Making the jump to a more eco-friendly lifestyle can be daunting. But in reality, all it requires is a conscious effort! Here are 11 simple steps you can take to minimize your waste at home.
Buy in Bulk with Glass Containers
The first simple step is to make an effort to switch from your beloved plastic products to glass! That’s not to say that you should toss your Tupperware into the trash bin. Rather, when you need to replace them, choose reusable glass containers to carry your lunch in.
In the meantime, mason jars are making a comeback. Put them to use! Not only are glass jars more sustainable, they are great for organization and the overall aesthetic in your kitchen. Win-Win!
I’m also a big fan of buying in bulk, not only can it save money but it can also reduce the amount of plastic packaging that can end up in our landfills. Most bulk food stores are beginning to employ more eco-friendly methods for purchasing their products. Yet another way you can employ your beautiful glass jars!
Ditch the Take-Out
Many companies are making the switch to more eco-friendly packaging (about time!), but take-out is still a large source of pollution. Think about where those straws, single-use utensils, and disposable cups end up. That’s right, in most cases it is the landfill.
I know that with our busy lifestyles it may not be realistic to make home-cooked meals every day, but there are a couple ways to you can make convenient living more eco-friendly:
Say No To Straws And Utensils
If you’re bringing the take-out home, you probably have a cupboard full of utensils on hand. Just ask to have those extras left out of the bag. If you are taking to meal to-go, you can carry reusable utensils and a stainless steel straw, items that fit easily into your purse or backpack!
Setting up a weekly meal plan (or monthly, if you’re ambitious) can really help to cut back on the amount of take-out you pick up. Being prepared and having groceries will also encourage you to eat healthier.
Move Away From Single-use Products at Home
Single-use products are convenient, sure, but they are another massive source of pollution. The easiest way to avoid this is to actively purchase reusable and good-quality products that will last.
Here are some products, in particular, that stands out as the worst offenders:
Stop using Coffee Pods
These single-drink making machines have become a staple in almost every household. In just a click of a button, you get the perfect sized drink made for you! Did you know? the inventor of the Keurig coffee pods regrets making a non-recyclable product.
Even the new packaging that claims to be more eco-friendly really isn’t. While it cuts out a fraction of the packaging, a lot of the time, the added work of having to split the cup into two for recycling is overlooked, and they end up in the trash anyway.
Instead, opt to brew your coffee the good ol’ fashioned way and don’t be afraid to share some with your friends (or maybe you do need that third cup, we won’t judge!)
Don’t buy disposable
Fact: Disposable razors are cheap. Another Fact: They’re also absolutely horrible for the environment. Unless you plan to dismantle the razor yourself, it cannot be recycled. Razors have to be replaced on a regular basis for sanitary reasons, which is ironic because when you do, you’re dirtying up the environment!
If you must use a razor, double-edged and straight razors are a much more environmentally-friendly way to keep everything neat and tidy! Or, if the idea of using a straight razor brings up visions of a Sweeney Todd massacre, you can also choose to try sugar waxing instead.
Getting orders shipped right to your house is convenient, but not only can the shipping be costly to your wallet, it can be costly for the planet. In most cases, not all of the packaging is recyclable, and on top of that, getting the package shipped increases carbon emissions.
Instead, opt to buy local. This will help both your community and the planet. Most stores get their orders in large shipments, which can help reduce both carbon emissions and the use of non-recyclable packaging.
Frequent your farmers market and Opt to buy fresh
Where we live, the summers are plentiful with fresh fruits and vegetables are grown by local farmers. Take advantage of fresh eats by making a stop at your local farmer’s market to pick up your produce. Those strawberries will taste much better than the ones shipped from another country, I promise.
With your fresh produce inside your reusable produce bag or container, you can stop next at your local butcher shop. Most places will wrap their meats in less packaging, so you can skip the styrofoam tray. Which may not be recyclable where you live.
Reuse, Reduce, Recycle (Properly!)
Depending on where you live, there are different standards on what is recyclable and what is not. It’s our job to check and make sure you’re following your local rules. An easy way to do this is to Google your local recycling facilities, and browse their website for information.
Check the Numbers
It’s also important to know what types of plastic there are.
Here is a quick crash course on the 7 different types:
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE) e.g.single-use bottles or containers, like water bottles
- High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) usually opaque and used for a variety of products, e.g. toothpaste tubes and laundry detergent.
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) rarely recyclable, used commonly in shower curtains among other household products.
- Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) squeezable containers, may not be recyclable in your jurisdiction.
- Polypropylene (PP) e.g., baby bottles and other products that can withstand higher temperatures.
- Polystyrene (PS) not easily recyclable, often used for disposable cups and meat packaging.
- Miscellaneous plastic: a blend of multiple forms of plastic, and therefore cannot be recycled.
If you’re interested in learning more ways to reduce your waste you can check out 6 Practical Ways to Stop Food Waste.