Waste is an inevitable part of daily life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to reduce the household waste we generate.
According to the Environmental American Research Center, Americans generate over 4.9 pounds of trash per person each day on average. That astonishing stat should give us all pause. Where does it all go? Straight to landfills and incinerators across the country. Only about 35% gets recycled or composted.
The implications of all that waste are staggering when you think about the pollution, greenhouse gases, and wasted natural resources. Not to mention the sheer amount of stuff getting tossed when someone else could use it!
The good news is that everyday people can make a dent in the gargantuan issue of household waste through small, smart choices. We really can cut down on what gets thrown out from our homes.
So if the daily waste piles distress you like they distress me, read on. This article share six clever tips below on how to create less garbage in your household.
How to reduce waste
Do an Audit of Your Household Waste
The first step is always getting an understanding of the current situation. Dig through your garage bins to see what types of waste you generate the most. Note things like food scraps, paper, plastic packaging, and other recyclables mixed throughout. This waste audit illuminates areas for improvement.
Once you spot waste patterns, you can set goals and adopt new habits. For example, if you find loads of plastic bottle waste, commit to using reusable water bottles going forward. Small actions multiply to make a real difference.
Store visits present many chances to prevent waste. Use reusable shopping bags, skip produce stickers by choosing loose fruits and veggies, and buy larger or bulk quantities to reduce packaging. Seek out products wrapped in recyclable versus single-use plastics. You can also buy reusable mesh produce bags for loose item shopping.
At home, proper storage keeps food fresher for longer, minimizing spoilage and trips to the store.
Store Food to Minimize Spoilage
According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research, approximately one-third of the food produced in the U.S. is never eaten. And this, in turn, leads to household waste. To minimize this, you need to get acquainted with best practices for maximizing freshness, such as to:
- Put leftovers in clear glass containers – you can see what needs to be eaten soon
- Keep fruit in the fridge and avocados on the counter
- Store bread at room temperature, then freeze extra to prevent molding
- Place herbs in glasses of water like fresh flowers
With some trial and error, you’ll get a system to ensure you eat most items you bring home. Doing so cuts waste stemming from spoiled food.
Use Reusable Alternatives
Remembering reusables takes conscious effort at first, but the eco-friendly routines soon become second nature. Invest in products made to withstand daily wear-and-tear for years to come. Some of these include:
Sturdy canvas totes can hold all your groceries and stuff nicely into your backpack or purse. Keep a set by the door so you always remember them on the way out.
Reusable Bottles & Cups
Sleek stainless steel bottles come in many shapes and sizes to hydrate you all day. Travel mugs keep your drinks hot or cold for hours out and about. They’re lifesavers when you’re on the go.
Compost Food Scraps
Home composting captures nutrients from plate scrapings and spoiled produce to nourish your garden soil instead of rotting away in a landfill. Layer “green” and “brown” materials together, keep the pile slightly moist, and let earthworms go to work.
If you lack outdoor space, try an indoor compost crock. Some city programs collect this household waste to compost communally too.
Donate and Repurpose Items
When you no longer need something in usable condition, extend its life cycle by passing it along. Repurposing everyday items around the home also breathes new life into old things. And, this in turn, reduce household waste
Donate Gently Used Goods
Clothing, furniture, electronics, and household goods in decent shape can make a real difference to families in need. Local charities, shelters, schools, and theaters often collect donations too.
Repurpose Household Items
The opportunities to revamp items you already own into something functional are endless. For example, mason jars can become pen holders, old sheets turn into curtains, and frames display kids’ artwork.
Pinterest is full of repurposing inspiration for crafty types and visual learners. Type in the item you want to reuse, and a world of eco-friendly possibilities opens up.
The zero waste lifestyle undeniably requires more forethought than trashing everything. But once the low waste mindset clicks into place, reducing household waste gets easier every day. Give these starter tips a try to make small moves toward less garbage and more sustainability.