Everyone wants a gorgeous home that reflects their personal style and lifestyle. We want to feel comfortable and inspired by our surroundings and to feel that visitors (both new and familiar) will get a sense of who we are from the sights, sounds and smells within our homes. We want to ensure that our homes contain only (to paraphrase William Morris) "things that we believe to be beautiful or know to be useful." We want to ensure that they are free of clutter and waste, so that the aesthetic that we have in mind for our home isn’t sullied by mess and distraction. But at the same time, we also care about our wider environment. We don’t want to contribute to the pollution of the world in the pursuit of a beautiful home.
It’s easy to assume that as individuals there’s only so much we can do about huge environmental issues like the pollution of our oceans, land and skies. But we should not underestimate the impact that our day to day habits from removing rubbish from your home to being judicious about your energy use can have in protecting the world around us. Not only can the environmental good done by our actions add up day after day, month after month and year after year, but we can lead by example and encourage others to make small changes that will make a big change for our environment. Just look at the work of Bea Johnson. Author of Zero Waste Home or Lauren Singer of Trash Is For Tossers and you’ll see the influence that a single person can have in making the world a better and more sustainable place.
When it comes to reducing environmentally damaging waste in your home, all you need to guide your actions is 5 little Rs: REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, ROT. Here we’ll look at easy ways in which you can implement these 5 principles to make your home a cleaner, happier and more waste free home...
It’s astonishing how quickly we accumulate stuff. Everywhere we look people are trying to give us stuff. Sometimes it’s useful or valuable to us… Most often it isn’t. Disposable freebies and junk mail pass straight through our homes and more often than not end up in landfill. We should refuse to allow it into our homes! There are lots of ways in which you can prevent marketers from sending you junk mail but the easiest way is to leave a polite notice in the window, or say 'no thank you.' It's ok, you're not missing much! The more people refuse junk mail and disposable freebies, the less demand is created for it and the less it is produced.
Perhaps it’s a testament to our ingrained hunter/gatherer instinct that we always feel an obligation to accrue more stuff than we actually need. This tends to result in little more than clutter and excess. Don't get me wrong, you can love fashion as much as the next person, but spend smart - do you actually need another white shirt when you already have 10? Probs not. (If you want more on transfroming a healthy wardrobe, check this out)
We live in an increasingly disposable society in which we’re becoming increasingly oblivious of the environmental damage caused by all our landfill waste. I'm often shocked how so many people and businesses treat everyday objects as disposable, and don’t give a second thought to how they can be reused. Plastic carrier bags for example have an average ‘useful’ life of 15 minutes but they’ll be around long after we’re all gone. Find ways to reuse items where you can. Use food cans to pot plants, use glass jars to store sugar, salt, flour or yeast. The more we reuse, the less waste we create.
We have fallen into the habit of believing that we should recycle more… But the reality is that we should actually recycle less by practicing the other r's first. Recycling should be our last line of defense and deployed only in situations where we’re unable to refuse, reduce or reuse. The act of recycling is very resource intensive and many items, especially plastics, can only ever be recycled once. While recycling is certainly a lot better than landfill waste, it is not a panacea that solves all the world’s environmental ills. Still, most of us are unaware of what can and can’t be recycled. Take away coffee cups, for example, look like they should be easily recycled but the paper in most has a plastic lining that means they can only usually be recycled by the coffee franchises themselves. Be recycle aware and set up storage bins to make it a simple habit to adopt for the whole family (or office!)
When it comes to your food waste, though it may be biodegradable, you should aim to compost it wherever possible rather than put it in your landfill waste. This way, rather than rotting away in a landfill and benefiting nobody, it can be used to help your garden grow even more beautiful.
If nothing else, taking the above steps will save you money, effort and time…
Nobody likes taking out the rubbish!