Sustainable tourism: Are we doing this right? A Guest Post by Midlands Traveller

Everybody likes travelling, right? It’s a fact! The idea of discovering a new country is thrilling. Or sometimes, visit again that destination that brings back memorable memories of past holidays.

But have you stopped to think that every time we pack our stuff and go on holiday somewhere, we also take with us the responsibility of making tourism more sustainable? At least, we all should think about it.

But I have some good news for us! According to a booking.com survey released last year; the green travel trend continues to increase considerably with the majority of the global travellers (87%) saying that they would like to travel sustainably.

However, the survey also points out that nearly four in 10 (39%) people can confirm managing to do so. Is it a big figure? Probably. But we need to make it better!

The thinking globally, acting locally is a reality that can’t be ignored. Popular travel destinations such as Venice has started campaigns and actions to promote responsible tourism. The #EnjoyandrespectVenice is a campaign to bring awareness to the impact that careless tourists can cause in the environment, landscape and natural beauties of cities like Venice.

It’s a serious issue, and unless we change the behaviour now when travelling anywhere, it will be too late to save our planet and natural sources.

Here are some of the tiny and important tips to go green when travelling…

Sustainable tourism: Are we doing this right? A Guest Post by Midlands Traveller

Go further!

It seems silly, but if you’re thinking about jetting off soon, it’s always better to choose a further destination. We all know that aviation industry causes a massive impact on the environment and fewer flights taken, means less damage to the planet.

So, maybe it’s time to save for that dreamt visit to New Zealand, for example, instead of going three times a year to Benidorm, right?

Buy Local

It’s something I already do when travelling and I do recommend it. There is nothing more exciting than trying the local food, buying artisanal and experience the local culture.

Travelling is about indulging yourself in a different culture. It not only helps the local economy but also sustain people that live from this income.

Greener Accommodations

The best memories I have from the hotels and b&bs that I have stayed before are always related to how the green alternatives they offer. I have been to an apartment in London that left me organic food and natural beauty amenities. It was a game changing for me.

So, it doesn’t matter what kind of accommodation you are going for, it’s always important to research what sustainable measures these places can offer you. It can go for a simple garbage recycling collection to solar panels; even sophisticated hotels in Las Vegas are offering “eco-luxury” facilities nowadays. No excuse, huh?

If it’s packed, avoid it!

Most of the destinations we want to live in life have attractions and landscapes that will be crowded. Who doesn’t want to go up at the Eifel Tower once in life or step on one of the famous Italians historical bridges? You can still do it, but it would be better for the environment if you plan your trip carefully and visit your favourite city when it is less crowded. It’s a win-win! You can try, at least.

Walk out & about!

There is no other better way than knowing a place than walking through it. I did it in Dubrovnik, New York and lately, in Porto. Unless you have any special need and need to use transport, please walk along the streets, avenues and narrow lanes of your destination. Not to mention, it’s an excellent exercise as well.

So, think greener when travelling next time. It may be easier than you think to make a difference in the planet.

About the Author

Simone is a journalist with both Brazilian and British citizenship who has been living in Birmingham since 2011. She is vegetarian, with a passion for plant-based food. She also has a keen interest in green living. She writes at Midlands Traveller; a blog about business opportunities, the travel industry and well-being. You can find her on twitter, instagram and facebook too. 

What are the Priorities for Climate Change? #TakeASeat at COP24

We have 12 years to save our planet. Just twelve short years. As explained by the world’s leading climate scientists, global warming needs to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP24 is happening now, and they want to give us all a seat at their table. They are asking:

What are your priorities for making progress on climate change?

Share your key points for climate action across social media using the hashtag #TakeYourSeat to make your voice heard.

So what are my key priorities for tackling climate change?

• Focus on reducing single-use plastics & plastic waste:

In some countries, there have been major strides in this already. Initiatives from organisations such as Surfers Against Sewage and Lonely Whale, amongst many others have driven change in policies at government levels and inspired large communities to change their habits. However, this is the tip of a very large iceberg that cannot be ignored.

