The average american produces 4 pounds of trash a day! The trash we create produces tons of greenhouse gasses, releases chemicals into the soil, and many items we toss out take hundreds of year to decompose. By following some simple tips for reducing what we need, reusing as much as we can, and sending as little as possible to be recycled, we can significantly reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.
- Plastic bags – Use reusable produce bags, sandwich bags, and canvas totes wherever you go. Previously used plastic bags can also be recycled at many grocery stores. You can learn where to recycle plastic bags in Northern Colorado here.
- Recycle – Recycling is a great way to reduce your landfill waste, but it’s also important to shrink the amount you recycle. Zero waste is about recycling less, not more.
- Compost – More than half of household garbage going to landfills is organic material that could be composted, rather than thrown out. About half of that is food waste! Composting can save you money on your trash bill and it reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
- Homemade cleaning products – Conventional cleaning products are filled with toxins that harm your health and our waterways. Use baking soda and vinegar to create homemade cleaners can clean better, are less expensive and are gentler on you and the environment.
- Second hand clothes – Buying used clothes cuts down on manufacturing, keeps clothes out of landfills and benefits your local economy. Clothes you no longer use can also be donated to a local consignment shop or charity.
- Paperless online billing – Avoid mailing wasteful paper envelops and buying stamps and pay your bills online.
- Promotional items – Going to a conference or a work fair? Don’t pick up cheap promotional items that you are likely to throw away.
- Reusable bottle and mug – One plastic bottle can take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill. Before you leave home don’t forget your water bottle or porcelain mug.
- Meal prep – Meal prepping for lunch and dinner with glass containers can save time, money and reduce waste from dining out.
- Repair clothes and shoes – Learn how to repair a button or hem a seam to extend the life of your clothing. You can also use your local tailor or cobbler to help with clothing and shoe repairs.
- Gifts – Make homemade gifts to give to friends and family. Wrap presents in compostable newsprint or butcher paper. Or my personal favorite – give experiences as gifts! Last year I got my dad a national parks pass and my mom concert tickets for their birthdays. Experiences are typically less wasteful and depending on what you choose, they allow for quality time with your loved ones.
- Beer – Reduce your metal and glass waste by using a refillable growler. In Northern Colorado, most breweries will fill growlers from any brewery as long as it has a certified government sticker.
- Receipts – Avoid receipts, ask if one can be emailed to you instead.
- Local foods- Join a community garden, shop at your local food co-op or farmer’s market to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food transportation and packaging.
- Food storage – Store your food properly to make it last longer and reduce your food waste. You can learn about proper food storage at RealSimple.
With just a simple step at a time, you can greatly reduce the amount of trash you produce to help create a healthier world. Follow my journey to becoming waste free on Instagram.