A lot of you probably feel helpless when reading about how people bring absolutely no trash home with the help of the wonderful bulk stores they have access to. I, too, get incredibly jealous when I see pictures of bulk dish soap, laundry detergent, and shampoo. Most of us are lucky to have grocery stores who carry package free produce let alone, all of those other items. Luckily, there are several other ways that we can all reduce our waste that will cause a dramatic impact without having access to package free stores. Most of what we throw away is completely avoidable! If you are tired of living in this throw away society, here are 5 easy ways you can reduce waste in your home.
1. Stop Buying Bottled Water
Yes I know. This is a bad habit we all fall into. As a nation, we collectively throw away over 35 billion plastic bottles a year. I know many of you are thinking to yourself, "Well, I recycle mine." That's great, but plastic only has one life cycle after recycling, so it almost always, ends up in a landfill, or a river, or a lake, or the ocean. The solution? Have your own refillable water bottle. I prefer stainless steel or glass. Fill that baby up with delicious tap water from home or at a water fountain and pat yourself on the back. Not only are you saving our precious fossil fuels from being irresponsibly turned into plastic bottles, you are also saving tons of money by not forking over your hard earned cash for something that is essentially free. Don't like the taste of tap? There are several filter options that go right onto your faucet.
2. Refuse Plastic Bags
Plastic bags have got to be the most unnecessary disposable we use and they are EVERYWHERE! They litter our streets, forests, and waterways like flimsy, plastic eyesores.
"Think about it, why would you make something that you're going to use for a few minutes out of a material that's basically going to last forever, and you're just going to throw it away. What's up with that?"- Jeb Berrier
"In the United States alone, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil is used annually to make the plastic bags that Americans consume. The United States International Trade Commission reported that 102 billion plastic bags were used in the U.S. in 2009." - Bag It the MovieGet yourself some reusable cloth bags. Take them to the grocery store, hardware store, retail stores, and any other places that would require carrying multiple items home. Keep a few in the car just in case you forget. If you still end up without a reusable bag when you get to the store, refuse the plastic bag anyway and carry your items in your hands. Simple.
If you want to take it a step further, purchase or make smaller cloth bags for produce. Or don't bag the produce at all. Do you really need to put that bunch of bananas in a plastic bag?
3. Cook Healthy Meals at Home
We are a society that loves our fast food. Despite its' convenience, it's bad for your health, it's bad for your wallet, and it's bad for the environment. Think about what you bring home when you go to the drive thru. A bag with wrapped food, napkins, plastic straws, condiments, plastic cutlery, and a receipt. A lot of waste. Planning and cooking healthy meals at home doesn't have to be cumbersome. Choose simple, clean ingredients like vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains to whip up tasty, easy meals in a flash. When you cut out overly packaged processed and fast foods you are not only making a better choice for your health, you will also find that you are throwing less away.
According to the U.S. Composting Council, the largest component of our solid waste is organic - meaning that it's compostable. You might be thinking, "Won't it just compost naturally in the landfill?" No. By bagging copious amounts of organics and piling them together in huge amounts along with inorganic materials, we are preventing that natural digestion and causing methane instead. This is causing many issues in our cities' landfills. Some cities have even started putting bans on discarding organic materials into your trash all together.
Composting is incredibly easy and rewarding. Find a composting bin design you like, build it somewhere away from your house (for fire reasons), and start filling it up with your organic scraps. Don't have a yard? See if your city has a compost pick up or drop off program or start a vermicomposter inside.
By composting, you will immediately reduce your household waste by 24%!
5. Replace Disposables with ReusablesInstead of buying Styrofoam plates, use real plates. Instead of buying plastic, throw-away cups, use reusable cups. Instead of using plastic cutlery, use real silverware. Instead of using paper towels, use rags. You get the idea, right? Look for items in your house that get one use, and replace them with reusable replacements. It will save you a ton of money and also lessen your waste substantially.
For additional ways to reduce your waste, stay tuned for more on Zero Waste Nerd or follow me on Instagram!