Further changes in policies to tackle it at the source – especially the manufacturers and companies themselves – need to be put in place, to stop them producing so much. Consumers need to change their habits too, but they are often limited by lack of options and cost barriers. There is only so much they can do; companies are best placed to tackle the issue more effectively. Policy needs to ensure the importance of this and give guarantees this will happen urgently.

• Replace fossil fuels with clean energy:

End fracking. Replace all fossil fuels with clean energy. There are some key countries in the world, including here in the UK, who are still heading in the wrong direction on this. We need to change our course, now.

• Embrace slow fashion:

The fashion industry needs a mass overhaul. Fast fashion, with cheap throw-away clothes that are only worn once or twice, is killing our planet. The processes and materials used are unsustainable, and unethical too. Attitudes need to change, and the entire way the industry operates, needs to change.

#TakeYourSeat COP 24 climate change conference - quote

Individual Action

Did you know that reducing meat intake (especially beef) is the single most effective action that individuals can take to reduce climate change?

Every little helps, so even just one meat-free day per week makes a huge difference. Give it a try.

I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that. Then I realised I am somebody.

Further action: Promote the benefits of reducing meat consumption. Support and raise awareness of initiatives such as Meatless Monday to help drive consumer change.

What are your key priorities for climate change? 

Join in the discussion #TakeYourSeat

 

The Berry Berry Designer Bags: Stylish Sustainable, Ethical Fashion

Have you heard of The Berry Berry designer bags yet? If not, you should have done! This ethical fashion brand was set up in 2014 by Lucia Jombikova;  she has developed a range of seven gorgeous bags out of fabric offcuts, reclaimed clothes and even upcycled magazines and sweet wrappers. Her bags come in a range of sizes from a small clutch bag and mini clutch purses to large tote bags and messengers, including one perfect for men. Each bag is unique and ethically made by a team of mumpreneurs.

Messenger bag. Girl and boy sat on wall next to river. Both have a bag

Protecting our Environment

In the UK alone, there are 1.3 million tonnes of textile waste each year, and in Europe 4.3 million tonnes. Fast fashion is an ongoing problem, but there is a much needed rise in sustainable and ethical fashion developing as consumers begin to increase awareness of this issue. The Berry Berry helps to tackle this; for every two handbags made, one kg of textile waste is saved from landfills.

Dominka Berry Berry Bag

Giving Back

For every five bags sold, The Berry Berry donates a bag filled with female essentials to Project Purse, a NGO who distribute them to homeless women, women in refuges and those who need assistance.

Lucia says: “it was important to me to create an ethical handbag range, as I found only either good looking but expensive handbags or cheaper, non-ethically made handbags. There was a definite gap in the market which now I hope we, at The Berry Berry can close so that women don’t need to compromise style, cost or the environment and no one needs to suffer in the making of the handbag. Women can wear our handbags with pride knowing they’ve empowered other women, the mumpreneurs I employ to sew and make the bags and those other women at Project Purse who also benefit from them purchasing one of our handbags”.

Justina Bow Bags. 3 bags on wall next to water

Kickstarter Campaign

The Berry Berry is running a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to fund the larger scale production of their first batch of bags. The campaign aims to raise a minimum of £10,000 and, in return for your support, you will receive your chosen handbag in time for Christmas. To buy a bag and support the campaign please back them on Kickstarter before 24th October.

Types and names of The Berry Berry bags

Giveaway

I have teamed up with The Berry Berry to giveaway a gorgeous clutch bag to one lucky reader. Enter via rafflecopter below. Competition ends 11th November 2018. Good luck!

Clutch bag made from sweet wrappers

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This is a collaborative post with The Berry Berry.

Recycling: What Are The Issues?

Recycling is a vital part of protecting our environment. After refusing, reusing and reducing as much waste as we can, and passing on things we no longer need, fixing or repurposing stuff, everything else should be recycled as much as possible to prevent it ending up in landfill.

Recycling: What Are The Issues?

What can be recycled?

Plastic is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to recycling. Seareach carried out a poll recently of over 3,000 people aged over 18 asking them: “What frustrates you most about recycling?” The survey revealed that almost a quarter of people asked expressed confusion over what can and cannot be recycled. A whopping two thirds of the people surveyed suggested that consistent and easily understandable labelling is needed to combat this. A significant number of people (38%) also pointed out that technology could be put to good use, such as an app to scan barcodes for more recycling information.

