Let’s talk about waste! The waste we produce by buying things. Things we need and things we don’t need. I especially want to talk about plastic waste. I think we all know that (single use) plastic is not good. We all know it, but are we doing something about it? To be really honest with you, even though I did pay attention to it, I was also a little lazy about it at times. Things like buying apples in plastic instead of buying them lose. As you maybe read in ‘Cheers to 2019‘, one of my New Years Resolutions is to live a more waste free life. That’s why I thought it’s time to write an article about it and to pay more attention to it on my Instagram account as well. In this article I want to talk about the different kinds of waste, divided into: Plastic, Microplastic, General Waste, Food Waste, Chemical Waste, Clutter Waste, Electrical Waste and Fast Fashion. It’s a little bit of a journey for me, but I hope you will join me and we can all inspire each other!
So like I said, the worst is (single use) plastic. For example: plastic bags, food that comes in (or with) plastic and of course plastic bottles. Many times you can easily make a change and sometimes it’s hard to avoid plastic. When you pay attention to it, you will notice, there is plastic everywhere! In fact, there is so much plastic waste pollution in the world, that we are destroying this planet. We can’t continue doing what we’re doing. Each year 4.8-12.7 million tonnes of plastic are entering the oceans. So many animals die from plastic pollution and it is destroying the eco system in the ocean so much, to the point that the oceans will be completely destroyed. This isn’t only heartbreaking for all the innocent animals, but without the oceans we will die too. So it’s super important to make changes and try our very best.
Then there is also something that is called ‘microplastic’ and I decided to make a separate paragraph on this, because they are a huge problem. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are 5 mm or smaller and they can come from any type of plastic. It can come from big pieces of plastic that are slowly becoming smaller and smaller by water and sun exposure, but also from synthetic fabrics, like cloths, sponges and also your clothes. By washing your synthetic clothes or cleaning with plastic sponges, these tiny pieces of plastic are going straight into nature. Sometimes microplastics are so small, that you can’t see them with the naked eye. This makes it very dangerous, because it’s everywhere. Sea animals ingest it and it’s also coming back to us. In a way that the microplastics are in our drinking water. So you consume plastic on a daily basis.
Even though plastic is the worst, I think that whenever we can avoid any sort of waste, we should. The average household in the UK produces more than a tonne of waste a year. This is absurd if you ask me and we should change this. Nowadays, everything has packaging though, because you can buy everything ready-made. To make things easy. From pizza to crisps, from pre-cooked vegetables to bean burgers etc etc.
Whenever you can, at least choose plastic free. Choose paper, wood, (organic) cotton or anything that is biodegradable. This is always better than plastic. Though, even better, is to try not to choose any at all. Choose things where you can use you own reusable packaging. Try to not produce waste. This can be tricky, but you can make it into a sport to be as much waste free as you can.
Something we can do to reduce waste, is to make more things ourselves, from scratch. This will not only reduce our general waste, but it will also be better for your own health. I understand that not everybody can afford to make their own pizzas from scratch after a long dat at work. But we can try to do it more often. We can prepare things in advance so they will take less time whenever you start cooking. Overall, what we need to do is to stop being lazy and to just try our best.
Food waste is something that I have a big problem with. About 1/3 of the food that is produced is lost or thrown away. This is ridiculous! People are often a bit greedy when it comes to food. Our brain thinks we can (and should) eat a lot more than we need or what our stomach can handle. And did you know that a lot of food is wasted because they don’t look pretty? Something else that is wasting a lot of food is that people want to have choice. Supermarkets stock up, because people want to choose what they want. If there was only 2 types of bread left over in the end of the day, but the other supermarket has 10 types, people go to the other supermarket. So supermarkets make sure to have a lot of choice, even though that means that they have to throw away tonnes of it. People also tend to buy more than they can eat. Especially when people are hungry, they buy too much and food will go bad. Now what can you do to waste less food?
-Make a meal plan and only buy what you need (don’t forget to check the expiry dates and make sure the food is still ok to eat on the day you planned to eat it).
-Don’t be afraid to choose food that doesn’t look pretty. They taste the same, but people don’t want to buy them and so they often go to waste.
-Buy single bananas. They are always the ones left over in the end, because people rather buy them in a bunch.
