While the festive season is typically a time for excess, why not do things differently this year and use it as a time to cut back on consumption? To help, we’ve enlisted industry experts and advocators to share simple ways we can all start reducing unnecessary waste today.
1. Plan out meals in advance and make a detailed shopping list
“Do you have plans to eat out one night? Is there a chance you might work late? It’s amazing how grocery shopping with a list can keep you focused and curb the temptation of impulse buys which may end up getting wasted. Now you’ve planned your shopping, get creative with your cooking! Things don’t always go to plan so double check what ingredients need to be used first and let your inner MasterChef loose! If you make more than you can eat, then freeze what you don’t consume immediately,” shares Executive Director of Feeding Hong Kong, Gabrielle Kirstein.
2. BYO bags
“Focus on buying without plastic. Choose loose, package-free produce and bring your own reusable bags. Buying in large quantities from bulk food stores gives you access to less packaging. Local mom and pop stores may also offer package free products, such as pasta, fruits and chocolate,” says low-waste advocate, Agnese Perri. More and more bulk shops are cropping up across Asia, and as Florence Tay, co-founder of Singapore’s first zero waste grocery store, UnPackt adds, “these stores help you solve the problem of food waste and excessive plastic packaging while saving you money on your weekly grocery bill.”
3. Resuscitate your current wardrobe
“Do a closet edit before the start of the season. Pull out all of your clothes and accessories and assess what you wear regularly (keep these!) and what you’re not. Sort out what you don’t wear. Are they: the wrong fit, wrong style, damaged or stained? Set about resuscitating or donating them. Visit a tailor for repairs, get fun with styling, or book a stylist to do the imagination with you or sort out how to clean them,” shares Christina Dean, founder of Redress. And if you’re really in the mood to spend, try looking in one of the vintage stores and source one-of-a-kind outfits that’s back on trend!
4. Start separating your waste
“It will help you realise that majority of the waste is packaging which is avoidable,” suggests Florence Tay from UnPackt. You can also find door-to-door collection services in your city, such as HK Recycles, which can provide sorting bags to help you separate it all easily, along with arranging weekly collections of your waste. They will then work with a network of recycling partners to make sure that your waste gets put through the appropriate filters.
5. Ditch the glossy wrapping paper
“Glossy wrappers often can’t be recycled. Instead, wrap with paper (vintage maps, sheet music, posters…) and tie your packages together with string or ribbon. The paper can be recycled or saved for next year while the string/ribbon can be saved for future wrapping,” suggests Julia Kendal of Tearfund. Better yet, ditch the disposable wrapper and place presents in re-usable stockings instead.