Tuesday 17 December 2019

Less Waste This Christmas

Why Us Humans Need to Change Our Ways

As more news is coming out about seas washing up plastics, microplastics raining down in remote places and young chicks being fed fragments of plastics by their mums, it honestly hits home just what a wasteful breed we humans are. Part of the problem is our 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality. 

If you ruthlessly recycled everything that could be recycled for years, you'd also be wondering like me why recycling was being shipped abroad? Not exactly environmentally friendly to ship things to the other side of the world. 

In its final destination it can be incinerated causing health problems for those living near by, stock piled allowing some to blow into waterways or indeed dumped directly into forests and rivers.

Whirling tides then gather the dumped plastic creating a perfect storm, a sea of waste that eventually get pushed back onto our shores. Why on earth could we let this happen?

So what does this have to do with Christmas? Sadly reports suggest waste goes up by 30% at this time of year. Not to mention the 6 million Christmas trees wasted in the UK when Christmas is over.

So what can we do to make things better? Don't wait for governments to do anything anytime soon, the power is in the hands of the people to make a change and directly and indirectly put pressure on suppliers by changing our habits now. 

Christmas Decorated Table - Photo by picjumbo.com from Pexels

A Greener Christmas

In my 'How to Have a Greener Christmas' article I look at lots of ways we can make a difference, including ethical choices in wrappings, cards, advents calendars, gifts and decorations.

I also looked at 10 books on plastic free living that can help us through changes for the New Year. Ways we can change our shopping, house cleaning, laundry and personal care products for example. We may not do it all overnight but small changes can make a difference, it can trigger a domino effect too. Friends and family may say, 'Oh that's a good idea, I might try that myself', so your good deed could be an encouragement to others.

It can be expensive by the way, seeking out plastic free alternatives - what I do is look for special offers (discounts), or deals on free shipping. Look for companies that have ethical standards in terms of packaging and supply chains and seek out companies that help plant new trees with every order.

Meanwhile for those who like to surf the web, a new search browser called Ecosia may be an option for you. You can add Ecosia Web Search as an add on to your normal browser, for instance it will work seamlessly with Chrome. 

A chunk of profits goes to tree planting initiatives around the World making it a great choice for the eco minded. (They say an average of 45 searches is enough to plant a tree!) This video explains a little more about it.

Some plastic free companies in the UK also donate to the Eden Reforestation Project to help fund tree planting. Not only are you buying plastic free you're helping the planet breathe again. It all adds up 😊

Man holding Ice cream cone to the Clouds Photo by Rakicevic Nenad from Pexels

Reducing Food Waste

Let's turn now to food. Since I started making my own bath salts and homemade vinegar sprays I've found that saving citrus peel really helps. The peel can be thrown in warmed vinegar to infuse overnight before straining into a spray bottle, ready for use as a household spray. 

When my husband has finished squeezing limes for a cocktail I will squirrel away the left over pulp and peel & throw it into a bath of plain dead sea salts that I bought in compostable packaging. The warm water in the bath helps to infuse some of that lime.

Once these food scraps are used they go into the compost to be rotted down for other purposes. We try hard also to spend the week using up left overs and only buying larger meals for the weekend. 

What We Can Do

Buy items in larger packs too so you can cook extra for during the week. It only needs warming up then saving on electricity. If you buy too much fresh produce it can sit in the fridge until you get around to using it which then sometimes gets thrown away. If you cook in bulk it has already been cooked so it's less likely to go off so quickly. 

If you can't eat it within a few days then pre-cooked meals can keep also in the freezer. I quite enjoy seeing what we can make over bits of leftovers!

A Focus on Supermarkets

It's great to see that supermarkets are also taking food waste seriously. For instance Tesco report they have donated 100,000 meals through the Community Food Connection and have partnered with a supplier in Kenya to turn surplus food into free school lunches.
81% of UK food surplus safe for human consumption, is redistributed to humans or animals       
Tesco https://www.tescoplc.com/sustainability/food-waste/
Per Sainsbury's '87% of our stores have food donation partners for unsold food, up from 73 per cent in 2017/18. We aim to reach 100 per cent by 2020 target.'

In 2018/19 Sainbsury's donated over 1,500 tonnes of unsold food from their stores and logistics network to charity, equivalent to around 3.4 million meals. See PDF file for more.

We can reduce our own waste by being savvy with what we buy, plan means in advance and learn to love your leftovers. For me leftovers often save time creating a new meal as they are already pre-cooked, just need to warm up and then done. 

If you have staples in the cupboard that don't go off quick, such as pasta and rice, you'll always have something easy to add to the meal. Compost any rotten fruit/veg so that left overs of left overs are still being used for a purpose.

Lady Blowing Snow Wintery Scene Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Plans for 2020

My plans for 2020 include new reviews on plastic free teeth cleaning products (I've tested 3 so far), plus natural deodorant, bamboo cloths, charcoal water filters, pet products and plastic free products for your hair. My previous reviews can be found here.

I will also build up a useful directory and a list of achievements and challenges I've met so far in my plastic reducing challenge (my aim is to reduce 50 plastic items for my 50th year on this planet!)

Meanwhile I wish you and your family all the best and hope to see you next year!

🎇 🎇 🎇 🎇 🎇