Free Zero Waste Switches

Free Zero Waste Switches

The zero waste movement really had its moment. Brands jumped on the bandwagon to product their own plastic-free versions of things we already owned, and a lot of us bought them thinking we were doing the planet a favour. I hope by now we've all realised that the most sustainable item is the one we already own.

The production and purchasing of new goods is completely opposed to the idea of sustainability. Buying 'eco-friendly' alternatives to replace the plastic disposable ones already own makes zero sense. A better solution is to keep using what we have, dispose of it responsibly when it breaks, and only thrift for or buy a replacement if we really need to.

There's also the issue of zero waste living being inaccessible for most people. Not only do eco-friendly habits require more time and attention, the reusables required to replace disposables are often cost prohibitive. The good news is there are plenty of free zero waste switches that don't demand any extra time, money, or even much thought from us. They are, in fact, incredibly obvious and things you probably already do.

Use Things Up

It does us well to remember the old adage: “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Buying less and using what we have isn't just a free zero waste habit to adopt, it also saves us money. The more we look around our homes, the more we uncover the stuff we've forgotten about. A selection of skincare, some unread books; cook books or ingredients; loose tea and coffee beans; craft supplies, stationery, or notebooks; empty jars and packaging. If we can't use them, someone else can. There is a pleasing satisfaction to be gained from using things up. It saves money from being spent on unnecessary purchases, and makes space in our homes.

Eat The Leftovers

A large part of eating sustainably is simply eating things up. 70% of food waste is caused in our homes, and it's become a huge issue. One way we can easily avoid wasting our food is by following a few simple rules. Avoid wasted food by learning how to store food to make it last longer. Eat up any leftovers or freeze them for later (you'll thank yourself for that habit on a late night with nothing in the fridge!) Don't know what to make? Kitche can help with serving up recipes based on the ingredients you have. If you have too much food, share with neighbours or give it away. Apps like Olio and NoWaste make it easy.

Wear Your Wardrobe

We're not making the most out of our wardrobes. We wear a tiny percentage of the clothes we own, keep them only briefly, and shop endlessly in search of "the perfect" outfit. Clothing production has more than doubled since 2000. The best way we can hit back at fast fashion is to stop buying new clothes and start wearing the ones we already have. Shop your own wardrobe to recreate outfits from your style inspiration. Put together capsule wardrobes to help you to rotate through your clothing so everything gets worn and nothing gets wasted. If there are things you're not wearing, that don't fit or make you feel good; declutter your wardrobe and don't fill it back up.

Borrow What You Need

Books, tools, clothes - whatever you need, consider borrowing instead of buying. Why spend money on something you only need temporarily? All of us have made purchases that end up hidden at the back of cupboards, pushed to the backs of drawers, or hidden under the bed. These things cost us money and often go unused for much of the year. Instead of making an instant purchase, consider whether borrowing is a better solution for your problem. Visit your local library to stock up your reading list, hire tools for your next DIY project, or swaps clothes with friends if you need a new outfit.

Bring Your Own Bag

At this point, we should all have our own zero waste kit. It doesn't even cost any money since most items can be borrowed from our own homes. Cutlery from the kitchen drawer, a reused plastic pot for lunch, a napkin from the linen cupboard, and a refillable water bottle or reusable coffee cup. These things can easily be found in charity shops too since so many of us hopped on the zero waste wave, and either bought or were gifted more than we needed. Taking your own tote bags to the shops is the bare minimum all of us can do at this point, and it's completely free. If you don't have any reusable totes, ask a friend or neighbour. They're sure to have a few spares.

Deal With Junk Mail

This one might not be fun but it's certainly free. Stopping junk mail is relatively straightforward in the UK requiring a couple of forms, a few emails, and a handmade sign. It's mostly about perseverance and patience. You can stop the flow of unsolicited mail and paper clutter, reducing it to zero within a month or two. It might not be waste we've created or even asked for but dealing with it is unfortunately our responsibility. The quick method is to put up a 'no junk mail' sign on your letterbox and opt out of any door-to-door services. The longer guide to stopping junk mail can be found here.

Refuse Disposables

All you need to do for this simple eco-friendly habit is learn to say, "no, thank you!" If you don't need the plastic bag, single-use cutlery, disposable coffee cup, straw, napkin, or "freebie", you can leave it behind. This is easier if you've put together a zero waste kit with the reusables you need daily. It will help you to refuse disposables without being inconvenienced in any way. Avoiding unnecessary waste doesn't have to be difficult or costly. If you don't need something and the option is available, don't take it in the first place.

Conserve Energy

We often overlook the waste we can't see. Whether that's further up the supply chain or right in front of us in our homes. You can reduce waste and save money by adopting the simple habit of conserving energy. Turn lights and appliances off when you're done with them, close the fridge door, washing laundry on a cooler temperature then air dry, make sure taps are turned off, and collect rain water for your plants. It's so easy and yet so effective, requiring very little effort yet making a world of difference.

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