While going 100% zero-waste can feel overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Every little step matters when you’re trying to live a sustainable lifestyle.
In fact, you don’t have to step out the door to do your part for the planet— start today with these three simple steps to reduce waste at home.
According to the EPA, 45% of ALL waste in landfills comes from food packaging.
A significant fraction of that is produced by grocery stores, where it’s normal to see pieces of fruit and vegetables individually-wrapped in plastic, foam mesh, and other materials that are a nightmare to recycle.
Instead of supporting this practice, shop at your local farmer’s market for fresh produce that doesn’t come wrapped in a ton of plastic.
Not only will you cut down on your single-use waste, but you also get to support your local community.
Multiply your impact by:
Bringing your own bag (BYOB).
Bring your own plastic bags, turn old clothes and towels into reusable bags, and bring these with you every time you shop.
Buy in bulk.
If you have the budget for it, buy grocery items in bulk.
You get to save money and reduce single-packaging at the same time.
There are even shops that allow you to bring your own containers and refill them with what you need.
Try to join a local food co-op.
Community-run food co-ops are an excellent source of high-quality produce, bulk food items, and products for special diets at fair prices.
Most of them also support zero-waste initiatives, and as a member, you can get huge discounts as well.
Stock your home with reusable items.
One of the most effective ways to reduce waste at home is to not produce it in the first place.
The key is to go reusable.
Instead of purchasing single-use or disposable items, buy alternatives you can use again and again.
Check out these ideas:
Ban plastic bags in your house, and replace them with tote bags instead.
They virtually last forever!
Throwing away everyday hygiene and beauty items like facial swabs, cotton rounds, tissues may not seem like a big deal, but it’s terrible for the environment.
Here’s a few facts:
o Most q-tips are made of plastic, and billions are produced, sold, and thrown away each year.
o Makeup pads create 7 billion pounds of trash every year.
o The waste generated by disposable tampons and sanitary pads is quickly approaching crisis levels.
You can easily stop contributing to the problem by switching to reusable alternatives at home instead.
Aside from being 100% natural and sustainable, reusable options simply make sense.
For instance, why waste money on disposable cotton rounds when you can buy a reusable one that can replace 1750 single-use cotton rounds instead?
Instead of spending an average of $13.25 a month on sanitary products, consider switching to a washable menstrual cup that can last up to 10 years.
If you use straws a lot, buy a metal one to go with your reusable water bottle.
Also, make an effort to repurpose what you already have on hand.
Got a few glass or plastic containers you were planning to recycle?
Wash them out, and use them to start building a plastic-free pantry instead.
Other tiny but impactful steps include:
- Donate your old books, clothes, and furniture instead of giving them away.
- Many tech stores accept old electronics for disposal such as Apple stores with old iPods and iPhones.
- Use your food scraps for compost.
- Reuse your old toothbrush as cleaning tools.
- Keep wrapping papers and use them again next year.
- Repair torn clothing instead of throwing them away and buying new ones. You can also get creative and turn them into new clothing items!
Eat at home.
Having takeout delivered is convenient and delicious, but when you realize that 43% of plastic in waste streams and landfills comes from food packaging – including takeout containers, bags, and utensils— it suddenly becomes unappetizing.
On top of that, most takeout food is unhealthy for you too.
Instead, make an effort to cook your own food at home.
There are tons of recipes out there that are done in as little as 15 to 30 minutes.
Too busy to cook every day?
Meal prep during the weekends!
You get to eat better, reduce waste, and save money all at the same time.
But of course, there’s no need to deprive yourself completely.
Craving for Indian or Italian food?
Eat at the restaurant instead of ordering out.
If you have no choice but to order in, at the very least, skip the option for plastic containers and utensils.
Home is where the heart— and the waste— is.
The good news is that change begins at home as well.
From supporting zero-waste stores to cooking your own food and what you already have, it doesn’t take much to do your part for a greener planet.