Sustainability Blog - by UEA staff & students Sustainability Blog - by UEA staff & students


September Waste Month: How to Reduce your Waste

Zero-waste gift wrap from recycled and upcycled paper

This month's focus is on waste. Did you know that the average American produces more than 4 pounds of trash per day? Have you ever thought about where our trash ends up?

There has to be a better option out there – a more eco-friendly way of using resources. We can't fill up our home with trash. We need to rely on more sustainable ways to reduce the waste we produce. If this seems impossible, worry not. I've got simple tips for you. Try for yourself and see how a few changes in perspective and lifestyle can make all the difference. Let's get started!

Tips 1: Use Less

To waste less, we need to consume less. It's that simple. Also, by purchasing less, you avoid unnecessary packaging too. Limit your shopping and avoid buying anything you don’t really need. And when you absolutely have to make a purchase, have a serious think about how the product is made, how it's packaged, where it travels from and who made it.

Tip 2: Reuse

Many people think recycling is the first step to reducing waste. Now, I'm not saying give up recycling. But the truth is, we're already using too many resources. Before you think about recycling, think about reusing. This means getting used to repairing and fixing your things. And of course, always buy second hand when you can. This way, you're using what is already available in the waste stream instead of contributing to it (and you’ll save lots of money).

Five months of the author's waste fits in a single jar

Tip 3: Manage your Trash

How are you going to manage your trash if you haven't looked at it? Go through your bins. See what makes up the most of your trash. You can't improve when you don’t know. Are you wasting food? Is your bin filled with food packaging? By assessing the trash you produce, you can find ways to reduce it significantly.

Tip 4: Is your Food Trashy?

For most of us, food is one of the biggest contributors to waste. Make sure you buy what you need. Try to buy food in bulk to avoid packaging. Always compost and think about how your food ends up on your plate. For example, a plant-based diet is far more sustainable, whereas the meat and dairy industry really drain the environment.

Reusable cups save single-use plastic waste - #PlasticFreeJuly blog by Zahra Khosroshahi

Tip 5: Avoid Disposables & Plastic

One of the easiest ways to reduce your waste is by avoiding single-use items, and investing in reusable ones instead. This means your own reusable water bottle, travel mug, and a tote bag for your shopping. Think about it: you can save so much plastic over time.

There you have it. Simple tips to get you started on your sustainable journey. It starts with easy steps, but believe me, they'll make a difference.

About the author: Zahra Khosroshahi

I’m a PhD student at UEA, looking at the representation of women in Iranian cinema. When I’m not consumed by films, I like to write about environmental issues. I believe we all need to take better care of our shared and only home.

Follow me on Instagram for more zero-waste and eco inspiration: @zahra_livinglifenatural