How To Reduce Your Household Waste
We are more aware than ever of our own impact on the environment. Yet when you think that every year over 230 million tons of domestic trash is generated in the US but only a quarter is actually recycled, it can seem overwhelming.
But we can all make a difference, even if it’s by making a few small changes in our everyday lives. And if we all did just a little bit, then it will soon mount up to a lot – especially when it comes to reducing the amount of rubbish we throw away. And as they say, the best place to start is in the home. Simply follow the ‘refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle’ mantra when it comes to filling your trash can or garbage disposal and you can’t really go wrong. To get you inspired, we’ve compiled a top tips list on how you can easily reduce your own household waste.
1. Reduce Food Waste
Food is one of the largest components of municipal waste sent to landfill every year – and when you think about it, it’s not only food but your money being trashed. Reduce food waste and you could also save too. The first step is to avoid over-shopping when it comes to food – that packed fridge may look appetizing but are you really going to eat everything in time? Take an inventory of your refrigerator and food cupboards before you shop and make a list, then ensure you store everything you buy properly to maximize its ‘shelf-life’. Try to use up any meal leftovers – your supper could also be tomorrow’s lunch – and turn scrap vegetables and meat into stock. What you are aiming to do is to put only the unusable food scraps into your trash can.
2. Start Composting
You can also go one step further with your food waste and start composting your unusable scraps. Food buried in landfill doesn’t break down that easily and will create harmful gases that can pollute the atmosphere. However, by using a compost bin, which remains above ground and enables air to circulate, you can compost your food waste easily – resulting in natural fertilizer for your garden after about a year. And you can compost almost anything organic that comes out of your kitchen, from food and coffee grounds, to eggshells and even ashes from your fireplace. The end result is less food waste in landfill and free garden and lawn fertilizer for you!
3. Say No To Single-Use Plastic
Did you know that plastic can take up to 1,000 years to degrade and even then, it doesn’t disappear completely, but leaves tiny microplastics to pollute our oceans and land environment?
The key to effectively reducing your household waste is to just say no to single-use plastic.
Not only will it help save the environment, but it will save your wallet too. And it doesn’t have to be a chore – simple swaps in your daily routine will make a real difference in how much household trash you put out each week. Always carry a reusable water bottle so you can re-fill on the go and use a travel mug for your morning coffee – those paper take-away cups from the coffee house cannot be recycled as they have a plastic lining. And avoid plastic straws, cocktail stirrers, fast food plastic cutlery – buy bamboo or travel metal versions and pack them in your work backpack or day pack. In short, reusable is totally the way to go!
4. Choose Products With Minimal Packaging
If your heart sinks when you see the amount of packaging that comes with your weekly food shop, then now’s the time to do something about it. While some can be recycled, it’s a better option all-round if the packaging wasn’t there, to begin with.
With a little thought, you can actually reduce the amount of food you buy that comes in un-recyclable packaging. Go prepared when it is time to food shop – take a supply of re-usable carrier bags and food containers; you can even buy reusable net bags for your loose goods. Most fruit and veg doesn’t need any packaging, they tend to come with their own (aka, skin) and you can ask staff to use your own food container at the deli, meat or fish counter. And try to avoid goods that are obviously over packed or wrapped and if you can’t, look for the label that tells you if it can be recycled.
5. Opt-Out Of Junk Mail
The amount of junk mail pouring through your letterbox is enough to test a saint, but there is a way to turn that tap off and reduce the amount you throw straight into the waste bin.
First up, for all your banking and utilities, go online and opt-in for electronic statements and bills. Then go through your recent junk mail bin and contact the companies to get yourself taken off their mailing list. Check out at www.ecocycle.org/junkmail for some great tips.
And then make sure you keep on top of it – whenever you subscribe to information online, always make sure you tick the ‘via email’ box.
6. Re-Use What You Can
Re-use and repurpose – these are key buzz words for the waste reducer and ones that are surprisingly easy to follow. Before you pop an item into the trash can, have a think – can they be used for something else? Top of the reuse/repurpose list are your old clothes and towels but there’s a host of ordinary household items that can be given a new lease of life.
Your old T-shirt with too many holes to fix? You now have a great rag for cleaning. That worn-out toothbrush? Use it for scrubbing clean your moldy bathroom grout. Egg cartons can be used for planting seedlings, jam jars for storing nails in your workshop, a fast food takeaway tub can become your new lunch box. You get the gist – now go out and give your trash a new career!
If you’ve followed all our other tips to reduce your household waste, hopefully the pile of items to be recycled will have also reduced. The more you effectively recycle, the less you are putting into landfill so take time to separate your glass and tin, from paper and card. It is now important that you sift through the waste you have left to ensure it can actually be recycled. And don’t forget to do your research as to what can and cannot be recycled in your area and what recycling services are available.
So, there you have it, our top tips for reducing your household waste. Get into this routine and before you know it, cutting back on your trash will be second nature. And nature will thank you for it.