Lately I have been very conscious about waste and what has been going into my bin. As you might know, I am a nature lover and am not a fan of using products with too many chemicals and not keen on hurting our beautiful planet or our furry friends, so I’ve compiled a list of ways in which you can reduce your carbon footprint. Being a chef I have witnessed unimaginable amounts of food being thrown away so I can tell you that this is where my journey began. So these are simple things and everyone could at least be doing a few if not all of my suggestions. Equally, if you have any more suggestions I would love to know. Ok I know, baby steps and so on, but come on, we are supporting the devastating effects on the environment by the continued use of certain products. So guys here’s the list and I hope I can manage to convince a few of you to try some of these outs.
- Worm farm
- Trench Method
- Farmers Market
- Community Composting
- City Services
- Bamboo toothbrushes
- Soap Bar shampoos
- Reusable straws
- Eco-friendly shopping
- Reusable shopping bags
Anyone can start composting regardless of the size of your garden or lack there of. Composting is the most effective zero waste tool in the tool belt. 16% of all methane emissions, are from organics that can’t decompose in landfills. Methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide. (Source).
Imagine all the good we can do just by removing organics out of landfills! There is a misconception that compost is stinky, but actually, it will only smell if it has been mixed with non-organics such as plastic.
Carbon is egg boxes, paper, cardboard, news paper, great place to get rid of shredded paper, dry leaves, sure you get the drift. The nitrogen is going to be most of your food scraps. You should try have a balance of half nitrogen half carbon.
All in all the whole process should take about 4 weeks to produce the compost. The activator mix basically sorts out the balance of nitrogen and carbon.
If you like saving money and you don’t mind digging some holes then this is perfect for you. Taking it back in time a notch with this reconnaissance mission, trench composting is where you dig a hole in the ground and bury your compost. It’s easy, effective, inexpensive and will give you a bit of muscles in the process. The only problem is finding a place to do it if you live in the city like me.
Most farmers at the farmers market will have decent sized compost heaps. So have a word with some of the farmers and ask if they would be interested in taking the tops and tails off the vegetables (even though you could be using it in food items such as stocks for soups and your gravies. Also if there is someone selling eggs, chickens love to eat food scraps so they might want your left overs.
If you are fortunate enough like me to have a central compost spot nearby then you may be in business. Community composting is a central composting point which is made available for local residents to use and compost their food waste. So try joining your local composting community and voilà, another way to get rid of your food waste and you may even get lucky, making some new friends and even get some delicious vegetables for your personal use. Before you start doing this or any of my other suggestions for composting just make sure you do your research on the do’s and dont’s.
Once again I am lucky enough to live in Brighton which is run by the Green Party who actually cares about our environment and yes, my city does offer composting services, so click the link and see whats going on near me (Brighton). Check to see if your city offers composting or if there’s a business in town that collects food scraps. Sometimes people and companies perform this service. So google my friends and find out whats going on around you. Oh and also some grocery stores collect compost outside of their stores too, so see if you can find one nearby.
Before you go out and by your eco-friendly toothbrush make sure you do your research and are not buying a brush that has actually been made with plastic bristles or an unsustainable source. “The Eco-Toothbrush” claims to be a 100% biodegradable bamboo toothbrush, including the bristles. Since bamboo is a grass fiber and grows very fast, it’s a highly sustainable material that’s natural and non-toxic with no pesticides or fertilisers used. Even the packaging is compostable so you can protect your environment.This entire organic bamboo toothbrush is eco-friendly for composting and recycling.
The number one reason that you should convert to shampoo bars is that you won’t be contributing to the use of those pesky plastic bottles. This is by far the number one reason as to why you should make the switch to shampoo bars and conditioner bars. These little pucks don’t require plastic packaging. You can add the wrapping paper or box to your compost heap or recycling. They are just so much better for the environment than their bottled counterparts.
