Kate Meads shares her top tips for reducing waste at home.
Ditch the plastic bags
Reusable bags just make sense! There is no need for plastic bags when we can just take our own and use them over and over again. The best part is that you can then use them for anything – days at the beach, picnics or for chucking the kids’ sportswear in.
No flushable products
Flushable liners, flushable wipes, sanitary products, kitchen paper towels and anything that is not toilet paper are not flushable. All of these items cannot be broken down so they end up clogging up our drains and are a nightmare to remove!
Re-usable coffee cups
If you have one takeaway coffee each day (Monday – Friday), you will send 260 coffee cups to landfill per year! A good alternative is to buy a reusable cup or sit and drink it at the café and read the paper. It’s a good excuse to sit down and prepare yourself for the day ahead. Check out this NZ-made reusable cup instead!
Compost the leftovers
For those once-bitten bits of breakfast that usually end up in the bin - the best system to dispose of used food is a Bokashi bin. This allows you to put vege scraps, raw and cooked meats and slobbered-on foods into. It is a simple two-bin system that contains the smell and breaks down food really quickly in a small space.
Choose cloth nappies
Cloth nappies are becoming more and more popular because they're quite different to the ones our parents used to use! The modern cloth nappies are easy to wash. You just rinse them in the loo and chuck them in your washing machine at the end of the day. Plus they can save you a fortune! Find more cloth nappy tips here. Check out Kate's The Nappy Lady website for more information.
No more plastic straws
Plastic straws are in the top 10 marine debris waste items! A simple solution to this is to buy a few stainless steel or glass straws or use compostable paper straws.
Rubbish-free lunch boxes
Schools all over the country are working on being waste free. With all of the amazing lunch box options available these days, reducing lunch box waste is so simple! Get a bento lunch box that means the food doesn’t need to be packaged in plastic wrap. Buy food in bulk and pack it straight into the lunch box.
Buy less ‘stuff’
Do you need all of those THINGS? Could you buy a less-packaged option? Packaging is everywhere and we have become so mindless when it comes to packaging. We go to the supermarket and almost everything has some form of packaging surrounding it. I recently saw single bananas on a polystyrene tray with plastic wrapped around it and it blew my mind. Bananas have a compostable skin already so why do we need to package it?
Grow your own food
Most houses have a backyard that we could plant a few fruit trees in or have a small vege garden. If you are renting, you could use planter boxes that you can take with you if you move. We are all so dependent on supermarkets to supply everything for us these days that we have stopped thinking about providing for ourselves from the land we live on. If there is an emergency and you have some food on your property you have something to eat.
Become a conscious consumer
This ties in with everything above. We need to become more aware of our daily impact on the planet. We found ourselves living in a little bubble of consumerism with a new baby in the house and it was not good news. Not only were the single-use disposable products very expensive, they filled our rubbish bins up every week. Over time we have become more aware of our purchasing habits and have made the effort to seriously reduce packaging and single use items.
If you're keen to learn even more, come to one of my various workshops that I run all over NZ. You will also walk away with a bag of goodies to get you started from your local council.