Facilities

It also seems that recycling facilities vary across the country, so people in some areas find it more difficult to recycle items than others. Furthermore, there are concerns over whether local councils do actually recycle everything that goes in the recycling. The poll revealed that 65% felt councils need to be more transparent.

As quoted on Talking Retail, Stuart Jailer said: “A lot of people were concerned that even though we sort our packaging at home, once it gets to councils, we don’t know that it’s getting properly recycled. Instead, people worry that a lot of it is heading to landfills or being shipped abroad.”

Garbage. Overflowing bin. Pollution. Landfill

The study showed that a lot of people want to be able to recycle at their local supermarket, as well as having consistent and transparent recycling collections at home. Other ideas suggested included better options for residents of flats, whom often do not have sufficient recycling facilities in comparison to houses. Also, sheltered accommodation should have easily accessible recycling bins for the disabled and elderly. Deposit and refund schemes across the country would also be useful.

Manufacturers need to do more

The survey also showed that people feel there should be more onus on manufacturers, rather than just the consumer. 39% of respondents felt manufacturers use too much packaging. They also complained that many products still come in packaging that cannot be recycled. For example, manufacturers still use black plastic for food products which cannot be recycled despite complaints from consumers to stop. (British Plastics)

Change in materials

Consumers believe it is important that manufacturers stop using materials that cannot be easily recycled. Examples of this are foil/ plastic hybrids and plastic wrappers, as well as the black plastic mentioned above. It would also be beneficial if we improved recycling facilities so that more materials have a higher rate of recycling too.

Recycling symbol

Did you know? 

Here are some of my own recycling tips, that you might not already know:

• Silver foil can be scrunched up and put in recycling.

• Stretchy plastic, such as toilet roll wrappers, can be recycled in local supermarkets along with plastic bags.

• Multipack crisp packets (the outer foil/ plastic type packaging, not the individual bags) can be recycled at some supermarkets.

• Walkers have just announced a new partnership with TerraCycle UK to recycle all brands of crisp packets. You can send them direct to the company in an envelope or look out for recycling points coming soon.

What are your biggest issues with recycling? What are your top tips? Let me know in comments! 

*This is a collaborative post.

Energy saving tips: Are solar panels right for my home?

On paper, the prospect of using solar panels – otherwise known as solar photovoltaic or solar PV panels – to meet your home’s energy needs looks very promising. Imagine always having a stream of free electricity on tap, with its availability affected only by the sun.

This is the ideal, anyway – but, in practice, not all of this would be borne out. There are various issues to consider if you are undecided about whether to opt for solar panels…

Energy saving tips: Are solar panels right for my home?

Do you have a suitable roof?

Thinking about whether or not to have solar panels fitted could essentially be pointless if your roof wouldn’t be suitable for them anyway. You should rule out solar panels for a north-facing roof, as it won’t get enough direct sunlight, warns the Energy Saving Trust.

Your roof also needs to be sufficiently strong to hold up PV panels,as they are heavy, Which? cautions. A roofing North East firm could strengthen your roof if you live in the local area.

Do you primarily aim to save carbon or money?

People tend to decide on solar panel installation due to the possibility of trimming the household’s greenhouse gas emissions or its financial expenditure on energy.

In your case, you need to decide which of the two is more important to you. Though you could yearly save as much as two tonnes of carbon, the financial savings are not always so clear-cut, as the installation would typically cost over £5,000 and so could take a disconcerting while to pay for itself.

The feed-in tariff is getting slowly reduced

In an attempt to somewhat make up for the initial financial blow of a solar PV installation, you could apply for the feed-in-tariff (FiT), a government scheme that pays you to make your own electricity.

However, in July 2018, the government revealed its intent to bar new applications to FiT from April 2019. You would only be exempt if you both commission your installation and get a complete MCS certificate issued prior to 31 March 2019; you could apply for FiT until 31 January 2020, Which? says.

Investigate whether you would need planning permission

The good news is that, for the majority of domestic solar panels, planning permission isn’t necessary – provided that these panels are below a particular size. However, we still urge you to get in touch with your council to learn for certain.

