Pop quiz time…which of these items can’t be recycled in the UK?
A: Pizza box
B: Aerosol can
C: Crisp packets
D: Tin foil
The answer is C – crisp packets join coffee cups, paper towels and black plastic packaging that aren’t typically recyclable in the UK. But even with the items that can be recycled, there can be huge variations council by council. Pizza boxes can be recycled, but only if they’re not too greasy. Tin foil can be, but only if you wash away any food residue.
Over half of homeowners are left confused by the complicated rules.
In 2017, the most recent figures available, UK households produced almost 27 millions tonnes of waste. The BBC estimate ‘that’s equivalent to 409 kg per person – roughly the weight of four adult giant pandas’.
The recycling rate was 45.7%, but a lot of our rubbish still ends up in landfill.
The zero waste movement is gaining traction across the world. People are putting pressure on manufacturers and stores to reduce unnecessary packaging. They’re also taking a look around them at what they can do around the home to reduce the amount of waste they generate.
Getting started with the zero waste lifestyle
When Lucy Siegle visited Nicky’s home in one of her latest doorstep challenges, she went room by room looking for opportunities for the family to cut down on household rubbish – especially of the plastic variety.
From the kid’s toys to the bathroom to the wardrobe, Lucy and Nicky found some great ways to reduce waste. Here are 7 ways to reduce waste in your home:
1. Buy in bulk and use your own jars or tins to keep food fresh.
2. Do a rubbish audit to keep track of all the plastic that comes into your life over two weeks. Then start identifying ways to stop it coming into your house in the first instance.
3. The toy industry is incredibly plastic-intensive. Try gifting toys made from sustainable materials instead or focus on better quality plastic toys that will last and can be passed on to other children.
4. In the bathroom, you can cut down on waste by swapping your:
> Plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush
> Empty bottles for a shampoo bar or bar of soap
> Single-use cotton pads for reusable ones
5. The fashion industry is producing 120 billion new garments a year, mostly from virgin fibres. If you can extend the life of a garment by 9 months, you cut the carbon footprint by 20-30%.
6. To avoid the pull of fast fashion, Lucy recommends the ’30 wears’ rule. If you can’t commit to wearing the garment at least 30 times, don’t buy it.
7. Lucy also shared her 8 Rs for cutting down on waste in your life:
> And only then recycle
For more ways to reduce the plastic in your life, check out Lucy’s book, Turning the Tide on Plastic.
Saving the planet while you sleep
More businesses are doing their part to be part of the solution. Silentnight is a brilliant brand with sustainability at its core. And each mattress in its Eco Comfort range has a comfort fibre layer made from up to 850 recycled plastic bottles.
Since launching the range over 10 million plastic bottles have been diverted from landfill and reclaimed from the oceans and have been given a new purpose in the mattress.
And the best news is that the mattress can be fully recycled at the end of its life – with zero impact on landfill.
The best place to start is with a waste audit, then go room by room looking for ways to reduce, reuse and then recycle.