When You're New at Reducing Waste
Where the heck do I begin?
Using reusable bags. Purchasing reusable bags has been one of the biggest game changers for me. A lot of times when I go grocery shopping, I go alone, even if my haul is relatively big. Because of flying solo, the thought of carrying anywhere from 11 to 35 plastic bags into my apartment, is genuinely exhausting, and the risk of paper bags tearing at the handles, has me running in the opposite direction. Ruling out the two options at the store leaves me with my trusted reusable shopping bags. Not only are they considerably sturdier, they tend to be a lot bigger in capacity than those at the store, meaning less trips back and forth to my car, and an overall easier night of grocery shopping.
DIY Projects. I am in no way an expert at do it yourself projects and recipes. In fact, I don’t even know the last time that I came out as a winner on a DIY project. However, when it comes to reducing your household waste, there are a lot of different ideas and recipes that zero wasters have come up with to help you start your journey towards having less of an impact. Cleaning alternatives for your house, laundry and dishes are awesome starting points to prevent the need to purchase cleaning supplies in plastic bottles.
Buying whole foods. This is something that I need to work on, but I feel like every shopping trip, I get a little closer to a full cart of whole and organically sourced foods. Beyond buying whole foods for health reasons, this can serve as a starting point to reducing kitchen waste. I can only speak for myself, but when I think of household waste, food packaging is something that sticks out in my mind as a large contributor to what ends up in trashcans. If you live in a city similar to mine, finding stores that sell whole foods can be a little difficult when you don’t know where to start, therefore switching the groceries you buy at your favorite grocery store might be more realistic. Try to find unpackaged produce, meats and starches to bring home in your own produce bags and storage containers.
Wait to replace. I don’t know that I have ever seen this written or heard this tip shared before. The chances are high that it is out in the universe somewhere, I myself have just never heard it. And that tip is, to wait to replace your ‘common’ household necessities. One thing I have stepped up doing at my apartment in a major way is waiting to replace the items that I would normally consider an essential. To clear any confusion up through example, take paper towels. Paper towels are something that you can typically find in a household for cleaning, drying your hands, or wiping up spills and messes. Prior to this concept crossing my mind, I would have run and replaced my paper towel the minute it ran out because I use it for so many things, that it seems impossible to live without it. Well, two weeks after using the last piece, I’m finding that there are so many alternatives that have the same functionality but are already in my apartment, saving me money and giving more purpose to the items I already own. Things like plastic storage bags and paper towels are easily replaceable by more permanent, reusable items that you probably already have at home.
Composting. I am so bummed that I haven’t been able to give this a shot on my own yet. Living in Wisconsin, in a one-bedroom apartment with no land, makes composting a little out of reach. Although I don’t know enough about it to share actual tips, I do know that in the near future when I have my own house to live in, or just more space, composting is a top priority of mine to give a shot. I hope to have lots of tips and share my progress once that happens.
Less shopping. This one is huge and may be one of the more difficult tips to enforce for reducing waste (I can relate). If you take a look at your average run to the store, how much of what you purchased was an impulse buy? And how much of that was intentionally bought? Buying things just to have, is an impulse purchase, and often these are items that we didn’t really need. When those items are deemed clutter back at home, they can end up in our trashcans, to then be passed on to the landfill. When you intentionally buy, you’re saying those items are needed immediately, or very soon and they have much higher chances of not ending up in the bottom of a garbage bag. By going to any sort of store only when you need items for immediate use, you may be less likely to stroll aimlessly picking up impulse buys.
Finding package free alternatives. Have I mentioned yet that I am not an expert at this? Like most things on this list, finding package-free alternatives to everyday products is something that I am still working on. Going through this process as I have been, is taking A LOT of time. Before I buy the eco-friendly version of any products, I make sure to run out of the those at home first. I’ve found some of my favorite alternatives are reusable grocery bags, tooth powder, and facial cleansing soaps. All of these things can be found online and shipped directly to you in little to no extra packaging. Because I want to lower my negative impact as a whole, I want to do as little shopping and online shopping as possible. When I know I am running low on something that I purchase online, I try to make sure that I order as much as possible (little steps).