Ten ways to easily reduce your family's waste during lockdown

Being homebound during COVID-19 alert levels 4 means many of us have already reduced our waste output over the last couple of weeks without even realising it. 

No takeaway coffee means no single-use takeaway coffee cups, we're making our lunch on plates at home instead of buying sushi in plastic containers... the list goes on. 

But with just a little bit of effort, there are even a greater number of things we can be doing, especially as lockdown puts a strain on recycling services. 

A WasteMINZ spokesperson revealed that some councils around the country are unable to process recycling due to health and safety restrictions in alert levels 3 and 4. 

"It is 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," they said. 

They've given us 10 top tips for cutting down on waste and recycling during lockdown and beyond. 

Make your own face mask

It looks like masks will be in our lives for a while now so if you didn't quite get around to making one last year, now is your chance. If you're not sure where to begin, Newshub has a handy tutorial. 

Ditch the plastic bottled water

Many of us are exercising more than ever during the lockdown so take a reusable water bottle with you instead of buying single-use water bottles at the supermarket.

Make your own milk

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 you lots of space in your fridge and it means you won't need to brave the supermarkets so often. Alternatively, have a go at making your own alternative 'mylks' - oat, almond and cashew are all easy to make at home.

DIY Yoghurt 

Did you know how easy a big batch of yoghurt is to make at home, using just a little leftover bought stuff? Start with your existing yoghurt, add some warmed milk and store in a warm place overnight, voila! You can try Love Food Hate Waste's recipe.

Stick to 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, newspapers and writing paper can all be torn up into smaller pieces and placed in your compost.

If you don't have a compost set up yet, here's the Sustainability Trust's guide to making your own.

Go electronic

Check what mail you are still getting through the post and see if you can sign up for an e-newsletter instead or sign up to receive your bills online. Order e-books, e-magazines and electronic greetings cards or use your library to download free audio or e-books. You'll save postage and packaging, and can start enjoying them immediately.

Create your own homemade baked beans with dried beans

Buy dried beans of any variety instead of tinned beans and knock up the family baked beans on toast classic, just without all the tins. It will reduce your recycling significantly and save you money as well. Check out this Jamie Oliver recipe online.

Hold on to glass jars and containers

Many community groups make jam for foodbanks so hold onto your glass jars and then donate them to community groups and op shops once the lockdown is over. Other containers such as margarine containers and ice cream containers can be reused as storage options.

Time to get crafty - with your milk jugs

If you have children stuck at home why not embark on an art project by diverting bottles away from the recycling bin. Check out these awesome DIY ideas for milk jugs.

Become a baker and a pasta maker

If you are one of the fortunate few who has flour, try some home baking and pasta making instead of buying biscuits, crackers and dried pasta all in packaging that will head straight to landfill.