What a waste – cutting the costs by cutting the chucking

Waste is bad for the environment. It means extra pollution and squanders resources. One of the resources it squanders is your money.

We need to protect the planet. The good news is that cutting waste can help – and make our money go further too.

Reduce your food waste

A primary component of household waste is food and food wrapping. So the best place to start reducing your household waste is with your food.

Don’t buy what you don’t need in the first place. Start with meal plans, take a list when you go shopping and stick to it, store food properly. You should see an immediate effect – on your budget and in your bin.

But what are you buying? Food packaging is a problem. It can’t be recycled if it is contaminated with food or made of mixed materials. Look at buying loose fruits and veg rather than packaged – many new bulk refill shops are popping up that let you bring in your own produce bags, containers, or even sacks to purchase dry goods in bulk. You can pay less and eliminate packaging waste altogether.

Don’t create packaging waste either. Use reusable containers and reusable food wrap instead of plastic baggies, aluminium foil, and cling wrap.Buying frozen instead of fresh can reduce waste - it means being able to use as much or as little as you like without the rest of the pack going past its best. It can also help you save money – bulk frozen packs are often cheaper than fresh, without compromising on quality, taste or nutrition.

So what about leftovers? Don’t bin them either. There are plenty of ways to turn anything left from one meal into the basis for another. You can find out more about cooking with food scraps and reducing waste here. There’s nothing like mealtimes to help us get creative and get together with people we love.

And the things you really can’t eat? If you live in the country, you could feed scraps to chickens (and look forward to really fresh eggs every morning). You can add most cooked food to a compost bin, although you should avoid meat and fat, or even compost indoors with a worm bin.

On a related topic, don’t buy bottled water. It may taste a little better than the stuff that comes out of the tap, but there are probably no actual health benefits. Benefit the environment, your health, and your finances by turning on the tap and taking a reusable bottle with you. Save £250-£400 per household per year.

Say no to plastic

We produce 300 million tons of plastic each year worldwide, half of which is for single-use items. That’s nearly equivalent to the weight of the entire human population and we have all seen how plastic particles end up in the sea, and even in the fish we eat. Fortunately, single use plastic packaging is on the way out – you can hurry it along by avoiding anything that comes in a plastic pack. Take a reusable cloth bag with you to the shops, store those leftovers in reusable containers. And try metal or bamboo reusable straws. Pack it alongside reusable cutlery (like wood, bamboo, or metal chopsticks) for sustainable eating on the go.

You save: 15-20p every time you re-use a plastic bag. That can easily add up to £1 a week - more than £50 a year!

Say no to paper, too

Making paper takes energy, water and trees, all of which we can’t afford to waste. Cutting down on paper can start with paper towels and tissues. Use handkerchiefs, washcloths, cloth napkins, towels, and cleaning rags to wipe up messes and clean household surfaces. Wash in hot water and dry in the sun to disinfect.

Use a roll of kitchen wipes each week? Giving them up could mean saving £75 in the course of a year.

Still getting freesheets and junk mail through your door? Get the Post Office to stop delivering anything unaddressed by going here, and Put a ‘No commercial leaflets’ sign on your door.

It might cut down the waste you have to deal with – although there is no way of stopping it altogether other than nailing up your letterbox!

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