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Introduction to the Zero Waste Campaign

Each year, we produce more than 2 million tonnes of waste.

Why does this matter?

Waste culture is having a detrimental impact on our planet’s ecosystem, and contributing heavily to the already-existing burden we place on it. Our latest Zero Waste campaign raises awareness of the impact of waste, especially plastic pollution, on the environment and on its inhabitants.

Read on to find out more about improving waste management and recycling as well as tangible, specific actions you can take to live a ‘zero waste’ lifestyle.

What does ‘zero waste’ mean?

In a nutshell, living a ‘zero waste’ lifestyle means keeping material (anything you consume as a human being) out of landfill. Learn more about the meaning of ‘zero waste’ here.

What makes a product recyclable, and how to recycle?

80% of UK landfill waste can be recyclable. Recycling labels tell you what type of packaging a product has and whether the packaging is recyclable. If it is recyclable, the label will also show whether you can pop the packaging in your household recycling bin or if you'll need to take it to your local recycling centre. However, recycling should only be for the things we cannot reduce or reuse. This is not only good for the planet but also your pocket – think of the money you can save! Here are some tips for recycling:

  • Set reminders. It might sound obvious, but if you don’t have a designated box or drawer, then put items in the sink or by the door to take out next time you go to the bin. No excuses.
  • Understand your local collection. It is believed that most people put at least one or two items into general waste by mistake. Check out what you can recycle at home on your council website.
  • Read the labels. They’re there for a reason. Most are pretty good to see what local collection will take. Sometimes items that are not recyclable end up in the mix which can cause issues. Understand the labels here.
  • Share your ideas. Sometimes, people just need a little reminder of what others are doing. Post pictures of the good things you do or some precious nuggets of information. Include the hashtag #RecycleWeek so more people can pick up on it.

Alternatives to recyclable products

Reusable alternatives to products that cannot be recycled are the way to go. Using plastic products may seem unavoidable, but you can make basic swaps for everyday items such as the below:

  • Reusable grocery bags
  • Paper-wrapped toilet roll

What happens with our waste, and how does it impact the environment?

Waste doesn’t just disappear as soon as we put it in the bin. The waste we generate impacts our environment in many devastating ways, such as:

  • Climate change
  • Wildlife
  • Human health

We need to work towards ‘Zero Waste’ where we only buy what we need and never throw anything away. Instead, we repurpose and reuse it until it eventually gets recycled.

The time for change is now and we all have a part to play.

How has COVID-19 impacted waste?

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on zero-waste practices, whereby consumers have either reverted or changed their habits (for the worse) since the outbreak began in the UK earlier this year.

  • Coffee cups. Remember that reusable coffee flask you so-proudly purchased for yourself, or that you received as a Christmas gift in 2019? Well, with a ban on reusable cups in place at many hot drink outlets, the UK will be back to producing and binning up to 2.5 billion disposable cups per year.
  • PPE. In the early stages of the pandemic, there was a lack of availability of disposable face marks, inciting a boom in reusable ones made from cotton fabrics. However, PPE is single-use (justifiably so), and there is much more of it currently being used than ever before.
  • Takeaway containers. Before the virus, some takeaway establishments were encouraging the use of reusable containers. With the closure of dine-in restaurants and a rise in takeaway food, vastly more disposable takeaway containers are being used across the UK. Even when dine-in venues are open, there has been a rise in food waste, with restaurants over-preparing as they are unable to predict how many customers they’ll encounter in an evening.
  • Single-use bags. With the growing concerns around hygiene, many shoppers ditched their reusable shopping bags in favour of single-use versions that can be ‘disposed of’ along with any bacteria harbouring on the surface. We will need to make a conscious effort to revert our habits once these concerns diminish.

What can you do right now?

With your help, we can build momentum for real, long-lasting improvement. Download the now-u app to make a start and become part of a community dedicated to change. Download the now-u app to join a community of people fighting for change.

While the virus remains a priority, many people will be relying more on disposables than they used to. However, over time, as the virus subsides, we can see the zero-waste movement rising once again as a priority in people’s minds.

We’re doing our bit, now-u.

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Community Interest Company (12709184) and Charitable Incorporated Organisation (1196568)