Thursday, 5 July 2012

Olympic Waste Busting Challenge

This Summer's Olympic Games are nearly upon us. Coca-Cola is working with the Olympic Committee to help reduce the waste generated and have some impressive initiatives to make our Olympics more sustainable.  That is such good news and something to feel really proud about!

My family and I do our very best to be as environmentally friendly as we possibly fact, one could say we are as green as Usain Bolt's Olympic shorts!  It just makes sense to adopt a waste-busting approach to life, after all this is our planet and our legacy to future generations. We owe it to ourselves to minimize our impact and encourage long term sustainability.

As a family we do all the usual...Reuse, Reduce and Recycle.  We compost our green waste.  We do our best to make smart choices when we make purchases to minimize our waste.  We really do try to go for gold in our mission to be green!  It's about being resourceful, mindful and a little inventive...and there is a lot of fun to be had along the way!

My most recently implemented change has been to overhaul my housework!   When I am in a supermarket I am blown away by the hundreds and hundreds of household chemical cleaners that are lined up on the shelves.  The plastic moulded trigger spray caps, the disposable plastic gloves and the plethora of chemically impregnated wipes are all destined for landfill.  Not to mention the fact that the toxic ingredients are destined to go down the drain to add to the pollution that is suffocating our planet.  To counteract my contribution to this industry I have switched to using pure malt vinegar solution as a general purpose cleaner for glass, surfaces, paintwork, mirrors, sinks, floors, toilets and taps.  It is a disinfectant and a deodorizer and once dry leaves no smell or residue.  The vinegar comes in a recyclable glass bottle and a little goes a really long way making it a more cost effective, natural way to clean my home without resorting to buying dozens of plastic bottled cleaners, each designed for a specific task.  I use a refillable squirty bottle into which I make up a solution of 30/70 vinegar to water solution.   Do we really need a separate cleaner for the kitchen sink, another for the tiles, another for the laminate, one for the windows and one for bath etc??  Each  one generating its own waste.  I also use washable and reusable cloths that are guaranteed for 300 washes and will be good for ages  It's been an easy change to make and one that makes a real difference.  What's more, my toddler can help with my cleaning safe in the knowledge that he will not come into contact with toxic I now have a little helper!

Green Cleaning with a Little Helping Hand!
Another commitment we have made as a family is to donate regularly to charity shops or pass on things to family and friends so they can be re-used.  Just because my 3 year old son Freddy has grown out of a toy or a pair of trousers does not mean that the item should be binned.  Another child could benefit from it.  If there is no obvious hand-me-down route, then we give it to a charity shop which finds a home for the said item and raises valuable funds for charity.  It also feels good to know you are helping someone else!   My eldest son and his girlfriend are about to have their first baby and it feels so nice to relocate all of Freddy's baby equipment to his future nephew or niece.  Passing on things to other people and seeing them get a new lease of life is my favourite form of re-use!  Everyone benefits.  I like my children to be involved with donating things to charity or passing them on to others so they can see the value of giving away things you no longer need rather than consigning them to landfill.  We organised a Teddy Adoption day at the school where children brought in cuddly toys they no longer wanted to be relocated to a new loving home.   Making kids appreciative of reducing waste and re-using things that are no longer wanted, is like passing on the baton to the next generation!

When it comes to the kitchen and cooking, I hate waste!  The idea of throwing away food really upsets me as it is so unnecessary.  I regularly do stock takes of my kitchen shelves to plan out vegetarian meals and tailor my shopping lists so I don't over-buy.  When I do end up with a lot of perishable food about to go off I get inventive!  One of my inventions is veggie Shepherd's Pie With A Twist, which the kids all love.  Using up all the veggies in the fridge and pulses in my cupboards I make a red lentil or Quorn and veggie base which is topped with mash (adding any spare root veggies if they need using up!)  Each version is unrepeatable but equally enjoyed!  Making stews, casseroles or soups using up veggies, and freezing them is another way of ensuring nothing is wasted.  Some of my vegetable trimmings go to give our hamster a treat and the rest gets composted.  The only rubbish from this that I don't know what to do with is the plastic packaging on bags of Quorn.  I'll need to get my thinking cap on for a way to re-use them...perhaps I could punch holes in them and then use them to plant up seedlings in the garden??  Growing your own is a fun green activity that the children love!

A Veggie Use-Up Concoction

I believe that if we all do our bit then we can make positive changes.  It's not that difficult to implement one way of busting waste.  Simply by recycling our glass, cans, foil and paper we are making a difference.  Re-using boxes, jiffy bags and envelopes makes a difference.  Composting garden waste and food waste makes a difference.  Buying fruit and veg loose rather than pre-packed makes a difference.  Offering things you no longer need to friends or taking them to charity shops makes a difference.  Using re-usable shopping bags in the supermarket makes a difference.  Avoiding the disposable options of products in shops, and buying something that will last, instead of getting binned after one use, makes a difference. Getting the kids involved with simple ideas such as using both sides of paper when drawing, recycling or donating old toys and games teaches them all about being a waste buster!  These things are all so easy to do and their impact should never be underestimated.  Imagine what a difference we could make if we all work together as a team!

It isn't an Olympic feat to do your bit.  We can all flex our waste-busting muscles and go for gold in the race to become a zero waste nation.  This challenge is like a marathon, not a sprint, so even if you start slow, you can up your pace as the momentum takes hold.  If we all go for a recycling, re-using and reducing personal best this summer, then we will all be winners!!


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