Woman shares recycling and zero waste tips after putting out first black bin of 2022 in August

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·5-min read
Jen Gale pledged 10 years ago to reduce her family's waste. (Jen Gale/SWNS)
Jen Gale pledged 10 years ago to reduce her family's waste and utilises a number of clever recycling and zero waste methods. (Jen Gale/SWNS)

A woman, who has put out her very first black bin bag of 2022, has shared her recycling tips and tricks for living a zero waste lifestyle.

Author and mum-of-two, Jen Gale, 44, from Warminster, Wiltshire first pledged to try and reduce the family's waste a decade ago in a bid to protect the planet.

Starting small, the family began by buying second-hand and visiting zero waste stores.

Over the years they threw away less and less, and this year it took them over eight months to fill their first black waste bin.

"Once you have established new habits, it doesn't really take a lot of effort to maintain them. It eventually becomes your new normal," the sustainability writer and podcaster explains.

"Last year we put our black bin out for the first time in April and we wanted to beat that this year – which we did!"

Read more: Second Hand September: What is it and how to get involved

Gale says the compost bin the family purchased has helped reduce their waste by 25%. (Jen Gale/SWNS)
Gale says the compost bin the family purchased has helped reduce their waste by 25%. (Jen Gale/SWNS)

Gale says one of her best tips on reducing food waste involves composting things like egg shells, tea leaves and banana skins. The family have invested in a special compost bin, which you can put all food and garden waste into.

"This one step alone reduced our waste by at least 25% and made for way less smelly bins," she says.

The family also plan their meals to avoid over-buying food, and Gale recommends having an "eat me first" box for leftovers, opened food and things that are near their sell-by date.

"Food waste is a great place to start," she adds. "It'll save you money when you try to cut down too."

Another technique the family use to reduce their household waste is to lower the amount of single-use plastics they buy – by purchasing the biggest sizes possible.

For yoghurts, they get the 500ml pots instead of lots of little ones.

"My husband takes some to work in a pot or pouch," Gale says. "Nom Nom Kids pouches are brilliant for children.

"For crisps we buy the share bags and just portion out onto plates, bowls or lunchboxes. You can buy some great sealable pouches you can use for lunchboxes."

Read more: Mum and daughter foraging team make meals for free from food found in local forest

Starting small, Gale upped the family's recycling, began buying second hand and visiting zero waste stores. (Jen Gale/SWNS)
Starting small, Gale upped the family's recycling, began buying second hand and visiting zero waste stores. (Jen Gale/SWNS)

Gale says the family also make a habit of shopping zero waste-style when they can.

While visiting a zero waste store can be a little pricier than supermarket shopping, Gale says it is a great way of reducing your rubbish quota, if you can afford it.

The family also use a website called Good Club, which is an online store delivering zero waste food to your door.

Gale says the family order staples such as pasta, rice, dried fruit and snacks to be decanted into pots.

The family also collect and recycle "flexible plastic" – things like bread bags and plastic packaging from bananas.

Watch: Top chef shares thrifty kitchen tips and amasses huge TikTok following

A more unusual trick, which was initially met with resistance from others members of the family, is not buying kitchen roll.

Instead, they use reusable wipes, Cheeky Wipes, which they also utilise as napkins and for mopping up any spills.

Gale says what ends up going in their waste bin is actually very limited, and includes butter wrappers and netting used to package shop-bought lemons or oranges.

For Zero Waste Week (5-9 September) Gale is keen to encourage other families to begin making changes to their lifestyle.

"Zero waste living has become so normal to us, that it doesn't feel restrictive," Gale explains.

"I recognise privilege has allowed us to do some of this," she continues. "We have space in the garden for a composter, and we get a weekly fresh veg box delivered.

"Some things might be out of price range, but there are things everyone can have a go at."

Read more: Mum saves over £300 on her monthly food shop thanks to savvy shopping

The family try to recycle and reuse as much as they can. (Jen Gale/SWNS)
The family try to recycle and reuse as much as they can. (Jen Gale/SWNS)

She says the first step, while "unglamorous", is to have a look in the bin and take note of the things being thrown away.

She suggests picking one thing you commonly chuck in the bin, which you can try to reduce.

Gale says her husband, Ben, 46, and sons Will, 13 and Sam, 11, have all pitched in to reduce the family's waste.

"We're not precious, we can see the lure of the quick convenient and easy option," she adds.

"But I don't feel we have had to turn our life upside down and become eco-warriors, living in a yurt to achieve what we have.

"You have to allow yourself to be imperfect, and develop a nice set of habits that don't feel too difficult."

For more of Gale's inspiring sustainable tips visit www.asustainablelife.co.uk

Additional reporting SWNS.