Recently it has been reported that local authorities in the UK are introducing charges for larger bin collections, which have been nicknamed the “nappy tax”. This has been met with much outrage by many families and, if they are not aware of the alternatives and the true cost of using single use products, then this outrage is understandable. In my opinion, this “tax” is long overdue.
Single use nappies are an expensive luxury. They are expensive to buy in the first place, then they are expensive to dispose of. It’s estimated that every baby in single use nappies produces around a tonne of nappy waste between birth and potty training. If your local authority still sends waste to landfill there is a landfill tax that they must pay of around £100 for every tonne of waste. Whether your local authority sends non-recyclable waste to landfill or to be incinerated there is the cost of the bin lorries and the men and women collecting the waste and driving the lorries. This has to be paid for.
But that’s what I pay my council tax for? We all pay council tax, but clearly this disposable culture, which so many people have become accustomed to is too much for local authorities to handle – the costs of disposal will be rising the more households throw away. Then there’s the matter of why should those who are more waste conscious actively trying to reduce their household waste pay for those who are less active in waste reduction?
It has been reported that Dorset will gain around an extra £100,000 and Northumbaland are introducing some of the highest charges where households need to pay £62 for a large bin. I do not believe this is done out of greed by councils, I believe that we are throwing too much away and the costs of disposal simply are not being met.
Like I said in the beginning of this post, I think this is long overdue. We as a society cannot continue to throw things “away” whenever we please. Have you looked into where “away” is? Are you aware of the effects that “away” has on the environment. And when we do throw things “away” we need to take responsibility for this and pay for it when we are required to.
I am very aware that for some families these extra costs will be really scary. Most of us in the UK are constantly tightening are belts and trying to find ways to save money in order to pay essential bills and to put food on the table.
So, what can households do to both reduce waste and save money?
1, Switch to reusable nappies.
It doesn’t matter how old your little one is, we believe it’s never too late to switch. There is a huge amount of information here! You can read all about where to start and how to wash them. If you’re not sure about them, or have no idea which to buy, contact your local nappy library They can show you loads of different styles and brands of nappies and loan them to you so you can “try before you buy”.
If you are worried about the initial cost of setting up with cloth, you may be lucky enough to find that your local authority will give you cash back, or vouchers to spend on reusable nappies. You could also buy pre loved nappies. By saving just £5 a week in pregnancy you’ll find that you have saved enough cash to buy your nappies too. You will also find that volunteer run nappy libraries will have long term loan kits for those in financial hardship.
2, Switch to reusable menstrual products.
If there are menstruating people in your house hold you could rid your bin from being filled up with pads and tampons each month by making this switch. There is again, loads of information here! Again, it can be costly to set up with a full stash of reusable products. I built up my stash of washable pads by sewing and buying one or two each month until I had enough to use them full time, with just one wash at the end of my cycle.
3, Get a reusable coffee cup
If you like getting take away coffee, take your own cup. Many high street coffee houses now offer a discount when you use a reusable take away cup now too! I love my Klean Kanteen insulated cup, keeps my drinks warm for ages at the same time as reducing waste!
This one may sound obvious. Check with your local authority that you are recycling everything you can. Here in Cornwall the council have increased the amount of plastic that you can recycle, it’s well worth checking you’re recycling everything you can!
These are just four changes you could make. There are so many more!
There are loads of tips for waste reduction in the Zero Waste Hero’s Facebook group!