Following every year of Glastonbury Festival, the media is awash with images of the trash left behind by the festivalgoers once they have headed for home. This equates to fields of litter, some recyclable and some not, all left for someone else to deal with.
This has sadly become the norm over the years, with around 8oo litter pickers descending upon the festival site to gather up all of the rubbish and deliver it to the onsite recycling centre — both throughout the festival and when it is over.
In this blog post, we look at how eco-friendly the Glastonbury Festival is — from its waste to its energy, to its plastic use.
Over time, Valentine’s Day has become a very consumer-driven celebration, with greetings cards, chocolates and cut flowers being common purchases for loved ones. However, there are many other ways to celebrate and profess your love to your partner or prospective partner, which are kinder to the environment, as well as the bank balance. Why not try one of the ideas below this Valentine’s Day?
As time goes on, there is increasing chatter about, and hope placed upon, biodegradable plastics. In theory, they sound like a good idea on comparison to ‘regular’ plastics; a strong material which is used for its purpose, and then naturally breaks down over time, leaving no trace – or so we assume. These newer plastics aren’t quite the angelic material they claim to be though, as you’ll discover in this article.
What are Biodegradable Plastics?
Biodegradable plastics are the supposedly more eco-friendly versions of regular plastics, which are celebrated for the speed in which they are able to biodegrade. However, depending on what they are made from, these plastics require specific environmental factors to trigger the degradation process – for example: a heat of 50C, plenty of oxygen, or exposure to water.
It’s a little known fact that us Brits wear just 70 per cent of the clothes that we have stored away in our wardrobes, which leaves us with a total of 1.7 billion unused items. On average, a consumer keeps their garments for three years, but even more shocking than this is the fact that something might be frequently worn in the first year, and then phased into the stockpile of unworn clothes later on. That is why the average British closet is so overstuffed: we don’t wear all of the clothes we own.
The spending habits of the average person in the West have changed dramatically over the last hundred or so years when it comes to buying clothing. Between 2002 and 2003, for example, people in the US spent, on average, four per cent of their income on clothes, whereas back between the years of 1934 and 1946, clothing used up 12 per cent of people’s incomes. The current average expenditure per item in the USA is $14.60. Don’t go thinking that we are all consuming less though. On average, just one person in the UK will produce 70 Kg of textiles waste per year – that is a lot of clothing. Cheap, fast fashion means we are spending less yet buying more.
Research suggests that women are generally ‘greener’ than men. If we look at it at a base level, a French study shows that women emit 32.3 kilograms of carbon a day, compared to men emitting 39.3 kilograms. This difference is due to apparent gender variations in: green attitudes, purchase behaviour, susceptibility to green advertising, transport choices, food choices, and driving habits.
However, whilst women are ahead in many ways when it comes to being environmentally aware and friendly, the majority of people – women included – on our planet are not doing enough to stop, or even slow, the harm being done to the Earth.
This is a small guide for women on how to live in an environmentally friendly way, using ideas you might not have considered before. Most of these tips are relevant to men too, so why not have a read!
Cosmetics, Make-up & Toiletries
Cosmetics and make-up, alongside toiletries such as shower gel, are often packaged in plastic. Most of these are recyclable, but here are some points to think about if you wish to cut your impact on the environment:
Could you purchase items in bulk, therefore using less packaging?
If you must use your usual brands and products, could you reuse that bottle or pot for something else?
If you really must dispose of your packaging, always recycle everything you can. Remember: a small plastic bottle can take 450-1000 years to degrade in landfill, and research suggests that is where most plastic bottles (around 90%) end up.
When it comes to items for removing make-up and cleaning your face, opt for reusables such as flannels and crochet pads, as opposed to disposable and unrecyclable facial wipes.
Nail polish is sold in glass bottles, with plastic lids. Perhaps you could use your empty bottle to create your own nail varnish colour.
