Invisible Waste – What is it and How to Reduce it

This week (21st – 29th November 2020) is European Week for Waste Reduction (EWWR), and here at Vitabeam we are spreading the word!

Fundamental to Vitabeam is our mission to reduce food waste – an important element of waste that is often overlooked. But this week we are casting our eye over the wider waste problem that we have on this planet, and bringing you some fab ideas to reduce the amount of waste your lifestyle creates.

The theme of this year’s EWWR is “Invisible Waste”, referring to the large amount of waste produced in the manufacturing process of products. A lot of this waste cannot be recycled, and so it ends up in landfill or incinerators. This is a huge flaw in our current society, and some companies are beginning to understand how unsustainable this process is.

Most of us are aware of the waste in our weekly shop, but how much do we think about the invisible waste produced on our behalf for items we buy and use every day?
Photo by Liuba Bilyk on Unsplash

Consequently, the idea of the “circular economy” is becoming more widely understood. The circular economy promotes the idea that we have a finite amount of resources, and the way we use them should be sustainable, and enable future generations to live sustainably too. Put into practice, this leads to companies thinking more about their manufacturing processes, what raw materials they are using and how they can replace those raw materials to ensure the global stores are not depleted, recycling devices when they no longer work so the parts can be repurposed in new devices, and finding new alternative, environmentally-friendly materials to replace unrecyclable and unsustainably sourced materials.

It is wonderful that many companies now are thinking more about their environmental impact, and the main reason for them changing how they do things is due to consumer pressure. Consumer loyalty is vital for so many brands, so if their customers threaten to shop elsewhere if standards don’t meet their expectations, this is great motivation for brands to change the way they do things.

This means that we, as the consumers, have a lot of power when it comes to getting businesses to act in a way that is better for the planet (and all of us living on it!). Therefore, it is down to us as individuals to do all we can to reduce the amount of “invisible waste” we demand business to produce on our behalf. By making small, easy changes to our lifestyles, we are able to dictate what products and services businesses choose to provide, and we can make it more profitable for them to act in a way that is kinder to the environment rather than destroying it.

Did you know that up to 23% of the weight of a household’s waste is made up of food packaging? This can easily be reduced by buying food in bulk, or from zero-waste shops, where you can take your own containers and fill them up with pasta, rice, cereals, flour, herbs and spices, and many more different foods. Often, this will save you money as well as reducing your household’s waste, and also you can support smaller local businesses who are choosing to sell products with a lower environmental impact and with less packaging.

Another idea that is beginning to take off in Europe is renting tools for doing DIY or gardening. Instead of buying expensive tools that you may only use a couple of times, consider paying a small rental fee to hire the tools you need when you need them. This saves you money, and it also means that fewer tools have to be made in the first place, reducing the amount of “invisible waste” produced in the manufacturing process.

We all know the three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – but how many of us apply these principles to our everyday lives? By keeping these three words in our minds as we go about our day, we can reduce the amount of waste we individually produce, and guide those around us to do the same, culminating in the big changes that need to occur to protect the world around us.

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