9 simple ways to reduce your recycling during lockdown

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With some councils around the country unable to process recycling due to public health guidelines and industry health and safety restrictions, it’s now more important than ever to think about what you can do to reduce not just your rubbish, but also how much recycling you create.

Below are 9 simple ways to reduce your recycling during lockdown.

Make it yourself

Although they’re highly recyclable, milk bottles are big and bulky and take up loads of room in your recycling bin. So why not buy dried milk powder and make your own milk? It will save lots of space in your fridge for other food items and you won’t need to brave the supermarkets so often.

Yoghurt is also easy to make at home; as you can use a starter from your existing yoghurt. Follow these simple steps to make your own yoghurt.

If you are one of the fortunate few who has flour, try some home baking instead of buying biscuits, bread and crackers. Check out this simple recipe for making your own crackers.

Check out more recipes to reduce plastic packaging here.

Grow your own

While the plant stores are closed you can buy seeds online, or from many supermarkets. Why not try growing some winter vegetables such as silverbeet and broccoli, or fresh herbs like mint or parsley.

You can use egg cartons, newspaper or toilet paper tubes to make seedling pots that can then be planted straight into your garden. You could also use plastic yoghurt or ice cream containers.

Choose paper or cardboard packaging

Purchase items in paper or cardboard packaging where possible. Paper and cardboard can be home composted or, in colder regions, used as a fire starter in your fireplace.

Egg cartons, toilet rolls, paper towels, newspapers and writing paper can all the torn up into smaller pieces and placed in your compost.

Alternatively, opt for reusable packaging. Buy things in glass jars or bottles that you can reuse to make your own yoghurt or milk as suggested above.

Go electronic

Check what mail you are still getting through the post and see if you can sign up for e-newsletters or opt to receive your bills online. You could make your own ‘No Circulars’ sign from wood, reuse a durable piece of plastic, or request one from Ecomailbox.

Borrow e-books from your local library,  subscribe to e-magazines and send electronic greetings cards. You’ll save on postage and packaging and can start enjoying them immediately.

Use a reusable water bottle

When you go for your daily exercise during the lockdown, take a reusable water bottle with you instead of buying single use water bottles.

Use dried food instead of canned food

Buy dried beans and lentils instead of tinned kidney beans and pulses. It will reduce your recycling significantly and save you money.

Switch to shampoo and soap bars

Switching from shampoo bottles and liquid soap to solid bars is an easy change to make which can reduce how much recycling you can create.

Check out this article for more tips to reduce waste in your bathroom.

Hold on to glass jars

Many community groups make jam for foodbanks, so hold onto your glass jars and donate them to community groups and op shops once the lock down is over. If you have a feijoa tree going gangbusters, why not use this feijoa jam recipe during lockdown. You could also re-use glass bottles and jars for making your own milk or yoghurt, as suggested above.

Other containers such as margarine and ice cream containers can be reused as storage containers. Stewing fruit is a good way to preserve fruit like apples, pears and feijoas. Check out this super simple stewed apple recipe to eat within a few days or freeze for later use.

Make art

If you have children stuck at home why not make an art project. Here’s a great way to turn old milk bottles into an Anzac Day poppy. Just download a poppy stencil and then colour with permanent markers. 

Repurposing milk bottles for Anzac arts and crafts
Photo credit: Tricia Preston

Starting today and over the next two weeks there is a Kids Recycling Craft Challenge on the Refill NZ Facebook page. There’s a different theme every 4 days – starting with an Easter theme! There are certificates for every creation and spot prizes including vouchers from New World,  Keep NZ Beautiful kids T shirts and storybooks, and RefillNZ reuseable steel water bottles.

Jacinda Ardern stated that the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy are essential services during lockdown, but may be a little busier than usual this Easter. Help make an Easter egg hunt in your neighbourhood by crafting your own Easter egg from recycled newspaper and cardboard and putting it in the window.

As well as national initiatives, check out what is happening within your region. For example, The Sustainability Trust are also running Don’t Kick it to the Kerbside – a competition encouraging residents in the Wellington Region to get creative with their waste and also win great prizes. Check out the Sustainability Trust events page here for more information.

As always, if you’re looking for more ways to reduce household in your house check out our tips and tricks, get inspired by others, or submit a waste reduction tip of your own!

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