I’ve been looking to practice what I preach this month by taking on the Waste Free Feb challenge – there’s still time to sign up for it if you haven’t yet!

My partner and I have been trying to create as little waste as possible this month – we tried to limit it to a jam-jar’s worth but we were disappointed when the jar was overflowing after just a week!

But then I realised that by putting our waste into a jar we were looking at every day, rather than into the bin, we were seeing exactly what our rubbish was made up of. This made it easier to think about how to stop producing it – maybe a see-through rubbish bin is the answer?! We’d ended up buying some things in plastic packaging that we could have bought loose in our own containers and bags from a local shop and nearby refill shop, so I realised we needed to print a list of what they both sell and highlight all the food we usually buy as a reminder. 

                                         Credit: Kate Robinson

It's great if you have a local grower/market/farm shop or grocers where you can buy your fruit and veg loose, but if you’re mainly shopping in the supermarket, going waste-free can be difficult. You often have to choose between buying something grown in a less sustainable way that’s travelled many miles but happens not to be wrapped in plastic film and in-season, organic veg in unrecyclable packaging! What’s the right option to choose?  

Balancing cost with shopping for a healthy diet is a key factor too for many people. We can’t all always afford the unpackaged option, such as loose unsalted nuts.

My partner is on a restricted diet which makes shopping and cooking more tricky before you factor in going packaging-free - if anyone has come across low-fat cheddar for sale without plastic, please let me know!

I also have a tiny amount of other waste, which is the sticker from new hearing-aid batteries – but I will use this as a prompt to find rechargeable batteries to use next time. 

                                               Credit: Jessica Thimbleby

So please don’t get stressed if you’ve produced more rubbish than you originally set out to for Waste Free Feb, and remember that this challenge is all about taking the opportunity to look at the waste you are generating to see if you can take steps to reduce it. Each year the challenge highlights to me at least a couple of changes I can make to reduce our household rubbish in the long term.

As we head towards the final week of the challenge, here are some quick tips to help and inspire you from people who took part last year:

  • Switch to bar soap rather than a liquid dispenser
  • Stop using disposable wet wipes and stop using a bin in the bathroom
  • Start to use cleaning-product refills
  • Buy resuable cleaning cloths instead of kitchen roll
  • Make your own household cleaner with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda and use old t-shirts as cloths/dusters
  • Use or make beeswax wraps instead of cling-film
  • Don’t use pre-cut ham or cheese for lunches
  • Buy whole fruit, instead of pre-cut chunks
  • Buy more loose fruit and veg
  • Use your own container at the deli counter in supermarkets
  • Buy fewer ready meals and desserts
  • Cook from scratch and batch-cook more
  • Freeze meals in reusable tubs rather than individual freezer bags
  • Reuse margarine tubs as lunch boxes and for freezing leftover meals
  • Started more recycling in the workplace
  • Keep a shopping list as you run out of food and to plan meals better

There’s lots more information and tips in our Waste Free February Guide.

And don’t forget to share your #wastefreefeb stories on social media!

You can also join the community by seeking and giving advice on our Waste Free Feb Facebook Group.