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!

Cheers!

Elena 

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23 Comments

  1. lindsaywill96

    November 1, 2017 at 1:41 am

    Thank you for these tips, I have been wanting to know more info about reducing our family’s waste!!
    One way I have reduced waste is by not using plastic bags, but instead using reusable shopping bags!

  2. Melissa

    October 31, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I live in Canada and we have similar standards as you described for Hawaii including the bottle deposit and grocery bags. Most recently, they started “mandatory” composting and now only pick up the garbage bins every 2 weeks. It’s an adjustment but definitely better for the environment.

  3. brandidcrawfordgmailcom

    October 31, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    You have really great tips here. I started recycling several years ago and I haven’t gone back to being super wasteful.

  4. Shaheen Khan

    October 31, 2017 at 8:28 am

    We should try to avoid wastage as much as possible. I do buy in bulk and it does help with saving and have even tried to do meal planning so I don’t pile extra groceries that might get wasted later. Great tips for the mindful here.

  5. Toni

    October 31, 2017 at 3:31 am

    Really great ideas for reducing waste. Glad to say we are using all of them. It take a little more effort but it’s so worth it.

  6. Kiersten

    October 30, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Composting and wasting less food is where we need to get better. I’ve always been unsure about composting, so I’ve never attempted it. I’ve also started hitting the grocery store almost everyday (thankfully we have one very close to us) so I’m not buying more food than we can use. Otherwise we end up throwing away a lot of things that go bad.

  7. Healthy Mind, Healthy Body, Healthy Life - Lauren Atkins

    October 30, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    This is such an important topic! What a great list, I particularly like the old t-shirts for paper towels one! I had never thought of that!

    1. admin

      October 30, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      Yes! It’s a genius idea!

  8. Lacey

    October 30, 2017 at 11:25 am

    I do all these things except compost… but our flat is much too small for that! So jealous of you moving to Hawaii as well. Living in the cold, miserable UK, I’m eager to move to a hot country!

  9. Maria

    October 30, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Loved this topic so much!
    I think the only issue with buying in bulk ( I do buy in bulk) is that if you don’t live in a big city, your options will be limited… 🙁
    But your post was super spot on! Everything that is important was mentioned !

  10. Pat

    October 30, 2017 at 10:13 am

    im a big fan of recycling and ive been actually practicing above tips! will continue of course! thanks for supporting the environment

  11. Denise Smith

    October 30, 2017 at 8:09 am

    I try to do most of these but I had never thought about using cut up t shirts, that is brilliant, thanks for sharing.

  12. workathomemomguides

    October 30, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Excellent tips! It’s so easy to find little ways to reduce waste and help the environment. I love the tshirt rags idea! Old socks are excellent to us on a Swiffer too!

  13. thetennisfoodie

    October 29, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    Great ideas! We really need to start recycling so that we can help Mother Earth!

  14. Jessica Hugo

    October 29, 2017 at 8:05 pm

    Recycling!!! So important to reduce waste. And it’s so true on going digital and reducing paper use. Our ecosystem sure needs more conservative practices.

  15. beccajtalbot

    October 29, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    I actually do pretty much all of these tips – except buy in bulk. I don’t have much cupboard space in my house, so buying in bulk isn’t really an option I’m afraid 🙁 x

  16. joancajic

    October 29, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Really great ideas I need to start going to open markets and find fresh veggies plus Love the reducing of paper products.

  17. Dalba

    October 29, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Love these ideas. We already recycle and use water bottles. Some of your other suggestions we are slowly incorporating into our lives.

  18. Kathy

    October 29, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks for the info. We’ve recycled for years, and I’d imagine in Hawaii with less land, it would be big. Good luck on your big move! It’s on my bucket list to visit Hawaii some day.

  19. Rosey

    October 29, 2017 at 9:23 am

    It does seem like going digital reduces a lot of waste. I worry about the repercussions though, if something ever happens to our digital system and we have no time to recover it first. Maybe I’m just too old school but I can’t get past having a hard copy of important things.

  20. Jen Walker

    October 28, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    This is a great list of ideas! We use reusable bags whenever we go shopping here (a couple years ago they got rid of plastic bags and charge per paper bag), and I like to shop the bulk food aisle and fill up my mason jars. I wish new things such as toys used less waste in packaging….

  21. Carmen Morente

    October 28, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    I like having compost but if you put food items in it, you have to cover it so the dogs don’t go in & eat all the rotting food. I make my food compost in covered plastic trash cans. I uncover them in the day & cover them at night. Don’t want rats, mice or other critters in my yard either.

  22. Samantha

    October 28, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    These are great tips! We quit using bottle water this year. It has made a big difference in our grocery bill and in our trash pick up.

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