Easy Ways to Reduce Your Waste
We are so excited to be moving to Hawaii in about a month! I’m the type of person who needs to know everything and plan everything out. So when we have a big move, my planning side goes into OVERDRIVE. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent researching everything there is to know about Hawaii and moving there. Through my research, I found that Hawaii is pretty progressive (even though I think it should be standard everywhere) when it comes to trash consumption. I mean it makes sense right? It’s an island, with means not a lot of land for landfills and trash. Like, I get it.
What I found was interesting. I found that when shopping for groceries, you are expected to have your own bags or pay for them. When buying things in bottles you are charged 6 cents per bottle, but you get 5 cents back if you recycle it. The island does a lot to help reduce waste and I think that is great!
Regardless if you are moving to Hawaii or not, its important to do your part on reducing waste. According to the EPA, in 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted about 87 million tons of that material. That’s over 4 pounds per person, per day, of waste. How crazy is that???? If each person works to reduce thier waste and consumption, we could drastically reduce that number.
The question is where to start?
Well, that’s why I have come up with this list to help you get started. We wanted to get used to Hawaii laws and norms early so we started doing these things and have seen a great reduction in our waste. Honestly, it was easy and didn’t cost us much to do.
Start recycling- I put this one first because it was the obvious one. Almost anything can be recycled and this is by far the biggest factor in reducing your waste. It also can take a lot more effort than the others because not all cities have a good recycling system set up. Our last location didn’t have a service at all and if you wanted them to pick up your recycling you had to pay for it. Looking back, I wish we would have just made the effort to take our stuff to the recycling center once a week.
Stop using paper products– This was a big one in our house because quite frankly I HATE doing dishes so when I could use paper plates, I did. It honestly isn’t so bad. Besides my husband clanking his cereal bowl in the morning when we are trying to sleep. Just kidding, there’s hasn’t been much of a difference besides saving us money from not buying paper goods.
Use cut up t-shirts for paper towels- This is something I picked up from our old house keeper. She would use old cut up t-shirts as rags to do her cleaning. We donate so many clothes that it’s easy for us to find shirts that are good enough to cut up. We were going through a roll of paper towels every other day or so. Not anymore! When I do a closet purge, which is once every couple of months, I set aside shirts that would be good to use as rags for cleaning. When I’m done, I just toss them in the washer.
Buy in bulk– No I’m not meaning getting a Sam’s card and buying all food in bulk. (Even though that’s still a way to reduce waste and save money.) I mean shopping at something like Whole Foods. You can bring in your own containers and buy things like grains, beans and spices. You can buy as much or as little as you want so you can try new products without having all the leftovers sitting in the pantry forever.
Invest in reusable bags– This was the very first thing we did when trying to reduce our waste. I was inspired by one of my friends who did her own little experiment. She kept and counted all the grocery bags she used in a month. This was her buying for just herself since her husband was gone. She had used about 150 bags. That’s 150 bags for ONE person! The cheapest bags I’ve seen are from Walmart at 50 cents. These aren’t the most sturdy so I use others from the commissary as well.
Shop local for fresh food- Food packaging is one of our biggest things that we throw away. Its hard to get away from it, besides recycling what you can. In order to cut down on that, we try to shop as local as possible. We have joined a food co-op that we can get fresh fruits and veggies every two weeks. It’s called bountiful baskets and you should def check to see if they have one in your area! We also try and shop at local farmers markets. When I do get groceries at the store and need veggies, I skip the bags they provide to put them in. I use a reusable shopping bag instead and put all of them in one bag until checkout.
Make a compost- I will admit that this is something that we haven’t done and def need to. I haven’t done it because we are in a temporary home for a few months. We throw away so much food! Its terrible and I’m working on fixing it, but it gives me a great excuse to start a compost. If your family is like mine and can’t eat the food fast enough before it goes bad, then you should start one of these too! Even if you are living in an apartment, there are tons of tutorials online that can teach you how to start an indoor compost.
Use a reusuable water bottle with a water filter- Doing this has caused me to have a slight obession with Tumblers. Although, it does also help me to get a better at getting my daily water intake. You can get a Brita filter for your faucet or a Brita water pitcher. I have friends and family that are water snobs and only drink spring water. I’m just not that bougie. 😉 I don’t mind filtered water at all and probably couldn’t tell the difference in a blind taste test.
Meal plan– I said earlier how we struggle with food waste. I decided to combat this by meal planning. Meal planning allows you to save money and use your food more efficiently. You know exactly what you need for each meal and nothing more or nothing less.
Go digital– Almost everyone nowadays uses email and the internet. Try and reduce your junk mail by unsubscribing from things, buying e-magazines, and get paperless bill statements sent straight to your email. So many times we don’t even look at junk mail and it goes straight in the trash. Personally I like getting my coupons through email because my phone is always with me and it prevents me from forgetting the coupon at home.
By doing these simple things you can easily reduce your waste and help do your part to protect the environment. I love knowing that I’m making a difference, even if it is small. The more people that reduce, reuse, and recycle, the bigger impact it makes. Do you have any other ways that you help to reduce your waste??? Let me know in the comments!