Well, it’s Zero Waste Week and the theme this year is reuse, which I am sure you will appreciate, is a cause close to my heart! Each year the average UK household produces over a tonne of waste, and even if most of that is recycled, it is still a waste of resources and energy. The best waste reduction strategy is not to buy it in the first place, but second best is to reuse.
So here are some easy reusable alternatives to mainstream disposable products:
- 1. Paper plates. Hands up – who buys paper plates when entertaining because it’s easier? I am as guilty as the next woman! I run a monthly event for families for my local church, which involves a meal. We were going through so many paper plates. So, we invested in several packs of the plastic kids plates and cups from Ikea. It only cost a little bit more and they are lovely bright colours. They don’t take much washing, and if I’m feeling lazy I take them home and stick them in the dishwasher.
- 2. Bottled water. Buying drinks out and about is probably one of the biggest reasons for plastic bottle waste in our house. I have 3 children, that’s a lot of plastic bottles. Then last year we all took part in a Sky Big Ride in Newcastle and were given sports bottles for all participants. That summer was a revolution. We filled our bottles with a drink of choice before leaving the house. No thirsty children, no thirsty parents, no plastic bottles!
- 3. Lunch boxes. A friend of mine posted on Facebook last year that her husband had been using the same empty icecream container as a lunch box for the previous 5 years, when it had finally given up the ghost and had to be thrown out. She offered to go out and buy him a lovely new lunch box to take his lunch to work. “Tell you what,” he said, “go out and buy us some icecream, then we get a treat for tea and I get a new lunch box!” Wise man!
- 4. Dishcloths. I grew up with Jeyes cloths for washing up. You know, those blue thin material ones that go really slimy and have to be thrown away every day? When I moved into my own home I switched to washable cotton ones. Since then I’ve progressed to brightly coloured microfiber ones as they are fab for cleaning with limited need for chemicals and detergent.
- 5. Food. Tonnes of food is wasted every year and binned unnecessarily. Learn to love your leftovers and create more meals from your ingredients. You’ll save money.
- 6. Plastic bags. In October, the Government is bringing in a law that will require all larger retailers to charge 5p for every plastic bag taken. We’ll all need to be more organised. But before you rush out and buy reusable bags – use the plastic bags you’ve already got until they fall to pieces! (However, as an additional incentive, I’ll pop a free cotton Grow Up Green shopper in your order!!)
- 7. Clothes. Buy second hand, pass on when your done. It’s not hard. Even if you have a specific brand you like or style that suits, there is always ebay and Facebook buying groups that give you access to specifically what you are looking for.
- 8. Nappies!! Obviously I had to mention this one. Disposable nappies add a huge amount to landfill. Reusable nappies no longer necessarily need folding, pins, soaking and boiling. Contact your local nappy library to find out more!
- 9. Wipes. If you can’t face the idea of washing nappies, or if you already are, then consider washing your baby wipes. Washable wipes are a really cost effective alternative to disposable baby wipes that are actually more effective at the job they are designed to do. Check them out here
- 10. San-pro. Queue screams of horror from the women and men looking confused! However, if you haven’t investigated it before, there is a whole range of reusable items out there to help you deal with your period sustainably. I stock Mooncups which are a silicone cup, worn internally like a tampon and emptied, washed and used again. You can also get washable pads, just rinse in cold water and wash in the machine.
So there we go, 10 tips. But I suspect I am stating the obvious for a lot of my readers, so feel free to share below your top tip on reusing!