As 2020 arrived, many of us either renewed our personal drive to reduce waste or began the mission as part of a New Year’s resolution. To those moving in this direction, looking out for the planet in their own way, we should raise one more champagne flute to the cause.
Reducing the amount of waste we produce is important on a household level, as well as an industrial scale. While we can’t necessarily control what businesses are doing, though boycotts and protests are strongly suggestive, we can control what we are doing at home.
But, that doesn’t mean changing daily habits is without effort. To aid the well-meaning on their path to nature-loving, we’ve compiled a list of simple ways to reduce waste, while at the same time saving money and becoming more self-reliant.
Composting is one of the greener things we can all do. Instead of turning spoiled food into waste, we can create fertile soil. Then, we can grow more food and replenish the earth’s fertility. If the compost is there, why not grow some fresh veggies at home?
2. Go Food Shopping With a List
Shopping lists require a little more organization, but they are the means by which we can avoid the traps of marketing in the supermarket. If we buy only what we plan to prepare for the week, we won’t be throwing stuff out at the end of it.
3. Appreciate Leftovers
Leftovers, whether from home-cooked meals or otherwise, should become a commonality. We’ve developed the habit of throwing out the remainder of unfinished meals because it’s so easy to get more food. In reality, there’s cultivating, harvesting, packaging, shipping, preparation, and tons of little (environmentally costly) steps in between.
4. Choose More Whole Foods Over Processed Foods
Whole food, as opposed to processed food, has much less packaging. Rather than buying ready-made meals, buying ingredients and preparing simple meals ourselves requires much less packaging per calorie consumed. And, it’s much healthier.
5. Use Reusable Containers
Reusable containers of all sorts should be a standard now. We know to choose reusable shopping bags (for a long time at that, not fashionably changing designs once a month). We know to carry our own water bottle. These two basic items really have an impact.
6. Avoid Take Out
“No Take Out” could become a personal policy. The idea would be to pack a snack from home, in a reusable container, or go to a restaurant for a sit-down meal. We could take the extra step of avoiding places with disposable dishes and cutlery, as well as keeping items like this out of our own cupboards.
7. Minimize Mail Orders
While they are convenient, mail orders mean extra boxes, plastic wrap, bubble wrap, gasoline and so on. It’s much better to purchase things locally, especially locally made, from the shelf.
7. Buy Fresh Food From Farmers’ Markets
Fresh food from farmers’ markets helps conscientious shoppers avoid the packaging that so much of our produce comes in nowadays. And, it helps the local economy and small businesses.
8. Hold Off on the Latest Electronics
Don’t “upgrade” electronic equipment until it really matters. The next version of a smart phone or tablet is unlikely to make all that much difference. This goes for TVs, computers, toasters, coffeemakers, etc.
9. Choose Rechargeable Over Disposable Batteries
Rechargeable batteries are a wise step both for the environmentalist and the penny-pincher. They cost much less in the long run, and they reduce toxic battery waste.
10. Make Your Own Cleaners and Toiletries
DIY cleaners and toiletries are easy to make (seriously easy) with just a few ingredients. They prevent the need for forty-seven different bottles, tubs, and cans of stuff.
11. Repair What You Can Instead of Tossing
Repair what you can because every slightly broken item that gets tossed costs the planet and you. Again, this also helps small, local businesses.
Source: pixeljones/Creative Commons
Donating unwanted items in good condition both prevents you from creating waste and helps someone acquire something they need without buying it new and packaged.
13. Buy Secondhand
Buy/sell secondhand items when possible. Sometimes there is money to be made from what we’ve finished using; sometimes there’s money to be saved from buying someone else’s old stuff. It reduces waste and eliminates packaging.
14. Use Your Items for More Than One Purpose
Using what you’ve got is a legit way to live. For example, we can use the kitchen knife to dice carrots at home, no need for a dicer. We can make a smoothie with about five different common kitchen appliances. The same trick can happen all around the house.
Mostly, the effort to reduce waste comes from taking a moment to consider the impact of what we do, where we personally are creating the most waste, and looking for ways to adjust that. For some of us, it’ll be cutting out dozens of boxes and bottles and to-go cups a week. For others, it’ll mean buying bulk rice instead of bags of it. The point is to make the effort, and together we’ll make a difference.
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