Cassie Bakshani

Waste-free living. It’s not as hard as you think.

By Cassie Bakshani

There’s been a focus in recent months on waste production, with talk of bottle return schemes and water refill stations being implemented across the UK, along with increasing tax on companies that use plastic packaging. Ultimately, excess waste is caused by material misuse and our modern linear infrastructure, where products are made to be used once and then discarded. It is reassuring however to see more businesses becoming increasingly aware of this global concern and being proactive about mitigating their environmental impact. As individuals, we can’t do everything when it comes to reducing waste production, but there are ways you can work towards reducing your own personal waste footprint.

    • Refuse single-use disposable items i.e. coffee cups, plastic cutlery/utensils, plastic bags and straws.
    • Be resourceful. Repair and re-purpose things you already own before simply chucking them away and if you need to buy something, scour markets, charity and vintage shops, car boot sales, eBay, Freecycle etc. before hitting the high street.
    • Invest in quality products that will make day-to-day waste reductions straight forward. These items are always in my backpack:
      1. A Slice Of Green stainless steel containers. They’re durable and safer than plastic containers because they won’t leech chemicals like BPA into your food.
      2. Chilly’s stainless steel bottle. Keeps your drink cold for 24 hours or hot for up to 12 hours and as an added bonus the designs are pretty fun too.
      3. JosephJoseph travel cutlery. Cleverly designed, compact, lightweight and so much more practical than flimsy plastic cutlery.
      4. Bodum travel mug. Functional and also absolutely necessary if, like me, you have a worrying caffeine dependence.
      5. A few reusable canvas bags. There are plenty of places to get hold of these but I tend just to steal them from my mum.
    • Recycle or dispose of things, that can’t be re-purposed, in a responsible manner.

Another hugely important aspect of reducing waste production is shopping locally and in doing so supporting your local community. Fortunately, for those of us living in Newcastle, this one is pretty easy. Newcastle is a hub for conscious, ethical independent shops and businesses, but if you aren’t sure where to start then I suggest Grainger Market. My favourite shops in the market are: Hoam Grown, a local greengrocer which stocks organic, seasonal produce. The French Oven, a lovely French-style bakery, committed to reducing waste by using paper and biodegradable plastic packaging and encouraging customers to bring their own bags and Tupperware to take products home. Pumphreys Coffee, which stocks a wide range of loose-leaf teas and they’re happy to weigh out what you want and fill your own container.

Outside of the city centre there is The Honey Tree in Heaton which sells Ecover and Ecoleaf plant-derived biodegradable cleaning products, along with providing refill stations so you can take your bottles back and restock. Alternative Stores in Palmersville, again, have a range of shampoo/conditioner and household cleaning product refill stations. The Paddock is a smallholding based on the Northumberland/Gateshead border that provide great value, home-grown or locally sourced seasonal veg boxes, which you can order online for delivery direct to your door. Finally, if you pop into their cafe in Jesmond, the good people at Ouseburn Coffee Co. are happy to fill up your container with any beans or ground coffee you wish to purchase.

I admit that this way of living/shopping may be more time-consuming than going to a single shop or supermarket, but buying only for convenience is both destructive and detaching. Instead, live and shop with quality, functionality and durability in mind. Take ownership of the things you have and in doing so give them value. We’ve all got a responsibility to be a bit more conscious about the impact we have on the planet, so why not make reducing your waste footprint where you start?

One reply on “Waste-free living. It’s not as hard as you think.”

Ive recently moved from New Zealand where reducing waste is a massive thing. One thing I am really struggling to find in Newcastle is bulk food bin shops. Somewhere I can go buy nuts, oats, flour etc etc from bulk bins. Do you have any ideas??

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