Five tips to reduce waste and save some cash at the same time.
I sometimes struggle to balance by money saving antics with my ethical principles. As I’ve written about before there are few items I’ll happily spend more on than I need to, and often that’s down to things like animal welfare or working conditions.
But when I do shop, I don’t really consider the effect it has on landfill (other than the odd rant about stupidly oversized boxes for online orders).
With next week being branded as Zero Waste Week – a campaign to encourage us all to reduce the rubbish we throw away and produce as consumers – it felt like the perfect topic for my monthly guest blog series. And I know the perfect blogger for it – Zoe Morrison from Ecothriftyliving.com.
Here are Zoe’s thrifty tips to cut waste.
5 ways going zero waste can save you money
Swap costly bottled water for free water
How many times have you put a plastic bottle in the bin in your lifetime? Plastic doesn’t biodegrade i.e. get incorporated back into the eco-system in a healthy way. It does degrade though into soil and water and is wreaking havoc, especially in our oceans, where it is predicted there will be more plastic than fish by 2050.
Plus think about the cost of all those bottles of water you purchased. When I’m out and about I take a reusable water bottle with me and I’ll let you into a secret – there are always places to fill up your water bottle for free.
Licensed premises in the UK have to give water away for free and many cafes, pubs and bars even leave jugs of water out for people to help themselves to. I went into one well-known sandwich bar recently and they even had a tap on the end of their counter for people to use.
>> Watch Andy’s video on getting free tap water
2. Make your coffee at home and save ££££’s
Coffee cups are made from mixed materials and are usually not recyclable. Day in day out, people buy their morning cup of tea or coffee on their way to work, at great expense compared to the cost of making it at home and then when they get to work, that cup goes in the bin.
They aren’t even very attractive those coffee cups, not compared to the stylish reusable ones available online and in shops. I don’t do a daily commute, but when I’m about to go on a long journey or to a cold park in the winter, I find it more convenient to make my own hot drink at home. I don’t have to wait to find somewhere to buy my cuppa, there is no queuing and I can make it just the way I like it.
3. Ban the burping bin and get something for nothing
Does your bin ever stink a bit? That’s because you put food in it. Did you know that food waste is costing the average household around £700 a year? I can’t imagine anyone who would actually consider taking £700 in cash and chucking it in the bin.
Most of us don’t have loads of time to spare, so it makes even less sense to add an extra step to throwing the £700 away (i.e. going out to the shops to buy food that doesn’t get eaten). Plus food gives off methane in landfill, which is a greenhouse gas.
It’s not good to send food to landfill, instead try to reduce your food waste and compost whatever is left. We make our own compost and our veg patch loves it!
4. Fix it, don’t nix it
It’s really easy to look at something that’s broken and think “I can’t be bothered, it’s going in the bin”. Stop, don’t do that! Fixing has become easier than ever before because it is so quick and easy to google a solution to the problem. Someone somewhere has probably even made a YouTube video telling you what to do.
Some visible fixing methods can look really attractive and if you don’t want it to be seen, look up invisible mending methods. There are some great Japanese visible mending techniques like Boro and Sashiko for textiles and for ceramics there is Kintsugi – the art of repairing cracks with gold.
I think fixing feels good, because each time you fix something you learn a new skill and feel a bit more capable. It also saves you money and prolongs the life of an item which would otherwise end up in landfill. (Note – before attempting to fix anything electrical or plumbing related consult a relevant professional).
5. Buy built to last
Not all purchases are equal. Some things you buy will fall apart in your hands after one use and others will last a lifetime. Although good quality items which are built to last may cost a little bit more upfront, over time they will save you money and a whole lot less will go in the bin. It might seem cheaper to buy something that costs half the price, but after your third purchase of it, it no longer is.
From high-quality clothes, to appliances that can be easily maintained and repaired, to long lasting kitchen implements there are a range of products out there that will keep performing really well over time. It’s so much less hassle as well, you don’t have to keep shopping around for replacements and you have a great quality item that you know will do the job well.
Examples of long lasting items I have bought include fantastic quality stoneware for cooking on in the kitchen, bamboo utensils – these have lasted amazingly well and double walled stainless steel water bottles.
Reducing your rubbish can save you a lot of money, feels good, looks good (no-one likes seeing rubbish) and is great for the environment! Choose one thing on this list to get started on today and see how your life changes!
Zero Waste Week runs from 4th to 8th September in 2017.
Zoe’s also recently opened up an Etsy shop selling limited edition giclée prints of her works, which are designed to last a long time. Until the end of September 2017 she will donate £2 for every print sold to Zero Waste week so I said I’d put in a little plug for her here! Check out her Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ZoesZenArt. Zoe says “Each print is printed on bamboo fine art paper of archival quality (i.e. long lasting) and shipped out in recycled and/ or recyclable packaging where possible.”
2 thoughts on “Guest blog: can you go zero waste?”
Great zero waste tips here. The carbon savings of refilling your own water bottle are huge. A maths exercise in my 101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free shows the huge money savings too. My downfall is fixing things. I don’t bin stuff but I have an aspirational mending pile that mounts up. This post reminds me that a couple of years ago I pledged to get fixing during Zero Waste Week and I did really well. Thank you Andy and Zoe, you have inspired me to tackle some fixing next week.
Great! Best of luck with the DIY!