Last month, March 2019, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs released new UK waste statistics. In 2016, 222.9 million tonnes of waste was generated in the UK. Eighty-five per cent of that waste was produced in England alone. That means that England alone was responsible for 189.46 million tonnes of waste. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales produced a mere 33 million tonnes.
According to the UK government, waste is defined as “a material is considered to be waste when the producer or holder discards it, intends to discard it, or is required to discard it.” This includes materials that are biodegradable and/or intended for recycling or incineration.
That means that every article of clothing a person owns, every bit of packaging, storage and inorganic material in your house will be considered waste at some point.
On top of that, most recyclable items are not truly recyclable. Often they are contaminated with other plastics or materials that cannot be recreated. Additionally, they are often recycled into non-recyclable products like drain pipes.
Whether recycled or not, waste is not disappearing. It is ending up in oceans, in yards and in our air. Although the government has set up a goal to be at 50% by 2020, this is not enough. In order to make a real impact on the environment, consumers need to be cutting back what they are actually consuming and disposing of. This is called a zero waste lifestyle.
In honour of Earth Day, April 22nd, we will be publishing a series of articles on how to live a zero waste lifestyle from fashion to food to cosmetics. Although living completely without waste may not be feasible, there are ways to cut back and get involved with the community at large.
- We attempt to live a zero waste lifestyle for 24 hours
- Is this lifestyle just for the rich? An investigation
- Zero waste week: how to serve an eco-friendly fashion look
- Zero waste week: are you a waster or a hero? (quiz)
If you want to know more about how to live a zero-waste lifestyle, check out our Instagram page @ellnews, our Twitter @eastlondonlines and follow the hashtag #ELLzerowasteweek.