-Store all food in the right places so they last longer.
-Don’t cook too much food, but just the right portions.
-If there are any left overs, store them in the right place and eat them later.
With chemical waste I mean the waste we produce by cleaning our houses, clothes and ourselves. What products do you use to clean your house? There is a huge choice when it comes to cleaning. There are different cleaning products for all different things. Kitchen cleaner, washing up liquid, bathroom cleaner, cleaners for the tiles, for the sink, for the toilet, for the floor etc. I’m sure you know what I mean. And I think most of us have more than 5 bottles of different cleaners. Is this really necessary? In my opinion I think this is just mainly to make more money. You only need a few things and you can just as easily use natural cleaning products. You can even make some yourself if you’re up to it.
What about doing the laundry? There are many well known brands and there are many different types again. For colours, for whites, for delicates, products to removes all different kind of stains etc. And one even better than the other. A lot of people get allergic reactions of laundry soaps/liquids. Then how can this be good for the environment? Always try to use a natural laundry soap. Something that is biodegradable and doesn’t harm our world.
Last but not least, what do you use to wash yourself? Again.. soooo much choice, probably even more than all the household and laundry cleaners combined. Did you know that chemicals in soaps enter your body (via the skin) within 26 seconds? Always use natural products! I can’t stress this enough. After all, it’s not only the planet, but also your own body we’re talking about.
All these products go down the drain. Where do these chemicals all go after that? Most water all goes to a wastewater/sewage treatment plant. There they treat the water until it can be used again. It’s a very technical story, but in the end the left overs from the chemicals end up in a landfill for environmentally safe disposal. They are not biodegradable and so we produce waste, harmful waste. This is why it’s so important to use natural and biodegradable products. This is better for your skin and overall health, but definitely also for the environment.
A lot of us do it, buying things we don’t actually need. We buy it because they’re cheap, because we think we might need them later on or we buy gifts for people not knowing they will like/use it. This isn’t only adding to our waste problem, but it’s also a waste of money. Please stop doing this. Only buy things you really need and you will actually use short-term. Try to buy quality things, that last long (or even forever). Make sure that the gifts you get people are something the other person truly appreciates.
Something else that creates clutter waste, are free things. Who doesn’t like to get something for free? Being Dutch and growing up in the Netherlands, I know all too well how much people like to get things for free. Even though they don’t need it, they won’t use it and it’ll just clutter their house (and mind) and eventually pollute the world. Don’t accept free things (incl. leaflets) when you won’t do anything with them.
Owning the latest phone, best television and newest gadgets is something that has gone over the top. As soon as a new iPhone is released, people rush to the Apple stores to get their hands on it. Is this really necessary though? Most of the time there isn’t even a really big difference. The worst thing is that a lot of phones, gadgets etc., are designed in a way that they will only last a certain amount of time. What can you do against electrical waste?
-Don’t bother with always getting the latest stuff. It won’t make you a happier person, because you can’t buy happiness.
-Always go for quality.
-Look after your things! I think this is very important. Always handle them with care and make them last as long as you possibly can.
-When things break, repair them. Or, for example, when your phone battery is going down, get a new battery, not a new phone.
FAST FASHION WASTE
Walking around in the latest fashion maybe seems important to you, but is it really? Fast fashion is something that really bothers me as well. Often people walk around in things they don’t even really like, but just wear for the season, because it happens to be the trend. This isn’t healthy for yourself, but it’s certainly not healthy for the world. About 80 billion pieces of clothing are consumed every year. I find this is a frightening number, realising that there are 7 billion people in the world and many of those people don’t even own clothes. A lot of clothes, even though they’re still perfectly fine to wear, end up in a landfill. Think for yourself how important it is to follow the latest trends. Look after your clothes and always buy quality over quantity. Also make sure that your clothes are ethically and are made of biodegradable fabrics (remember the ‘microplastics’?).
Whatever you do, try your very best, because we can’t afford to be lazy anymore when it comes to reducing our waste. That’s why in the next few weeks I will share ways to live a more waste free life. Who’s up for that?!
Are you trying to live a (more) waste free life? What do you do to help the environment? Do you have tips or do you want to say something about this all? Please do! You can share and comment below or via Instagram, by tagging me or by using #planetmanel. Thank you! X