Landfill is a big issue for the environment, particularly here in HK where we are so desperately short of spaces to put it. Each year, we chuck out over 26 million tons of household rubbish, more than half of which gets buried underground. Two-thirds of landfill is biodegradable, leading to large quantities of greenhouse gasses being released as it decomposes and thus speeding up global warming.
If that’s not bad enough, there’s the potential for local environmental pollution caused by bacteria and chemicals seeping into the soil and rainwater where they can get into the food chain. Add to this the cost of disposing of such enormous quantities of rubbish and you can quickly see why it's so important to do your bit to reduce it.
So, how do we make a difference? Actually, it’s not that difficult. A few changes here and there can have a considerable impact, especially if more of us take up the challenge. Here are five easy ways you can help reduce landfill.
In 2016, Brits put 300,000 tonnes of clothing in the bin. That’s a mountain of items that could all be reused or recycled in one form or another. So, instead of sending them to rot slowly on the tip, give them to a charity that can reuse them for a good purpose. How difficult is it to donate? It’s as easy as putting them in the bin. These days, charities leave recycling bags on your doorstep, just put your old clothes in there instead of in the bin bag and leave them outside your door. How simple is that?
The UK wastes a staggering 10 million tonnes of food per annum, with households contributing over 70% of that figure. It’s estimated that the average family throws away £500 of food each year.
Instead of throwing it all in the bin, there are ways to cut down the amount of food you send to landfill. One easy solution, for those whose local council offers the service, is to put food waste in the recycling bin instead of your rubbish bin, this way it can be put to good use. If you don’t have this service, you can compost your waste and use it on your garden.
There are also ways to reduce the amount of food that gets thrown away before it ends up on your plate. Planning weekly meals ensures you only buy the things you know you will need while checking use-by dates helps you store things correctly so they last longer (i.e., put them in the freezer instead of the fridge). And if you have things you know are never going to get eaten, do good with them – donate them to a food bank.
3. Use biodegradable coffee pods
For years we’ve been in the habit of putting used teabags in the food recycling and coffee pods in the rubbish bin. That practice, unfortunately, has become a bit of a problem. With a huge increase in the numbers of people using coffee machines, the number of plastic and aluminium pods being thrown away has reached staggering proportions. In the UK alone we use over 350 million a year. In Germany, some local councils have even banned their use in public buildings – not surprising when you consider they can take 500 years to biodegrade.
There is, however, a happy solution for environmentally conscious coffee lovers who want the convenience of the humble coffee pod – the compostable pod. Here at Moving Beans, we’ve created a biodegradable pod that fully composts in a mere 16 weeks. This means you can now put your coffee pods in the recycling with the tea bags – which will also make it less of a hassle when you’re making a brew.
As you can see, if you want to help reduce the amount of waste going into the UK’s landfill sites, there are quite a few things you can do: give your old clothes to charity, cut down on food waste, buy a reusable drinking bottle and reuse or sell on your old household items. And if you find this thirsty work, grab yourself a great cup of coffee, knowing the pod can be recycled too.
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