We all want to cut down on waste, but being mindful of the earth is typically not convenient. It’s much easier to throw everything in the trash instead of sort it; to grab a plastic water bottle instead of refilling a reusable one; to step over a piece of trash in the street instead of pick it up. WE GET IT. But do you feel good about yourself knowing there’s more you could be doing? And unless you live a zero waste lifestyle, there’s always more we could be doing! Here are 10 easy ways you can cut down on waste.
For those coffee drinkers in the house (holla!) we understand the joy of coffee shop culture, and we know you don’t always have time to sit down and enjoy the whole mug. Find a high quality travel cup you LOVE to use, and can take with you everywhere you go. The more you love it, the more you will remember to use it! Plus it will keep your beverage at the temperature you want. Check out options here.
Your cocktail or icy beverage won’t taste any better through a straw. According to the Plastic Pollution Coalition, over 5 million plastic straws are used each day in the United States. Many individual businesses, nonprofits, and schools have opted to ban plastic straws, and even cities and states including California (Alameda, Carmel, San Luis Obispo, Davis, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Oakland, Richmond, and Berkeley), Washington (Seattle and Edmonds), New Jersey (Monmouth Beach), and Florida (Miami Beach and Fort Myers). Additional areas in New York City, Hawaii, and California currently have a pending straw ban legislation.
When ordering a beverage, politely ask to hold the straw! More and more places are opening up to the idea (some even use compostable paper straws instead) and the more you request it, the more likely this will become a regular practice. If you love straws, purchase a copper, glass, silicone or stainless steel straw with a case and carry it with you!
Amazon makes it so easy to buy new things. A click of a button and it’s at your door within 2 days. But do you really need what you ordered? A lot of things can be fixed or at least attempted to be fixed before discarded. Learn how to sew, refinish a table to the way you want it, and use the internet as a tool to learn how to repair items that seem broken. For shelves, use a scrap piece of wood from your local hardware store. You’ll save money too!
So much of our trash is food scraps. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 20% of what goes into municipal landfills is food. Get a small bin and start placing your scraps into the bin instead of the trash. It’ll get the food back into the earth and prevent your trash can from stinking up your kitchen. Learn how to compost here, or find a friend or local farm you can donate your food scraps to.
It’s 2018. Time to stop buying plastic water bottles. According to Forbes.com, globally, humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute, and 91% of all plastic is not recycled. On top of that, it’s estimated that over half a trillion plastic bottles will be sold in 2020. According to a study commissioned by Switzerland-based World Wildlife Fund International, bottled water may not be any better than tap. Find a glass or stainless steel water bottle you love and bring it with you everywhere you go. You’ll stay more hydrated, too. It can be as simple as a mason jar or you can get some ideas here!
Invest in some quality airtight containers for things like superfoods for your smoothies, cereals, grains, nuts, seeds, and baking ingredients. If you buy from the bulk section at stores like Whole Foods, reusable jars/containers are especially important to have on hand. Jars are also more atheistically pleasing on your kitchen shelves than plastic bags. Just sayin.
It’s no longer dorky to use a lunchbox or reusable snack bags. It is healthier, cheaper, smarter, and you’ll get to spend more of your lunchtime for yourself. Make a big batch of food at the beginning of the week and portion it out to last a few days. Shop for some stylish ones here.
Make your own cloth napkins or find some cute ones at your local home decor store or support an artist via Etsy. Use old t-shirts or towels to clean up messy spills.
Keep a small supply of them in your car or by your front door. If you happen to forget, ask the store if you can use a box instead of bag (most stores have a surplus of boxes they simply toss out!). Use the plastic bags that other people’s newspapers are delivered in (you know, the ones that lay untouched in driveways, sidewalks, and roads?) to pick up your dog’s poo. Purchase a Boochcraft canvas tote here!
The Sightline Institute says each American receives an average of 41 pounds of junk mail per year. New York University says 5.6 million tons of junk mail end up in American landfills every year. Head over to DMAchoice, where you have the opportunity to opt out of catalogues, credit offers, coupons, magazine offers, and more.
We didn’t include RECYCLING, but we really hope you all do this by now. Even our Great Aunt Edna from Oklahoma has a recycling bin in her house. If your home doesn’t have a recycle bin or pick up, talk to your landlord or contact your local government via online. If that doesn’t work, sneak it into the neighbors recycle bin after they go to sleep. We won’t say a word.