14 easy ways you can reduce waste and recycle more

By on 07/09/2016 in Blog, Cleaner Greener Streets
Jacqui Kennedy, Acting Strategic Director of Place.

Jacqui Kennedy, Acting Strategic Director of Place.

We recently consulted on the overarching aims that we want to take forward in our Waste Strategy for Birmingham – and I would like to thank everyone that took part and had their say.

Reducing, reusing and recycling the city’s waste has to be at the heart of everything we do if we are to hit the ambitious targets outlined in the document (to increase our recycling rate from below 30 per cent up to 70 per cent by 2035 – and to become a ‘zero waste’ city by eliminating waste from landfill within the same timescale).

As well as recycling more of the waste we currently produce, a better way to tackle this challenge is to cut down on all types of waste in the first place as this will help boost the share of what we actually then recycle.

Every little helps and one thing I am doing as part of my personal contribution to the overall effort is to do a few minor things differently when shopping.

If someone at a checkout asks me if I want a receipt, I simply say ‘no thanks’. Clearly if you have any doubt over whether you will return an item you have purchased, then I would always advise you to ask for and keep the receipt.

But if you are buying an everyday consumable, like a chocolate bar or a newspaper, why do you need a receipt?

If everyone adopted this approach, we’d be all become Zero Heroes by doing something to save the earth’s precious recourses and moving closer to becoming a zero waste city where everything we dispose of gets used in another way, rather than sending rubbish to landfill.

Likewise, if I am in a shop and try on a pair of shoes that fit perfectly and end up buying them, there is no need whatsoever for me to take the box home.

If I do take it, and then have to put it into my recycling wheelie bin, it is counted towards the city’s municipal waste total and all of the targets our strategy is being shaped around, when it doesn’t have to.

These are just two day-to-day examples and there are many others in all of our lives. Marginal gains can make a big difference, so I’d urge everyone to have a think about what they can do to become a Zero Hero.

Other things to think about when considering how you can become a Zero Hero:

  • Do I really need a receipt for my lunch?  Do I need a bag when I buy my lunch? Do I need extra salt and pepper? Do I need the plastic cutlery? Do I need all the napkins I am offered/help myself to?
  • Does the shop offer an electronic receipt to your e-mail address? If so take them up on it, if not ask them.
  • When I get 3 for 2 or buy one get one free am I going to use it?  If not offer it to a friend? If it can be frozen, freeze it straight away – don’t let it go out of date and into the bin!
  • Next time you clear your fridge, take a photo of all the out of date food you throw away. Try to reduce the amount next time.
  • If you are going away offer any unopened and in-date food from your fridge to a neighbour/work colleague – don’t put it in the bin!
  • When you clear your cupboards take the time to recycle your tins, jars etc.
  • Birmingham’s tap water is the best – it comes all the way from Wales, so do I really need to buy plastic bottles to take to work?

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