The waste problem is one that plagues our social media channels. Images of islands of trash, sea turtles with plastic straws stuck up their noses — it’s enough to make you want to bow your head in shame every time you take out a bag.
Reducing your waste footprint is not an easy task though, so don’t be so hard on yourself. Rather than looking at every hurdle your household faces, start with taking one step at a time. Here’s a quick list of easy things you can do this year to reduce your waste footprint.
#1 — Bring Your Own Takeout Containers
Styrofoam is the bane of any aspiring zero-wasters existence. Walk in to restaurants with your head held high sporting your own reusable takeout containers, and skip the thousand year decomposition process.
#2 — Keep a Stainless Steel Straw In Your Purse
If you can’t live without a straw in your drink, consider opting instead for a stainless steel straw. Keep at least one in your purse or car all the time, and tell the waiter during your drink order that you don’t want a plastic one.
#3 — Keep Reusable Grocery Bags in the Car
It’s okay that it’s 2018 and you still haven’t made this a habit yet — it is HARD to remember! Keep a stash of reusable grocery bags in your car all the time so you never have to worry about remembering them.
#4 — Get a Laundry Detergent Subscription
If you’re not up for making your own laundry detergent, GreenFills is a great laundry detergent subscription service that sends you one plastic container to reuse with pouches of their products each month. Choose from scented, unscented, stain treatments, and even fabric softeners!
#5 — Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk with reusable containers is one of the best ways to cut back on waste. If you’re bringing in jars, have the store weigh your container before you fill up, so they can deduct the weight from what you buy at the checkout counter (they may write the weight on your container).
#6 — Start Using Reusable Produce Bags
Reusable produce bags are the ingenious idea we’re all wondering how we never considered before. Make your own, or buy some from a store like ECOBAGS, and stop throwing away 10 plastic bags every time you go shopping.
#7 — Start Cloth Diapering
Have littles in diapers? Cloth diapers aren’t just eco-friendly — they save an enormous amount of money, too! Forget pins — cloth diapers are easier than ever to use, and with the right laundry routine, incredibly gentle on baby’s skin.
#8 — Start a Compost Pile
Food waste isn’t ideal, but you can still put plant-based food waste to work in your garden by starting a compost pile. If you have meat and processed food scraps, ask around for local chicken owners in your area — chances are their animals are more than happy to eat what your family doesn’t!
#9 — Get a SodaStream
If you can’t live without carbonated drinks, you’re not alone — the SodaStream is the PERFECT kitchen gadget for making lower waste, healthier carbonated beverages that scratch the itch.
#10 — Ditch the Water Bottles
Drinking bottled water is a great step for your health, but all of that plastic adds up in a big way. Reuse a glass bottle or buy a stainless steel bottle that speaks to your personality, but ditch the cases of bottled water.
#11 — Buy Meat from the Butcher
Avoiding some waste with meat is really challenging, but butchers typically only use butcher paper and plastic wrap — no styrofoam. Better yet, create a custom order and get things packaged in family-sized portions that you can thaw all at once, without having to throw away more wrappings.
#12 — Ditch Dairy and Make Your Own Almond Milk
Real milk is oh-so tasty, but if you can handle the transition, almond milk is easy to make yourself, and skips the plastic cartons entirely. Here’s a great recipe you can try.
#13 — Try a Menstrual Cup or Cloth Pads
That’s right, I’m going there. The feminine care products industry is a necessary one, but there are numerous zero waste options that have women raving about reducing cramps, in addition to reducing waste. Look into menstrual cups and cloth pads to see if it’s something that would be a good fit for you.
#14 — Get Thrift Shop Savvy
Buying things used is a fantastic way to cut back on waste (and save some money). Get great at scoping out your favorite thrift stores, and participate in the cycle by sending old clothes and household items there instead of the landfill.
#15 — Start Using Cloth “Paper” Towels
Paper towels are great, but flannel reusable towels are just as handy, and produce no waste. Make your own, or buy a set like this to get you started!
How are you reducing waste for 2018? Tell us on Facebook and tag us in the post! @WheatMT