Part 1Reducing Your Garbage
- Use cloth bags instead of plastic. This small measure will greatly reduce the amount of waste you bring into your house. No matter where you're shopping, you can bring your own reusable cloth bags instead of accepting plastic bags from the store. Plan ahead by purchasing several reusable bags and storing them where you won't forget to bring them along next time you go shopping, like in your kitchen or in the trunk of your car.
- If you forget to bring your cloth bags to the store, you can still reduce waste! Ask the person bagging your groceries not to use double bags. Most stores now sell cloth bags, so you could spring for those instead of accepting plastic or paper - you can never have enough around the house.
- Using cloth bags isn't limited to grocery shopping. Take one along when you go shopping for clothes, tools, or any other items you may need.
- Buy food that has less packaging. If you tend to buy food that comes in boxes wrapped in plastic with individually-wrapped serving sizes inside, you're probably producing more waste than you want to. Look for ways to buy food with minimal packaging, especially plastic packaging, and you'll see your daily mound of garbage turn into a tiny hill. Here are a few tricks to try:
- Use the bulk food section. You can buy rice, beans, cereals, teas, spices, and other dry foods in the bulk food section of your grocery store. Store the foods in airtight glass or plastic containers when you get home.
- Do vermicomposting. You can make your own worm composting system.
- Make dinner instead of heating it up. Take-out food and microwaveable dinners require a lot of packaging, and it all just goes in the trash. It definitely takes more time, but consider replacing some of your instant meals with homemade creations. Your waistline will thank you, too.
- Buy dairy items in containers you can return. An increasing amount of dairy companies offer a return system in which you buy a glass jug of milk, cream or buttermilk and return the jug for a deposit. This is a great way to cut down on using plastic.
- Buy from farmer's markets. They offer mounds of fresh produce that have never touched plastic. Bring along cloth bags to carry your purchases home.
- Don't use bottled drinks unless you have to. Bottled water - and other bottled drinks - are a major source of waste in many places. In some places bottled water is safer to drink than tap water, but if that's not the case in your area, consider using tap water instead. You can always filter the water if you don't like the way it tastes. This is more economical and much better for the environment.
- If you really want to go the distance, you can nix other bottled and canned drinks, too. For example, instead of buying a case of ginger ale, why not make your own? Homemade lemonade and limeade are also great choices.
- If you do choose to buy drinks by the bottle, choose large containers, rather than small ones. Get a 5 gallon (18.9 L) container of water with a dispenser instead of buying an 18-pack of small bottles.
- Reduce your paper usage. If you like using computers, there are very few reasons you still need to have a lot of paper waste in your house. Taking measures to reduce the amount of paper you buy, as well as the amount of paper that gets sent to you in the mail, can save you the headache of having to sort through piles of papers.
- Go paperless when it comes to bills; choose to pay them online instead.
- Consider reading your news online instead of having a newspaper delivered to your house.
- Consider making your own household cleaners and detergents. Many of the containers used for cleaners and detergents aren't recyclable, so they end up going in the garbage. If you have the time and inclination, making your own formulas and storing them in glass containers will end up saving tons of money and significantly reduce your garbage output. You'll also end up creating a chemical-free environment for your family. Here are a few great recipes to try:
Recycling domestic waste cooking oil and fats at home
Waste sorting and recycling - Veolia