Although switching to shampoo bars and conditioner bars may seem insignificant in making an impact on the environment, I promise you it is not! As more people convert, more and more bottles will be diverted from landfills and water ways. The world needs all the help it can get. So think about it. Also Shampoo bars are super concentrated so you can use less per application. These bars are super portable for you holiday trips, you can even use some of them for washing your body, clothes while traveling or camping and even your beloved pets, so you are getting a pretty good deal. Just remember to look after them by not letting them soak in water and they will last longer. The overall carbon footprint is less with shampoo bars and conditioner bars. As these solid bars are more lightweight and compact than their bottled counterparts they require less space during transport relative to the same amount of washes with liquid shampoo. Roughly ten to fifteen transport trucks of liquid shampoo would be needed for one transport truck of solid shampoo bars to get the same number of washes! Amazing Right?
Of course there are more natural options on the market (using only saponified oils) which can leave your hair feeling like a sticky mess or way too dry. However soap bar shampoos leave your hair feeling fresh and clean. All you need to do is find the brand that suits your hair the best. You could maybe buy a shampoo bar soap on Amazon until you come across a local supplier or the right brand for you.
This is a no brainer. All you need to do is decline the straw! If you really need to use a straw then the best thing to do is to buy a reusable one. You can literally get these anywhere! So why are people still using the plastic ones? Is it for chewing? There are different straws that you can use and here they are.
Brands like Glass Sipper and Enviro Glass Straw are eager to eliminate the use of disposable plastic straws and draw more people into a more sustainable way of life. Personally I like the bamboo straw as it doesn’t feel weird on my teeth and if you need a new one then you can just throw it in the compost.
The pureSOL Konjac Sponge is natural and biodegradable. It is great for your skin and of course it can be used over and over again. I was introduced to these sponges when I was in hospital for a month! This little guy was one of my heroes. I loved the soft feel on my skin and you can get these sponges made with different extracts like charcoal and turmeric. Make sure you read the fine print on the product before you buy it, so you can make sure the packaging is recyclable and the product is actually biodegradable. It might sound untrue but my sponge is still alive and it has been almost four months.
It saddens me that I actually have to state the obvious, but there are still people who can’t be bothered to do this and all I can say is SHAME (for the Game of Thrones fans out there)! I’m pretty sure we all have access to recycling bins at this point and I know a lot of people can’t be bothered to wash the bottom half of their bacon packaging, but once you start doing it, it will just become second nature. Also get it in the right bin! People that throw their PLASTIC bag in with their glass recycling.. come on mate, you’re missing the point.
In my home town we have a HISBE shop, which stands for “How It Should Be”. This shop is awesome! It’s basically a zero waste shop. It offers shampoo and soap dispensers so you can just take your empty bottles or jars and get them refilled. Honestly these guys are amazing. If you want to “buck convention, break the mould, reinvent, challenge, transform, make good”, then maybe you should change the way you shop. HISBE offers local, seasonal, ethical, sustainable food. They support independents and real producers and offer fair prices. If you can find a shop like this in your home town or even go to the local farmers market then you are on your way to becoming an eco-champion.
If an individual consumes about 350 plastic bags a year according to some survey reports and a single plastic bag takes about 450 years to biodegrade then the world is in serious trouble of becoming a huge waste dump.
The pollution caused by plastic bags is 70% more than paper bags. These non-biodegradable plastics are dumped in water bodies and ends up polluting them to irreparable levels. Thousands of sea animals die every year as they end up eating these toxic bags mistaking them for sea food. These plastic bags also photo-degrade and contaminate soil and water. In addition, when the bags eventually degrades, the chemicals go into the water making the purification process more expensive.
Recycling of plastic bags reduces the disposed waste but the process of recycling causes massive amounts of air pollution. So instead of recycling, it is even more beneficial if it can be avoided. Reusing of bags for regular purposes like groceries or shifting to cloth bags reduces a lot of waste and also saves a lot of maintenance cost and cutting down of trees. Reusable bags help in reducing the use of oil based products and saves using up our precious natural resources which I’m sure you can guess is important for us now and especially for the future generations. We would be saving gallons of water and fuel and acres of forest every year by this measure. It also helps in preserving the flora and fauna of your region.
Some companies are promoting eco-friendly initiatives and exploring an alternative ethical way of using plastic bags. For example, biodegradable plastic bags which are cornstarch-based cost more but can breakdown in just 12 weeks into compost.
So guys lets really try. I have faith that as a species capable of incredible inventions, we can surely take some action to help our planet.