Did you know reusing is better for the planet than recycling? Although it is still important to recycle it is all the more important to keep using what we have and add more value at end of life to an item as circular way of living. Recycling needs a little bit of a re-organisation, in this country, only 12 % of all plastics are likely to be recycled, on top of that 17% of our waste for recycling is exported to other countries, which creates a bigger carbon footprint on what is already an energy intensive process, not to mention that materials like plastic are not infinitely recyclable and will inevitably degrade in quality. Recycling is not a fix-all solution it is one of the many ways to deal with a plastic-saturated environment, we have to face our waste situation and though it needs to be resolved on a global level on a personal level it doesn't cost a lot.
There is a common misconception that creating less waste is something that only those with cash to spare can afford. For low-waste-living that is light on the wallet, the most effective way to live with less waste is to use what you already have.
Save your Vegetable scraps and peels
Make a vegetable stock: Collect peels and scraps from your meal prep and store in an airtight bag or Tupperware in the freezer until you have enough to start a good stock. (avoid cabbage leaves, broccoli and cauliflower stalks as they can add a strong bitter taste) Pop into a pot and add in enough water so that all the veg is submerged with space to stir. this is by no means an exact science, (though the professionals might tell you otherwise). We recommend simmering on the hob for at least an hour or until liquid is reduced by a third. Add salt to taste. Once you are happy with the result and the mixture has cooled down, sieve the veg out and spoon the golden liquid back into an airtight bag. place in the freezer to use at a later date. This can make good bases for soups and curries and sauces. Try this extra flexible root vegetable soup (you can feed a family of 4 for around £1!)
Regrow the roots: Spring onions, chives and leeks etc. can easily be regrown in a basin of shallow water. Once the roots start to emerge. Plant in soil and watch them regrow. The same can be done with lettuce leaves which need much less space to grow. Happy windowsill gardening!
Watch this video on creating self-watering, windowsill, edible garden paradise:
(also great for using your fabric scraps (see below) to soak the water up into the soil)
Spare the Fabric scraps from the Bin
Transform worn clothes and left over fabrics into beautiful kitchen roll and Serviettes, into reusable place mats, cloths, napkins, oven mitts and more. Reusable face wipes and hair towels can be fashioned from light fabrics such as from old t-shirts. If you are looking for a kitchen roll level absorbency from your cloth you can double up the layers and sew them together. if you are leaving the edges raw, take some pinking shears to limit the fray when it is used and washed multiple times.
Decorate your home with classic household waste items
Create papier-mache puppets, bowls and vases, dinosaurs and lamp-shades using structural cardboard and used paper. Upcycle plastic bottles and cartons into bug hotels or stuff with outdoor LEDs and hang from the balcony or ceiling as feature lighting. Lampshades from milk bottles can be a thing of beauty as the opaque plastic mimics frosted glass and softens and disperses the light throughout the home.
Reuse packaging and containers for Storage Solutions
Glass Jars and bottles, plastic bags and plastic takeaway containers, resealable pouches, a lot of waste can easily be accumulated over the years but it doesn't have to be all can be reused. This can also save you money when you are eating out and about, whether it means bringing a packed lunch in Tupperware or saving some pennies on your coffee at the cafe with your reusable bottle!
Happy Saving the Planet (and your money!) x