A new beginning…. into zero waste and no plastic


Having recently moved into my own apartment, I thought it was time I started to live more sustainably. For a number of years there has been this niggling thought every time I threw something away to go into landfill, or incineration. It was such a waste, especially as these items take so long to decompose in a landfill: (http://www.down2earthmaterials.ie/decompose/) (http://recycling.about.com/od/Resources/fl/How-Long-Does-It-Take-Garbage-to-Decompose.htm)

  • Plastic bottles: 70-450 years 
  • Plastic bag: 500-1000 years 
  • Tin can: around 50 years 
  • Leather shoes: 25-40 years 
  • Thread: 3-4 months 
  • Cotton: 1-5 months 
  • Rope: 3-14 months  
  • Nylon clothes: 30-40 years 
  • Sanitary pads & children diapers: 500-800 years 
  • Hairspray bottle: 200-500 years 
  • Fishing line: 600 years. 
  • Glass bottle; 1-2 million years 
  • Cigarette Butts – 10-12 years
  • Rubber-Boot Sole – 50-80 years
  • Foamed Plastic Cups – 50 years
  • Milk Cartons – 5 years
  • Plywood – 1-3 years
  • Painted board – 13 years
  • Cardboard – 2 months
  • Styrofoam- It does not biodegrade
  • Waxed milk carton- 3 months
  • Aluminum cans- 200-250 years
  • Train tickets – two weeks
  • Canvas products – 1 year
  • Batteries – 100 years
  • Lumber- 10-15 years
  • Wool Clothing- 1-5 years
  • Tinfoil- It does not biodegrade

Some materials NEVER biodegrade. Many of these items, such as glass and aluminum can be recycled – although many councils in the UK don’t specifically come to collect them there’s still recycling bins in town centres.

My first aim is to become as close to zero waste as possible by recycling, renovating and upcycling. I know this will be near impossible as I have no way of composting food waste. Hence the “as close as possible”.

My second aim is harder (in my opinion), to become plastic free. I’m on a budget, so buying food without plastic packaging and toiletries is going to be the hardest – as well as trying to reduce buying items that always come in plastic packaging (i.e. crisps and biscuits). I think this is a very important part of today’s culture as “every year we use approximately 1.6 million barrels of oil just for producing plastic water bottles” (http://recycling.about.com/od/Resources/fl/How-Long-Does-It-Take-Garbage-to-Decompose.htm) so think how much we use for all our plastic uses.

Hopefully this will encourage more people to start zero waste or plastic free, and make it easier for them to do so 🙂


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