How to reduce waste?

Topics Discussed

Why is it important to reduce waste output?

By reducing our waste output, we can help to conserve the earth’s natural resources. Resources such as wood, aluminium and petroleum are all incredibly important and useful materials that must be used efficiently in order to avoid the depletion of these resources. 

Using less energy is another example of a simple way to reduce waste output. Resource intensive manufacturing processes consume a significant amount of energy, so choosing to recycle or use second-hand goods helps to reduce energy consumption. 

Another reason to reduce waste is to help conserve landfill capacity. Landfills are a major source of pollution. Of all the waste found in landfills, approximately 30% is made up of paper (recyclable), 18% is food waste (recyclable), and 16% is plastic. Most of this waste could have been recycled and therefore should not be in landfills.

5 ways to reduce waste

1. Shop locally

By supporting your local economy, produce doesn’t have to be transported as far as produce grown in other countries and continents. This helps to reduce transport pollution. Local farmers tend to use less unnecessary plastic packaging, helping to reduce plastic waste pollution.

Around 25% of landfill waste is composed of packaging materials, highlighting the importance of avoiding plastic packaging. Local produce also tends to be grown organically, resulting in fewer pesticides and chemicals entering your body.

2. Recycle

Recycling helps to:

  • Reduce the amount of landfill waste
  • Conserve natural resources such as wood, aluminium and petroleum
  • Prevents pollution as well as reducing energy consumption

3. Use reusable products

  • Reusable shopping produce bags

Eco friendly produce bags help to reduce land and sea pollution, resulting in less environmental degradation. Reusable produce bags are made using biodegradable and natural fibers, and use less water, energy, and oil, helping to reduce air pollution.

  • Reusable bottles

Plastic water bottles are made from a petroleum-based product – polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which requires huge amounts of fossil fuels in order to manufacture and transport. Investing in a reusable bottle can help to drastically reduce plastic bottle waste.

  • Eco friendly utensils

Eco friendly cutlery, such as bamboo, doesn’t stain or contain toxins or other chemicals (BPA free). Bamboo cutlery is extremely durable and long lasting, making bamboo cutlery a financially and environmentally sensible decision in comparison to single use cutlery

4. Avoid single-use utensils and containers (such as plastic and styrofoam)

According to New Trier News, around eight million metric tons of plastic are dumped in the oceans each year, six million of which are thought to be single-use plastics including forks, knives, and spoons. 

Polystyrene (or styrofoam) packaging cannot be recycled in a recycling centre. Polystyrene that enters landfills will often sit for a very long time, without breaking down (i.e. it will not biodegrade).

5. Start composting

It is thought that as much as 25% of general waste could have been composted. Composting food waste helps both the soil, your health (less pesticides), and of course the environment. 

The environmental benefits of reducing waste

The ‘three r’s’ (reduce, reuse and recycle), can help to tackle climate change (if adopted), and in turn,  help to reduce greenhouse gasses. 
The U.S. EPA

estimates that around “42% of all greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the production and use of goods, including food, products and packaging.” By adopting the ‘three r’s’, we can help to reduce carbon emissions and conserve energy.

How can we reduce food waste?

Food waste can occur in different circumstances, such as:

  • Food goes moldy / deteriorates during transportation 

A lot of food is deemed no longer edible after long periods of transportation. Bananas ‘bruising’ too much or oranges that become squashed are examples of this type of food gone to waste.

  • When food is disposed as a result of not meeting supermarket criteria

Oddly shaped, sized and discoloured that don’t meet supermarket standards are examples of food gone to waste.

  • Cooked, uneaten food is binned

Cooked food that isn’t eaten in time and therefore deemed unsafe is a problem that should be prevented more often, but unfortunately isn’t.

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