Here at One Community we are trying to become a littler greener and reduce our environmental impact. We have signed up to the Waste Not UK Campaign which is about reducing food waste. Here in the office we now use recycled paper for all our printing, and are also using a greener cleaning company. There are a few things you can do to have a positive impact on the planet, and below we have given you some simple tips and links to information to pass on to others.
I think most of us struggle with this (especially with pasta or rice), but trying to get your portion sizes right can really help you reduce the amount of food waste you produce. You can find a great portion tool on the Love Food Hate Waste website.
Not buying more than we need
Due to the way big supermarkets promote and offer deals, we can often end up with more than we planned on buying. This is a false economy and research shows we are unlikely to use produce before the best before date and so you are wasting money and food by buying into so called ‘deals’. Make a list before you go to the supermarket which includes quantities and stick to it.
If you have a meal plan for the week it helps ensure you do not buy more than you need when doing your weekly shop. It will also help you get portions right again reducing waste. This way you can plan for any leftovers too, so if you have roast chicken one night, you can use the leftovers to make soup for dinner the next night etc. Think Eat Save have some great tips.
Love your leftovers
With bulk meals such as pasta, stews, cottage pies, etc. you can easily freeze up any leftover portions, eat them the next day, or take them for lunch if you have access to a microwave. There are lots of innovative ways to use left overs – more than just the old favourite of bubble and squeak, the BBC, Big Oven, and Greatist all have some fab tips.
Don’t get hung up on ‘best by’ dates
Supermarkets must put sell by, best by, and use by dates on their produce to cover their backs – and so they go a bit mad. Use common sense, if there isn’t something visibly wrong with the produce, or if it doesn’t have a funky smell – it will be fine to eat. Obviously be careful with some fish and poultry but most items are absolutely fine long after their use by dates. Read more here.
Love the yellow stickers
Every large store will have a discount section where they put produce that is about to go over its sell by date. Here you can get some great discounts on food that will be fine for a lot longer than advertised. Shopping in this way stops chain stores throwing away lots of produce which is perfectly fit for consumption.
Never throw away store cupboard items
Get used to donating to your local food bank. We have a collection point here at One Community. If you have a tin of beans or a packet of Riveta in the cupboard which you haven’t used and you are trying to make room, don’t chuck it out, donate it. There is someone out there who will really appreciate it. Learn more about food banks.
Store food properly
Do you keep your eggs in the fridge? You shouldn’t. Potatoes? Last longer in the fridge as it stops them sprouting. You need to know how best to keep your food to give it the longest life. There are some great tips on the Waste Not website.
Have a food waste bin
When food is truly no longer fit for human consumption you should be putting it into a food waste bin, not general waste. You can use this for your own garden to make compost or even donate it to a local gardening project or community farm. This way the food waste gets put back into the system to make more food!
Do not buy bottled water
We are in a privileged position here in the UK that the water that comes from our taps is drinkable. Bottles of water are nothing more than filtered tap water most often, and it takes 9 bottles of water to make the 1 that you drink. The bottles also end up in the waste system and are too often not recycled. This change could have a huge impact on the planet, and save you money at the same time. Carry a reusable bottle with you wherever you go to avoid getting caught. Watch this video for more information.
Reduce your consumption of meat and other animal products
The meat and animal agriculture industry is the leading cause of climate change through CO2 emissions, water waste, deforestation, and general waste. #MeatFreeMondays is something that has taken off recently to try and encourage people to rethink their diet. It is all about conscious consumption, not necessarily turning vegan overnight. It has been shown that eating less meat and dairy is good for your health too. Win win.
Know what you can recycle where
All areas vary as to what the local authority will or will not recycle. You can check the labels on your bins and check with the local authority via their website. Hampshire County Council has a useful tool which tells you where you can recycle any number of items.
Have segregated bins
Not just your outside bins but inside too. In your workplace and at home, make sure there are separate bins for general waste, recycling, and glass – or however your local authority splits it up. Encourage family members and colleagues to really thing about what they are throwing away and where.
Buy recycled products
It is important to think about your purchasing habits too. There are an amazing range of products made from recycled materials today from canvas bags to paper, artwork to cutlery. Buying recycled toilet paper can make a huge difference, because they also tend to use smaller rolls thus giving you more loo paper and creating less waste. Be aware of what you are buying and what it is made from – plastics and microplastics are particularly bad for the planet and can be found in strange places such as beauty products.
You can use a range of things to create something new and beautiful. You can use old glass bottles to create candle holders, shoe boxes to make a secret storage box for the kids etc. Upcycling is so popular these days and there are many websites and even local groups and social media groups to help inspire you.
Electronic waste is a big problem for the planet. There are however many ways in which you can now recycle such things. There are battery recycling points at most supermarkets and shopping centres. There are a number of charities that will take computer parts or old mobile phones and other equipment. Even eBay can help find a new home for some bits. Hampshire say that Household Recycling Centres take e-waste.
With the change in law regarding retailers charging for plastic bags, reuse is something that is definitely in all of our minds a bit more. So invest in some bags which are really reusable such as canvas bags. Reuse includes donating unwanted clothing and household items to charity shops too which everyone should get into the habit of doing – one man’s junk is another’s treasure!
Reducing water use
Shower instead of bath, drink tap water as bottled water takes an average of 9 bottles of water to create, wash up everything all at once, do not leave the tap running when brushing your teeth. There are many things you can do to reduce your water use. Find out more here.
Reducing food waste
There are a number of ways we can do this including better portioning and planning, not getting sucked into supermarket deals, loving our leftovers, and not getting hung up on best by dates.
Reducing plastics consumption
Plastics can hang around for thousands of years without breaking down. They are a serious threat to our ecosystems and therefore our own health. Therefore we should aim to buy products with the least plastic packaging and products that contain the least plastic.
We are a consumer society and this is why we have so much waste. We need to assess if we actually need what we are buying before we buy it for it soon to become waste. The material things don’t make us happy, but the experiences we share with others. There are some great websites such as ‘buy me once‘ out there which sell products with a longer life span, so you only need buy things once to reduce waste.
Surfing the web
There are many innovative projects happening to help us live better online too.
Use Ecosia instead of Google when searching and you plant a tree with every search.
Install Give as You Live to give a percentage of your online purchases to your chosen charity – it doesn’t cost you anymore and most major sites are signed up to it.
You can shop more ethically with the help of websites like Ethical Consumer. Of course it is always best to shop local and shop with independent retailers rather than chain stores as more of your money gets put back into the local economy that way. The things we buy for infants are often the most wasteful, with toys getting played with once and then thrown away. There are sites such as Babipur which create more sustainable toys to reduce the impact on the environment at production level, and of course remember to donate unwanted toys rather than throwing them in the trash. It is important we educate the next generation on how to be more sustainable too.
Electricity and power
The government are rolling out the use of smart metres which help you know what in your house uses the most energy and how to reduce your consumption. Contact your energy company today to get ahead of the curve. You may also want to consider switching to Ecotricity or Good Energy who both get 100 per cent of their energy through renewable sources.
We are constantly updating this list, so if you know of any other good sites, or bits of advice – let us know!