• Stephi Durand

How I'm Working To Reduce My Waste

Reducing my waste is something I've wanted to do and take more seriously over the last few years. Some areas I can't work on yet, whereas others I have every opportunity to do so. It's just a case of starting it.


Some of the things on this list I tried within days of discovering (and haven't gone back!) whereas others I gradually incorporated into my daily routine.


I feel it's important to state that I'm in no way zero waste. I doubt I'll ever be able to get to that stage. What I find to be the most important is each individual doing what they can, no matter how little, compared to one person doing it all. No matter how small it is, it will make an impact.


So why not start now?


I'm going to be grouping my list into four sections: Personal; Home; Garden; and Miscellaneous. Some lists will have more than others, but I hope you try at least something from the list — or maybe one from each section!

Two small sweetcorn plants growing in toilet roll tubes with their roots growing through
Sweetcorn Growing in Toilet Rolls

Personal


Using What You Have


"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,"


This one will be the common theme across the sections. Reducing your waste is something which takes time. Sure, you can go out and buy eco-friendly, reusable items — but buying everything at once can be expensive.


If you have plastic items which can be reused, then keep using it until it can't be used anymore. Why? Because that way it isn't going to waste. If you want to swap to a bamboo toothbrush but your current plastic one is no where near ready for the bin, use it! Some things will go to waste when it's their time, but don't let it be wasted unnecessarily!


Swapping my Empties for Plastic Free


While I was making my way through my deodorant (which to be honest, was pretty bad at its job) I would constantly see ads for a plastic free brand called Wild. Naturally, I was interested, so when I finally ran out of the deodorant (Which was the true test of my patience! My armpits appreciated it running out!) I was straight there getting their latest scent.


Because I waited, I used up a product and disposed of the container by throwing it into the recycling bin. Now I have a reusable case and fully biodegradable packaging with my new deodorant which leaves me smelling like lemon meringue.


I recently finished getting through my Christmas body wash (I know I can't be the only one) and ordered Wild's soap bars. Now I have three gorgeous smelling bars that I can't wait to use in my next shower.


I'm simply taking it one step at a time, replacing my products only when they're empty.


Home


Plastic Containers and Glass Containers


I love to freezer meal prep, and for that, I need containers. Glass containers aren't as cost-friendly as packets of plastic tubs, so while we own two glass containers which we can meal prep casseroles in, the plastic ones are great for reusing for the time being.


I plan to keep these plastic ones until they fall apart. They're brilliant for storing chilli and mashed potato portions in, as well as vegetables we've chopped and frozen ourselves.


My aim is to gradually increase the amount of glass containers I own when I have the money spare to do so. I know I can't wait to get more that'll store our casseroles in as meal prepping that is a huge benefit. (We love a broccoli casserole, but making it from scratch the day we want it? That's a lot of work...)

Top two are broccoli casseroles stored in glass containers. The bottom two are pizza doughs stored in plastic tubs.
Broccoli Casserole in Glass Containers and Pizza Dough in Plastic Containers

Garden


Biodegradable Seed Starter Pots


Two words: toilet rolls.


Once you've used up the toilet paper, there's no need to throw these cardboard cylinders into the recycling bin. Instead, cut two or four slits at the bottom, fold them in to make a base, fill with soil and voila! You have your very own biodegradable seed starter pots!


I love these because you can either sow individually or cluster. When they're grown you pull the roll apart to separate the clustered seedlings and replant (throwing the used cardboard into your compost) or if you planted individually, put them straight into the ground!


There's no worrying about whether or not you've damaged the roots during transplant and there's less mess in the overall process — honestly, I love it.


So far I've used these with my sweetcorn and pumpkin plants, which were sown individually and I cluster planted some mint and chamomile too. Next year I plan to start a lot more plants in them, including cucumber and cucamelons!


Simple DIY Watering Can


My partner and I buy a lot of large plastic water bottles. This is due to a medical reason and I don't have any intention to change until we buy our own house. Again, sometimes time is needed.


I do have how many bottles go to waste. I've cut past bottles in half to use as planters for tomato and basil, but my favourite has to be as a DIY watering can.


There's two ways I do this. No.1 is simply using the bottle as is.


Throughout the year I had a lot of basl growing on my windowsill, so keeping a bottle of water (labelled 'plant water' to prevent mix up) nearby makes it easier to give them their regular watering. I just have to take it down to the kitchen sink to refill every few days.


Method No.2 is poking small holes into the bottle cap.


This way, when the bottle is filled with water, I simply turn it upside down, give it a good squeeze and the water comes flowing out, like a... well, like a cheaply made watering can.


What's important here is that it does the job.


I kept one in the conservatory which had some seedlings in earlier in spring and summer. It's simple to use and easy to add liquid feed to, meaning I get happy and healthy plants.


Cardboard and Shredded Paper


These are brilliant in the garden! If you're starting a raised bed or a no dig garden then at least one of these will be a treat!


I love to lay my cardboard down as a base in my raised beds and planters. It'll help prevent any possible leaks, while slowly breaking down overtime, giving the soil added compost.


Shredded paper is something you can use in three ways. My favourite being method number three.


No.1 - In the compost bin. As composting is in the next section, I'll keep this brief. Shredded paper is a great thing to add to compost and an excellent way to clear out old bank statements or junk mail.


No.2 - Mulch. I haven't tried this method myself yet, although it's in my mind as a budget-friendly option should I need it at any point in the year. Mulch is great for your plants, if you're a fan of either Epic Gardening or Self Sufficient Me, then you surely must be hooked on the hype too!


No.3 - Raised bed filler. Once the cardboard is down, I like to dump a load of shredded paper into the bottom before adding soil. This means I need less soil to fill th ebed (although when it slowly starts to settle it will need topping up, but by then you can add compost or mulch!) and it will break down directly in the bed meaning more goodness for the soil over time.


It's less waste in the bin and more good for your garden. Just remember to remove the tape from the cardboard.


Composting


You can either buy compost bins or make your own. There's many options out there! I also like having a mini compost bin in the kitchen to throw scraps into.


Wheneer I meal prep mashed potato for the freezer, all my peels go straight into the compost bin. So does any shredded paper I can get my hands on. During summer, when I was trying sourdough, I even added excess sourdough starter as apparently it's fantastic to add into your compost pile.


Just remember to break down sturdier items like egg shells otherwise they'll take a lot longer to compost.


Miscellaneous


Apps


Did you know there are apps and websites you can use to give away and get things for free?


My go-to apps are Olio and Freegle.


On Olio you can upload foods or items you want to give away. You aren't allowed to charge for anything — unless you sell through their Made tab.


Olio also has a Food Waste Hero program. Certain stores in your area may already be apart of it, or you can encourage companies to sign up! This means when stores or takeaways have stock which is close to expiring, you take it home and list it on the site for people to claim! This way we're making less food waste in the area (plus, if you're the Food Waste Hero who collected it, you're allowed to keep up to 10% of the collection!)


Freegle works similar to Olio. You put items on that you want to get rid of as well as make requests for things you want. It isn't always successful, as the people in your area may not have what you're after. But it never hurts to try!

A white bowl overflowing with basil in front of a blue background
A Small Jar of Freshly Harvested Basil

I think it's safe to say that the moral of this post is this: it takes time to reduce your waste.


Let it go naturally and make improvements where you're able to — not where you think you have to.


I hope this post has inspired you with new ways to reduce your waste. These are some of my current favourites and I'm looking forward to adding more to my collection.


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