Take the ‘more plants less waste’ 21-day challenge
This challenge to live a life with less waste is reproduced from the book More Plants Less Waste by Max La Manna. What better day to start than today – World Environment Day!
Day 1: Plastic audit
Create an audit of the rubbish you throw away. This gives you an idea of what you consume the most and gives you an opportunity to look for the alternative product such as a reusable water bottle instead of single use plastic bottles.
Day 2: Assemble your ‘less waste to go’ kit
Get together the items you need when you’re out and about. Maybe you already own them. Collect a reusable fork, knife, spoon, perhaps a metal straw and a reusable cloth/bandana as a napkin.
Day 3: Eat what you have in your fridge
We tend to buy more than we actually need. I love clearing out my fridge and cupboards and cooking what’s in there.
Day 4: Shop locally for produce
Support your local producers. By doing so you reduce the amount of carbon emissions it took to bring your food to you.
Day 5: Figure out your compost
Food that isn’t composted and is chucked in a bin goes to landfill where it releases methane into our atmosphere and makes it harder for us to breathe. Start composting – there are lots of different ways; through creating your own compost or using a general food waste bin from your local council.
Day 6: Go bulk shopping
If you can, go shopping for bulk ingredients and be sure to bring your bags/jars with you for refilling.
Day 7: Buy vintage
Fast fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Shopping more at your local thrift or vintage shop is a less wasteful alternative.
Day 8: Nourish your body
Most soap and shampoos come in plastic containers and are hard to recycle. Refill your soap and shampoos at a bulk shop, try making your own from scratch, or start using shampoo bars!
Day 9: Eat more plants
Devote today to eating only plants and natural whole foods – nothing processed.
Day 10: Ditch plastic water bottles
To make this switch all you need to do is carry a reusable bottle with you wherever you go. You’ll end up saving money too.
Day 11: Replace kitchen paper
Ditch the kitchen paper because you don’t need it. I reuse tea towels or old rags instead. While you’re at it, replace paper tissues with a handkerchief.
Day 12: Bring your cup with you
Do you fancy a takeaway coffee or tea at your favourite café? Instead of using their disposable cups bring your own one with you to reduce the waste that ends up going to landfill.
Day 13: Buy a meal in your reusable container
I challenge you to use your own container for your takeaway meal. It can sometimes be nerve-wracking as this isn’t quite the norm yet, but it feels great when you make it happen.
Day 14: Ferment
Fermenting foods is a great way to cut back on food waste. With a busy schedule, food often goes soft and spoiled in the blink of an eye. If you know you may not get a chance to cook that cabbage or carrot – consider pickling!
Day 15: Make a zero-waste beauty product
Max La Manna has plenty of recipes for you to create at home. There are also library books or the internet you could consult. Perhaps you fancy making a body scrub from leftover coffee grounds, or a ripe avocado face mask? You’ll be surprised by what you can create with less waste.
Day 16: Buy bread in a cloth bag
Most bread we see in the supermarket is wrapped in plastic. Go straight to the baker and ask for a fresh loaf and let them know you have your own bag with you too.
Day 17: Do your bit!
Head out to the local park or bench and spend half an hour doing a plastic clean-up session. There are some amazing community initiatives across the country doing great things in this space every week that you can get involved in – it's both eye-opening and rewarding in equal measure.
Day 18: Turn your phone off
According to recent research, speaking on the phone for one hour a day can add up to the same carbon emissions as a flight from London to NYC. Try switching off for a day a week to reconnect with the world beyond your screen.
Day 19: Recycle properly
Recycling is a whole big minefield in itself, but don’t be discouraged. Set up your recycling bin with what you know can be recycled properly – drawing a diagram of what can and can’t be recycled and pinning it up on your fridge is always helpful.
Day 20: Save your veggie scraps
Those food scraps you’re about to throw away are not waste – that is veggie stock gold! Save your scraps to make stock. (You will find recipes in many cookbooks, or from the internet)
Day 21: Share your changes and celebrate your victories!
Let others know that you challenged yourself and made changes along the way. We all learn from one another and have a far better reach when we share our experiences. We even have the potential to inspire a community. It’s the micro edits to our daily routines that hold the power for change!
Can you add to the list with your own 'Waste Warrior' tips? My tip is to ditch your glad wrap. You don’t need it. Use a lidded container, a splash cover for your microwave, or some of the great reusable covers you can buy now. Beeswax and pliable silicone covers are readily available and just need a quick wash after each use!
Cath Hart, Community Coordinator, Eltham Library