It’s clear that plastic is becoming a huge problem in our society and environment. As consumers, it can sometimes feel like there’s nothing we can do to stem the flow of single-use products onto the market (and then into the landfill). The zero-waste movement is one way we can make a difference in our homes that can make a big impact in the world.
1. Conduct a Trash Audit
Look through your household trash and take a mental note of what shows up most in the trash. This can give you an idea of where to start reducing waste. Maybe there’s lots of spoiled food, plastic zippered bags, or plastic packaging.
2. Cook at Home
Cooking at home is a great way of reducing waste. Prepared and packaged foods, as well as take-out, are always going to be packaged in a lot of wasteful packaging. Preparing meals at home eliminates the packaging needed. Even if you buy your ingredients at the grocery store without bulk buying or bringing your own containers, you will still save a lot of packaging. Plus, cooking at home has the added benefit of being much more healthy.
3. Drink More Water
We could probably all benefit from drinking more water every day. But drinking more water (from home) can also help reduce waste. Single-use plastic beverage bottles are one of the biggest pollutants. Beverages in tetrapaks are just as bad. Instead, get a water filter for your home and bring your own water bottle when you go out.
4. Swap Out Biggest Offenders
Making some simple swaps can save a lot of waste and get you one step closer to a zero-waste lifestyle. I know this seems like one more thing on the to-do list, so here are some easy and pain-free swaps and over time even save some money too!
Water bottles – Use a reusable water bottle in place of disposable ones.
Coffee cups – These paper cups can be plastic-lined, instead, bring your own.
Straws – These are a huge problem for the environment but are also one of the easiest places to make a change. When possible, simply refuse plastic straws.
Shopping bags – Once you get used to remembering your reusable bags when you’re shopping it’s really easy to reduce how many plastic bags you bring home.
5. Get Rid of Junk Mail
Junk mail is not only a huge waste of paper, ink, electricity (printing), etc., it’s also a huge waste of your time when you have to recycle it. Sign up at dmachoice.org, optoutprescreen.org, and catalogchoice.org to reduce how much you are sent.
6. Shop Secondhand
One way to reduce waste is to buy secondhand whenever possible. Look for high-quality items at secondhand stores instead of buying new. You reduce how much packaging you have to throw away and you give something old a new life.
7. Begin Composting
Twenty-two percent of solid waste that enters the landfill is food, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Diverting this food to a compost pile instead of the trash is a great way to reduce food waste and your garbage bill. All you need is a countertop compost container (it can be as simple as a bowl) and a spot in your yard to start a compost pile.