I hate waste. I hate wasting money, wasting food, wasting time is more of a theoretical pet peeve of mine than an actual action. So, when I heard about all the ways I could reduce waste and my impact on the environment I was like a moth to a flame. It started with the challenge of plastic free July (link) and then became somewhat of an obsession. I am by no means a perfect waste warrior, I’m just a baby, but I’ve made a start and you can too! Keeping to the general theme of Little Lauren I thought we’d take a little step forward that has huge impact.
The top tools for any baby waste warrior are:
A reusable water bottle
– preferably glass or steel, this will not only reduce plastic but also money. Why are we paying $4 for bottled water when we can BYO from home. I have two re-usable water bottles – an insulated steel one that keeps water cold for up to 12 hours and a glass one I keep on my desk at work. Of course you may sometimes forget your bottle, especially when you are getting used to carrying one around, when this happens I try wherever possible to buy a glass bottle or a can of water (these are becoming increasingly common for sparkling water). After a time you, like me, will experience extreme pangs of guilt when you have to buy a water. I have bought 4 bottles this year – mainly sparkling (because then I can’t get it from a tap anyway) and always hung-over. Unforeseen bonuses of having a reusable water bottle: increased hydration, better skin, conversation starter.
A reusable coffee cup
Following the War on Waste many people in Australia, myself included, were astonished to find that takeaway cups were not recyclable because of a thin film of plastic that is used to line the cup. The amount of re-usable coffee cups that popped up at work was astounding and heart-warming, except when people stopped using them. Re-usable cups themselves will only make a waste impact once they have been used more than 15 times, that means if you have a cup on your desk that has stale milk crust on the bottom and still enjoy your cup of coffee takeaway, you have a double waste impact. The other thing is, most cafes will (and should) accept regular ceramic mugs – so if you can’t decide on the colour combo for your re-usable cup leave it on the shelf and take one of your favourite mugs from home instead.
Unforeseen bonuses of having a reusable coffee cup – you don’t have to drink out of soggy paper, the lid tends to stay on without accidents, righteous feelings.
So, it turns out straws are not recyclable, nor do they ever seem to be thrown into a bin, this is evidenced by the amount that are being washed ashore around the world. When you think about it, how often do you use a straw? I’ll tell you when, at pubs, clubs, when drinking milkshakes and with soft drink. Ignoring that all those things alone are not indulgences, the answer is not often. There are funky reusable straws available (again I have two – people just start giving you things to support your cause!) but you could also just have no straw. It’s awkward to ask at first but then you feel smug, so it’s fine! I will be very honest, my success rate with this is not high, often when I ask for no straw I actually end up with two in one drink! Other times I have left my reusable straw in situ and have had to call the restaurant in the hope of retrieving it. Also it embarrasses my friends – don’t worry friend, I carry the spare for you xx
Refusing plastic bags
I put this at the bottom because it’s the most shouted about, most regulated and the issue that seems to be an easy fix for big corporations to reduce on their own. But, I highly recommend keeping a cute little tote in your handbag, pocket, or wallet in case you need one and also keep your eye out for sneaky bags. Sneaky bags can pop up when you least expect it, when your single lunch order is put in a plastic bag, when you’re at shops and they automatically put your garment in a bag without asking. You don’t need these bags, so just ask politely for them to go back, it saves the shop money and resources too. The other plastic bags I refuse are produce bags. This upsets some people, but realistically you don’t need a bag to hold all your apples, you can wash them when you get home. You also don’t need a bag for your loose leaf lettuce, you can make your own thin canvas pouch, or in a pinch use the paper bags for mushrooms for any loose veg, the cashiers checks all these bags anyway so you don’t have to worry!
Unforeseen bonus of refusing plastic bags – I have no plastic bags collecting dust and moths in my house, the vegetables don’t go slushy (they still go off but in a much more palatable way where they just dry out).
So if you want to come on this journey with me, please do! I’ll be posting a few more posts about this in the future and any hacks I may come up with along the way. I know that waste isn’t all on you, but it’s something that we as individuals can impact and an area where larger corporations and governments are showing reluctance. Like many things in this world, excess waste may not be your fault, but it is your problem.
Hit me up if you want to catch up to discuss this further or share your thoughts below!