The waste we produce has a big impact on our lives and the environment we live in. Especially in a small island like this, disposing of waste is becoming more and more difficult. Ever since I’ve become a vegetarian, I started to be more aware of my impact on the planet. I started to notice how much plastic wrapping material I throw away every day. That made me count. There’s almost 8 billion people in the world now and if every one makes just the same amount of trash as I do every day (not even counting businesses and big companies) it is hundreds of tons of waste. Every. Single. Day. That is why I stopped and said: “Wow, it’s about time someone did something about that.” And then I realised, that someone should be every single one of us. So I started to apply some tips listed below into my everyday life, thinking if you want a change, you should start from yourself.
That is why I urge you to stop for a moment and think about your impact on the planet. And how you can reduce it. A single person cannot change much, it’s the effort combined that can help to make a significant change. So be a part of it. Try to apply some of the tips into your everyday life in the way that you’ll be most comfortable with. Soon you will get used to it and you will be saving environment effortlessly.
Here are some of the tips put together, I am sure there will be at least a few that you can apply in your everyday life for making this beautiful island (and the rest of the world) a better and cleaner place to live in.
#1 Bring your own bag
Just have one bag (preferably made of fabric) always at a hand’s reach, in your purse or in your car, so when you have to go buy something, there’s no need to take plastic bags shops usually provide. Or try to take an empty carton box instead of the plastic bag.
#2 Do not accept bags for small items
You don’t need it. If you don’t have a bag with you and you are not buying tons of things, just take it in your hands. For example, when you buy a notebook in the stationery, you do not need a bag to take it home 🙂
#3 If you took a plastic bag already…try to reuse it!
If it’s possible, the bag is clean and good as new, why not to use it again. You can for sure find some purpose for it at home, e.g. use it as a small bin bag in the bathroom bin.
#4 Shop local
Not only you will support Maltese economy, but small local shops selling local products usually use less wrapping materials. When for example fruit is imported, it for sure came here wrapped up in something. Whilst if it’s grown here, it’s usually straight from the garden to the counter.
#5 Return the plastic container to the veggie man
Strawberries, apricots, figs, peaches… All these are often placed in the small plastic containers. When you buy fruit from local farmers, next time you go just bring the empty boxes back. Does not cost you anything and the farmer can reuse it 😉
#6 Reuse egg trays
If you buy eggs from a local farmer too, try to bring your tray and just fill it up with eggs over and over again. Most of the time, it is even cheaper than buying already packed eggs in supermarket.
#7 Avoid throwing your food away
Cook from the stuff you have at home. For example, look at what you need to use from your fridge so it doesn’t go bad. It will narrow down the choices so you don’t have to think about what you’re gonna cook too hard and save your money at the same time.
#8 Buy bigger packaging
Of things that will last. If it’s food, if you are sure it will not end up in the bin. For example, I love yogurt so when I go shopping I try to not buy 5 small 150 g containers and I pick 500 g or 1 kg. It is often money saving too.
#9 Avoid single-use items/foods
This applies to single-use plates, plastic cutlery and straws, take-away containers, cups and anything that you buy, use and throw away.
#10 Reusable coffee cup or say no to the lid
If you love coffee and get take aways a lot, the best way to waste less is to have your own reusable cup. But if you don’t have it yet and you need to take paper cup, say no to the plastic lid!
#11 Learn how to cook/ bake and make your food
This will save you a lot of money and a lot of used up take away boxes. It is also less likely that you will throw the food away once you took time to prepare it. And it will make your body feel better – your food will probably be even healthier than restaurant food.
#12 Get reusable bottle
Fill up, drink up and all over again. I have one shaker and one plastic water bottle which I have been using for 3 months now for sure…it is not the best, but better than to buy new ones every time.
#13 Get a water pump or a water filter
These are huge environment savers. Especially here in Malta where you can’t drink the tap water – unless you get the filter installed. Everyone buys packets of 2 ltr bottled water, whilst when you get a pump and buy 19 ltr, you pay deposit for the container and every time you order water just change an empty one for a full one. Easy.
#14 Ladies… Get a menstrual cup
Did you know that one woman uses from 5,000 to 14,000 tampons in a lifetime? That means almost €2000 spent on feminine hygiene products. And a huge amount of non-recyclable waste. Menstrual cups are great help, it will cost you only around €30 lasting for years. I have been using mine for a year now and I wouldn’t go back to tampons ever. You can get it in majority of pharmacies or online.
#15 Reduce / quit sweet drinks
Carbonated soft drinks … Sugar water that has a bad impact not only on your health but the whole planet (considering the amount of thrown away plastic bottles and cans). Reduce/quit drinking these and your body will thank you as well as nature.
#16 Drink loose leaf tea
This is also beneficial for your health, because the tea bags has plastic in them. I enjoy drinking loose leaf tea and if you drink a lot of tea like me, then that’s saving a lot of waste.
#17 Reduce / quit animal products
Animal agriculture requires massive amounts of land, water, food and energy, which makes it a leading contributor to global greenhouse emissions (more than the entire transport sector). For example, it takes more than 9000 litres of water to produce just 0.5 kg of meat, whereas you need only 100 litres to produce 0.5 kg of wheat. Therefore, one of the most direct ways you can change your impact on the planet is by changing the food on your plate. For vegetarian/vegan recipes inspiration visit our page www.veggymalta.com.
