1. Avoid and reduce
The best way to waste less is to avoid or reduce it from the get-go.
Take some time to consider the waste that might be produced from the items you buy and use, for example what the packaging is like and whether you’ll be disposing of the product shortly after purchasing it.
To reduce the amount of waste you produce, avoid:
- use of single-use, disposable containers, cutlery, plates and cups
- polystyrene packaging, like foam veggie and meat trays
- buying excess food – make a shopping list before you head out, and try to make plans to eat any leftovers you have
- plastic bags
- individually packaged food items
- pre-packed fresh fruit and vegetables
- items with excess packaging
- cheap, non-durable items, or items that are likely to end up in landfill
- impulse buying
- using up the products you have – think items like notebooks and pens – before buying them new
- buying new products where you could borrow them from family or friends, or get them second hand
- having items repaired where possible, instead of buying them new.
If you can buy something as a single-use product, chances are there’s a reusable alternative available somewhere. And sometimes a product might have more uses than the one you originally purchased it for.
To go re-usable, try:
- swapping plastic disposable bottles for one reusable bottle, made from stainless steel or plastic
- Buy in bulk: Shop at a bulk food and cleaning product store and bring your reusable and refillable containers, jars and bags with you. CLICK HERE to download a list of store locations.
- switching disposable coffee cups for one re-usable coffee cup
- using reusable shopping bags, made from materials like bamboo, jute, recycled PET, or organic cotton
- swapping plastic produce bags for reusable produce bags
- storing your leftovers in reusable containers instead of covering them with cling wrap or foil
- reusing or repurposing old clothing to create another clothing item, bedding or accessories
- using worn out clothes as rags for cleaning or mechanical work
- donating any unwanted items (provided they’re still in good condition), like clothing, books, bedding and kitchenware to your local charity store.
Where you can’t avoid, reduce or reuse, the next best option is to recycle. A recent audit found that 13.5% of recyclable material was placed in the waste to landfill bin.
Items that can be recycled through your yellow recycling bin include:
- paper and cardboard, such as newspapers, egg cartons, magazines, cardboard boxes, envelopes, wrapping paper and drink cartons
- rigid plastic, such as disposable drink bottles, butter, ice cream and yoghurt containers, takeaway food containers, and milk and juice bottles
- glass bottles and jars
- metal container, such as tin, aluminium and steel cans, metal lids, aluminium foil trays and foil wrappers (scrunched into a fist-sized ball), and empty aerosol cans.
Be sure to empty and rinse any items that held food or drink before placing them in your yellow recycling bin.
But it’s not just your yellow bin you can use for recycling – your green bin can be used to recycle organic items.
A recent audit found that 42% material placed in the waste to landfill bin was food and compostable material which could have been composted through the green bin or at home instead.
Items that can be recycled through your green organics bin include:
- food scraps, including citrus, onion, dairy, meat, bones, fish, fruit and vegetable scraps
- certified compostable bags and food packaging – look for the seedling, AS 4736 certification or home compost AS 5810 symbols
- greasy pizza boxes
- tissues and paper towel
- coffee grounds, tea leaves and paper tea bags
- loose shredded paper, and other small bits of paper
- hair and fingernail clippings
- pet waste (never in plastic)
- flowers (minus any plastic wrapping)
- garden and lawn clippings, leaves and weeds
- pencil and other wood shavings.