You would require planning permission if, for example, you want solar panels added to a listed building or a building either in a conservation area or on a World Heritage Site.

Solar panels

Are there other costs to consider?

Once a solar PV system is in place, you shouldn’t expect to have to spend a lot of time on maintaining it due to its relative simplicity and absence of moving parts. Still, within 25 years, you would have to replace the inverter at a cost of roughly £1,000 in many instances. There is evidence that you might even need to replace it much sooner than that.

*This is a collaborative post.

Zero Waste Week Round-Up

It was fantastic to see so many people taking part in Zero Waste Week, and there were so many inspiring, informative blogs to read! I have tried to include as many as possible, which is why it has taken me several days to write this post. No doubt I will have forgotten loads of other brilliant ones too, but here is a round-up of just some of my favourites…

Zero Waste Week Round-Up #zerowasteweek

Becster took part in my personal challenges I set. Yay, thank you for joining in! Read how she got on in the following posts:

Zero Waste Week (challenge 1)

Zero Waste Week – challenges 2 and 3

Zero Waste Week – challenges 4 and 5

See how The Real Meal Deal got on with their plastic-free day. They have also got posts about zero waste cleaning, make and mend Monday, the problem with plastics, and other fab posts!

Thoroughly Modern Grandma has lots of excellent posts, including how to achieve a zero waste party, tips for zero waste gardening, some of her favourite places to shop and her fave zero waste products, amongst other things.

Treading My Own Path has been plastic-free and living a zero waste lifestyle since 2012! She has tonnes of advice on her blog.

Emily at Grow Eat Gift wrote a post about 50 ways to go waste free for good, which has plenty of useful tips. She has also written other zero waste posts too, so do have a read through her lovely blog!

Inspire Create Educate has written about 7 ways you can ditch plastic. Also check out her post about reducing food waste too.

Pebble Mag has some interesting information and stats about plastic waste in their zero waste week article. Did you know 4 in 5 of us are now concerned about the amount of plastic we use? The message is certainly getting out there!

A Sustainable Life has plenty of tips for leading a sustainable(ish) lifestyle, including podcasts, free resources and a detailed e-guide.

No Serial Number are campaigning for plastic-free crafts, because they are concerned about the amount of plastics often currently used in crafts. Check them out!

The Mum Diaries wrote about 5 ways you can reduce your household waste.

Anna Pitt went a year without plastic waste. See how she got on!

Ethical Influencers shared their tips for zero waste week in an informative post.

Spot of Earth offers cleaning advice, tips for zero waste personal care, reviews an online zero waste shop and warns about greenwashing on the blog.

Gina at Gypsy Soul is one of my fave eco bloggers. She has handy make your own posts, such as toothpaste and reusable face wipes, and often writes about her eco product switches.

The EcoLogical has useful tips and advice too!

HuffPost also wrote about 5 ways you can get involved in zero waste week.

Sophie at A Considered Life wrote her advice for zero waste shopping.

And if that isn’t enough, you can also find the full list of Zero Waste Week Ambassadors here!

Zero Waste Week ambassador

Do you have a favourite zero waste post or top tip? Tell me in comments!

Did I Manage A Plastic-Free Birthday? #ZeroWasteWeek

So on Friday, for the final challenge of Zero Waste Week, I tried to manage a plastic- free day. Actually, I tried to manage a zero waste day! But how did I get on…

Did I Manage A Plastic-Free Birthday To End Zero Waste Week?

Day Out Struggles

We went to a local farm for a day out. We had a lovely time feeding the animals; of course this meant washing our hands afterwards for hygiene reasons! We had to use paper towels to dry our hands and Squiggle was the first to notice there were only landfill bins, no recycling. I guess this could be for sanitary purposes but it was still disappointing.

Potential solutions could have been to take our own cloth to dry our hands (I don’t know whether that could pose hygiene risks though, I suspect the farm might not allow it, if they saw us) or to take our paper towels home to recycle (same issue?) I am not really too convinced that we had much of an alternative in that scenario, unless we avoided feeding and stroking the animals, but depriving ourselves of such experiences is not really the idea! So sadly a few paper towels went to landfill.

