How often do you find yourself chucking plastic packaging in the bin because you don’t know if you can recycle it, or throwing away food because you’ve made too much? I’ll put my hand up and confess I’m guilty of doing both.
It’s incredible to think that in England alone we generate a massive 177 million tonnes of rubbish each year. As well as the environmental cost of wasting our resources, there is also a huge financial toll. How much money could we save if we planned our meals better, used up leftovers, and didn’t always look to buy things brand new?
Zero Waste Week is a campaign which raises awareness of the situation and what we can all do to improve it. Now in its seventh year, thousands of people, businesses and local authorities use Zero Waste Week as a chance to take a closer look at their waste habits.
This year’s campaign starts on Monday and everyone involved is being asked a simple question: ‘What one more thing could you do to reduce landfill waste?’
Here are our top 5 ideas for what you could do to reduce waste and save money during Zero Waste Week (and beyond!).
1. Freeze stuff
What’s that? A billion bananas for £1? Bargain! Well, it would be if you could get through them all before they go off. If there are only so many banana smoothies, banana cakes, and banana muffins you can take, why not freeze them? Peel them and put them in a freezer bag and use them when you’ve recovered from your last banana bonanza.
It’s not just bananas, you can freeze all sorts of fruit, vegetables, herbs, meat, fish, and even beans. Frost Bite Foods has a great A-Z list of food you can and can’t freeze. Apparently cottage cheese is a no-no…who knew?!
2. Think twice about ‘best before’ dates
Just because food is past its ‘sell by’ or ‘best before’ date doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t eat it. Lots of tinned or packaged goods last well beyond the date that manufacturers print on the label. If you’re not sure whether to eat something in your cupboard, take a look on Still Tasty to see what the product’s shelf life is and how you can make it last longer.
3. Portion police
I’m rubbish at guessing food quantities, so I’m a repeat offender in this department! Love Food Hate Waste has a handy portion planner which will take away a lot of the guesswork when it comes to measuring out your favourite foods. Just tell it what you’re cooking and for how many people and it’ll work its magic.
Love Food Hate Waste also has a really useful free app (suitable for iPhone and Android users) which helps you keep track of what you’ve got in your cupboards and gives you recipe ideas to put any leftovers to good use. With this app, there’s no excuse not to stick to your Zero Waste Week pledge!
4. Recycle, recycle, recycle
Zero Waste Week isn’t just about food, it’s also about the packaging, wrapping, boxes, bottles and containers it comes in. How and what you can recycle depends on where you live, so take a look at Recycle Now to see what you can recycle at home or at centres nearby.
We all know paper, plastic, glass and tins can be recycled, but there’s loads of other stuff you can give a second lease of life to. From used aerosols to shoes and watches, there are plenty of unexpected items you can recycle!
And while you’re at it, take a look and see if there’s a local re-use shop you could donate to or even buy from. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and re-use shops can be full of pre-loved furniture, pictures and books! Buying second hand is not only cheaper and but also better for the environment, as you’ll avoid manufacturing, packaging and transporting something new.
Each day in the UK, we throw away 15 million plastic bottles. As well as being bad for the environment, buying bottled drinks is bad for your bank account. Spending a few quid here and there on bottles of water or fizzy drinks can soon add up. Why not carry your own bottle and refill it where you can?
If you usually stop somewhere for a coffee in the morning, you could take your own travel cup and reuse it. Even better, fill it up with coffee before you leave your house and you’ll cut down on the cost!
If you want to get involved with Zero Waste Week, take a photo of yourself and what you pledge to change during the campaign and upload it to Twitter. Don’t forget to let @myzerowaste know and use the #zerowasteweek hashtag!
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