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Reducing waste is not a new topic. Throughout elementary school I heard the phrase, "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" often. Recycling bins were set up right by the trash cans and compost piles were always encouraged. At home, we had a small bucket for compost, and it was my responsibility to empty it out in the backyard composting bin every day. We collected empty cans and bottles to take to the bottle depot, and paper products were never thrown in the trash.
Somehow, this changed over the years.
When we first got married and moved, I was shocked at the amount of trash that was being taken out of our home. I'll admit that a big part of it was being new to the state (and country!) and not really knowing how the recycling program works here. I was completely lost.
I came across this article claiming that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish! Whether this is true or not, I decided that we produced way too much waste as it was. After figuring a few things out, we started implementing simple ways to reduce the amount we throw away, and it has made a noticeable difference for us.
Besides the obvious (reduce, reuse and recycle), here are 10 things you can do today to reduce the amount of waste you may produce.
A note: Everyone is different and has different needs. It's important you sit down and find out what your main source of waste is, and what you can do about it. The list below was a direct result of looking into our trash bin and seeing what was in there. We then decided what we could do to get rid of, or at least reduce it.
Stop Using Plastic Grocery Bags
I know, I know, they just bag them up automatically, but opt for reusable bags for groceries. This takes a bit of practice (I know I've forgotten many times), but it's worth it in the end - even just to have a sturdier bag to take the groceries in with. Some stores, like Target, even offer a few cents if you bring in your own bag!
Skip Produce Bags
Try using mesh laundry bags for produce, or just skip them altogether! I tend to do the latter if I forget :)
Ditch Ziplock Baggies
Or wash and reuse them! Replace them with reusable glass storage containers. Plastic isn't good for us anyway. Mason jars are also great for leftovers or storage of bulk bin items. Speaking of which...
Buy in Bulk
Bulk bins are just so much fun! You can get everything from spices to banana chips in a bulk bin. Take it a step further and skip the plastic baggies they provide and use a recyclable paper bag instead. Most stores are even jar-friendly!
Use Cloth Towels Instead of Paper Towels
We've also opted for cloth napkins at the dinner table!
Make Your Own Products
A lot of packaged goods are not only unhealthy for us, but also create a lot of garbage! a Most are really easy to make with ingredients already in your home. Try making your own bread to start! We've even started making our own toothpaste (More on that here)! **Update: hand soap, body wash, face cream, and body butter have now been introduced to our bathroom, and I've ditched disposable hygiene products for a menstrual cup.
Say Goodbye to Disposable Water Bottles
Not only is bottled water packaging a potential health hazard, it is overpriced, and many of the bottles are found in landfills. Instead, carry your own water bottle with you. We use glass bottles - they can get a bit heavy, so stainless steel is a good alternative
Opt for Paying Bills Online Instead of Getting them in the Mail
Who wants that kind of mail anyway? Bonus: if you sign up for automatic payments, if you forget one month, it won't be terribly tragic because it will be on time!
Read the Newspaper and Magazines Online
I'll admit, having magazines around can be a lot of fun, but with everything online these days, it's almost unnecessary. Save yourself the clutter and the waste that is created when people don't recycle! I have bought very few physical magazines since getting my iPad Air a couple of years ago.
Forget About Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are filled with toxins that we should probably avoid! Make your own wool dryer balls, or just forget about them altogether. I'd rather have some static in my clothes than harmful chemicals.
These are, of course, only some of the ways we can start reducing our negative impact on the environment. As I write, even more are coming to my mind - but that will have to wait for another day :)
Until that day comes, what are some of the ways you reduce waste in your home? Comment below to share some ideas!