Feminine hygiene products
It is no secret that women menstruate, and in doing so we get through a shocking amount of disposable sanitary towels and tampons during our time on Earth. These items are bad for our health; most aren’t made from cotton, and contain plastic chemicals, and those that are made from cotton have been bleached. Cotton crops are also often sprayed with a variety of chemicals, so even the cotton itself is not clean. Now think about where you wear these items! Tampons, too, carry a heightened risk of you developing TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome).
Not only are these sanitary items bad for your health, but they are bad for the environment too. The majority end up in landfill, and when you consider how many are used by every woman, that is a lot of waste to landfill. The average woman uses over 16,000 disposable sanitary items during her lifetime.
If you are needing some new clothes, it is so easy to buy clothes from shops which don’t consider the environment in their clothing production. This process involves energy consumption, the use of toxic chemicals, the use of land and natural resources, and the use of water.
Instead of buying new clothes from places that don’t consider the environment, you could:
Upcycle items you already own
Make your own clothes
Organise a clothes swap party, or attend one
Buy second hand, from a charity shop or similar
Buy new clothes from an eco-friendly shop, such as People Tree
Don’t forget to wash your clothes on as low a temperature as possible and hang your clothes up to dry rather than using a tumble dryer. Also consider which laundry detergent you use.
The concept of ‘zero waste’ can seem daunting, especially if it is new to you. We live in a country which has for too long relied on disposable items for help in carrying out many everyday tasks. This is especially true in the kitchen, where we are faced with frequent use of cling film, plastic bags, egg boxes and kitchen towel, amongst other items. If you are wanting to explore a zero waste lifestyle, or start your waste-free journey, your home kitchen is an excellent place to begin making changes.
Why Zero Waste?
In a nutshell, the less waste the better – for the environment, and also for your pocket! Waste which gets sent to landfill creates greenhouse gases, which is terrible news for the environment, and leads to global warming. There are also other major concerns linked to this, such as the impact of the waste on wildlife, who ingest waste or get tangled up in it.
Total zero waste is a huge challenge, but even just attempting one of the below tips could start you off on your path to a zero waste lifestyle. You’ll probably find that once you start being mindful of these things, it is impossible to switch off from it – wherever you are, and whatever you are doing! And that is great news for the environment, and also, you will find, for your pocket.
9 Zero Waste Kitchen Tips:
Swap disposables for reusables
This means swapping out kitchen paper for a reusable cloth, sandwich bags for reusable containers, paper napkins for cloth ones (perhaps made from old fabric), and cling film for a plate lid or homemade linen food covers.
For food storage in the kitchen, use glass containers such as Mason jars, which can be reused for years and years.
Say goodbye to plastic bags
You don’t need plastic bags in your home, even if you think you do! Stop using them in your bins; just use the bin without, and wash it. If you usually reuse your plastic bags for supermarket or other shopping, invest in a cloth bag or bag for life instead.
Embrace tap water
You don’t need to buy bottled water. Tap water is generally fine, but if you aren’t so keen on the taste of yours, add something to it, such as a squeeze of lemon or a slice of apple. Not only will it taste nicer, but you’ll be adding nutrients too.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk means a lower product to packaging ratio, which can only be a good thing when it comes to waste reduction.
If you’re visiting a specific bulk buy outlet that sells food products from large bins, take containers with you from home, such as jars and cloth bags, so you don’t require any packaging there.
Find new uses for food waste
Coffee grounds are great for keeping ants at bay, over-ripe bananas are perfect for baking, and spring onions regrow in a jar with some water. Get imaginative with your food waste, and you’ll be surprised at what you can reuse.
Create less food waste
By scrubbing some vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, instead of peeling them, you will be preserving more nutrients and also stopping the scraps from becoming waste. Win-win!
Create a compost bin
Whilst this could be argued to not be ‘zero waste’, I am including it, as it is good for the environment, and an excellent option for the few food scraps you will be producing when living a low-waste lifestyle. Some non-food items can also be added. Our guide to creating your own compost pile can be found here.
