This is no mystery for anyone interested in this issue. Waste accumulates all around the globe, mainly because of inadequate waste management. What if the solution was simply to reduce their volume?
Limiting waste at the source, an achievable goal?
The « best waste is the one we don’t produce ». Reducing one’s consumption is evidently the first eco-friendly action to reduce one’s waste volume. However, no need to cut corners if you are not ready to do so. First, setting achievable goals such as sorting waste at home, at work or during leisure activities such as surf, will give you room for improvement and satisfaction.
Béa Johnson, known in the US for launching 8 years ago the “Zero Waste” movement with her family, living without generating any waste (or at least very little) is possible. Using glass jars in the kitchen, making homemade cosmetic and cleaning products, swapping items, selecting resistant and interchangeable clothing… There are plenty of options. According to Johnson, the most difficult wastes to get rid of are papers (mostly from our mail), glass bottles and multiple packaging which invade our daily life.
If zero waste is not an end per se, and is rather difficult to achieve, simple eco-friendly actions can reduce waste by half. An effort, which if supported by all, could definitely make a difference for our oceans!
- Purchase products without any or with very little packaging. This means buying in bulk and bringing your own jars, bags or cans to the store. And of course, avoiding as much as possible double packaging commonly used by industries for cookies, yogurt and frozen food. It is possible to reduce our waste by 26kg/person/year by simply choosing products with less packaging.
- Favor reusable items. You have a water bottle getting lonely up there in a cupboard? Make good use of it and make sure it follows you everywhere you go. Also, favor reusable bags, such as tote bags, instead of plastic bags, that you will also keep preciously in order to reuse them when necessary.
- Use eco-refills. When the bottle of soap or detergent is empty, we tend to buy a new bottle. However, packaging could be reduced by 50 to 70% by using eco-refills in comparison to regular products. While it is still rare in mass retail, some specialized stores offer eco-refills for food, personal care and cleaning products.
- Make your own cosmetics. Read our article on the topic.
- Make your own compost. Our trash can contain approximately one third of organic waste, such as fruit and vegetable peel that can be used as fertilizer. Composting kitchen and garden waste can provide quality fertilizer for plants while reducing waste transportation, landfill process and incineration. It also means less trash bags in the environment. You can reduce your waste by 40kg per person per year by making your own compost.
- Give your objects a second life. Books, clothes, toys, electronic devices… Many associations will take your objects that are still in good condition to give them a second life. Even better, barter and second-hand items websites give you an opportunity to be part of the circular economy in a mutually beneficial logic. Why not organize a swapping meetup with your friends and neighbors? It’s both simple and pleasant.
- Prevent planned obsolescence. Between now and 2020, 12.3 million tons of electric and electronic waste, aka e-waste, may invade the EU. Only one third of objects are actually processed. When thrown in the « miscellaneous » bin, they may release toxic substances (mercury, liquid crystals, plastic, and cathode ray tubes) and other GHG in the environment. It is now acknowledged that industries sometimes make use of illegal practices to encourage our consumption by excluding compatibility between devices or by reducing their lifespan. To prevent this, you can get more information on brands. And when a device breaks down, you can make sure it cannot be repaired before discarding. A good deal of websites offers tips and advice to help you repair your devices.
- Put a « Stop junkmail » sticker on your mailbox. Very few of us actually pay attention to advertisement flyers and other junkmail. To stop receiving them, there is an easy solution: a sticker on your mailbox. Stopping paper advertisement in your mailbox means reducing waste by 15kg per person per year.
Download the “stop advertisement” sticker.
- Take medicine back to your pharmacist. Medicine may be found in the environment and rivers if thrown in the trash. When released in water streams, antibiotic molecules or cleaning products can have negative impacts on fauna and flora. Medications are not recyclable, but many pharmacies will take back medications, according to your national take-back policies. In France, for example, most pharmacists have joined the Cyclamed operation, to sort medicine and destroy them according to a proper process.
Now, let’s play our part!
For a concrete action against marine litter, you can also join an Ocean Initiative waste collection.