Reducing Waste

We need to do something about climate change and the single greatest way we can do this is by limiting consumption and cutting waste. This is why Chelmsford City Council works with residents, businesses and community groups alike to encourage a more sustainable way of life, with reducing waste at its heart.

It’s a myth that reducing waste just means putting less things in landfill.

This is, of course, very important, but we all produce much more waste than just what we put in our black bins. Think how much petrol is wasted by sitting with your car idling in traffic, or how much electricity is wasted when lights are left on unnecessarily, or how much water is wasted if you leave the tap running whilst brushing your teeth. It’s small moments like this that add up to create a huge amount of wasted resources when we think about everyone in Chelmsford collectively.

So where do we start in cutting our waste down? What causes the most amount of waste in our daily lives? How can we make a difference without affecting the way we live?

landfill UK
What does reducing waste really mean?

At its most simple level reducing waste means using up less stuff. Stuff can be food, clothing, toys, gadgets, energy, water or anything that is by definition consumable.

At heart, the driving force for reducing waste is minimalism, the idea that less is more, that having too much stuff in your life just creates clutter and what we really need to be happy in life is not what clever marketing companies try to tell us we need to buy, but rather substance and meaning.

reusable food containers
What do you want me to do?

Today in the UK, many of us embrace a high standard of living compared to previous centuries. Our way of life allows for comfort and convenience, with the latest fashion and technology readily available.

But this has a downside, if every person on the planet consumed the earth’s natural resources at the rate we do in the UK, we would need an extra 2 planet Earths! When you tie this in with the ongoing climate crisis, shrinking ozone layer and rising sea levels, clearly we need to be smarter with how much ‘stuff’ we consume and cut down on how much waste we produce to ensure we use the finite natural resources we have as effectively as possible.

landfill site
Why do we need to do this?

Yes, recycling reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfill and is key to a sustainable future but unfortunately recycling doesn’t hold all the answers to our problems. Many products on the market are still designed without end of life in mind – this means they are made in such a way that they are extremely hard and costly to recycle so from a business point of view it is not cost effective to recycle these items and so they are sent straight to landfill.

This is why we all need to make personal choices to actively reduce how much we consume and waste, and wherever possible opt for products that are 100% recyclable/recoverable.

refillable jars at home
Recycling cant be the solution to all our problems

There are hundreds of individual ways we could all reduce waste in our daily lives, however there are some general areas that help guide when and where to start:

Refuse: Avoid disposable products designed to be used once and then thrown away. Don’t buy over packaged goods or things you don’t need (don’t fall for 2 for 1 deals on items you don’t need).

Reduce: Buy things that are well made and will last. Cut down on junk mail by using the Mailing Preference Service. Disposable nappies are bulky and difficult to dispose of, try using reusable washable nappies instead.

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Refill: Use refillable containers and avoid single-use packaging. Buy in bulk or buy concentrated versions of products that give you more for your money with less packaging needed. Download the Refill app to eat, drink and shop without the pointless plastic.

Reuse: Keep and reuse shopping bags. Choose rechargeable batteries or products with built in rechargeable batteries. Clothes, books, toys and household items are easy to reuse, give them to a jumble sale or charity shop and consider buying items from these shops too.

Repair: Some items are easier to repair than others; clothing, furniture and electrical items are great places to start. There are still specialist repair shops for all sorts of things in Chelmsford and various groups will have pop up repair workshops in Chelmsford every few months, check out our events page to see what’s coming up.

reusable daily kit
5 top tips to reduce your waste

If you don’t have the money or the ability to make the changes we talk about on this page, please don’t worry, the weight of the world is not on your shoulders. It’s important to point out that with all environmentally friendly choices that your best is always enough. This is not to say that we don’t all have a responsibility to make changes, but if your financial situation is your limiting factor then it’s okay that waste reduction and recycling is not your priority.