Squiggle feeding goats at farm

My personal waste audit for the day:

Aluminium coke cans – recycled

Plastic container – reuse then recycle

Paper bag x 2 – recycled

Cardboard roll – recycled

Paper towels – landfill

Squiggle couldn’t go without her rice cakes, which come in packets, so that also created landfill.

Ok, so I didn’t manage an entirely zero waste, or even plastic-free, day. But I think I did pretty well! Now to find new and creative ways to tackle some more of those weak spots…

How did you get on with Zero Waste Week? What did you find most challenging? What is one thing you have improved on, thanks to these challenges? Let me know in comments!

My Zero Waste Week Challenge: Progress Update

Last week, ahead of Zero Waste Week, I set some challenges of my own. As promised, here is an update of how I am getting on so far!

My Zero Waste Week Challenge: Progress Update

Weak Spots and Improvements

I explained in my preparations post that just prior to Zero Waste Week I had already made some observations, noticed what my weak spots were/ are and started to make preparations to tackle them. I have mentioned some of these in various other posts, but here they are in more detail anyway…

Take Away Containers

We literally never eat out because Squiggle cannot cope with it. To make up for this, we probably get more than our fair share of take aways (we do usually opt for the same type of restaurants that most families would go to eat out though, and just order food to go, rather than actual fast food places!)

We would drastically reduce our waste if we took reusable containers with us. But we forget! So one of the things I have done to prepare for this week is to get some containers, and a reusable bag to put them in, to make a dedicated kit just for this purpose – in the hope that we will then remember to use them! But one of my challenges for this week (that I haven’t done yet!) is also to find out where will actually allow us to use them too, so I will see how I get on with that task!

Snacks in Packets and Wrappers

The issue of packet snacks, such as crisps, has come up alot in discussions throughout this week and is one of the main things I noticed in our rubbish to. My first thought for such items that currently have no alternative was to send them back to the manufacturer. It certainly helps to get the point across.

But if I sent them back what would they do with them… dump them in landfill anyway? So I have since had some other ideas; I could email the companies and ask what they will do with them beforehand. If they won’t recycle them I could get a Terra Cycle bin then send them the bill?! It is time the responsibility is put back to the manufacturers in some way I feel. Especially as these types of items are a common issue that keep cropping up.

I wonder what alternatives could be used? How could they be kept fresh? Could they be sold in zero waste shops?! This definitely needs more thought and further research!

Fruit and Veg

This was what inspired my shop thoughtfully, aka plastic-free packaging challenge. We used to be better at this one to be honest, but we have let it slide too much recently and it is a time we got back on track. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans sometimes go awry.

As I shared in my post yesterday, rather than reorder a fruit and veg box delivery from past companies I have used, which are usually low waste and plastic-free, I tried somewhere new. Big mistake! I have discovered a fab local place to visit with my reusable bags for next time we need more though, so I will do better next time. And if I need to order, I will stick to ones I can trust!

Zero Waste Shopper set Brighton Frog #zerowasteweek

Bathroom Supplies

I wrote a long time ago about buying huge Faith in Nature containers for shampoo and conditioner because we don’t personally get on too well with bars. But buying in bulk – having the funds up front and space to store – isn’t very practical and consequently we didn’t really manage it. We always recycled our bathroom plastics but that is not the point. When I observed our rubbish throughout the house, all that plastic jumped out at me – and I felt guilty as it was very much on my ‘I know I need to tackle this but not got round to it’ list – you know the ones!

However, as I wrote about in my Zero Waste Week Bathroom post, we were able to finally switch our shampoo, conditioner, handwash and shower gel to plastic-free versions thanks to our new local zero waste shop. So that is brilliant news! Happy about that!

The Refill Pantry reusable refillable aluminium dispensers for zero waste shampoo, conditioner, handwash and shower gel #zerowaste #plasticfree

So that is where I currently am with my personal challenges. Some have turned out to be bigger tasks than perhaps I thought, or maybe it is more the case that once I got thinking about them fully I decided I would rather do it properly, to make lasting changes and impact, rather than just focus on getting it ‘done’ this week. Either way, implementing the changes may go beyond Zero Waste Week, but it will happen. And I shall keep you updated!

