Refusing and reducing

Bea Johnson uses the mantra “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot”, so at the end of last year I took steps to up the ‘refusing’ aspect to bring less waste into my home. I’d already gone paperless on all my bills and filled out the Mail Preference Service requesting no junk mail, but I was still inundated with with a seemingly endless stream of brochures and catalogues landing on my doormat every week. So, as each one arrived, before chucking it straight into the recycling box, I took the offending brochure to the computer, found the company’s website and emailed their customer services requesting they stop sending them to me forthwith.

My next step was to request one one of those ‘no junk mail’ stickers from my local council that I can stick to my letter box to instruct the food deliverers, tree surgeons, painters and decorators and various other tradespeople against stuffing their gaudily printed advertising sheets through my door.

I also applied the ‘no thanks’ policy when I went shopping for my birthday present – not only did I take my own bags with me (been doing that for a few years now), but I also refused the box that was offered (again something I’ve done on and off for years, although sometimes those shoe boxes have come in very handy for my sons’ school projects).

However, on bringing my shoes home, I went one step further and embraced the Zero Waste philosophy about reducing the amount of stuff you have in your home so you can live more simply. Hands up, I am guilty of hoarding, so many of my cupboards are stacked with items I just can’t bear to throw away. This time I took a more ruthless approach, and rather than keep the shoes – “just in case” – my new ones were replacing, I thought “no” and donated them to a charity shop. Do I miss them? No, I have my new shoes. I did the same with an old handbag that had been gathering dust on the floor of my wardrobe for the last few years – again I couldn’t bear to chuck it – after receiving an OnFriday Fairtrade leather one from my lovely mum for my birthday.

Feeling virtuous, I was motivated to truly to get to grips with my recipe books. Hubby had given me Ottolenghi’s vegetarian recipe book Plenty for Christmas so I took a long hard look at my groaning shelf of largely unused recipe books and decided to be ruthless. Going beyond the ‘one in, one out’ mantra I put half of them in pile and took them to a second-hand shop. What a satisfying feeling, that was made even more so, as I realised that I now had a spare half shelf, which by further disposing of various ‘it will come in useful one day’ items around it, became an entire shelf. Finally, I could re jig a total of four shelves to improve the ‘flow’ of my kitchen by relocating items where they are most accessible. The joy of rationalisation was mine. And, none of the stuff went in the bin, it was put for re-use in a local charity shop, hopefully helping other people.

Are you trying to reduce your waste levels? I’d like to hear how you’re getting on – leave a comment below.