Think about your daily consumption habits for a second. Take a moment just quickly to run through the day. Do you drink a cup of coffee in the morning from your coffee shop in a to-go cup? How about a lunch, packed in a plastic container? The utensils? What about the grocery delivery, or all the packaging from grocery shopping? And then the actual food waste after cooking? All those packages from Amazon purchases, your pet’s food, your clothing, and miscellaneous things that break, compound to a lot of waste in the landfill.
The EPA estimates the average American produces 4.4 lbs of waste every single day. And even if you recycle, the solution isn’t necessarily what you might think. Only a portion might end up getting recycled, while the rest winds up in, you guessed it, a landfill. Or worse yet, in our water sources and oceans.
If you’re truly looking to make an impact and step closer to a green lifestyle, you need to take more steps than just separating your garbage from your paper and plastic. The purpose of zero waste is to send zero products to the landfill. While zero waste may be unrealistic for you right now, it’s still possible to make changes that will cut your emissions by half or more each day!
1. What’s Most Commonly Throw Out in Your Household?
Think about the things you use nearly every day. What goes into your trash daily? Probably something like paper towels and food packaging. Your first step is to figure out how you can reduce the use of those. Buy reusable cloths instead of using paper towels and bring your own reusable bags to the store for the fruits and vegetables.
2. Keep Reusable Grocery Bags
The hardest part is remembering to bring these bags with you, so keep a few hanging by the door so you can grab them on the way out. Using reusable grocery bags is one of the simplest ways to reduce waste.
3. Get a water filter
Instead of purchasing bottled water, buy a water filter to improve the taste. Then, get a reliable stainless steel water bottle to carry with you. This will save you money in the long run, and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. A double insulated water bottle can also be used as a tea or coffee thermos. A lot of coffee shops, including Starbucks, offer a discount if you bring your own cup!
4. Check with TerraCycle
The program accepts a LOT of household products for recycling. Many of these are free through partnerships with originating products. Check terracycle.com to see what you can recycle with them before sending it to the landfill.
5. Try to shop at package free sources first
When buying groceries, check your local farmers’ markets, bakeries, butchers, and bulk and specialty stores for package-free options. All these places allow you to shop with your own materials, so you forego all the plastic wrappings. Invest in some mesh produce bags and containers like Tupperware for smaller items like berries.
Every single one of these stores can use the containers you bring. Just give them your container, they place it on the scale and zero it out, and measure out whatever you’re buying. So, if you’re buying ground beef, they zero out your container and fill it with however much you want, ensuring you get your perfect amount, and no extra waste is produced in the process.
6. Use reusable filters
There are reusable coffee filters for virtually any type of coffee machine! Instead of getting paper filters, look for a washable option you can use over and over again.
7. Skip the plastic wrap
Instead of using plastic wrap to save food in the fridge, transfer it to Tupperware containers or cover with another plate. Instead of using plastic baggies, opt for reusable silicone bags. One such brand is called Stasher. They are dishwasher-safe and reusable.
8. Consider air drying
If you’re able to and have space, put up a clothesline and air dry your laundry to not only save on dryer sheets but energy costs. If you’re unable to do this, try wool balls instead of dryer sheets. Spray them with essential oil to get a pleasant scent. Your clothes will be just as fluffy and soft out of the dryer!