7 Effortless Ways to Minimize Waste Around the Home
The average American produces around 4.8 pounds of waste each day, which adds up to over 1,500 pounds of waste each year. While some of this will eventually degrade and be absorbed back into the earth, most trash doesn’t break down and will just sit in landfills, contributing toxins to the ground, water, and air. To better protect the environment, here are seven simple ways you can minimize waste around the home.
1. Reduce plastic use
Roughly 9.1 billion tons of plastic have been produced since the 1950s, and since most plastic isn’t biodegradable, that waste will remain in our environment for hundreds of thousands of years. You can reduce plastic use in the home by considering these eco-friendly alternatives:
- Invest in a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic water bottles.
- Bring a reusable tote bag with you when you go shopping (most reusable bags cost around 99 cents).
- Swap out plastic wrap for natural beeswax wrap.
- Use bars of soap rather than bottled soap.
- Opt for a reusable metal or wood safety razor that comes with reusable blades.
2. Repair your appliances instead of replacing them
If you have an appliance that starts to break down, consider making the necessary repairs instead of throwing the appliance away and getting a replacement. Though making repairs may be more time-consuming, electronic waste (e-waste) can have negative impacts on the environment and your health when improperly disposed in regular landfills or illegally dumped.
Before getting rid of your appliance, check to see if it’s covered by a home warranty or a product insurance plan. Most home warranties and product insurance plans will cover repairs for appliances that have broken down due to normal wear and tear—if this is the situation you find yourself in, you’ll be able to fix your appliance, prevent material waste, and save hundreds of dollars in the process.
3. Start composting
Compost enriches the soil, suppresses plant diseases, deters pests, and reduces the need for pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Creating compost is neither complicated nor expensive, and all it requires is just a few materials and the right combination of organic matter. To begin, you’ll need these three ingredients (the general rule is to have equal parts green and brown matter):
1. Brown material—this includes dead leaves, branches, or twigs
2. Green material—this can be composed of grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and used coffee grounds
3. Water—this will deliver moisture needed to break down the organic matter
Once you’ve gathered your matter, select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile. Add your materials to a plastic or metal bin. If you prefer, you can cover the top of the bin with a tarp to keep the materials inside moist. When the material at the bottom of the bin is dark and rich in color (this can take anywhere between two months and two years), your compost is ready to use.
4. Cancel magazine or newspaper subscriptions
If you notice that your magazines and newspapers start to pile up and you’re constantly throwing them out without so much as a glance in their direction, consider canceling the subscriptions online. If you still want to keep your favorite editorial subscriptions, opt for an online subscription—this will reduce the amount of paper waste you create.
5. Make your own household cleaners
Avoid buying commercial cleaners by making your own natural cleaners at home. Try these three solutions for all-around home cleaning:
- White vinegar—Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture onto glass and windows and wipe it away with newspaper or a microfiber cloth for a streak-free clean.
- Baking soda—Mix warm water with a teaspoon of baking soda to remove surface grease from stove tops and counters.
- Tea tree oil—This is a natural fungicide that can effectively get rid of mold spores and mildew in your home. Mix one teaspoon of tea tree oil with one cup of water and apply the solution to affected areas. Let it sit for several minutes and wipe it away with a microfiber towel.
6. Create a meal plan
Not only is material waste a problem, but food waste is just as serious . To avoid throwing away expired foods that go untouched, plan on only buying groceries that you know you’ll eat. By meal prepping every Sunday, you can ensure you have a set meal for each day of the week. Creating a meal plan will also help reduce the amount of times you eat out and bring home leftovers in plastic or Styrofoam containers.
7. Buy in bulk
Not only does buying in bulk help you save money, but it’s also an eco-friendlier strategy that helps cut down on plastic use and food waste. Some grocery stores will offer dry goods like grains, nuts, and dried fruit in bulk—by choosing these items, you can save a few dollars and avoid plastic packaging.
Do you have any tips or suggestions to help stop the pollution and minimize waste in your household? If so please share them in the comment section below!
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