Even Hotel chains are trying to contain waste to keep the planet clean, so why can’t we do it in our homes? – Photo Courtesy: Alan Levine
In today’s day and age, there are a lot of products that we purchase or use that may, at first glance, seem to make our lives easier or more convenient but cause far more damage than good. With the quality and health of our environment being an important factor in the future of the planet, now has never been a better time to take a good look at how much waste your family is creating and how you can take steps towards making better choices.
Opt for reusable solutions
Before you can make positive changes, you must first take a good look at what your family uses on a regular basis. Things such as paper towels can add up very quickly when cleaning up around the home. Opt for reusable solutions whenever possible. For example, leave paper towels to hygiene during meals and reach for wash cloths instead when cleaning off counters and tables. They are small enough that you’ll barely notice them in the washer with your weekly load and you’ll be limiting your impact on local landfills.
Taking an In-Depth Look at Weekly Usage
Many homeowners are beginning to take part in home waste audits. This is one of the best ways to track where you are creating the most waste so you can work towards more effective solutions. Simply weigh the amount of recyclables, compost and trash that has accumulated as you bring out your bins on garbage day. This allows for easy comparison from one week to the next. Doing so may help your family realize just how much they are throwing away instead of recycling or other means in which reducing trash may be possible.
Among the first things to reduce waste, while helping the environment, is to cut down on the number of bottles you use for water or soda.
For example, you may notice that a large percentage of your recycle bin is filled with pop cans and bottles week after week. Making your own soda with products such as the SodaStream may be something to consider, as this can reduce the number of bottles in your recycle bin by the thousands each and every year.
Select Environmentally Friendly Options from the Get-Go
A tip for those who find a surprisingly large amount of trash? When you are purchasing new items, see if there are solutions that have been recycled previously. Establishments such as Starbucks only use cups and napkins that are made up of recycled materials and you can do the same at home. There may not always be a 100% recycled solution, but reusing versus cutting down more trees is always the better decision.
Any time you purchase a new appliance for your home, make sure it is backed by ENERGY STAR. These products are much gentler on the environment and they save you quite a bit of cash on your monthly bills.
‘Precycling’: Limiting What Enters Your Home
Many consumers are familiar with recycling, but what many fail to realize is that recycling can begin outside of your residence. Just because you can purchase something in bulk doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great deal if you are likely to toss out much of what you have bought, although doing so can mean less package waste if you know the products are something your household desperately needs.
- Stopping waste before it starts sounds too good to be true, but there are many simple ways to get the job done.
- When shopping, instead of using the paper or plastic bags provided by local stores, bring your own reusable bags.
- Many businesses will ask if you need a receipt and if you plan on tossing it in the trash the moment you arrive home anyway, say ‘no’.
- Running errands? Bring your own drink container instead of being tempted to purchase beverages while on the go.
- For daily lunches, invest in a lunch box with a plastic sandwich container. This will save you at least five plastic bags and sandwich bags every single week. That’s 240 of each, every single year, just for one member of the household!
- To get rid of excess paper waste, opt for paperless billing and keep all records of your payments and bills online. Most companies will even send you an email when a bill is coming up so you don’t have to worry about late fees.
- Paying via credit or debit card also means no more need to pull out those checks.