As well as clogging up oceans and harming wildlife, plastic waste stays around for a long time, it takes a plastic toothbrush over 1,000 years to degrade in landfill.
That’s why Hackney Council is asking residents to take on the #ZeroWasteHackney challenge. Where residents try to produce zero waste over the course of a week in order to see how much they could do to prevent waste in their daily lives.
The challenge is part of International Zero Waste Week, which takes place between 3-7 September. The week helps people look at ways they can recycle what they use or even reduce the waste they create in the first place, by switching to reusables.
There are many easy ways to reduce waste such as switching from plastic shower gel bottles to a bar of soap, taking out a reusable water bottle or buying bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic.
Given the amount of unnecessary packaging produced by retailers, it can be difficult to eliminate waste, but if we challenge ourselves it can be done.
Ultimately, we need the Government to introduce legislation and regulations that force the packaging industry to significantly reduce the amount of superfluous material produced; but, in the absence of such action, we can and should make changes on a personal level in order to reduce the waste forced upon us. This will help conserve valuable resources, reduce deforestation, and address some of the plastic entering and polluting our rivers and oceans, for our benefit and that of the broader environment.
Throughout September Hackney Council will be sending out daily tips on social media with the tag #ZeroWasteHackney. They are also asking residents to share their own tips and wins in reducing waste online during their challenge by using the hashtag and tagging @hackneycouncil on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Find out more about the challenge, including ways you can prevent waste and recycle more at: www.hackney.gov.uk/zero-waste.
How will the challenge work?
Step 1- Know your waste: Keep your waste and recycling for a week. Then take a photo and make a note of the packaging or other type of waste that you could have recycled or simply avoided in the first place.
Step 2 - Challenge yourself: During Zero Waste Week, recycle and re-use as much as you can, refuse single use items. Make sure you plan ahead so that you are ready. You can start on any day of the week as long as you do it for a week.
Step 3- Share your results: After the challenge ends, check how much less waste you threw away. Did you manage get zero waste?
Ditch the wet wipes, cut up old sheets or use flannels that can be washed or reused
Switch to a bamboo toothbrush with a biodegradable handle
Bake your own treats like flapjacks to cut out sweet wrappers which can’t be recycled
Make your own beauty products, search online for recipes such as a body exfoliator made from used coffee granules and coconut oil
Make your own cleaning products, use white vinegar, baking soda, oils and water
Take a reusable water bottle out and about
Store in jars, buy sundries like rice and spices loose and keep in jars
Regrow kitchen scraps like potatoes and herbs
Donate unwanted goods to charity or put on online sharing sites like freecycle
Ditch the cling film, use a container
Repair your clothes don’t throw them away
Visit a cobbler, get your old shoes re heeled
Say no to plastic freebies
Switch up the plastic shower gel bottles to a bar of soap
Try real cloth nappies, get a £54 voucher from Hackney Council to get started
Switch from non-compostable tea bags to loose leaf tea
Use eco period products like a menstrual cup or period panties
Start composting at home, order a subsidised compost bin from Hackney Council
Use a food waste bin and start recycling your food waste
Buy loose, visit local markets to buy your fruit and veg loose in a paper bag, or bring along your own string bag
Order a junk mail pack to reduce unwanted flyers
Fix your household items, check the map for your nearest repair shop or attend a Hackney Fixers event
Ditch the crisp packet, bring your own snacks like nuts out with you in a reusable container
Make your own lunch, save money and reduce plastic packaging
Refuse single use plastics, like straws and drinking cups
Get a library card and support the sharing economy
Take out a reusable coffee cup
Carry a spork, a cloth napkin and a lightweight tupperware to refuse single use plastics
Switch from single use tissues to cloth handkerchiefs that can be washed and reused