Here's a question for you to ponder today: How low can you go?
No, I'm not talking about doing the limbo, I'm talking about garbage here folks! How low can you get your garbage output to go? A really obvious way to see the results of your green efforts is to pay attention to the amount of garbage you kick to the curb each week. Depending on where you live, you might be able to switch to a smaller garbage can or even go down to one garbage pickup a month. If you pull that off, you'll not only be going green, you'll be saving green! Even if you don't change your pick-up service, you'll probably save money by trying some of these low-waste ideas:
Buy Reusable, Not Disposable - Invest in durable, reusable products instead of wasteful disposables.
- Microfiber or cotton cloths instead of paper towels and disposable wipes.
- Rechargeable batteries instead of traditional.
- Reusable tableware and utensils instead of the throw-away type.
- A glass straw instead of one-use plastic straw.
Buy Products with Less Packaging - Reduce the amount of packaging waste you throw out by simply not bringing it home in the first place.
- Forget all those mini packages of snacks you see at the store. Buy a big box or bag and send it to school in reusable snack bags.
- Purchase meat wrapped in butcher paper instead of packed on un-recyclable styrofoam trays.
- Avoid food sold in big plastic clam-shells. There is usually an alternative way to buy the same product with less packaging.
- Look for concentrated versions of cleaning products that come in smaller bottles.
- Buy food in bulk to reduce packaging waste.
Refill It!! - Fill up an old container instead of buying a new one.
- Bring jars or bags from home to fill with nuts, seeds, beans, flour, granola and more from the bulk bins.
- Pay a deposit on a glass milk jug and bring it back to be refilled when you are finished.
- Purchase cleaning products that offer refill packets (like Green Irene or Simply Neutral)
- Look for refillable beauty products like shampoo, lotion or liquid soap at your local co-op or health food store.
- Refill printer cartridges instead of buying new.
Repurpose - Use something you already have instead of buying something new for the job.
- Old t-shirts and towels become absorbent rags.
- Plastic yogurt tubs are great for holding crayons, paintbrushes, nails etc...
- Keep shoe boxes for storing old papers or favorite mementos.
- Egg cartons are perfect for separating craft supplies.
Compost Food Waste - Turn food scraps into valuable dirt for your garden!
- Start small with a kitchen composter.
- Find an outdoor space for a compost bin or tumbler.
- Let worms do the work!
- Read my post on composting for more info!
Recycle Everything You Can - Go beyond curbside recycling and commit to recycling as much as you can.
- Office supply stores often take printer cartridges and old cell phones.
- Turn in old sports shoes to participating REI and Nike stores
- Fundraising programs like Terracycle.net take used drink pouches, yogurt cups and snack packages and turn them into useful household products.
- Bring dry cleaning bags & hangers back to the dry cleaner.
- Donate old pillows and blankets to the Humane Society.
Be Prepared - Keep reusable items in strategic places to keep you from wasting even more.
- Take a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go!
- Carry a compact shopping bag in your purse or briefcase.
- Keep reusable grocery bags in your car (no excuse for forgetting them at home!)
- Store reusable utensils and a cloth napkin at your desk or in your car.
- Keep empty food storage containers with you for when the take-out bug strikes.
Be Selective - Don't take it if you don't need it!
- Pass on freebies that you really won't use.
- Think twice before you buy.
- Don't buy it just because it's cheap!
What other ideas do you have for reducing your waste at home?
Note: Many of these ideas are expounded upon in my book Practically Green: Your Guide to Ecofriendly Decision-Making. Pick up a copy for yourself to learn more!
(Full disclosure: there are affliate links in this post.)