You may not think it is the most exciting topic, but you should care about waste. We all produce waste, but have you thought much about it; do you know what happens to your waste? Traditionally, in the UK, waste has been sent to landfill, filling holes in the ground with our rubbish, but we’re running out of space so what do we do next?
Or perhaps you’d care more about waste if you knew the ways it costs you money; for example:
Packaging is important because it protects items during transport and prevents breaks and spoiling. However, a lot of packaging is designed to make products look good, for example many items come in unnecessarily large boxes because it is more eyecatching on the shelf. The packaging is added to the cost of the product increasing what you pay.
It is possible to think differently about packaging. My daughter was given a doll in a box which was designed to be a shop for the doll, and to my excitement this was promoted on the box. My recent online order from Origins was delivered using paper instead of foam shapes to reduce movement during delivery, and I’ve heard Lush uses popcorn although I haven’t tested that (but I should because I’ve finished all the bath bombs I was given for Christmas).
I’ve heard that 90% of the items we buy become waste within six months of purchasing through the item breaking or deciding to upgrade. Each time we replace an item you are paying for it again so it could have been cheaper to buy a more expensive item that lasts longer or has a refill option.
And who doesn’t love new gadgets, I certainly love technology and get excited about having a new ‘toy’. But do you need the latest model? Will you use the new features or are you falling for the marketing? I discussed this in a recent post about technology convergence.
Increased cost of material
As the global population increases and we want more things it means we are using more material to produce those things. There is a limited amount of material in the world so as it becomes more scarce it becomes more expensive, meaning the resulting products also become more expensive. Or items are no longer available. A few years ago I heard there is more copper in old wires in landfill then there is left in the Earth’s crust!
We are used to the Council collecting our waste on a regular basis. It probably feels like a free service, but we pay for it through our council tax. This cost covers the collection service, transport and disposal of the waste and landfill tax. By reducing how much waste we produce the council could reduce their collection and disposal costs, and this may enable the council to reduce council tax (or increase other services) in the future.
If we fail to meet the 2020 recycling targets set by the EU we will have to pay a large fine. And unfortunately at the moment it looks like England will miss the target as the percentage of recycled waste has slowed down, so that money will need to come from increasing taxes or reducing services.
Waste is often seen as an unwanted material, but Zero Waste Week is encouraging us to think a bit harder about our waste, and how we can reduce it by reusing, recycling or repairing one more thing.
What one more thing are you going to do?
Disclaimer: this post contains an affiliate link to the doll my daughter was given as a birthday present from a school friend.