I don’t know about you but I’ve gotten tired of hearing the same tips used over and over again. Use a reusable water bottle. Take shorter showers. Bike to work. These tips aren’t bad, but I think there’s so much more we can do to reduce household waste. Plus, not everyone can bike to work. And showers aren’t the only water wasters in our home. In an effort to promote more diverse ways of reducing waste, I’ve compiled 5 simple ways I reduce my household’s waste.
*When I talk about waste on this blog I am usually referencing trash, water contamination, and food waste*
1. BUY FRESH & FREEZE EVERYTHING
If you have access to fresh produce, then take advantage of it! Buy some reusable produce bags so you can skip the plastic disposable ones or just put the produce directly in the cart. You’ve already avoided one source of waste- disposable plastic bags.
The second source of waste comes long after you leave the grocery store (or farmer’s market!). Food waste: a common problem caused by poor planning and/or forgetfulness. I suffer from both regularly. I’ve learned to freeze nearly all the produce I buy. Usually this is broccoli, cauliflower, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and spinach. Based on my research these are the foods that don’t freeze well: cabbage, celery, cress, cucumbers, endive, lettuce, parsley, and radishes. I usually leave enough raw produce for 2-3 dinners and a few breakfasts, and then freeze the rest. I guarantee you will see a dramatic difference in your food waste by utilizing your freezer more.
2. DIY/UPCYCLE IT
If possible, make a product yourself before buying it new. This could mean cutting up an old t-shirt into rags for cleaning, creating a cleaning solution out of vinegar + water, or making a recycled notebook. Pictured above is a clean glass candle jar that I’ve upcycled into a container for makeup remover (coconut oil). In my opinion, this looks a lot nicer than regular makeup remover containers.
There’s a multitude of free resources online and in libraries to aid you on your quest. Interested in homemade toothpaste? Deodorant? If you are looking for something specific, then let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to locate a recipe/DIY for you!
Remember that the whole point of this is to reduce waste. If you find that the project is requiring too much money, time, or plastic packaging, feel free to move on.
3. BUY USED/SECONDHAND
Craigslist. Ebay. Facebook. Buffalo Exchange. Plato’s Closet. Goodwill. Salvation Army. Freecycle.
These are just a few resources available to you in your search for used goods. These are, of course, mainstream thrift stores and websites, so you may find it useful to search for stores in your area.
It’s easy to buy something new. Trust me, I still fail at this regularly. The issue usually stems from convenience. I need this item now. This is exactly what I’m looking for…and it’s right in front of me. If you can eliminate the urgent “need” for the item by planning in advance, then it can be easy to find the item used.
Plus, if you only need the item for a short time, you might be able to find it in the homes of your friends and family. Just don’t go snooping without their permission.
4. BRING YOUR OWN _____
Cup. Container. Utensil. Napkin. Straw. Bag.
If you listen closely you can hear Mother Earth sighing with relief as you take out your reusable cup at the counter…
5. USE BAR SOAP
Every little thing counts, right? Choosing sustainably packaged bar soap instead of shower gel is one of the easiest ways to reduce your waste. I use Dr. Bronner’s now, but am looking into finding a local soap maker who could provide me with soap completely package free. If price is not an issue for you, Whole Foods carries a beautiful selection of bulk soaps. If you have sensitive skin or skin that is prone to allergies then try new soap at your own risk. I also recommend buying reusable items like cotton pads*, a safety razor*, or feminine pads* if you menstruate.
*I provided these links to help you visualize the types of reusable products I recommend. This doesn’t mean I have necessarily tried out the specific products linked.
Please leave any suggestions or questions in the comments, and I will reply to you as soon as I can!