Waste not, Want not but We Want, Want,Want…

My New Years resolution this year was to make an effort to reduce the amount of waste I create and so far I am finding it somewhat hard. Here are some things that I have realised so far:

Buying fresh produce that isn’t in plastic is hard in supermarkets

Being a vegetarian I (obviously) eat a fair amount of veggies and I do most of my shopping in Tesco and Aldi. If I want to buy mushrooms they are never loose, peppers usually come in a plastic bag of three and even a cauliflower that is protected by it’s own thick leaves is in a bag. I can’t get apples loose either and half of the banana stand is also bagged. This has forced me to start buying my fruit and veg from a little stall in town, which is good but even some of their stuff comes in bags. Also, I tried to go to the only place in5he city centre that has bulk bins of grain and cereals only to find they had already bagged up almost everything themselves, defeating the purpose completely.

The hospitality industry needs to step up

It seems like a lot of local business, at least in my area, are starting to look at how they can reduce waste from switching to paper straws to biodegradable takeaway cups, cutlery and takeout boxes. However, I see how catering companies deliver almost every item that is ordered (at least in my work) in little plastic bags from singular items of fruit to packets of cheese that already come in their own plastic. Recycling seems to be nonexistence also. In every place I have worked there has never been any separation of recyclable materials, something that horrified me at 18 when saw how much glass we threw away at the pub I worked in because the company didn’t want to pay more money for a recycling bin.

Food waste is a big, big problem

We all do it. Buy something, forget to use it and so it goes out of date and has to been thrown away. I don’t do it so often but it still happens sometimes but this is only some of the problem. The food waste in any place that serves food is phenomenal. I don’t know about anyone else who works with food but having to throw out vast amounts of it because it has past its best is something that has made my heart sink for years. It really started getting to me when I worked in a cafe that didn’t allow staff to take food that was being thrown out home at the end of the day and to make matters worse, it was located next to a weekly pop-up soup kitchen in a city where the number of people sleeping rough continues to increase. One way of tackling how much food waste your business produces is by reducing the menu but oh boy, do people hate it when you don’t have a certain something anymore or can’t make something because you don’t have that food in that day. The general public want, want and want all the time. They expect even the smallest of business to cater to their want and can’t fathom why it makes not only economical sense but environmental and logistical sense to reduce a menu from 20 items to 12 in a place that can only seat about 30 people in the first place… My own pet peeves are creeping in, sorry! As for bigger venues and bigger business you only need to do a quick Google about how many tonnes of KFC goes to waste in order to make sure people get their chicken super fast and not poisonous. It’s horrifying.

The clothing industry is not exempt from all this

I’ve never really considered when buying clothes that those clothes have had to be made, transported and kept in a store that probably has the heating blaring but the doors open so recycle your clothes folks. If they can’t go to a charity shop then drop them off at a H&M, Zara or Marks and Spencer so the fabric can be recycled and made into new clothes, you even get a voucher from H&M so that’s a plus.

If anyone has any tips on how they personally reduce their amount of waste I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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