Unless you live a zero-waste lifestyle, there is always room for improvement when it comes to taking care of the planet.
While the abstract idea of reducing one’s waste can be overwhelming, a great place to start is within the comfort of your own home.
Little changes such as switching to cloth bags instead of plastic ones or making a concerted effort to recycle cans and bottles can make a big difference in your waste output.
Below, 9 simple changes you can make to reduce waste in your home.
1. Get to know the rules of recycling.
Don’t be intimidated by the complicated symbols and sorting rules. Navigating the recycling system is actually quite simple once you do a little research. Since recycling standards vary from place to place, find out the specific rules for your area.
While it’s better to implement reusable packaging in your home wherever possible, recycling is the next best option and it will prevent excess waste from heading for the landfill.
2. Ditch the plastic bags.
One of the simplest ways to decrease the amount of waste you produce is to use reusable bags while shopping. Instead of relying on your supermarket’s plastic bags, bring your own cloth ones to pack up your items and tote them home. Keeping a bunch of extra bags in the trunk of your car or right by the door is an easy way to make sure you don’t forget them at home.
3. Make a meal plan.
In addition to material waste, food waste is a huge problem in American households. However, it’s entirely preventable if the consumer follows one simple rule: only buy groceries that you know will eat. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how much food is regularly thrown into the garbage in America.
4. Start relying on reusable containers.
Once you start buying only what you need, take it to the next level by storing food properly, which will extend its life and keep things fresh for as long as possible.
Invest in some quality airtight containers for things like baking ingredients, cereals, and other things that can stale quickly. If you buy loose food items from farmer’s markets or bulk bins at stores like Whole Foods, reusable containers are especially important to have in your kitchen.
5. Start composting.
Every day, a large amount of what you throw into the trash could be composted and returned to the earth. If you have a bin and some extra space, you can easily start a compost that could feed back into your garden. Your excess food won’t go to waste, your garden will be full of nutrients and you can feel better about your impact on the planet. Win, win, win.
6. Learn to repair rather than discard.
When was the last time you repaired something broken rather than throwing it away to purchase a new one? Can’t remember? Same. But buying a few high-quality items and repairing them when necessary is so much better for the planet than buying loads of cheap, disposable stuff.
The next time a strap pops off of a tank top or a lamp stops working, spend a few minutes to see if it’s fixable, rather than throwing it in the garbage and ordering a new one.
7. Cancel unnecessary mail.
If your mailbox is overloaded with catalogs and junk mail each day, take a few minutes to cancel subscriptions and stop unsolicited junk mail. It can be as simple as going online or picking up the phone to be removed from a mailing list. It’s a bit of an inconvenience, sure, but your coffee table will be less cluttered and the amount of paper waste you produce will be cut significantly.
8. Stop using disposable plates.
Even if washing the dishes is the bane of your existence, the waste created by paper plates and plastic utensils isn’t worth it. Stop resorting to paper and plastic and get those hands dirty.
9. And at the very least, stop buying plastic water bottles, please.
Water bottles and paper coffee cups are huge wastes of material. Buy a durable water bottle and a cute coffee thermos so you can take your beverages wherever you please. You’ll find yourself feeling a lot more hydrated and a lot less wasteful.