5 Ways to Stop Sending Stuff to Landfill
20 years ago I took part in a French exchange programme. I remember at the time asking the French family that I was staying with “why do you have so many bins?” and the mother pointed to each one and explained ‘this one for glass, this one for plastic, food goes here’. The whole neighbourhood had the same neat row of bins- I can only imagine how efficient their system is now 20 years on. We have made a lot of progress over here with regards to recycling, but I still believe we’re nowhere near close to where we should be with regards to managing household waste, and, in particular, the most important ‘R’- REDUCING the waste we create in the first place.
I’m lucky enough to live in a village with a fantastic community that has been very proactive in this area. There is a scheme which arranges collection of items to send to Terracycle, and various groups that help people to re-home unwanted household items rather than send to landfill. But these have not come from the council, they are run by local volunteers. We’re still in a place in this country where we relying on small of numbers of people who care enough to do these things off their own backs. If we want to reduce our contribution to landfill we need to do it ourselves. So, here’s 5 things each of us can do to help to reduce the amount of ‘stuff’ we send to landfill each year.
The simplest way to make the biggest difference is to REDUCE the amount of stuff that we buy going forward. Simply take a moment to ask yourself the question- do I really need this? It has saved me countless unnecessary purchases that would have ended up in the bin eventually.
2. Recycle Responsibly
Take the time to find out exactly what can and can’t be recycled in your area. Look for other schemes, not just the collection provided by the council. Clean out items before sending them to the recycling plant. So many items can now be successfully recycled as long as they are sent to the right place.
3. Say No To Packaging
When you buy a branded supermarket product, you’re paying more for the packaging than the quality of the product itself. All companies are competing with each other using colourful and fancy packaging to try and catch your eye. If possible, replace as much as you can with zero-waste refillable alternatives. If you can’t, then leave as much packaging with the supermarket as possible. Eventually they will be forced to change their ways and move towards a reducing unnecessary packaging. It’s also a good idea to switch your packaged fruit for loose fruit and vegetables and take your own bags and containers when you’re shopping, so you don’t increase your plastic consumption. We have a great selection of reusable bags here.
4. Buy Up-cycled and Second Hand
I’m a big fan of up-cycled furniture- I have a lovely side table in my kitchen that’s an up-cycled Victorian table and it’s probably my favourite piece of furniture. It’s unique, I supported a small business in purchasing it and I know that it’s provided almost 100 years of use since it was first made. Choose not to contribute to throw-away culture where you can.
Another thing that makes a huge difference (particularly when you have young children and the thousands of plastic toys that go with them) is choosing to hand things on to charity shops or local re-purposing groups, instead of throwing them away. It is true that one man's waste is another man's treasure.
5. Grow your own and freeze more!
If you have room to do so then why not grow your own. Tomatoes, potatoes, onions, leeks, squash, pumpkins- they’re fun to grow, don’t require as much maintenance as you’d think, zero food miles and so delicious! Try to pre-plan what you’re going to grow and think about how you can make the seasonal foods last as long as possible. Growing lots of tomatoes gives you the option to make up passata, which you can freeze and use for months ahead in pasta sauces etc. I do the same with squash, and potatoes, you can make potato wedges and stick them in the freezer.
So there we have it, five really easy ways to reduce your contribution to landfill. If everyone could start to make some small changes in this way, it would have a huge impact in the long run.