Prepare lunches at home
Food on-the-go tends to cause many problems with waste packaging, so why not prepare your work day and school lunches at home, and save waste as well as money? You’ll also no doubt be eating food that is of higher nutritional value, and generally better for you!
Try a lunch box with various compartments, so you can carry several food types whilst keeping them separate – and without using foil or cling film. Don’t forget a reusable bottle for your drinks, too.
Minimise gadget numbers
Do you really need that new spiralizer? Kitchen gadgets are often faddy or end up breaking, which then leaves you with waste. Remember that when it comes to cooking, Google is your friend, and will often provide you with alternative methods of doing kitchen tasks without the need for a specific (and often expensive) gadget.
Zero Waste Week is a week in September which focuses on protecting the environment through sending no waste to landfill. The 2015 theme is ‘reuse’, which is great as it will help people realise that by reusing items, we are benefiting the environment and our purse/wallet.
This video explains National Zero Waste Week really well:
Ideas for your Zero Waste Week pledge
What will you pledge to do for NZWW 2015 – at home, or at work with your colleagues?
If you’re an individual, you could try:
Preparing all your lunches at home for the week (not buying packaged lunches)
Commiting to using only reusable carrier bags – no plastic bags
Repurposing all glass items you use in that week
Repurposing all tin cans you use in that week
Using a refillable cup for coffee shop drinks
Using a washable alternative to facial wipes or cotton wool for make-up removal, such as a flannel or reusable eco cotton pads
Using reusable and washable cloths for cleaning rather than paper towels or other ‘disposables’
At work, you could try:
Preparing your lunches at home
Using a refillable cup each for coffee shop drinks
Reusing any paper that is printed out: utilise both sides instead of just one
After shredding confidential documents, reuse the shredded paper – it can be used for packing items up, or as cat litter or animal bedding
Reuse all jiffy bags and boxes you receive deliveries in
Setting up a compost bin for fruit peel, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc., which staff members can then take home for their garden
Switching to a fabric hand towel instead of paper towels
What do Forge Waste & Recycling already do to reduce waste to landfill?
We are committed to helping the environment, and as a company who collect around 200 tonnes of waste per week, we don’t send any to landfill. Anything that can be recycled, is, and any leftover waste is turned into Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF), which is then used to create electricity.
Even our plastic waste collection bins are recycled; when they are no longer fit for use, we remove the wheels and the plastic is shredded and granulated to produce other high quality items.
Of course, in an ideal world there would be nothing to recycle, but in 2015 there is still a lot of work to be done on this issue. This dedicated week is a great help though, so why not get involved?
What will Forge Waste & Recycling be pledging for Zero Waste Week 2015?
When we gave this some thought, we realised everyone in our office has been drinking bottled water to keep hydrated in the hot weather. Whilst we, of course, recycle these bottles, we know we need to eliminate them completely. So we pledge to reuse all of the plastic bottles we currently have for as long as possible, and not buy any more – ever!
Where can I find out more?
If you’d like to know more about Zero Waste Week, the official website is here. The couple who run it have their own brilliant website too, which can be found here – take a look for year-round hints and tips on living waste free. Small changes can make a big difference if we all work together. Let’s be Zero heroes! What will you pledge this September?
Many think of litter as unsightly and, at worst, a nuisance or perhaps a bit unhygienic. However, certain types of litter can actually be very dangerous, and can kill. Here we take a look at both sky lanterns and helium balloons and how they impact upon the environment when they fall back to Earth as litter.
Sky lanterns are still a relatively new item for celebrations in the UK, and are commonly released on New Year eve, and for weddings, birthdays, memorials and other similar occasions. Due to the novelty factor, the cheap availability, and simply the beautiful appearance of the lanterns in the night sky, these items are very popular. They can be written on with pen directly or sometimes sentimental notes are attached, depending on the occasion. Continue reading How Sky Lantern & Balloon Litter Can Kill