how to reduce waste

Each year, 1.3 billion tons of waste is generated.

The average person doesn’t think twice before throwing something in the trash. That trash has two main routes from your trash can, sitting in a dump or finding its way to our oceans.

Neither of these routes is good for the future of our planet.

Help cut back on the issue with these seven tips for how to reduce waste in your home and daily life.

1. Reusable Products

Reusable products have a huge impact on your daily waste production. Every time you use a plastic water bottle or a take-out container you’re further contributing to the waste issue.

Start by choosing one reusable product to carry around with you. You’ll see how easy it is to reuse products. Another added benefit is that you will save money by not having to buy disposable items. Some stores, like Starbucks, even give you a discount for having a reusable item.

Do some research to find products that are environmentally-friendly. Here are a few reusable products to consider:

  • Water bottles
  • Coffe cups
  • Shopping bags
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Food containers

2. Try Composting

Food scraps and yard waste make up 20 to 30 percent of what gets thrown away. When food breaks down in a landfill it releases harmful methane gas into the atmosphere. Composting allows food scraps to break down naturally for you to use as fertilizer.

Composting can be down both indoors and outdoors depending on your families needs. Indoor composting is stored inside a bin that can be handmade or bought at a local hardware store. Outdoor composting can be done using a backyard pile system.

All composting needs three main ingredients for the process to happen: browns, greens, and water. Browns include dead leaves or twigs and greens include grass clippings or vegetable and fruit wastes. The amount of water will vary depending on how much of the other ingredients you have.

3. Eat Whole Foods

Eating whole foods is not only a way to reduce waste but is also healthier for you. Processed foods come with unnecessary packaging. Buying loose food items eliminated the need for that packaging. Bonus points if you bring your reusable shopping bag.

Farmer’s markets are a great place to food loose, whole foods. Bulk bin stores like Whole Foods also allow you to buy loose food items and use your own packaging. By storing these foods in proper containers you will also extend the food’s lifespan.

When you’ve finished your meal, make sure that you are using all of the leftover food. Save food scraps and use them in soups or stir-frys. Whatever remains goes straight in the composting bin.

4. Make your Own Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning supplies come with an excess of packaging and use toxic chemicals. Homemade cleaning supplies are one of the many ways to reduce garbage while also helping the environment.

Making your own supplies lets you control the ingredients and eliminate the need for wasteful packaging. Lemon, baking soda, and vinegar are popular ingredients to use. You can also add essential oils to the mix to get a clean smell.

If you don’t feel up to the challenge of completely making your own supplies, try buying concentrated products. These reduce the packaging necessary and require less processing.

5. Go Paperless

The U.S. uses around 68 million trees to produce paper and paper products, every year. Much of the paper used in your household isn’t necessary. Going paperless not only reduces waste but it also makes for better organization.

The first step is to ask companies like your bank and utilities for paperless billing. You will receive electronic statements, which then can be easily sorted on your computer.

Use a scanner to upload all your old documents to your digital filing system. You will save room in your home by getting rid of filing cabinets and this will reinforce the paperless habit.

6. Recycle the Rest

Once you know what’s recyclable and your drop-off or pick-up method, the rest is easy. Buy a set of stackable bins for the different categories of recycling. It’s best to sort recyclables right away to save you time in the future.

Once you know what is recyclable and the drop-off or pick-up method, the rest is easy. Buy a set of stackable bins for the different categories of recycling. It’s best to sort recyclables right away to save you time in the future.

Any recycling is better than no recycling, so start a system that makes the most sense for your family.

Here are a few recyclable items you may not be aware of:

  • Perscription drugs – search for a local prescription drug drop-off location.
  • Packing peanuts – many packaging companies will reuse these.
  • Water filters – stores like Whole Foods have drop-off locations to turn these into toothbrushes.
  • Moto oil – auto shops will collect these to dispose of them properly
  • Phones and ink cartridges – stores like Staples offer drop-off locations for these items.

7. Repair or Repurpose

Your first instinct may be to throw away an old or broken item but don’t. Odds are you have the ability to repair or repurpose it with the help of a little research.

For broken items, Youtube is your best friend. A quick search and you’ll be able to find a repair tutorial for your broken item. Most tutorials break down repairs step-by-step, making them easy to follow no matter your skill level.

For things that aren’t fixable, find a new purpose for them. Old clothes serve as rags to use with your homemade cleaning supplies. Tissue boxes make a great storage solution for small items or mail. Think outside the box and you’ll find a new purpose for your old items.

More Help With How to Reduce Waste

When it comes to how to reduce waste in your home and daily life, the key is to start somewhere. Start with one of these tips and add more as they become new habits.