How much of our everyday household waste is recycled, and how much ends up in a landfill? What can we do as consumers to reduce the millions of tons of waste that are sent to landfill every year? Here we will discuss these important questions and more.
Reducing food waste
Recently there has been a large focus amongst environmentalists to tackle our global plastic waste problem. However, whilst this is a fantastic and worthwhile focus we mustn’t forget that plastic isn’t the only culprit when it comes to environmental waste damage. Food waste is also an urgent problem. According to this info graphic, the countries producing the most food waste globally per year are Australia and the U.S., with Australia producing 8,948,576,300kg and the United States 90,767,556,000kg per year. Not only does food waste take longer to decompose once it reaches landfill but its decomposing process is altered and harmful methane gas is created as a result. So, what can we do as consumers to reduce our food waste?
Plan Your Meals
Reducing our food waste isn’t about clearing every plate, it’s about planning sensible, portion-controlled meals. As consumers, we often buy far more food than we need as a result of poor planning. Getting a little organised and planning our weekly or even daily meals can help to vastly reduce our food waste production.
Understandably, it’s not always possible to achieve zero food waste production which is why composting is an excellent, environmentally friendly way to dispose of food scraps. Most food scraps which we have no use for such as vegetable peeling and eggshells can easily be composted at home!
Give Ugly Vegetables a Chance!
Supermarkets, restaurants, and food chains are one of the major culprits in the growing food waste problem. Most businesses require fruit and vegetables to meet certain standards of appearance before they can be sold to the public. In Australia, a shocking 86.7% of the countries tomatoes are simply thrown away because they don’t meet high presentation standards. As consumers, we can help to combat this issue by choosing to buy imperfect or ‘ugly’ produce. Some British and American supermarkets have now begun to sell such produce that wouldn’t normally make the cut (appearance-wise) at a discounted price! Alternatively, less than perfect produce can be found at most farmers markets and independent fruit and veg sellers.
Reducing Material Waste
Whether it’s a humble sack of potatoes, a luxury skincare product or a child’s toy almost everything we purchase comes packaged in an assortment of materials, and these materials present a growing problem, on a global scale. Whilst manufacturers have the main responsibility to ensure they are doing everything possible to reduce the amount of materials and resources used in their packaging we too, as consumers, have a responsibility to choose products which have been packaged in an environmentally conscious way.
Refuse Single Use
Wherever possible you should choose products in packaging that can easily be recycled, and follow this practice through to ensure you do recycle the packing after using the product. Usually, packaging will indicate whether or not it can be recycled via a small label in an inconspicuous place. If the product you want is packaged in non-recyclable material, try and search for an alternative option. Not only will shopping around help you to feel good about ‘doing your part’ for the environment, but you may also find the alternative to be cheaper.
When eating out or ordering from a fast food restaurant, be mindful about unnecessary plastic and paper waste. Refuse plastic cutlery, straws and sauce packets if you don’t really need them. Reusable straws have become more popular in recent years and many choose to carry one with them to help reduce plastic waste when out and about!
Choose Responsible Rubbish Clearance Companies
Every now and again most of us have a ‘home clearout’, ridding our space of items and clothing we no longer use. If you choose a company to do this for you, make sure the company will responsibly dispose of your rubbish, not just send it to landfill. Research into the practices of your chosen company and make sure they properly process your waste, including sorting it for recycling.