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5 simple ways you can reduce waste, and save money in the process

With the hashtag '#zerowaste' racking up a massive 756k posts over on Instagram, it's clear to see that the zero waste movement is gaining more momentum than ever.

As more people are becoming aware of the harmful emissions incinerators create at waste disposals in landfills, it has become more important than ever to do whatever you can to help reduce the amount of damage you input on the planet and increase the awareness of those around you. I mean, regardless of the harmful effects, throwing away valuable materials is just crazy when it can easily be used time and time again. So, if you are interested in reducing your waste, saving money, and helping the planet, then immerse yourself in the zero-waste movement. Every little act helps, so just do whatever you can, wherever you can, to make the world a better and greener place to live in.

1: Make vegetable stock out of kitchen scraps

This method is super easy and will supply you with a couple of pints of vegetable stock you can freeze, or use fresh in so many dishes to add flavour and depth.  You can use the scraps of pretty much any vegetable you have been using over the week such as potato peelings, onion skin, garlic shell, corn cobs, lettuce leaves, tips of spring onions, herb stems, celery tops and bottoms, mushroom ends - pretty much anything and everything goes here. The method goes like this: store all of your scraps over the week in a container/bag in the fridge until full. If you find that you don't produce enough scrapings over the week to make stock then keep your scrapings together in the freezer until you have enough. When you have enough scrapings, tip them into a big saucepan and fill 3/4 of the pan with water. Add seasonings to your own taste, bring to the mixture to a boil, and then simmer for at least 30 minutes. When the thirty minutes is up, strain the water out of the stock. You can then refrigerate your stock for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. For inspiration, I suggest adding this stock to homemade pasta sauces, soups and curries, as a tasty alternative to just using water alone.

2: Meal-prep potential lunches and dinners you usually buy from the shops

This method is my personal favourite and because of this tip, I have saved SO much money over the past year. I used to buy my lunch from university every day but now I take my own lunch and I save exponential amounts. As an old proverb once said, 'look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves'. Not to mention, you can control exactly what is going into your food (which is always handy if you are a vegan, or have any allergies or intolerances). It also massively helps the environment as you won't be purchasing ready-to-go products typically wrapped in plastic and card. To make this easier for yourself, make extra portions at dinner time so you can simply place the leftovers in a Tupperware box to bring out with you over the following few days. Easy!

3: Use containers for storage purposes

You would be surprised at just how much you can use you can get out of containers you would typically throw in the bin. Use ice-cream tubs to separate your underwear and socks, or glass-jars to store pens, pencils or makeup brushes. You can even decorate the jars by painting them, or adding labels and personalising them with text. Or, save takeaway plastic tubs to store your lunches in over the following weeks. The possibilities are endless.

4: Wonky veg and local food/farmers markets

In UK supermarkets such Morrisons and Asda, you can buy Wonky Veg boxes which are typically around £3. For £3, you receive Carrots, Onions (red or white), Potatoes & Parsnips, and a minimum of three products from the following seasonal produce such as Cabbage, Cauliflower, Swede, Leeks & Peppers. Considering wonky vegetables usually get thrown away, this is a great initiative by supermarkets which is not only a cheap way to get a great array of vegetables but also to reduce waste. Minimal packaging is used and you can easily recycle the cardboard the produce comes in. Another worthy mention is to check out your local food/farmers market where you can buy discounted vegetables which aren't wrapped in plastic. Just bring a tote or reusable bag along with you to store the vegetables in.

5: Avoiding plastic when possible and using reusable shopping and produce bags
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Unreasonably excited today about my new linen produce bags???? I’ve been getting by with my cotton mesh ones, but I was always a couple short and they just don’t work well for certain things. Plus these linen ones work great for dry goods so you don’t have to lug big containers with you (very helpful if you have kids that need to ride in the cart along with all the food?)! Can’t wait to use them? . . . . . #zeroish #zerowaste #zerowasteshopping #zerowastegroceryshopping #producebags #linen #ecofriendly #noplasticbag #reusablebags #reusables #saynotoplasticbags #saynotosingleuseplastic #reducewaste #earthlove #noplanetb #lovetheearth #environmentallyfriendly #bekindtotheearth #makebetterchoices #simpleswaps #makeachange #bethechangeyouwishtoseeintheworld #makesadifference #smallsteps #smallstepstowardssustainability #sustainableshopping #giveashitaboutnature

A post shared by Kate, Jenna, & Meredith (@gozeroish) on

This leads me nicely on to the next point which is trying to stop buying plastic bags and always remember to bring reusable bags with you when you go shopping. This is really important as plastic is so harmful and toxic to our oceans. It has now been estimated that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean, which when absorbed into an animal's body, releases toxic chemicals such as Bisphenol A which can potentially kill the animal. Every year, 100,000 marine creatures are dying from becoming trapped in plastic products and approximately 1 million seabirds prematurely die each year from the same fate. So the next time you are shopping, try to avoid the plastic bags or any plastic packaging which is unnecessary — this can also help you to avoid paying that pesky 5p for each plastic bag. For example, loose vegetables such as garlic and onions have a protective layer over them for a reason. It's natures plastic bag! And you can always give your vegetables a wash when you get home to ensure there are no bacteria lurking. Or, if you still like putting your loose veg into bags, you can buy reusable bags here which can last you for life.

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