Zero Waste Week: Our Preparations

As I mentioned in my Zero Waste Week Challenges post a couple of days back, our preparations are well underway and I am excited to share them! I have been busy reflecting on our current waste, considering where our weak spots are, and then thinking about what we can improve on, and how. So here are some of the things we have already done in advance to prepare for Zero Waste Week…

Zero Waste Week: Our Preparations

Observing Our Current Waste Habits

I have yet to fill out an actual audit sheet for the day, but I did a general observation of what we are throwing away into landfill, in order to determine what actions we could take next. Now, I will admit one thing from the outset; we have been slacking abit lately. After Squiggle had a prolonged bout of poor mental health (anxiety issues) earlier this year, we let some things slide. We needed to. And I don’t feel guilty for that, but I do see this as an opportunity for us to get back on track.

Looking through my landfill waste, it tends to be food packets that dominate my bin. The quick, easy to grab snacks. Rice cakes and Quorn veggie sausage rolls are a couple of examples. The frustrating thing is though, these can not easily be switched for the same product in plastic- free packaging either, because it doesn’t exist. Yet. And that is why I also intend to send the rubbish we do accumulate this coming week back to the companies, to encourage this change.

A zero waste lifestyle goes hand in hand with healthy, clean eating. When we opt for convenience food, our landfill waste automatically goes up. But whilst healthy eating is ideal, sometimes there are actual reasons (not just excuses!) why someone may genuinely need to opt for convenience at times. So I feel companies should be prepared to make more effort with their packaging too!

Click here for Zero Waste Week

Zero Waste Shopping

Other items are very easy to switch, and I started my shopping in advance so I would be ready to start the week off right! As well as stocking up supplies from our local zero waste shop (more about that in a later post!) I was also kindly sent some essentials to add to my zero waste kit…

Klean Kanteen reusable drinks - cup, straw set and insulated bottle

Klean Kanteen

If any of you watched my insta stories last week, you might have seen my eco fail! We went to Ikea, where Squiggle always gets a drink (it is literally the only place she gets one from, rather than just taking her own drink in her reusable cup from home!) We remembered our straw but forgot the lid is plastic too – doh! (And she does need a lid).

So when I spotted Klean Kanteen have a handy straw set that fits neatly onto their stainless steel cup, I thought how perfect it would be for Squiggle!

Klean Kanteen stainless steel cup and reusable straw set

I also love their insulated bottle, which keeps drinks hot for 14 hours and iced for 48 hours. Very useful to make sure I actually find time to drink it… eventually! I adore the colour too!

Klean Kanteen wide insulated bottle. Aqua

Both the steel cup and the insulated bottle come in different sizes. Klean Kanteen also have an excellent range of other eco- friendly bottles, cups, tumblers, accessories and canisters. See the website: www.kleankanteen.co.uk

Elephant Box

Elephant box and salad box - stainless steel - eco

I had specific ideas for these fab containers from Elephant Box. But Squiggle spied them and claimed them as her own! To be fair, they are ideal for eating on the go, as she often has food from home while we are out, so it does make perfect sense!

Stainless steel reusable Elephant Box

The larger box is the Elephant Box. It is deep, big and sturdy, with a capacity of 1.8L. Good for big appetites! It is freezer safe so helps with tackling food waste by freezing it to use later. Price: £29.50

Square salad box, stainless steel, eco, plastic-free, zero waste, Elephant Box

The Salad Box fits neatly inside the Elephant box, so handy for storing them when not in use, or for making compartments. The salad box has a capacity of 500ml and is perfect for sandwiches or snacks too! Price: £16

I also have a Brighton Frog Zero Waste Shopper Box on the way too, more on that in a later post!

So I am all set for tomorrow! Are you ready?! Join us for #ZeroWasteWeek

Passionate about a better future? Passion led us here. Join us for zero waste week. Zero Waste Week logo. #zerowasteweek https://www.zerowasteweek.co.uk

*Items kindly sent free in exchange for feature.

Zero Waste Week: Take the Challenge!

