Tips for reducing waste

According to the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, Swiss citizens produce over 700 kg of waste per person per year. Together, we need to take action and protect the environment by lowering our personal waste output.

Tip 1: prevention

The best way of dealing with waste is simply not to generate it in the first place, for the sake of the environment and our wallets. Opting for items without excessive packaging when doing your regular shopping can help to lower your personal waste output. Be aware of how things are packaged in terms of quantity of material and the possibility of recycling, or whether fresh produce needs to be packaged individually.

We’ve put together a few tips below to help you generate less waste in your day-to-day life.

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Avoid single-use packaging

  • Buy yoghurt, oil, vinegar and sauces in recyclable glass containers. 
  • Avoid extra plastic bags.
  • If buying items such as tissues, avoid individually wrapped products.
  • If single-use packaging is simply unavoidable, opt for cardboard.
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Bring your own tableware 

Use reusable cups, plates, bowls and cutlery. Lots of take-aways now offer customers a discount if they bring their own containers to fill up.

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Avoid food waste

  • Draw up a meal plan and shopping list. Think about how many people will be eating at your home over the coming week, what’s in the fridge at the moment and what fresh produce you need to top up the things you already have.
  • Fresh produce is fine to freeze – for instance, you could freeze leftover bananas and other fruit and add in some oats later for a delicious breakfast smoothie. Check out this scrumptious recipe for inspiration (in German).
  • When working out an item’s shelf life, you don’t just have to go by the best before date printed on it; apply your own common sense, too. Food is often fine to eat after the expiry date without any risk to your health or loss of taste.
  • Food sharing: there are now all sorts of initiatives out there for swapping food or giving it away. The people behind the foodsharing online platform will show you what the term means and places where food can be exchanged.
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Drink tap water

Microplastics have increasingly been found in PET plastic bottles. Tap water is the most rigorously monitored foodstuff in Switzerland, so it is absolutely safe to drink. Cutting out mineral water or soft drinks in PET plastic bottles saves energy and reduces waste. 

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Buy sustainably

Opt for quality over quantity. As a prompt, ask yourself the following:

  • Do I really need this piece of clothing? People often have countless variations of the same item. 
  • Where do the products that I’m buying come from? Choose locally grown, seasonal produce where possible (so as to avoid long transportation routes).
  • Is there a seal of quality? The official Fair Trade and Biosiegel (eco seal) markers stand for sustainability and fair production.

Tip 2: reduction

Why not go for reusable bags, rather than the plastic version? There are all sorts of preferable alternatives: refill packs, glass drinking straws and recyclable stainless steel coffee pods, to name but a few.

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Extra tip: unsubscribe from catalogues and advertising brochures

Do you tend to get your information online? You may still be getting a lot of leaflets, catalogues or magazines through the post that no longer interest you. You can usually switch to online-only communications by sending a brief email or selecting an option on the brand’s website.

Tip 3: recycling

If you can’t avoid certain types of waste, make sure that you can dispose of it in as environmentally friendly a manner as possible. Separate your waste whenever you can. The following recyclable materials can be separated and disposed of for free (see www.recycling-map.ch/en for your nearest disposal point).

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Extra tip: organise in waste bags
Waste bags, which come in recycling sets, help you to separate and dispose of recyclable materials easily. They are available from IKEA, WWF Switzerland and other providers.

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