Reduce, reuse, recycle. If ever there was a snappy call to action, it’s this. We see the phrase everywhere but what does it actually mean and how can we actually ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’? And why should we? Due to the masses of people on this earth (a number that grows every second), we’re making a serious impact on the environment and it’s not a good one. Our water sources are being polluted, trees are being cut down and landfills are filling at such a rate that we’re being forced to send piles of trash out in the middle of the ocean. Not cool. As consumers, and general resident of this earth, we should all be doing our bit to lessen our negative impact on the environment. But where to start? It can feel really overwhelming at first, but fear not, we’re here to show you some quick and easy ways to reduce your waste.
Statistically, the average South African produces about 700g of waste every day and about 1 ton of waste will fill a 3×2 m² room right up to the ceiling, so it takes no time at all for us to produce a lot of trash.
First things first, there’s no point in doing something if you don’t really care about it. We’re going to assume that because you clicked on this article, and you’ve read to this point that you do care about or at least pay attention to the environment. The best way to reduce your waste successfully is to figure out why YOU want to do it. Is it to make a small difference to the environment? Is it to cut costs? Is it to live a simpler, cleaner life? Once you’ve worked what your goal is, sticking to the lifestyle is going to be that much easier. So, here’s how to do it.
Yes, it sounds like a cop out. But reducing your single use waste will make a huge difference. Stop getting a takeaway coffee every day or take a travel mug with you, or take a French press to work. Stop buying lunches in non-recyclable packaging, either make your own lunch or take a container with you to reuse. Think about plastic cutlery, do you really need it? Maybe keep a set at your desk that you wash every day. In any case, there is nothing chic about a plastic knife and fork. And, we know you know this one, but stop buying plastic bags. Plastic bags alone are the highest contributors to pollution. Buy a reusable shopping tote and actually use it. Keep it in your bag, car, wherever, but make sure you become so reliant on it that you actually cringe when you forget it and have to ask the teller for one. Oh. And we’re pretty sure we don’t need to remind you to say no to the straw, as well as to plastic water bottles. Even if you’re a sparkling water fan, you can invest in a Soda Stream and you’ll have fizzy water on tap. These simple changes mean you’re not throwing things away at every minute of the day.
If you must buy something in masses of plastic and packaging, then think of ways to reuse it. For example, yoghurt containers make for handy storage containers and glass jars are useful for around the house. The point here is, think about what you’re going to do with the waste of whatever you’ve just bought.
… Then recycle
Yes, recycling is great and you should already be doing it, but it should be the last resort for reducing your waste. If you’re mindful about how you consume, then you won’t end up with a load of trash that now needs to be recycled. There are a number of handy recycling companies across the country that will pick up your goods for a small fee, but there are also great drop-off depots where you don’t require you to pay a thing. The best way to get into a recycling groove is to go out and buy a big recycling bin and get into the habit of washing out your recyclables and popping them in the separate bin. Recycling also extends to your wardrobe too. Where you can, avoid fast fashion made of polyester and cheap materials, they won’t last long and will need to be thrown away fairly soon. Choose natural fabrics or shop at vintage stores.
For more zero waste inspiration, check out the blog trashisfortossers.com.