The concept of zero waste is an ideal, but is it realistic? Well, you decide just how far you can take it! The term ‘zero waste’ is frequently meant more as a journey than a destination itself. The key idea behind it is that as an individual, as a household, or even as a business, you actively try to reduce your waste, even if it is just one small thing at a time; it all helps!

With Zero Waste Week (founded by the lovely Rachelle Straus) looming in just a few short days, from 3rd – 7th September, I thought it would be fun to set some challenges of my own to help reduce landfill waste. And I would love for you to take part!

Click here for Zero Waste Week

(You can also sign up to the official Zero Waste Week emails here)

I have set 5 challenges in total, but you don’t have to complete every challenge to join in – do just one, some or all – it is up to you! Afterwards, let me know what you did – and how you got on – and I will share your stories (only if you would like me to obviously!) And of course I will be sharing how we get on too!

So here are the challenges…

Zero Waste Week: Take the Challenge! Faded background image of landfill

Challenge 1 – Audit your waste

Spend a day recording all of the rubbish you throw away. The wonderful folk over at Zero Waste Week have created an audit sheet for you to do this easily so grab yourself a copy and get auditing!

The audit sheet includes what item of rubbish it is, why is it being thrown away (remember: reuse if possible!) where it will end up (recycling is way better than landfill rubbish of course!) and what improvement can be made (e.g. could you have avoided this item of rubbish somehow?) This will help you to reflect on your current waste and identify small positive changes you could make.

Challenge 2 – Tackle a Weak Spot

Pick one thing that you know you could improve on and is something you can change immediately. We all have that one thing that jumps out at us – that we know we could better – we just haven’t got round to it… yet. Maybe you still grab your coffee to go in a disposable cup. Or perhaps you buy plastic water bottles. It could be something else entirely. Whatever it is, now is the time to make that switch – and stick to it!

For this challenge, you might need to make an investment – but baring in mind reusables are, well, reusable, it will be money worth spending. In many cases you might well find you will actually be saving money as you are no longer throwing it away (quite literally!)

I have a few weak spots that I am tackling for this challenge, so I will write a separate post sharing details very soon – my preparations are already well underway! (You might even have spotted some sneak previews on my social media?!)

Reusable insulated bottle - Klean Kanteen - Living Life Our Way selfie

Challenge 3 – Shop Thoughtfully (Aka Plastic- Free Packaging Challenge)

It is almost impossible to do an entirely plastic- free shop. However, you might find local independent shops that will help make this much more achievable!For example, use your local greengrocers if you have one nearby, or find out if there is a zero waste shop near you.

But even in mainstream supermarkets there are ways you can try to reduce the amount of plastic waste that you will create. For every item on your shopping list, choose options with less overall packaging and in particular little or no plastic where possible.

If you can find any alternative to plastic packaging then choose it, or decide how much you really need that item in the first place if not. (Obviously I am not suggesting you go without essentials or feel guilty if you do buy the items – we all have such things on our list – hence the next challenge!) Some stores allow you to take your own containers to the deli counter, and you can often take your own bags to buy loose fruit and veg too. So be organised and take your reusables with you!

The Refill Pantry - Zero Waste Shop - St Albans

Challenge 4 – Refuse and Return!

As consumers, we can only do so much to reduce our waste. We also need to put pressure on the companies themselves to change their habits, and provide more sustainable choices as well. But this particular challenge takes guts!

Actions speak louder than words. So either refuse the plastic packaging at the till straight after you pay – by removing it and handing it back to them immediately – or return it to the supermarket at a later date after you are done with the contents.

The alternative, if you find it is a particular brand you tend to use and gather landfill waste from, is to post it back to them direct along with a covering letter. Hopefully they might take a hint when it turns up back at their door!

Challenge 5 – Spread the Word

The last challenge is simply to spread the word. Let people know about your zero waste/ rubbish reduction efforts. Celebrate your successes. And remember, if you let me know, I will also share them too!

Good luck with the challenges – I look forward to finding out how you all get on! I will be posting about my own personal Zero Waste Week preparations in the next couple of days, then afterwards I will write about how we got on too, so look out for those posts coming soon!