Most of us are pretty good by now at sorting our recycling. However, it’s the little extras that add up to reduce your family’s carbon footprint.
We asked Zero Waste Scotland to tell us about the small, simple steps we can all take for a greener new year.
Chances are, they won’t be totally new to you. However, the little things can be the easiest to overlook. Get them right, and you’re one step closer to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Reducing our plastic waste can start at any age. Try teaching your kids by making a game out of spotting loose items to buy when out shopping rather than plastic wrapped. Winner gets to pick Friday night dinner!
However, buying loose is only half the battle. Food waste is another major challenge, and one most of us are guilty of. The gases produced from rotting food are up to 22 times more harmful than car exhaust fumes. Read more in this special report from our environment team.
That’s a wrap
Christmas is one of the worst offenders for damaging plastic gift wrap and packaging. Consider a fresh approach to gift giving in 2022. Zero Waste Scotland has a quirky idea: why not wrap a present inside another present? Why not wrap Mum’s moisturiser in a gorgeous scarf this Mother’s Day? Or wrap someone’s favourite book in a cosy pair of pyjamas?
The amount of wrapping paper we chuck out each year could reach to the moon. If you do buy it, make sure to scrunch it. If it stays scrunched you can recycle it, but if it starts folding out that tells you there’s plastic in it and it must go in the general waste bin. Look out for labels showing wrapping paper that’s plastic-free.
Don’t be a party pooper
On a similar theme, party needn’t mean plastic. It’s easy to reach for the plastic cups, but consider going for reusable crockery and cutlery instead. Why not borrow extra cups and plates from relatives or neighbours if you’re short? You can even hire reusable crockery online or from some supermarkets and return it when you’re done.
When they party’s over, don’t just throw the decorations away. If they’re in good nick they can be reused for future celebrations, or save a friend a few pennies by gifting them for their own event.
Say a hard ‘no’ to freebies
Freebies are everywhere, but if you’re not willing to pay for it, you probably don’t need it. Don’t get caught up in the moment. Take one napkin instead of grabbing six. Tell the shop you don’t need a free balloon or Happy Meal toy – preferably before your kid has a chance to see it! Our tendency to hoard tat and then throw it in the bin has a big impact on our family’s carbon footprint.
On the subject of toys, did you know you can get them on subscription? Services like Whirli are becoming more and more popular.
Choose your subscription plan then browse the library of toys and pick the ones you’d like delivered to your door. They’re yours to keep for as long as they’re still being played with. When they’re out of favour, you can return them to the company to be swapped for something new.
If a subscription service is not for you, consider donated pre-loved toys to friends and family, or to your local charity shop.
Pro tip: Many places don’t take soft toys, but the Teddy Trust sends pre-loved teddies to traumatised children across the world. They’re not accepting donations over Christmas but will be back in action after 4 January. A lovely opportunity to have a clear out and teach your kids about charitable giving.