3 easy ways to get started with low-waste living

Eager to do your bit for the planet but don't know where to begin? These easy-to-execute tips are your starting point for sustainable success.

Updated

fruits and vegetables in paper bags

‘We don’t need a handful of people doing Zero Waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” So said famed Zero Waste blogger Anne-Marie Bonneau, and she couldn’t have put it better. Living a more sustainable lifestyle isn’t about having to radically overhaul every little thing you do, always feeling like we could and should be doing more. Rather, it’s about making small, sustainable changes in everyday life; the more people make these small changes, the closer we are to the millions needed to really help the low-waste living movement take off. With that in mind, we’ve put a fresh spin on those famous 3 Rs of reducing, reusing and recycling to help you get started.

1. Reduce your waste, wherever you can

The quickest and easiest way to cut down on how much rubbish is going into your bins? Don’t let it in the door to begin with. A few ideas you can try today:

  • Set up paperless billing and statements where you can to cut down on unnecessary paper waste.
  • Bring paper or fabric bags with you to the supermarket to avoid those single-use plastics for fruit and veg.
  • Where you can, refuse packaging. Most of us are pretty good at bringing reusable bags on the supermarket run, but how about when shopping for things like clothes or toiletries? Keep a couple of pretty linen totes by the door to take with you whenever you pop to the shops.

2. Reuse your waste, as much as possible

Another way to cut down on waste is to try and put it to good use around the home. So much of our packaging is surprising high quality and will last much longer than its intended life span (just ask those landfills). Here are a few handy ideas:

  • Keep an eye out for strong boxes: shoe boxes, sunglasses boxes and even hard plastic containers that small stationery supplies sometimes come in make for brilliant drawer organisers.
  • Food packaging is usually filled with upcycling potential. Jars make for excellent food and utensil storage and heck, you can even upcycle tins into something pretty and creative.
  • Don’t feel you have to ditch all plastics and start again. Sure, we might admire pretty Instagram-worthy shots of homes filled with kitchen utensils made from hessian and bamboo, but the important thing to remember is if something is still useful, keep it around. Once it has reached the end of its life, replace it with a version made from more sustainable materials, but don’t feel you have to ditch it just because it’s plastic.
glass pot being washed in soapy water

3. Recycle your waste, every day

Lastly, being a responsible recycler is a key part of living a more sustainable lifestyle. Alongside your bottle bank runs and compost bin, here are a few things worth remembering:

  • Make sure that your recyclables are loose, clean and dry. Give food packaging a quick rinse to keep food waste out of the system, flatten any cardboard and try to make sure everything is dry before going into the relevant bin (fancy a recycling refresher? Here’s a quick guide to plastic recycling).
  • Keep an empty jar handy for used batteries – there are now over 10,000 collection points in the UK, so no doubt a local shop, office, school or cafe can take yours.
  • Got electrical and electronic equipment at the end of its life? Whether it’s a busted old blender or a rickety keyboard, most major electronics retailers are obliged to take your waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) – a quick google should throw up plenty of options in your area.
boxes with plastic, glass, paper and metal for recycling

Originally published