By Sophie Whitney -
After a strange and challenging couple of years, 2022 is set to be a year of recalibration, where we’re able to reset our lives into our own new normal. With a new year comes the opportunity to set goals that help us evolve. One of my goals for this year is to build habits that reduce waste. As climate change is arguably the biggest issue facing the world right now, reducing waste is one of the easiest and most impactful ways we can look after our planet.
Here are some great habits to build into your weekly routine to help reduce waste:
Meal prep to avoid wasting food
Prepping your food each week doesn’t need to be difficult or time consuming. A great tip from Going Zero Waste is to think about meal prepping in terms of ingredients rather than meals so you’re not restricted to eating the same meal on repeat. Chopping your veggies when you get home from the supermarket gives you flexibility to throw them into whatever meal you decide to make that day. Prepare some sort of protein and carbohydrate in advance and then add spices and flavours depending on what you feel like eating.
Take a reusable bag with you to the supermarket
If you tend to pick up groceries on the go it’s a great idea to keep a few compact reusable bags in your car or in your bag. Although we have the option to use recyclable paper bags in some supermarkets, the circular economy is all about using less resources in the first instance, so having reusable bags handy means you won’t ever need to resort to using more paper.
Shop at local farmers markets and buy in bulk to reduce packaging
Shopping at your local farmers market lets you support local food businesses while also getting fresher ingredients than you might find in a supermarket. Producing food locally doesn’t require nearly as much resource to transport it and refrigerate it while it travels to the supermarket. Buying from a farmers market is also an easy way to cut down on food packaging - just remember to bring your own reusable containers or bags.
Compost your food scraps
Did you know that one third of the food produced globally is wasted? A study of New Zealand households found we throw away 157,389 tonnes of food a year. When food is sent to a landfill it decomposes without oxygen, and as a result it releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.
Composting is a great way to dispose of your food scraps in a way that doesn’t harm the environment and helps reduce your carbon footprint. The mix of chemicals from green and brown materials used in compost combined with air and water make the perfect conditions for it to break down naturally and return its nutrients to the soil. Learn about how you can compost at home here, or if you don’t have the right space to compost yourself, ShareWaste connects you with people who live nearby with compost bins that you can donate to.
Give homemade or experience gifts
Research shows Kiwis throw away 30% more rubbish over the summer holiday period than at other times during the year – and a lot of this is associated with Christmas gifts. The waste we generate just about doubles the week after Christmas and an extra 50,000 tonnes of waste is likely to be produced during the holiday week.
So often it’s not the gift itself that makes us happy, but the way the gift makes us feel. It’s that warm fuzzy feeling knowing that someone took the time to select something special for us because they care. This feeling can still happen without creating clutter with physical gifts. These days, more and more people are realising the pleasure of having less stuff with minimalism movements gaining momentum around the world.
To avoid waste and live minimally, try giving ‘experience gifts’. It could be taking someone for a picnic or to the beach, giving tickets to the movies or a concert, a voucher to get a massage or go bungee jumping!
Or if you want to double-down on that positive feeling of giving to others and helping those in need, why not give a Good Gift Card. The Good Registry puts the focus not on the gift but on the thought, the care and the love that comes with celebrating an important event.
Your gift card recipients can show extra love for the planet by supporting charities that help to reduce waste, teach communities to grow and harvest their own kai, and regenerate our environments - such as Whenua Warrior, Kaibosh Food Rescue, Common Unity Aotearoa, Para Kore, EcoMatters Environment Trust, Garden to Table, Million Metres, Trees that Count, and Sustainable Coastlines.
At The Good Registry, we’ve replaced more than 23,000 gifts (as at the end of January 2022) - adding up to tonnes less waste in production, packaging, wrapping, transportation and carbon emissions.
If you’d like more inspiration for reducing your waste simply and inexpensively, check out Going Zero Waste and The Rogue Ginger. The Rogue Ginger even has a guide to reducing waste during the holiday season, which offers 20 tips that are relevant to any gifting occasion.