#18 Reusable cotton pads
They are just great. Use it, wash it with soap, leave to dry and use again! I saved a lot of money by using these instead of single-use ones.
#19 Use silicone mats for baking muffins
Instead of single-use paper mats, just pour the batter directly into the silicone one. Saves money and there’s no waste. Try to avoid single use baking trays as well.
#20 Shop second-hand
Ditch fast fashion and opt for secondhand instead. This will be maybe hard for someone, but think about it. 60% of clothing produced in one year is tossed away. One t-shirt takes 2,700 litres of water to make, which is 1,350 days of drinking water for one person. Remember, if you don’t buy it, you do not make a demand for given item, therefore it’s not being produced.
First just read how to separate waste here in Malta. Then you can set up bins for separate waste at your home, download and print the waste collection schedule. At home I have a bin for mixed waste, recycling and organic waste (which I produce the most of).
#22 Make your furniture
You can make a family day out of it, it will be so much fun. There is a lot of things you can make for example from palettes or old furniture. My mom made her own bed from wooden palettes. And I can tell you it was really beautiful and cheap! Her friend (facebook) made her a coffee table from an old bed as well.
#23 Pick up after yourself
This is pretty basic and everyone should do this without even a thought. But as we can see sometimes on the Maltese streets, lot of people do not care. Malta is not one big litter bin, so use those provided.
#24 Buy reduced items in the supermarket
Most of the times these are the ones that are about to expire. I personally always buy these if there’s a chance. There is nothing wrong with them and they are a lot cheaper 🙂 Otherwise, most of these items end up in the garbage. It is the same with bakery bread. I buy bread in a local patisserie after 6pm, it is half price and still fresh and delicious.
#25 Grow your food/herbs
Growing your food can be challenging in Malta when you don’t have land. But there are lots of small things you can grow at home, for example chilli peppers or different kinds of herbs. I grow basil, coriander and thyme at this point and I am planning on planting more. I just love to see them grow 🙂
#26 Keep glass jars for further use
From jam, honey or pickles, just wash them thoroughly and use it for storage. I use them for spices, home made chia jam, home made body oils and loads of other stuff.
#27 Pick a hand dryer over paper towels
It seems like nothing, but makes a difference. Even though it’s paper, it’s still a waste that lot of times ends up in non-recycling waste.
#28 Use reusable bags for vegetables
These are real helpers when you buy small vegetables such as mushrooms or tomatoes. Instead of putting them into plastic bags, put it in this one over and over again.
#29 Use the things you already have at home
Look into your cupboards and see what you can use up, before replacing it out of habit. This could be done with toiletries, makeup, food, whatever.
#30 Do not buy stuff you don’t need or just “because you can”
Applying a bit of minimalism in your life is a great thing for reducing waste. When you are about to buy something, think first. Do you really need it or you just buy it because that girl on insta had it and it’s cool. Then it will end up in the trash because you never even used it. Or “I have money, I can buy it” way of thinking. Maybe it won’t hurt your wallet, but it may hurt the environment.
#31 Reusable container for take-aways
If you can’t make your own food and need a take away, at least provide your own container to put the food in 🙂 I love these glass ones, which you can put in the oven up to 200°C!
#32 Avoid food in plastic packaging
Especially the one, that should not even be there. If I see a cucumber wrapped up in plastic, I won’t buy it. It is more difficult with other stuff, but I always prefer paper packaging over plastic if there is a choice (for example when buying flour).
#33 Share if you have plenty
Did you get something at work and you know you won’t use it all up? Give some to your family or friends 🙂 Or else, when you cook/bake and there’s no way you will eat the whole lot, share with neighbours or colleagues. They will like you even more.
#34 Keep some food containers e.g. from ice cream, yogurt
Packaging that can be washed and used again… just keep it. There will always be something you can use it for. For example, I keep 1kg yogurt containers for my home made granola or cookies or salads to take to work 🙂
#35 Eat ice cream from the cone
This is strange for me, but most of the people pick a cup when buying ice cream from gelateria! Why? A cone is the second best thing about ice cream. I don’t even take the small plastic spoon, because I always carry one in my handbag. I just take it out every time I buy an ice cream, use it and put back for the next time (because there will always be the next time) 🙂
#36 Quit smoking
The core of most cigarette filters is actually a form of plastic, which can take 18 months to 10 years to decompose. Used cigarette filters are full of toxins, which can leach into the ground and water. And they are everywhere! By quitting smoking you will do a service not only to the environment, but mainly to yourself.
Are you surprised there is that many possibilities to reduce waste? Did I forget to include some? If you can think of more tips, comment on this post. Maybe some people will find your suggestion useful 🙂 It would make me really happy if you tried to apply some of my tips into your everyday life. If you are already doing it, comment how 🙂 May you be an inspiration to others as well. Keep up the good work. Let us make Malta cleaner together!
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its really intuitive and simple rules to apply in our day to day life.. thanks miska for putting this together.. will encourage my friends and family to apply these basic principles .. we all have to play our part ?