Easy Everyday Ways to Lower Waste Production
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Do you ever think about what happens to your trash after it gets picked up from the curb? Even though I'm conscious of what we throw out and definitely recycle I am still learning that the amount of waste we produce highly exceeds what is both necessary and manageable by our planet. As we progress across the globe the amount of waste we produce has dramatically increased and this isn't something that we readily learn about. Yet there are movements working to spread the word and educate us so that we can make changes that benefit us all.
I have to admit I’m enamored with the instagram worthy websites that you can find on social media and I’m so glad stuff like that is out there, but the reality is that when we all begin taking simple baby-steps we can still have a big positive impact on our planet even without making a massive life change.
Here are some simple, conscious changes that you can easily make that will help reduce landfill waste and be kinder to the environment without completely disrupting your life.
Buy Food without Packaging
Shop bulk bins - Convenience foods and food packaging produce a very large amount of the waste that ends up in our landfills. By eliminating packaging waste we can really easily put a big dent in the amount of trash our families produce.
Coffee - many stores sell bulk coffee that you can grind on site and take home in paper bags or a designated bag or container of your own. If you have your own bag mark the outside with the tare weight (empty container weight) on the outside. Shop stores that allow you to bring your own containers and only charge you for the weight of what you purchase. Or use a paper coffee bag from the store and instead of throwing it out. Keep in in your cabinet until you shop next time and bring it back and refill it. Easy peasy.
Instead of buying the rainbow trio of peppers buy peppers from the loose bin. Instead of buying packaged lettuce, buy from the fresh section without a bag. Bring your own reusable produce bags instead of using the plastic ones there.
Buy bread, bagels, muffins and cookies from the bakery put it in your own reusable bag or container instead of getting the processed, prepackaged ones. It’s better for you and has less additives that aren’t good for you anyway.
Don’t purchase individually wrapped items. You’d be surprised how much waste this will save. I currently have a container of individually wrapped prunes in my cabinet and it pains me to open each one and throw out that tiny wrapper!
When buying food with packaging buy recyclable or recycled packaging
This is mustard, jelly, peanut butter etc. in a glass jar instead of a plastic one. Choose cans or paper instead of plastic. Eggs in paper containers, and cheese from the deli and put it in your own reusable bag. Oats and dried cereals in recycled boxes preferably without plastic inside. They do sell them! Just be conscious when you choose one item over another at the store.
Bring your own bags when you shop
Don’t over complicate this. Do you, like me have a bazillion plastic bags at home already? Stick a few in your purse (the little zipper pocket on the inside works great) and reuse them until they fall apart. Take a bag full of plastic shopping bags you have at home with you to the grocery store when you do your weekly shop. This is sooooo common now. You don’t have to go buy new cloth bags specially made for shopping, just reuse what you have until they fall apart. Keep extra bags in the trunk for unexpected trips to the pharmacy, Home Goods or wherever you need to drop in. When you are ready to buy reusable bags I really like this set. It’s compact and the bags are a similar size of the plastic ones most stores use so it’s easy to put them on the racks they have to fill them. Bag Podz
I use these reusable produce bags also. This set comes in mixed sizes and I find it works really well.
Avoid Single Use Plastics
Eliminate plastic cutlery and cooking/serving utensils - did you know that they are not recyclable? Opt for wood or metal instead. Eliminate plastic wrap, sandwich bags and choose glass or metal containers for food storage instead of plastic, disposable ones.
Eliminate paper towels, plates and napkins as much as possible. Cloth napkins, reusable rags for cleaning instead of paper towels are easy changes to make that make a big difference in the amount of trash that winds up in our landfills.
Choose a coffee pot instead of a pod style coffee maker or purchase reusable pods. Buy loose leaf tea and use a metal tea ball instead of individually wrapped teas.
Avoid disposable razors and other personal care products with plastic packaging that you can’t reuse. Look for other options that you can live with instead.
Combine orders to reduce packaging. I do shop Amazon a lot. Did you know that there is a button you can choose that says you want your order combined and not shipped individually? It takes one second to choose that option instead of the other.
Use What you Have and Reuse What you Can
Ask yourself if you really need something new or if you can use what you have. One of the biggest ways we can reduce waste is to lessen our consumption in the first place.
Think of ways you can reuse things in your home instead of throwing them away. Save jars your food comes in and use them for storage. This works particularly well for dry goods. I use small jelly jars to mix and store my home made salad dressing, mix and store cinnamon sugar, store bulk items like nuts and seeds etc. Search Pinterest for ways to reuse things that you would normally throw away. Use them until their life cycle ends. You would be so surprised to find out what you can do with things you may have thrown out before. It’s actually quite fun!
Eat at Home
Just think about what waste comes from one meal at the drive-through. Now imagine how much waste comes from your normal schedule of eating out? When I realized this it made it so much easier for me to say no to the quick meal out. We can reduce a ton a waste (and wasteful spending) by just eating at home.
Are you a Starbucks regular? Bring your own cup! Starbuck’s in particular is one of the places that will give you a discount for bringing a refillable cup for your coffee. Think that’s overkill? It’s said that Americans throw away 25 billion pounds of coffee cups a year. Check out the staggering facts here at http://www.carryyourcup.org/get-the-facts This is a really simple and easy way to reduce landfill waste, particularly since the plastic lined coffee cups we use are not recyclable.
While we are talking about reusable cups, don’t forget to use a reusable water bottle! Plastic water bottles have drastically increased the amount of waste in landfills and our water systems. As a matter of fact it is recorded that we throw away 1500 plastic bottles per second and much of our plastic waste winds up in our oceans. Check out this quick video by Ocean Pollution Patch. The sad thing is that this video was produced about 6 years ago, yet this isn't something we hear about in our daily lives.
I hope this post inspires you to become more conscious of the waste that we produce and helps you easily implement changes to prevent excess waste. These really are simple ways that make a big impact on our planet and the future planet for our loved ones and don't require much effort on our part.