastic bags. The Government intervened in 2016 by introducing the single-use plastic bag levy, which has been a roaring success. Still, some people prefer to pay 5p per bag than to carry their own reusable bag, which is a shame. Put some bags in your car boot, backpack, handbag, or coat pocket to help you remember.
- Say no to microwave meals. You know those meals that arrive in black plastic trays and take your dinner from frozen to piping in a matter of minutes? Well, they’re tough to recycle, and they generate three types of waste, the cardboard box, the plastic tray, and the clear film lid. Pledge to stop buying them (the same goes for the oven equivalents).
- Cook in bulk. If you cook microwave meals due to time constraints, try cooking batches of meals instead, like chilli or curry, divide them into portions, then freeze them for the week. This will support your food and packaging waste reduction efforts.
- Cook with fresh produce. Packaged fruit and veg travel from around the world, expending vast amounts of oil, energy, and water. If you buy loose and fresh veg, your cooking will be much more resourceful.
Carry a water bottle with you. Single-use plastic bottles are a really poor use of the Earth’s limited oil resources, especially when we can reuse better quality bottles over and over. Remember to take one with you wherever you go. You gave even get foldable and squishable bottles that don’t take up much space at all.
Carry a reusable coffee cup or thermos. Okay, you might need a bigger bag if you can pledge to do everything on this list. Some people may choose either a bottle or a reusable coffee cup, depending on their thirst or caffeine cravings, but it’s really worth having a sustainable option in order to avoid contributing to the 2,500,000,000 disposable coffee cups thrown away each year in the UK.
Say no to ‘Fast Fashion’. We don’t want to name and shame, but cheap clothing shops in the UK contribute to the fact that fashion is the second-most polluting industry in the world. Exploitative farming techniques, dyes, and toxic synthetic fabrics are just a few reasons why you should say no, the other reason is that better quality clothing lasts longer and creates less waste. Waste reduction is the goal, right?
Make pledges with a friend. All of the ideas in this article are going to be much easier and more achievable if you pick a partner to do them with. If you have housemates, they are ideal! Your best friend would surely be keen. Your colleagues at work would likely be glad to make some changes to help the office be more sustainable, and even your family would probably want to make the world a bit less wasteful. Having a partner to keep you accountable is a great technique.
Take advantage of charity shops and vintage warehouses. Charity shops are popping up at a pleasant rate and have become very popular with thrifty people looking for a bargain. Vintage warehouses are the premium version of charity shops and offer some of the best finds from the second-hand clothing world. If these clothes have all survived this long already, it’s likely that they are good quality and will last you even longer.
Embrace minimalism. The less you buy, the less you have to waste, and so waste reduction wins! Declutter your stuff, donate what you can, upcycle other things, and try to make sure that you maximise the use of everything you own.
Continue the good work you’ve been doing. If you’ve already removed straws, single-use plastic bags, microplastics, and plastic bottles from your day-to-day life, have a pat on the back and then pledge to continue your work into 2019.
Say no to receipts in shops. It’s quite frustrating for a lot of resourceful and eco-friendly shoppers that they receive a paper receipt each time they make a purchase. Refuse the receipt and try to cut down the 11 billion receipts that are printed in the UK each year.
Repair your clothes. If you get holes in your clothes, try to mend them with a needle and thread. If your shoes break, take them to a cobbler. If you stain something, take it to a dry-cleaner. Don’t be so quick to chuck away clothes without trying to fix them first. Google and YouTube solutions for your damaged clothes, as it’s likely you already have the solution around your home.
Buy bigger packets. If you are going to buy packaged items in the supermarket, try and buy the bigger version in order to reduce packaging waste. For example, buy a big butter tub instead of a small one, or buy a massive box of cereal instead of the cheapest and smallest one. This means the ratio of packaging to their contents is smaller, thus creating less waste.
Give up something that is non-recyclable. Things like kitchen roll, used takeaway pizza boxes, crisp packets, and tissues, cannot be recycled. Are you able to give one of these up for a year? Or forever?
Look locally before you buy new. We are so hyperconnected now, that if you want to get rid of an old sofa, you don’t need to take it to the tip, you can post it on Facebook and it will show it to people in the local community! Use Facebook, Freecycle, and your own friend list to try and find the things you need, instead of buying new.
Say no to single-use cutlery. If you’re at a barbeque in the summer, or an office party at Christmas, make sure you are prepared with your own reusable cutlery, such as stainless steel or bamboo. If you can talk to the party host before the party is organised you may even be able to convince them to make this pledge too.
Plan your food shopping. Make a list, check it twice. To reduce your food waste you simply need to buy what you need and avoid spontaneous purchases. If you have plans to go out for dinner, make sure to buy one less meal for the fridge.
Talk to the manager. This one might take a bit of courage, but each time a barperson puts a straw in your drink without asking you first, ask to speak to the manager about their environmental policy. Be friendly, be armed with a couple of solutions (paper straws), and suggest that they change their policy to opt-in, instead of opt-out – this will encourage waste reduction and only requires the barperson to ask one simple question.
Reuse packaging in your kitchen. Those plastic boxes that your takeaway comes in can be washed and used for your bulk cooking (see point 3), and glass pots from things like jam and pasta sauce can also make great storage options for spices or olives.
Shop locally for produce. Family-run greengrocers use a lot less plastic and road miles to package and transport their goods, as their supply chain is a lot shorter, greener, and less wasteful. This helps you to avoid wasting energy and oil.
Switch to loose leaf tea. Some teabag manufacturers use plastic to seal their teabags, which means they can’t be composted or go in the food caddy. Some companies, like Yorkshire Tea, have already fixed this problem. If you want to be even more resourceful, use loose leaf tea and put the tea remains straight in the food caddy.
Compost your food waste. If you have a garden, this is perfect. All of those vegetable peels and other food wastes that you create in your kitchen can go on a compost pile to be turned into fertiliser for your garden. If you have the time, you can plant and grow vegetables in your garden (or even on your balcony) to save you from buying them.
Get friendly with soups. If you don’t have a garden, you might want to think about using your vegetable scraps to make soup instead of contributing to your food waste pile. If you make a big vegetable-loaded meal, like a roast dinner, it’s likely you have a lot of peels. These are perfect for making delicious soups.
Give veganism a go. It’s not for everyone, but it’s factually one of the most resourceful diets possible. If you can live just on fruit, vegetables, grains, and other meat-free and dairy-free food items, you are able to buy items loose, locally, and organically.
Make your own furniture. Upcycling is a great way to reduce bulky waste. Pallets can be used to make coffee tables, beds, and garden furniture. The writer of this article (hello and thanks for reading) made his dining room table from an old gate and some screw in legs from Ikea. There are millions of upcycling ideas on the internet, especially Pinterest.
Shop in the reduced section. Some people don’t like buying reduced items, as they are close to expiring, but by purchasing them, you save them from going into an industrial bin and then a landfill. Of course, you must take on the waste burden when you buy these items, so be sure that you can consume them before they expire.
So which will it be?
We would love to hear from you about which of these pledges you are going to take! Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.