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Low Packaging, Low Waste Living

Choosing low packaging products is a huge part of adopting a low waste lifestyle. It takes good planning, knowing where to shop to buy in bulk and teaming up with friends and neighbours.  Here is guide to taking steps towards reducing you and your families footprint. Where do you feel you can reduce your use of disposable single use packaging.

1. Grow your own

Even if its a box of fresh herbs growing on the windowsill, growing and harvesting your own fresh produce saves you having to buy the same things from the shops which in turn saves packaging and transport. Its always a good idea to grow something you enjoy and consume a lot of. Basil Pesto? Lettuce? Whats your favourite?

If you don’t know where to start with gardening or growing veg, Soil for Life offer weekend workshops.

Find some interesting ideas for small spaces here and here and for larger garden spaces here.

2. Composting and Worm farming

Not only is it a terrible waste of magnificent plant food to send organic waste to landfill but the waste undergoes anaerobic decomposition (because of the lack of oxygen) and generates methane. When released into the atmosphere, methane is a 20 times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Start a compost heap or a worm farm in your garden, at your local school, for your block of flats. Team up with your neighbours and community and start a compost heap. Its pretty easy – here are some guidelines.

3. Buy in bulk

Buying in bulk is a brilliant way to cut down on excess packaging. Buy as big as you can manage (and consume while fresh) share with your friends and neighbours. If you need smaller amounts for lunch boxes etc, decant into small reusable containers. You can buy most supplies in bulk to cut down on excess plastic packaging. Here is a list of places to buy in bulk from.

4. Buy unpackaged fresh produce

Shop at markets where you can buy fruit and veg loose, or try Food Lovers Market where you can get most of the essentials unpackaged. There are also organic box schemes like Abalimi / Harvest of Hope which have minimal packaging for their produce. Oddbox also deliver fruit and veg boxes without plastic.

5. Buy produce packaged in recyclable packaging.

Different recyclers can take different types of plastic so its important to check with your local recycler what they will or won’t accept.  Some of the problem plastics named by a local recycling company include:

Black polystyrene trays
White polystyrene trays, containers, cups
Plastic trays made from PET (marked with ‘1’ in the triangle)
Plastic contaminated with oil, paint or glue, or plastic bonded with paper such as laminated paper
Plastic items containing metal parts (like screws) which cannot easily be removed
Chip packets, tea bag wrap and many biscuit wrappers

Here is a good article about the different plastics, what they are used for and how easily it can be recycled.

6. Take your own Tupperware

Its a good idea to keep some Tupperware in the car.

Take your own to the butcher. Packaging that contains meat is considered contaminated and can be refused by recyclers.

Tupperware can also be a useful alternative when you get takeout food (when its not served in compostable packaging) or need a doggy bag at a restaurant.

7. Make your own household cleaners

Did you know that most household cleaning can quite be done with basic home ingredients. It isn’t necessary to buy different bottles of floor, window, bathroom, kitchen etc cleaners.  Read more here.

Here is some more reading material for low waste living.