This week is Zero Waste Week 2019. It is also Oxfam’s #SecondHandSeptember campaign, where you can pledge to buy no new clothing for 30 days. (See this post for more information.) Why not join in with both to reduce your impact and help you tread more gently on the earth?
I have been looking to reduce our environmental impact for some time so I am supporting both campaigns. The two go hand in hand and also blend perfectly with a frugal lifestyle.
What’s Zero Waste Week all about?
Rachelle Strauss is the woman behind Zero Waste Week and has been running the campaign to help us all tread more gently on the earth for 12 years. In the past she has looked at reducing food waste, plastic waste and recycling. The campaign has also encouraged people to upcycle, make do and mend and reuse items so that they don’t even need to be recycled.
This year’s Zero Waste Week is focusing on climate change and how we can take steps to slow down global warming. One way is reduce waste in every area of your life – food, clothing, transport and energy. Then there is less to go to landfill and fewer climate damaging gases produced. You also save money! What’s not to like?
I know there are climate change deniers who say it’s nothing to do with our way of life, but leading climate change scientists state that we have 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum 1.5C. I don’t want to risk my future grandchildren’s’ health and happiness when I could have done something about it rather than burying my head in the sand.
What can you do to tread more gently on the earth?
There are so many small steps you can take to tread more gently on the earth and reduce your environmental impact. Firstly, you can sign up for Zero Waste Week here and get daily emails giving you lots of information and ideas.
I have borrowed this illustration from the Zero Waste Week website to show what appear to be the top causes of Climate Change:
To tackle these, we need to change (and massively reduce) how we consume resources, how we eat, how farming and industry produces goods and how we dispose of our waste. If it all seems to huge to contemplate, here are some suggestions to get you started:
Dust off your bike, walk more, use public transport where you can. I know this isn’t always possible – I do drive a car myself and rarely cycle. However, my aim is to start to walk the 15 minutes to the post office with my eBay sales rather than drive it. I could do with the exercise if nothing else.
I love to jet off to foreign sunny climes, but only do it only occasionally these days. A staycation is the way to go to reduce your carbon footprint!
We have so many fabulous places in the UK, we don’t need to constantly get on a plane. Wales is my favourite place in the world for a holiday, as you can see from our recent frugal holiday report. Beautiful, unspoilt scenery and far fewer people than here in Essex. Love it.
Eat less meat and dairy
Livestock production creates high levels of the greenhouse gas methane. A recent study suggests that we need to dramatically cut our consumption of meat to halt global warming. You can see the details in this article from the Guardian.
I have actually increased my meat consumption from zero to some recently…. This is for health reasons as I have IBS and can’t cope with a pure vegetarian or vegan diet. However, I do want to keep our meat consumption low so will make sure I take account of this in my weekly meal plans.
Be a conscious consumer
Think about the environmental impact of your purchases. Are they over packaged? Were they imported and could you buy something similar made more locally? Could you buy second hand?
Vote with your wallet! If enough of us do it, the manufacturers and retailers will have to listen.
Single use plastics
Many people are trying to reduce their use of single use plastics. TV programmes like Blue Planet and War on Plastic have raised the issue high in the public consciousness.
It is a good place to start if you are trying to reduce waste and tread more lightly on the planet. There are lots of easy swaps that you can make, as I outlined in this post.
Shout about it
Demand more of manufacturers and retailers . If something is over packaged, for example, email the manufacturer to suggest they reduce it. Talk to them on Twitter.
Talk to politicians at all levels. Demand to know what their stance is on environmental issues and let them know how you feel.
Be energy conscious
There are so many ways to use less energy in the home and save some money too. Turn off the lights, reduce the temperature on your heating thermostat, only heat the rooms you are in, wear an extra jumper, insulate your house…. This post has more loads of ideas for reducing your energy consumption to save on your bills and tread more gently on the earth.
Think before you throw ‘away’
Before you throw anything in the bin, could someone else use it? Could it be repaired or repurposed? Even if you don’t want it, someone might, so offer it to your local charity shop, sell it on eBay, give it away on Facebook or via Freecycle.
When you throw something away, consider where ‘away’ actually is. If we can use things for longer and keep them out of our landfill sites, we will reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases the sites produce.
There is a brilliant film on You Tube called The Story of Stuff, which tells you what happens to things when you throw them out. Food for thought!
Read and learn
Read the marvellous Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Bea Johnson. I found it incredibly inspiring and wrote a review here.
Green your cleaning routine to reduce the plastic and chemicals in your home. It is surprisingly easy and satisfying to do this.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of our environmental crisis. The best way to stop this is to take positive action. Whether they are small steps or huge lifestyle changes, if we all do something it will have a huge impact.
See what you can do this Zero Waste Week to tread more gently on the earth and leave it in a good state for future generations.
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