6 simple ways to reduce your waste at home

Think of the last time you went to the supermarket. All your salad leaves in plastic, plastic bags of fruit and vegetables easier and often cheaper to buy than their loose counterparts, all meat on a tray of styrofoam and then wrapped in plastic. It is actually quite overwhelming, once you see it, you can’t un-see it.

I have been trying to reduce my waste for about 6 months now. My aim is to be plastic free, which is much easier said than done. There are some easy ways I reduced my waste once I became more conscious of it. This certainly didn’t happen overnight. I started to reuse the same plastic produce bag (after giving it a quick rinse) to get my baby spinach leaves from the supermarket. Otherwise I only bought fruit and vegetables that I could buy loose. I also bought dry items from the bulk food store in paper bags. I made an effort only use my reusable cup for coffees at work, and to ask for drinks with no straws.

However, some things are harder, I love milk, and buying in plastic is the only way in Adelaide (please let me know if I’m wrong!). And life gets in the way, like the spur of the moment picnic that calls for hummus, or when you are at the farmers market on a 40 degree day and an orange juice icey pole (wrapped in soft plastic) is calling your name. Also, as I use up items from my fridge/pantry, it leaves me with more plastic waste.

I try to think about my progress and how much less waste I make now compared to before and I am proud of that. However, I am also making an effort to make sure what waste I do have I manage as well as possible.

Compost

I can put any food scraps, tea bags, egg shells etc into my organics bin that then gets picked up by the council once a month for composting. You can also put soiled paper bags, serviettes and pizza boxes into the organics bin. I recommend lining the bottom of the bin with newspaper to stop scraps sticking. Food scraps in landfill break down slowly and release harmful green house gases, food scraps in your organics bin get made into mulch, compost and potting mix…much better. I have a caddy under my sink with compostable bags from the council.

Re-use vegetable scraps

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I put vegetable scraps into a bag in the freezer. When the bag is full up, I pop all the scraps into a saucepan, cover with water, add some herbs and spices from the pantry and make a veggie stock. Easy, and v impressive to tell people you made your own stock.

Recycle soft plastics

Soft plastics can be recycled, although only once, hence why I try to avoid in the first instance. I drop mine off at Coles in the Redcycle bins. Any soft plastic that can be scrunched into a ball (that is dry and empty) can be put in the bin.  For example, bread bags, pasta bags and plastic bags. If something isn’t plastic, or cannot be scrunched into a ball (such as a milk container), it cannot be added. Check out their website if you’re not sure if a certain item can be included.

Keep track of small plastics and metals

Often one of the difficulties with recycling through the council is that many items are too small to be processed. I have an old milk container under my sink that I fill with small hard plastics, e.g milk bottle lids, bread ties and even straws can be put in there. When its full, off it goes to kerbside recycling (it takes ages to fill up!).
Also under the sink I have an old tin that I fill with any small metal items, e.g. the metal lids on drinks. When its full enough I just squash it closed and pop in kerbside recycling.

Keep aware

Plastic-Numbers

Please remember that the triangular symbol at the bottom of plastic containers does not mean a recycling symbol, instead it means what type of plastic it is. Plastics that can be recycled through kerbside are “rigid” plastics that hold their shape when crumpled.
All different councils have different rules, so if any queries check with your council. I am always looking up my councils recycling page and typing in what I have to find out if there is any alternative to the landfill bin.

Recycle tinfoil

Tinfoil

Tinfoil can be recycled in your kerbside pickup. Simply gather together enough clean and dry tinfoil to be scrunched into at least a tennis ball sized ball and its ready to be recycled.
Every little bit helps, try making one small change and it’ll become a habit in no time. Let me know if you have any other tips!
Sarah