Recycle – Repurpose – Reuse – Re-source – Reduce
1. Reduce waste (repurpose) – compost the ends of vegetables, coffee grounds and other food throw away that would normally go in a trash bag and to the landfill. Compost is great for your plants and you reduce waste in landfills by 30% each year. We have a worm bed so the worms break things down and there are many types of composting containers for any size home.
2. Reusable grocery bags (reuse) – I love using reusable grocery bags especially for my veggies. I used to throw away the bags that we placed them in as soon as I got home for the most part. Instead, I found some great veggie bags on Amazon as well as large grocery bags. The trick to the habit is remembering to bring them into the store with you! IF you do have those plastic bags use them to pick up dog poo or return them to the grocery store to be recycled.
3. Plant based materials (re-source) – I love these soy-based garbage bags on Amazon. They hold up even better then the plastic ones and break down faster plus leave behind fewer greenhouse gases and toxic chemicals leaching into the soil. Also, recycled plastic bags are another way to go. We love paper towels to dry our hands, to spray and wipe down the counters, etc. BUT we realized we are taking out a lot of trees with these habits so we found Bamboo reusable paper towels on Amazon to clean countertops and now have a hand towel near the sink instead of on the stove. We figure we save about 15 rolls of paper towels a year by changing these habits.
4. Water jug (re-source) – I use refrigerator filtered water and even since we moved up here the water is fantastic out of the faucet. Not everyone has that luxury. Instead of buying individual bottles of water, go bigger like 1 or even 5 gallon jugs that can be refilled at the grocery store and fill up your tumbler.
5. Coffee mug, Tumbler (reuse) – get rid of the Styrofoam cups and use your own coffee mug and tumbler at work. Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. According to Washington University, Styrofoam takes 500 YEARS to decompose. Some orgs state upwards of 1 million YEARS.
6. Natural Mulch (repurpose) – leaves are great for mulching as they are natural and quickly breakdown – use in flower beds and around fruit trees. Instead of bagging them up to go to the dump where they sit in a plastic bag see how you can repurpose them and allow them to break down into the earth naturally. This can also reduce how many bags of mulch you need to purchase.
7. Actually recycle (recycle) – Most paper, aluminum and plastic can be recycled. Many counties are not recycling glass anymore. That means that many of the containers of what we consume can be recycled. It’s a little extra work for everyone in the house, business or out in the community to organize, but very worthwhile it’s a great habit. We haul our recycle to the dump area for recycle every week. Including batteries, light bulbs, paint and other items that should not be thrown in the trash can.
8. Brushing teeth/showering (reduce) – By turning the water off while brushing your teeth you can save on average 4 gallons EACH time each person according to the EPA. An 8 minute shower uses 16 gallons of water. Reducing time in the shower and how many baths per week reduces how much water we consume or waste.
9. Minimize ‘stuff’ (reduce) – The best approach I’ve heard is to not buy new hangers. If you buy new clothes donate the same amount that you don’t use anymore instead of adding to your closet. Reduce buying ‘stuff’ in general and really challenge why you need or want it and will you still want it tomorrow?
10. Consolidate online purchases (re-source) – We can be very compulsive when ordering online. We may forget something and go back and place that order separately or we want one of the pieces right away. All of these habits/planning can cause shipments to come in multiple boxes. Let’s use Amazon for example, when you go to checkout you can see how your shipments will be shipped and dates they will be shipped on. You have the option to consolidate shipments to get it later. This later date is typically one or two days. So if you can hold off, put stuff in your cart and checkout once you have a bunch of stuff and use the reduce shipments option at checkout you can reduce how many boxes and packing supplies you receive. Although cardboard is recyclable or you can repurpose many boxes and packing material it’s still costly and not great for the environment. The more boxes we use the more trees come down. The more shipments we have the more gas is used to deliver them and the more Co2 pollution ends up in the air.
Do your best!