As our society expands, it creates more and more waste. The UK alone produces about 100 million tonnes of waste each year, and this number is slowly on the rise. In fact, every year we produce 3% more than the previous year and most of this ends up in landfills or our oceans. The Arctic ice sheet is in decline, the Great Barrier Reef was pronounced dead, and the Amazon rainforest is currently on fire.
So what can we do to regenerate our planet?
The obvious answer is to recycle right? Unfortunately, 75% of people already recycle but only 9.1% of plastic waste actually ends up being recycled. 15.5% is combusted to recover energy and the remaining 75.4% of plastic waste still goes to landfill. There are good systems in place to recycle food, glass, and metals, but plastic just doesn’t have the same ability to be recycled.
Recently, China has stopped wanting to buy recyclables from other countries, meaning that all the recyclables are building up in their respective countries without the infrastructure to recycle them. This means we should change the focus to reduce the amount of plastic we consume rather than recycling what we have already consumed.
So how do we avoid waste piling up that we can’t deal with?
The answer: adopt a minimal waste lifestyle!
By cutting down on single use plastics, we can drastically reduce the amount of waste we create. Here are some tips and tricks you can use in your daily life to make your start at uni sustainable!
Sometimes it seems plastic waste is simply unavoidable though, what with it being in all our packaging. If you really can’t avoid it, I would urge you to recycle. To make the most of recycling, make sure that the items you put in the recycling bin are clean and don’t have food residue on them. This means the items can be recycled instead of being sent to landfill because they are contaminated.
The philosophy behind the zero waste movement is to redesign the system so we don’t have to discard resources, and this can only happen if YOU do your part. What we need is not a few people doing zero waste perfectly, but everyone doing minimal waste as well as they can. Try making a few small changes here and there, you’ll be surprised how easy it can actually be.