23 Ways to Cut Waste

an environmental look at how to minimise waste
Written by Ellen Gunn
April 27, 2018

 The changes I’ve made, tips & links to help you do the same


When making the transition to a minimal-waste lifestyle, it sometimes feels like you aren’t doing enough, so what helps is just jotting down the changes you have made. Here’s my own personal list (from my iPhone notepad); all brands I include I have bought from and used, so I highly recommend:


Improvements I’ve Made:


  1. Generally purchasing less, try not to get sucked in to clever advertising .


  1. Only purchasing clothes, shoes & gadgets second hand (from Depop for example), there are so many up and coming second-hand shops and sites available if you want specific things. You can go wild as you’re buying second hand anyway so why limit your realm of retail therapy? This was something I really missed when I first started limiting my waste. I felt stressed that I could no longer be fashionable – but that is such bollocks. Depop sorts you out with whatever pieces you want, taking it off the hands of someone who no longer needs it.


  1. If I really need new things, occasionally I purchase from sustainable labels such as People Tree, Thought Clothing, Know The Origin & an ethical lingerie label called Ayten Gasson.


  1. Give baked goods as gifts, in a cute cake tin with a pretty tea towel, or a jar with a ribbon – it is pretty sweet.


  1. Overall I’ve minimised my beauty product purchases as I only use a few products on my skin on a daily basis; my very few purchases are ethical – the first being Jojoba oil (Fushi Brand – I love) which comes in a glass bottle, and SPF Moisturiser from Green People where the bottle can be recycled.


  1. Use a wooden toothbrush which is compostable, including its packaging.


  1. Totally waste-free soap bar for my body.


  1. Another soap bar as a gentle hand soap, free from any dodgy chemicals, I use Faith soap bars from Infinity Foods (in a variety of natural tropical scents).


  1. Waste free makeup remover – I use coconut oil to remove makeup which comes in a reusable glass jar…


  1. …Which means I no longer use cotton balls to wipe makeup away, but instead a damp flannel which I wash on a weekly basis and reuse.


  1. In terms of make up I don’t really wear much on a daily basis, but I’ve collected so many different kinds of products over the years that I won’t be needing any more until I have my first born. In any case, what I do try and do is be as multifunctional with each product as possible. For example, using highlighter as both highlighter and eyeshadow – I’ve even tried it as nail varnish and it gave a pretty nice glossy finish. Admittedly, it was on my toenails when I was wearing peep toe heels, but it managed to stay on.


  1. In terms of nail varnish I used to love love loveee painting my nails but unfortunately it’s just liquid plastic in a bottle which chips and ends up littering all over, so if you’re the same and love it too but ain’t a fan of the eye shadow, then I would recommend shellac. Don’t be fooled – it’s not environmentally friendly, but it stays on longer so uses less polish overall. See this as a little transition rather than a complete step. There actually are environmentally-friendly nail polish brands becoming available, but the ones I know of are located in the US, and tbh natural nails aren’t so bad.


  1. The same applies to nail varnish remover, I no longer buy or use it which means I don’t need to waste cotton balls to wipe the polish away. Again, if you can’t not paint your nails then use an old rag as an alternative to the cotton balls.


  1. Finally….I have got my family to C O M P O S T – ahhh the many joys in life – resulting in literally halving our household waste YAY! I think this was such a good transition as I live with four-ish people and the amount of food we go through is mental, so all scraps such as fruit skins, bones, vegetable heads, tea bags go straight in to this large jar by the kitchen sink and – once full – straight into the compost outside, rather than getting sent to landfills to create dangerous gases. Everything can go into a compost bin (even meat and egg shells), apart from dairy as it creates… I wanna say more nitrogen than appropriate, but I’ve added a link which tells you about the specifics. It’s goddamn easy and HALVES your family household waste which is brilliant!


[arve url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-uxdrMt4k0&app=desktop” align=”center” /]

  1. I don’t eat meat and have reduced my intake of dairy, so that has minimised packaging, lowered the effort of rearing cattle and the amount of land each animal takes up. This is quite a biggy. Even if you only moderate your intake of meat, it has healthy repercussions on the environment by minimising CO2. Alternatively, try to purchase from your local butcher / farmer, rather than the supermarket which mass-produces: ultimately, mass production of anything isn’t great whereas buying local is the best bet for quality and ground control.


  1. Don’t use tissues, use handkerchiefs: literally ask your grandparents they will have a zillion.


  1. Pela phone case, totally compostable along with being a B-E-A-utiful case.


  1. I go paperless for tickets-everything: even things like railcards now offer a digital alternative. An Oyster card is already more resourceful than purchasing tube tickets all the time.


  1. Glass/metal water bottle – stating the obvious.


  1. I make my own lunch – I get that this one is time consuming. So to be honest, if you do all the above, then sure, go to Greggs.


  1. Use old t-shirts as rags to clean the house; I actually want to make my dog a plaited chew-toy out of scraps, because she is God’s gift and deserves it.


  1. Also with regards to composting: if you are out and about and not sure what to do with your food waste, I try and bring an empty container or jar with me. Then I can dispose of it properly at home.


  1. Whichever bank you are with, tell them to email, rather than post your bank statement. Download your mobile banking app for a better indication of what you are spending your money on and work out how to cut back, rather than having a delayed monthly overview. I find it helpful.


I think that is everything for now, and I’m pretty pleased that within the space of I’m gonna say… roughly 5 months, I have achieved all of the above. That’s pretty satisfying. It’s been a long time coming, as I have wanted to make changes for a while but during my final year of uni I found it difficult to alter my lifestyle as I wanted to. I literally just drank water from a jam jar and had my mates laugh at me every time I took a swig. So it’s been relieving to have time to make these alterations.


And it really does take time – don’t apply the pressure to yourself, as you are not responsible for living in a linear economy rather than a circular one. Instead, take time out to be like: ‘realistically in my circumstances what personal changes can I make?’ And then gradually apply them. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a farmer’s market close by, shopping there instead of the high street would be a really positive transition – all the fruit and veg is loose. But I also understand there are limitations, and that living with others does jeopardise things, which is why I’m not claiming I’m teetotal of waste. It’s a process – so chill – sit back and watch these corporate companies perish as they try and fail to nab your wallet.   


Seek more advice from Trash is for TossersI would actually recommend following her on Instagram as she constantly updates you with new ways to save money and do a good deed.


Hope you enjoyed the read, and found some of your own alternatives too.


Thanks for reading,

Ellen Victoria Gunn


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