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10 Ways to Live Greener

Posted by admin on 29th September 2014

Katherine Boggia, Zero Waste Volunteer & Community Advocate Coordinator at Zero Waste Wise Glasgow, talks about how we can all live greener and reduce waste in the City.

Zero Waste Wise Glasgow is a local programme provided by Zero Waste Scotland. We give support to actively encourage waste reduction. Our team consists of two local coordinators and roughly 25 committed volunteers across the city to help with regular workshops, demos, reduction tips and recycling services promotion/feedback.

We have put together some ways to live greener in the city as it’s not always the easiest thing to do, especially in a busy hub like Glasgow. We have a quite a few points on household waste as it is is hugely underrated as a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In 2013 the residential sector accounted for around 17% of all carbon dioxide emissions, with businesses at around 16%.

Here are our tips for greener city living.

1. Adopt reduce, re-use, recycle as a staged approach to city living. So;

Reduce - Whether it is a free pen at a conference or junk mail, when we take these items, we create the demand to make more, minimise first (reduce) & refuse what you don't need.

Re-use where possible, which gives products/items a new use and avoids generating any unnecessary demand. To donate your household goods or for donating advice, call the National Re-use Phoneline on 0800 0665 820. Re-using 100 sofas saves 1.5 tonnes of carbon compared to recycling them. We can also re-use by replacing all disposables with reusable alternatives including clothes, hygiene product and household food.

Recycle only if there is no way to reduce or re-use the item. Your nearest recycling point/supermarket can be found by postcode at Recycle for Scotland. Landfill should be a last resort for your waste as there is no way we can generate value from an item which is going to landfill. Scotland spends over 100 million pounds sending items to landfill that would be worth £100 million if they were recycled.

2. Buy food from local suppliers. Whether you’re at a local market or the supermarket. Cooperative vegetable markets such as the fruit and veg barras which travel North Glasgow are great for this. Of course, a lot of us shop at a local supermarket and, while this isn’t ideal, there are two things you can do: Buy loose fruit/veg/wherever possible AND check where the food has travelled from so you can choose the local option.

3. Choose seasonal fruit & vegetables. Knowing food seasonality will help here, but my tip is to check the label. If it’s labelled UK produce, plentiful on the shelves and it’s at a bargain price, chances are that it is in season. Greener Scotland has a great calendar with in season foods, check it out here.

4. Avoid bottled water and over-packaged items. Tap water requires only a little planning ahead to take with you and is cheap. A large amount of energy is used to produce and transport water bottles. One litre of bottled water can take up to 5 litres of water to produce it and costs 2000 times the cost of tap water!

5. Rethink Transportation. Could you become a fuel-efficiency master by using a bike, walking or sharing a ride? All of these methods are low-carbon transport methods. Maintaining your vehicle and driving efficiently can save you up to 20p per litre for petrol. Glasgow also has it’s ‘nextbike’ bike scheme with rentable bikes stationed across the city for a reasonable price. Visit Greener Scotland to explore more alternatives.

6. Become a food maker rather than buyer. Creating your own meals at home can be very simple and is much healthier and greener. Did you know that being food waste aware often goes hand-in-hand with a healthy diet? This is assumed to be due to portioning of ingredients and a general awareness of food contents. Love Food Hate Waste has a useful recipe finder.

7. Composting wherever possible. This will prevent your unavoidable food waste from requiring landfill processing. If you have a green space, like tenement courts, then that is the best way. If you don’t have access, the next best thing, and the most practical, is to use the food waste recycling service. In Scotland this will be standard by January 2016 and many local authorities already provide this service. Under sink composting vessels are possible but usually only purchased online.

8. Grow your own! I’m a city dweller, and I had previously thought it not really possible but have grown chillies, peppers and peas this summer, without the use of a garden and using cheap seeds! This will cut out the middleman (and the carbon footprint) for some of your produce, it provides some lovely greenery for the house and personally I find its great practice for my future dream garden. There are also ‘Grow your Own’ community sessions and gardens.

9. Encourage others to reduce waste by making positive changes. Word of mouth is one of the best teaching/learning services around, and we all accidentally over-look potentially wasteful habits. So once you’ve identified a way to live greener, feel free to share your success with your friends.