When it comes to reducing waste, most people just think about recycling. Now don’t get me wrong, recycling is definitely a valuable way to reduce waste but there are so many more ways to cut down on all the stuff that will ultimately end up in the landfill.
Ways to Reduce Your Waste
The Famous Three:
As I mentioned, recycling is a popular choice when it comes to reducing waste. It’s not hard to do especially with so many cities providing recycling pick ups. Most of the time, recycling is as easy and tossing paper, plastic, glass into a recycling bin and letting the city pick it up and sort through it. Other times, you might need to sort through things first and take it to a recycling station but even that it’s too hard.
One of the best ways to reduce your waste is buy reducing how much you buy in the first place! This is where things like minimalism come into play. How much stuff do we really need?
Often times referred to as upcycling, this is a great way to cut down on waste and still allow yourself to have “new” products. Reusing old sauce jars to hold various items in your home keeps the jars out of the landfill and you do not need to buy new jars to hold all those items. It’s a two-for-one deal!
Moving Beyond the Famous Three:
We all need to eat food but that doesn’t mean that the food needs to be thrown into the trash when we are done with what’s left of it! Compost it! There are even some cities that will pick up compost with your yard waste which makes composting very easy!
Focus on Food Waste
Food waste is a big pet peeve of mine, probably because we live on such a tight food budget. Much like not buying things you do not need, food waste often stems from buying foods that you either really do not need (it was on sale!) or buying food and then forgetting about it till it goes bad. Focus on meal planning and using what is already in your kitchen before buying more groceries and you can save a lot of waste… and money!
Buy in Bulk
Now this might seem a bit counterproductive to the above food waste issue but hear me out. If you know that you will in fact use a product (detergent, food, toilet paper) in larger amounts then buy in bulk. Usually you save money that way and it reduces the amount of packaging that you end up throwing away.
If you need to get rid of something but don’t want to just toss it in the trash, consider donating it. There are plenty of people who likely would love to have what you would otherwise be throwing away. When my family moved recently we did a lot of free listings on craigslist and free cycle. I’d think nobody would want an old mattress but you’d be surprised! Same goes with food! If you have food products (usually the nonperishable stuff) that you know you will not use, donate it. There are food banks that would love to have your donations.
Consign or Sell
Much like donating items you no longer need, consigning is a great way to get rid of products instead of throwing them away. The benefit with consigning is that you actually get a little something in return! This is what I do with my kids’ old toys and clothes. We take them to the consignment store and then I get credit to the store which I then use to purchase my kids’ new clothes. You can also sell items yourself via sites like craigslist which definitely gives you more money for your product.
Ditch the Disposables
Disposables might be handy but they are something you continually have to pay for and throw away! Make the switch to reusable products instead of paper products for instance. You won’t need to constantly buy replacements and you won’t have to fill up the trash can with products when they are used.
No matter what you do, there are times when you will need to buy more items. However, you don’t need to buy new! Consider buying used instead. As I mentioned before, people everywhere would rather make a bit of money instead of just throwing away a perfectly good item so next time you need to buy something, check out craigslist or the like.
Repair Before Replacing
Did your blender break on you? Instead of tossing it out and buying a new one, see if you can fix it first! Sometimes things break and there’s no way for us to fix them but often times you can easily repair your item and it will be as good as new!
Take Care of What You Have
Products last longer when you take care of them. Now I’m not really talking about not throwing your items around the house; I assume you realize that is not a good idea. I’m talking more about general upkeep. That dishwasher will last you much longer if you take the time to give it a thorough cleaning for instance.
In this day and age, we get a lot of mail. Most of the mail we get is completely useless too! You can opt out of mailers (because how many of us actually use those?) and you can request online bill pay for bills or online notifications for bank or medical statements. Less junk mail means less trash.
Sometimes you need an item but only for a short duration. Maybe you really want to can some fruit, maybe you need to trim a tree… instead of going out and buying a product that you will maybe use once or twice, why not asking friends and neighbors if you could borrow that item? Most people are quite willing to let you borrow their stuff and you will not have to spend money on something you don’t have a long term use for.
Before buying something take awhile and think about if you really need it. Yes, I know that knick-knack, new shirt, new toy seems like a “must have” but is it really? Will you really use it, will you use it often? If in the end you realize that you do not really need the item then just do without!