Sustainable living for dummies

We may still be waiting to see some colour back in George Square gardens, the world around us is becoming greener. Given that the University of Edinburgh has committed to become zero carbon by 2040, maybe we too should ask ourselves: how can we be more green? Here you will find a short introduction to what is called a Zero Waste lifestyle.

Waste free living has been very popular among American bloggers recently, so if you have never heard of it, you are well behind with the trends. Living a zero waste lifestyle means reducing the amount of waste you produce to the minimum. In the present world, where almost everything comes in plastic packaging, it would be extremely hard to produce no rubbish at all – but giving up on heavily packaged products is a good way to start. Buying loose apples instead of six-packs is much more friendly for the environment. Cooking from loose-bought whole foods is both healthier and greener than feeding on microwavable dishes in quasi-plastic containers and forget the 5p plastic bags at the till, bring your own canvas bag instead.

Another top tip is to try going to second-hand shops more often. Why get a new bowl or pot from Poundsavers if you can get one cheaper from a charity shop? It saves resources and energy needed to produce a new item, and contributes money to a good cause. It’s a win-win! Single use cups are another sin that is easily made when buying a takeaway coffee. Luckily, many cafes on the campus have now switched to using compostable Vegware disposables. Bringing your own cup, for example a KeepCup (available e.g. at the UoE gift shop) is even better, in some places doing this will lead to a discounted drink.

At home, try to use washable cloths instead of disposable paper towels, and use natural cleaners to tidy up your flat – vinegar, soda and lime juice should suffice for most of your daily (monthly) chores.

At the end of the day, remember that if you cannot reuse, swap, or compost it, recycle – and make sure that you know what refuse goes to which recycling bin. However, always bear in mind the “buyerarchy of needs.” Before you purchase something, ask yourself if you really need it. This can benefit not just the environment but your wallet too!

image:skitterphoto

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