Tips for Reducing Waste at Home
You might have heard about the guy who saved all of his garbage for one year to see what it would be like if he had to live with his own waste. He composted and reused what he could, but still ended up with a good deal of trash stored in his home. Ari Derfel saved all of his trash from December 4, 2006 until December 4, 2007, during which he claims he began to feel every purchase he made.
When you go to buy a bottle of juice, can of soda, or carton of milk, stop and think about where that container came from. It was made in a factory somewhere, then shipped somewhere else for bottling and packaging, and trucked to the store where you are now buying. Once you are done drinking your soda, you recycle the can. But what happens to the can after that?
If you stop to think about the entire process, you might stop and make smarter choices when you buy. We live in a world where convenience is offered to us in nicely wrapped packages, and this is okay as long as we are socially responsible about how we treat these packages. There are some simple things you can do to prevent waste.
Reduce – Buy less small packages. I know that the individually wrapped packages and drinks are convenient, but they are wasteful. Buying in bulk saves you money and has less packaging. If you love the idea of individually wrapped servings, simply use small, reusable containers to divide up the bulk product.
Reuse – You don’t have to toss out plastic tubs after you use up whatever came in it. I reuse yogurt containers all the time to store leftovers in. You simply have to wash them out before using. When you do decide to get rid of them, you can recycle them—but know that they have lived a full life.
Say No To Bags – Instead of choosing between plastic or paper, don’t use a bag. If you only purchase one or two items, you might be able to carry them. Try putting small things in your pocket or purse. If you are getting a lot, take your own reusable bags or a backpack. There is no need to recycle bags if you don’t use them in the first place. Some grocery stores will put your items in a bag without asking, but I will simply take my items out and leave the bag at the counter.
Reusable Containers – Buy reusable containers, like water bottles and travel mugs. Instead of buying individual bottles of water that you will end up recycling or coffee cups that get tossed, buy reusable ones. You can wash them each day, and fill them as you need to. Some stores, like Whole Foods, let you bring your own containers to purchase things like fresh peanut butter, honey, olive oil, and flour (just to name a few).