That one little snack of blueberry yogurt you devoured in two minutes yesterday will cost the planet 500 years of work, so will the one Diet Coke you had years ago. At least the banana peel from this morning will only take about 3 or 5 weeks to decompose. But how disgraceful is it that one insignificant snack like yogurt causes such profound waste? It’s not the yogurt, it’s the plastic yogurt cup it comes in.
It’s mystifying how much garbage my husband, dog and I produce. Our bins are filled to the brim with yogurt cups, empty cans, granola wrappers, plastic bags, price tags, apple cores, milk cartons and who knows what else. We recycle and reuse as much as we can, but alas, the movements of life are swift, and while I know I may not give up yogurt, I also know I can do better. So can you.
Aside from the popular tips on reducing waste production like using cloth tote bags, a washable/reusable water bottle and regularly recycling, there are also less known but just as reasonable tips for shrinking your garbage can,
9 Creative Ways to Reduce Waste
Pay attention to packaging. We are always looking for a bargain when it comes to money, so look for bargains when it comes to packaging too. Simply noticing how much excess material like plastic and cardboard encase one sparkly pen will make you look again. Just a few products down the aisle, you may find a product that sells four pens in one package. You do the math :).
Share. Every single time I move, I inevitably go to the store to buy big plastic containers to make my life easier. These come in handy for storage, but if you’re simply looking for containers to move things around, why not borrow from a friend or relative? What else could you share to reduce waste?
Buy bars. This one is tough for me sometimes because who doesn’t like a shiny bottle of vanilla scented body gel? However, these days you can get high quality beauty and skin care without all the plastic. Always go for the bar of soap or the shampoo bar. If you haven’t checked out Lush for skin care, now is the time to. The company’s main goal is to provide luxurious and effective skin care while using as little resources as possible, and no (unfortunately) Lush didn’t pay me to write this. I’m just a die-hard. However, as a realist, I know that some specialty and high-quality items only come in bottles and jars, but we can cut back. Also, try to buy from organic and environmentally conscious companies. This helps to promote an earth friendly economy.
Buy used. Sell Used. Of course you can and should buy a used car whenever possible, but less known is the magical world of used electronics. You can now find refurbished and in most cases improved electronics online. The only catch (if you can call it that) is that the product needs to be certified. This is typically the case with reliable and well known company’s like Game Stop or Amazon for example.
Defunct electronics can surprisingly make you some extra cash. You can sell the sad cell phones or cameras you don’t use anymore to a variety of online shops that will fix them up and sell them again, thereby minimizing waste production.
Go paperless. Whenever possible send handouts, visual aids or greeting cards via email. Using projectors (if it one is available) makes no waste in contrast to paper handouts.
Go cloth. Instances like shopping for produce can make you feel forced to use those thin plastic baggies. Instead use washable sacks for your produce at the store (or at least reuse the plastic ones a few times). Also, invest in cloth napkins and handkerchiefs.
Go multi-purpose. Buying a multi-purpose product results in less packaging and plastic. Instead of taking up a bunch of space with one purpose cleaners, have one bottle that does everything. Mind you, a small bit of tea tree oil when mixed with water can clean a whole house!
Screw gift-wrapping. I don’t mean be the Grinch, but reuse material you may already have like (the comics in the paper for example). Another idea is to “wrap” in convenient reusables like tin cans or cloth ribbons.
Get creative. I’ve been using the same empty plastic gallon of almond milk as my watering container for over a year now. A jar can transform into a quaint drinking glass or vase. A toothbrush works perfectly for cleaning tiny spaces.
What strategies do you use to reduce waste?
I’m so pleased to announce that three of my poems, “Slots,” “Scraping” and “Make a Decision” have been published in Barking Sycamores Literary Magazine Issue 13. Barking Sycamores is dedicated to neurodivergent literature and its craft. I’m so honored to be a part of this project. Barking Sycamores Issue 13
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