This is month 3 of my 7 month experiment changing my lifestyle into one aspiring for zero waste, making small changes on a month by month basis, until I have completely changed my habits using the ‘We Hate To Waste’ 7 steps to create a no waste mindset. Month one was reduce, reuse and refill month 2 was Share Rather than Own and month 3 is Saving Energy, Water and Other Resources.
Firstly I have continued with all the things that I was doing in month 1 and 2. Months one habits are totally embedded in my routine now. So much so that I went to the supermarket last week and I had forgotten to bring my shopping bag with me. I didn’t want to break my habit of not getting a plastic carrier bag so instead I just carried the few things that I had bought without a bag back to my apartment!
I did buy a few new things this month but I have significantly reduced what I would have usually bought and am being really mindful about it. I am just about to go into winter and have hardly any winter clothes, so I am looking for creative ways to get a winter wardrobe together without going and buying a load of new stuff! I collected some old winter clothes from my mum’s house and started to wear those again, I took some clothes from my sister in law that she was going to recycle and I also picked up a few items in a second hand store.
Another win I had on the sharing front was that I got up the courage when I was in a taxi queue to ask if anyone else was going to the airport and then I shared with another lady who was heading there, rather than us getting a taxi each.
In terms of my month 3 challenge this is how I got on with Saving Energy, Water and Other Resources.
1) Turn off the lights
I have quite a lot of spotlights in my apartment which are bad in terms of energy, so rather than using the main lights I have been using a lamps instead. I have been making a big effort to turn all the lights off when I leave a room and rather than working at the kitchen counter where I often worked, I am working at my desk in the office where you get natural light and I don’t need to turn a light on at all.
2) Turn off the Air Conditioning
I live on a very noisy road, so opening the window is not an option for me as I would never be able to sleep, but on very hot nights I have put the AC on to cool the room down and then turned it off overnight whilst I am sleeping.
3) Stop the standby
I have been round my apartment and unplugged everything that doesn’t need to be on. Now I am turning everything off at the socket rather than having anything on standby.
4) Use a clothes horse
I have a tumble dryer in my apartment and I have stopped using it altogether. I am now only drying my washing on a clothes horse and it makes my room smell lovely. Nothing beats the smell of freshly launded clothes!
5) Ditch your car
As I mentioned in my last article I have got rid of my car and am now using my bike, walking or using public transport.
6) Meat free Mondays
I have been eating vegetarian as much as I can, I am having at least one day a week with no meat.
7) Turn off the taps
I have started turning off the taps when brushing my teeth and one of the things that I have started doing is putting a bucket in the shower when it is warming up as it takes while to get hot, and using the water to flush the toilet.
8) Stop unwanted mail
I have put a sign on my mailbox, translated into Hungarian asking for no junk mail. This has cut it down significantly as I used to receive a lot.
9) Paperless banking
I already signed up for paperless banking, so I don’t get any statements sent to me.
At work, the printer is automatically set to print double sided. I have started collecting used paper that has a blank side and using them for my notes, rather than new paper.
11) Limit the packaging
I am trying to buy from the local market where I can and get fruit and veg into a basket and then direct into my shopping bag, not using any bags. Where I buy from the supermarket, I do the same thing, I chose food that is lose and put it straight into my basket, not into a small bag.
12) Swap shower gel for a bar of soap
I have used up all my shower gels, and each time I have used one I have replaced it with soap. I have found a local market that sells handmade soaps with virtually no packaging so I am also supporting a local business. I have also found that the bars of soap last for way longer than the shower gel does.
13) Get the last drop
One at a time I have used up all my products completely. I used to have lots of half full jars and containers. Now I have been through everything one by one and ensured it is completely empty before throwing it out and the rule I have put in place is that I can’t buy a new bottle until I have checked and used up all of the old bottle.
Next month’s challenge is ‘Respect food’. I have listed the key things you can do under this subject, again mainly taken from the We Hate To Waste website.
We can all do our part by taking great effort to carefully preserve our food, creatively make use of the our leftovers, and not throwing any food away. We need to try and focus on waste reduction and how to stop food being wasted. Any extra edible food should firstly be used, then go to hungry people, then to animals. If food waste cannot be avoided it should be converted to energy or composted, and only as a last resort should it go to the landfill.
1) Shop Smart
Instead of filling up your fridge with food for a week’s worth of meals, think about what you want to eat during the next 1-2 days and just get the food you need. It saves you money and prevents food from going to waste. Don’t shop whilst you are hungry or you risk buying more food than you really need. Make meal planners so you buy the specific food you need for the meals you are going to prepare, this helps you not to buy unnecessary items that will then not be used before they go off.
2) Learn How to Read Expiration Dates
A ‘Sell-By’ date, a ‘Best if Used By’ date, and ‘Use-By’ date all have different meanings. The important label is the ‘Best if Used By’ date. This is NOT a safety date, it is simply suggesting when the quality and flavor of the product will be at its best. So by all means, eat away and discard no food before its time is really up.
3) Ask for takeaway
When you are eating out in a restaurant, you will often find that you get a giant portion that you can’t finish. Try dividing your food up when it arrives and saving half to take home. Whether it’s half, or even less, make sure to take the rest away to eat later or the next day. If you are going to a restaurant where you know it is likely you will ask for some to takeaway, you can even bring your own container with you for the remaining food to be stored in.
4) Keep It Fresher Longer
If you cook up too much food to eat whilst it is still fresh, freeze some portions in a Tupperware container, or even look into vacuum packaging your meals to keep leftovers fresh for as long as possible.
5) Eat everything
Limp carrots, sprouted onions, funny shaped potatoes, wrinkly peppers and fruit with blemished skin can all be eaten and still taste great! Don’t throw these perfectly good food items away just because of how they look. And next time you buy broccoli, try eating the stalk as well as the florets, it tastes the same and is packed with nutrition. This is a great video to show that you can still eat food that doesn’t look its best. A big tip is not to be put off by the skin of something, the inside might still be totally edible.
6) Love Your Leftovers
Don’t discard dinner remains. Keep leftover food to eat later or the following day. Check out this great book, The Refrigerator Files, that’s full of recipes for turning last night’s leftovers into tonight’s gourmet entrées.
7) Creative recipe ideas
When you have food left in the fridge that is coming up to its ‘best before’ date, look for recipe ideas that will allow you to use it up. You can find a huge selection of recipes just by googling recipes that include the main ingredients you have in your fridge. This Love Food Hate Waste Website is amazing for ideas on how to prevent wasted food.
8) Share food
Show your respect for food by passing it along to a homeless person who might really enjoy it or if you have a large amount of something, take it into the office to share with your friends from work. Share any food you have that you won’t eat yourself with anyone else who will appreciate it.
Food waste makes up over 21% of waste going into landfills. Composting can not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, but it can put good nutrients back in the ground that our food came from. You can start your own composting even if you haven’t got a garden. Check out these handy hints that explain how.
I’d love to hear any other hints and tips you have for respecting food or any other of the areas of waste, in the comments below.